The below information may help you avoid tragedy ...
The Avianweb wishes you all a happy and HEALTHY holiday season
Baking and Cooking for the Season
As we all are anticipating the holiday season, many of us enjoy the process of baking and cooking for our loved ones. However, too many heart-breaking stories come to light where beloved pet birds die needlessly, because people just don't realize what poses real dangers to our pet birds.
One of the main causes of death is fumes emitted by non-stick coating (PTFE), which are odorless and invisible. Birds die an extremely painful and agonizing death when exposed to these fumes. These fumes may not kill all the birds at the same time. The toxins travel on air currents; furthermore, the size of the bird is also a factor.
Most pet owners already know the dangers that non-stick pans can pose, but they are oblivious to the fact that any items with non-stick coating pose the same dangers.
"Slow cookers" with a metal interior often have a non-stick (Teflon) coating. Safer choices are stockpots made of ceramic, stainless steel, or other safe metal.
Now we can buy Aluminum Foil with Non-stick Coating (made by Renolds Wrap). This foil is also referred to as "quick release style". One person who did some baking with such nonstick-coated aluminum foil lost her pet birds shortly afterwards because of toxic off-gassing.
Self-cleaning ovens: The clean-up can be equally hazardous to our pet. It is important not to run the self-cleaning cycle on ovens when birds are around. Self-cleaning ovens are lined with PTFE (Teflon) and reach 900 degrees Fahrenheit during the self-cleaning cycle and emit gasses into the air that kill birds rather quickly.
- Natural Trees: Avoid sharp needle trees. Choose pine and fir Christmas trees that have soft needles. Also be aware that many trees are treated with pesticides as well as chemically treated so that they will last longer.
- Older artificial trees may have been made with PVC and putting those trees near heat, like a fireplace, may cause toxic fumes to be emitted. Allan Hirsch of the California Environmental Protection Agency also warns that, " some of the plastics will dissolve into a dust and lead will be in that dust." Ingesting lead, especially by children and pets, can be toxic.
- Water: Some dogs and cats like to drink the tree water. Even though the water itself is not poisonous, any fertilizer that may have been added could be. Fertilizers may cause pets to suffer with diarrhea and vomiting. It is best to try to prevent the pets from drinking tree water by keeping it covered.
- Climbing Pets: Many cats love to climb the Christmas tree. This by itself is not dangerous, unless the tree is knocked over - and that could lead to injury or fire.
- Pets should be kept away from metallic ornaments that can break into sharp pieces resulting in cuts. Also consider possible lead on tree ornaments - especially if they are older or made outside the United States. Tree ornaments (or parts of them) can also be ingested possibly leading to internal blockage. Also, glass ornaments and lights commonly leave cuts and lacerations in the mouth if chewed.
- Non-toxic and attractive holiday decorations can be made using cranberries, popcorn, or any other food item that can be strung without getting rotten.
Tinsel and Angel Hair
- Can present entanglement and internal digestive system blockage hazards for pets, including birds.
Decorative electrical lights and cords:
- Holiday light cords with the warning label contain at least 2% lead. Consumers are advised to wash their hands after handling them and keep children away. They are highly toxic to pets.
- Make sure the cords are well hidden as birds may be tempted to chew the cords, which can result in burns and electrocution.
Toxic Plants: There are a few popular holiday plants to be careful with during the Christmas season (listed below). If your pet comes into contact with these plants it is best to call your veterinarian. Many plants cause vomiting and diarrhea. These symptoms may be avoided if treatment for toxicity is started immediately.
- Christmas tree pine needles: Can produce oral irritation, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, trembling and posterior weakness.
- Holly: Can cause intense vomiting, diarrhea and depression.
- Mistletoe: Another Christmas plant, ingestion can cause significant vomiting and diarrhea, difficulty breathing, collapse, erratic behavior, hallucinations and death.
- Poinsettia: Can cause irritation to the mouth and stomach and sometimes vomiting
The yule logs that provide us with colorful flames contain heavy metal salts that are toxic if ingested. Of course, open flames also present significant dangers to pets.
Pets are best kept out of a room with any open flames, unless protective covers are applied to stop any fumes from leaking into the room and to prevent pets from jumping or flying into an open flame.
Candles and Volatile Oils:
Toxic Fumes: Candles, potpourri and incense can contain volatile oils that are toxic to birds. Fragrant holiday candles (such as Glade brand) have been implicated in the death of pet parrots. In one case, the vet attributed a pet bird's death directly to the exposure of candle fumes. Necropsy results indicated that all was normal, except for erosive damage to the bird's lung tissue.
- Instead of potpourri or air fresheners, boil simple herbs such as mint, cloves or cinnamon to scent your house.
Burning / Injury: Flight into a burning candle can result in injury or a tragic fire.
- Keep flighted birds caged when open flames are present and purchase bird safe, unscented candles.
Avoid using metallic gift wraps and bows as they may contain toxic metals. If you like to wrap your pet's gifts up, use the fun cartoon pages of newspapers, non-glossy, non-metallic paper; cellophane or tissue.
- Resist the temptation to share fatty, sugary and salty treats with your bird.
- Large numbers of guests can be a source of significant stress for your pets. If a good number of visitors are expected, it's best to make sure to provide your pets with a safe place they escape to.
First Aid Instructions following Toxic Exposure
In a life-and-death situation when every minute counts for an animal, you can call the ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center for 24-hour emergency information at 888-4ANI-HELP (888-426-4435).
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