Home Safety / Common Household Hazards

Bird Health Care

Toxicities / Poisoning ... Safe Foods / Plants / Woods ... Toy Safety ... Cage Safety ... Emergency First Aid

 
Keep Your Homes Healthy: Trees with Safe Wood for Perches and Toys ... Safe Alternatives for Toxic Household Cleaners ... Safe Disinfectants ... Natural Pest Control ... Air Filtration Systems

Air Quality

 

Birds are especially sensitive to contaminants in the air.

  • Aerosol products of any kind should not be used around your bird.

  • Cigarette smoke has been implicated in chronic respiratory problems in pet birds.

  • Carbon monoxide is also dangerous to birds, so use a carbon monoxide detector in the home, and be careful not to run your vehicle in an attached garage.

  • Plug-in Air Fresheners, Scented Candles, Potpourri, Artificial Scented Flowers, Scented Soap, Some perfumes have great potential for toxic fumes. Do not use around birds and do not spray on any item that your bird may chew.

  • Aerosols / Sprays: Mosquito sprays, cleaning sprays, Lysol, etc. should not be sprayed while your bird is present in the room. They are toxic when inhaled by the bird and will lead to health problems or even death. Also, do not use cleaners/ chemicals on items the bird might chew.

  • Kitchen Fumes / Hazards: The kitchen presents the most dangerous environment for your bird. Steam and fumes burden the respiratory passages in birds. Overheated cooking oil can be as lethal to birds as teflon fumes. Be sure to remove birds from the kitchen immediately if you burn oil, and vent the room thoroughly. Stove tops and ovens are dangerous zones for pet birds to be anywhere close to. Keep birds away from the kitchen, and keep the house ventilated.

  • Cleaners, Aerosols, Febreeze: Avoid the use of aerosolized chemicals around your birds. Remove your bird from the environment until the smell has completely subsided. Do not use aerosols on items the bird might chew.

  • Ozone Generating Air Cleaning System and Ozonators - Helpful or Harmful?

  • Teflon / Non-stick Cookware / Surfaces

 

Animals / Other Pets:

I have always had a mixed households, with birds, cats and dogs happily living side-by-side. However, I am well aware of the risks associated with some an arrangement. Cats that have not grown up with birds / are new to companion birds may try to catch your bird, and or bite or scratch it; with the potential to cause infection and/or injury. Keep a close eye on other family pets and their interaction with the family bird. Never trust a bird and another animal to be alone together. If you are keeping birds and have dogs and cats also, you will need a very sturdy cage, which cannot be toppled. Small, flimsy cages only ask for trouble. Don't leave your bird outside the house unsupervised. An outdoor cage should have covered top and side protection and the bars should be very small (or double wired) so that no wild birds can touch them, or get used to any bird parasites.

At the very least, wild birds and other animals carry bacteria that are toxic to parrots

In addition to that danger, I have talked to bird owners whose birds were killed by wild animals -- even while they were in their cages. Wild animals can topple cages over. Even aviaries pose a risk to your bird. Wild animals can scare the birds to a point where they end up injured on the floor from crashing against the aviary walls trying to escape. I talked to one owner who literally found nothing but small pieces of her cockatoo, when she came home from work. Especially those hanging aviaries -- those allow easy access to any bird that lays injured at the bottom of it.
 

Ceiling Fans:

Serious injuries have occurred when flighted birds fly into them. I recommend against using them when your bird is out of his or her cage.


 

Chemicals / Cleaning Products:

When cleaning the house, move birds to a different room so that they can't inhale the toxins. If you can smell it, it's potentially toxic for the birds. The same applies to carpet shampooing - move birds from the area, and then ventilate the room thoroughly after the work is finished.

Also Note:


 

Clipped Birds:

Bird with clipped wings need to be observed when walking around the house; especially when you have visitors who are not used to having "parrot" traffic on the floor, or kids who may not pay attention. Your bird will risk being stepped on or kicked. It is far safer to lock your pet birds up when visitors and young kids are around.


 

Dangerous Bird Toys


 

Electrical Cords:

Birds explore with their beaks, and exposed electrical cords pose a danger of electric shock from biting through them; in addition to which a damaged electric cord represents a fire hazard. Obviously, large parrots will be able to chew through cords in absolutely no time, but even small parrots can do damage over time. I would recommend keeping cords away from your birds. Conceal cords as much as possible. Some people I know have covered their electric cords with corrugated plastic tubing, which is available at the hardware store.


 

Glass / Costume Jewelry / Beads:

Objects that are small enough to be chewed or swallowed cause injury / death. Parrots love to chew / play with Costume Jewelry - which also puts them at risk of injury (ingestion) or poisoning.


 

Leg Bands:

Leg bands can get caught in open wires, hooks, or on toys. It can lead to serious injuries or even be fatal, if a bird is trapped and no one is there to rescue it.


