Our birds are very curious creatures! Our birds can, and do, get into contact with many dangerous toxins. If an item is considered to be toxic to us or any other mammal, than it is considered toxic to our birds.

Birds should be supervised at all times when they are out of their cages. They investigate every unusual textures and objects by using their mouths and tongues.
Because birds are much smaller then us they are more prone to intoxication by fumes. This is due to the fact that they have rapid metabolic rate, small size, highly efficient respiratory system and low body fat. Many common household aerosol products (deodorants, perfumes, cleaning products) may cause respiratory problems. For this reason alone, you should never use any type of aerosol product near your birds.

Here is a small (very small and incomplete) list of common household products that are toxic to birds, with their symptoms and treatments.

Common name Toxic Compound name Symptoms Treatment
Bleach Chlorine sneezing, coughing, hyperventilation, GI irritation Irrigate skin with cool water, if ingested use demulcent
Cleaning products Ammonia Respiratory tract irritation fresh air, supportive care
exhaust fumes carbon monoxide depression, cyanosis, death fresh air, oxygen, warmth, supportive care
deodorants aluminum chloride oral irritation careful lavage of crop and proventriculus, must be done by a Vet !
drain cleaners sodium hydroxide caustic to skin, irritation, inflammation of mouth and tongue flush with water, DO NOT lavage. Treat for shock and pain, rush to vet
furniture polish petroleum, hydrocarbons, mineral spirits central nervous system depression, disorientation, aspiration pneumonia, hepatorenal damage prevent aspiration pneumonia, avoid gastric lavage
gasoline petroleum and petroleum distillates GI irritation, skin and feather damage, aspiration pneumonia wash bird with mild soap and water. Vegetable or mineral oil gavage. Antibiotics and supportive care.
matches potassium chloride vomiting, gastroenteritis, chlorates may induce methemoglobinemia treat symptomatically. Use methylene blue or ascorbic acid
paint and varnish benzene, methanol, acetone dermal irritation, depression, pneumonia Flush area with warm water and prevent aspiration pneumonia, avoid gastric lavage
pencil graphite GI irritation demulcent
perfumes volatile oils local skin irritation, pneumonitis, excitement, coma if ingested - gastric or crop lavage with a weak bicarbonate solution. Prevent aspiration. Fresh air
overheated non-stick cookware, heat lamps, irons and ironing board covers pine oils, phenols vomiting, diarrhea, central nervous system depression, mild seizures and death If ingested -- gastric lavage, mineral oil. Fumes -- fresh air immediately
Poor seed quality mycotoxins, aflatoxin GI irritation, oral necrosis, secondary infections due to immunosuppression clean feed, antibiotics for secondary infections
Shampoo laurel sulfates, triethanolamine dodecyl sulfate diarrhea, mucous production activated charcoal or kaolin orally
Salt sodiam chloride GI irritation, dehydration, depression, weakness, death rehydration, offer small amounts of water often, supportive care
Source: Avian Medicine: Principles and Application, Ritchie, Harrison and Harrison p1031

Other commonly found toxins and their potential effects on our birds

Alcohol Depression, regurgitation, death
Chocolate vomiting, diarrhea, death
Cigarette smoke dermatitis, sinusitis, pneumonitis
Copper Amemia, weakness, death
Lead Depression, CNS signs, death
Mercury Depression, hematuria, death
Nicotine Depression, coma, death
Nitrates Anorexia, vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions, death
Sodium chloride Depression, convulsions, death
Ticarcillin Hepatotoxicity
Vitamin D3 Calcification of kidneys and other organs
Zinc Depression, vomiting, death
Source: Avian Medicine: Principles and Application, Ritchie, Harrison and Harrison p1032

Harmful Plants

Note: parts of these plants (bulbs, leaves, stems, or bark) maybe poisonous.

Amaryllis Deadly amanita Jerusalem cherry Oleander
Azalea Death camas Jimsonweed Philodendron
Balsam pear Delphinium Juniper Poison ivy
Baneberry Deiffenbachia Lantana Poinsettia
Bird of paradise Eggplant Larkspur Pikeweed
Black locust Elephant's ear (taro) Laurel Potato
Blue-green algae (some forms toxic) English Ivy Lily of the valley Privet
Boxwood False henbane Lobelia Rhododendron
Buckthorn Foxglove Locoweed Rhubarb
Buttercup Golden chain Lords and ladies Rosary peas
Calla lily Hemlock, poison Marijuana Skunk cabbage
Caladium Hemlock, water Mayapple Snowdrop
Caster bean (caster oil) Henbane Mescal bean Snow on the mountain
Chalice vine Holly Mistletoe Sweet pea
Cherry tree Horse chestnut Mock orange Tobacco
Christmas candle Hyacinth Monkshood Virginia creeper
Coral plant Hydrangea Morning glory Wisteria
Daffodil Indian turnip Narcissus Yam bean
Daphne Iris Nightshades Yew
Datura Java bean (lima bean) Oak
Source: Birds USA, 1998/99 Annual pg 143


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