 

Home Renovations:

Home improvement projects are generally dangerous for birds. Adhesive or paint fumes are deadly to birds. Please remove your bird from any areas that are under renovation; or shares "air space" with the renovated area -- as the toxic fumes will easily move from one area to the next. Maybe board your bird with a friend until the situation is stabilized at home.


 

Smothering:

Some birds like to crawl under a cushion or blanket, which puts them at risk of being smothered or sat upon by people or other pets. Some people allow their birds to sleep with them. My lovebird used to sleep on a pillow next to my head, and it worked well for many months. Unfortunately, one day, for whatever reason, he crawled underneath my cover and I rolled over on him. Nowadays, I don't allow my birds to be near me when I am sleepy.


 

Temperature:

Birds can overheat and die, or get chilled and die. I like to have my bird cages near or by a window. However, please ensure that your bird has a way to escape out of the sun. Maybe covering half of the cage with a towel (making sure that your bird doesn't chew on it or pulls out any threads that could strangle him or her). Never leave your bird outside in the sun without any shade. Throughout the day the sun will go onto different angles, leaving your bird exposed to direct sunlight and no shade at all. Provide some type of cover to allow your bird to escape direct sun exposure. Offering a water dish to allow your bird to bathe and cool down is also highly recommended (not deep enough for your bird to drown, obviously). Birds generally love bathing, and it keeps their feathers clean and in good condition.


 

Toxicities / Poisons (inhaled, ingested, absorbed through the skin):

In-depth information on toxicities in the household.


 

Toxic or Inappropriate Food Items / Poisoning


 

Water Quality:

I have long gotten into the habit of not serving tap water to my pets, as I wouldn't drink it myself. I only provide them with them with purified filtered water or bottled water. Some bird owners boil the water to get rid of any pathogens. However, that does not get rid of any toxicities (heavy metals, chemical, radiological contaminants). Please refer to the "Just Add Water" report - by the Environmental Working Group for information - on tap water quality.

DID YOU KNOW? How Safe Is Your Shower Water? "Volatile organics can evaporate from water in a shower or bath."* * from: Is Your Water Safe to Drink? Consumer Reports Books "A long, hot shower can be dangerous. The toxic chemicals are inhaled in high concentrations." -from: Bottom Line; Dr. John Andelman, PhD. "Water is chlorinated to kill microorganisms, but the Chlorine also kills the healthy probiotic bacteria in the intestines." -from: Restoring Your Digestive Health; Jordan S. Rubin, N. MD., PhD. "Avoiding contact with chlorinated water is of the utmost importance. This includes bathing water and drinking water. Chlorine kills bacteria, friendly and unfriendly, in the intestines. it can be absorbed through the skin. I recommend installing a shower filter to remove Chlorine." -from: Patient, Heal Thyself; Jordan S. Rubin, N. MD., PhD. What is the Effect of Chlorine in the Shower? Chlorine is a toxic gas which attacks living cells. It was used during World War I as a chemical warfare agent. It is used today as a additive to drinking water to kill harmful micro-organisms. While this can be an important health benefit, Chlorine itself is far from beneficial: it attacks organic material, such as the skin and skin oils, which dries out the skin and hair. Because Chlorine vaporizes along with the hot water, it is inhaled into the lungs. It is also absorbed into the skin. According to some experts, 5 times more Chlorine enters the body through the skin during a shower than enters through drinking 8 glasses of chlorinated tap water!


 

Windows, Doors, Mirrors:

Fully flighted birds may easily crash into mirrors or windows, potentially causing serious injury to themselves, or even death. Putting up blinds or some kind of covering on the windows is a good preventive step; in addition to covering mirrors. Open windows and doors constitute another risk factor. No matter how much you trust your pet, given the opportunity birds will fly away and they won't be able to find their way back. Birds easily chew through window screens and escape this way. Many parrots / pet birds are brightly colored and inexperienced outside, which makes then an easy and visible target for pray animals. Interior doors can be risky also, if the bird likes to sit on the top of an open door and someone closes the door not knowing that the bird was perching on top of it.


 

Water / Drowning Risk:

Toilets are the most common source of open water in the house, and it is strongly recommended to always put the toilet seat down. Once you get used to it, you wouldn't have it any other way. It also helps to keep the bathroom sanitary. When flushing the toilet with the toilet seat up, the bacteria in the toilet will become airborne and settle on all bathroom surfaces -- several feet away from the toilet itself. I read a report on this very topic years ago and ever since then remember it every time when I see an open toilet and tooth brushes on the sink just a couple of feet away. Other water sources to watch for are sinks, bathtubs, buckets, water bowls of household pets, or pots of potentially hot water / liquids on the stove.

Species Research by Sibylle Johnson

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