Many homes harbor seemingly benign substances that can be dangerous to birds – sometimes even fatal. Here’s a list of eight common household items that can cause problems for your pet.
Vapors from oils in scented candles, potpourri and incense are all toxic to birds. Never keep them in a room where your pet spends any time.
Tobacco is harmful to your health – and your bird’s. Cigar and cigarette smoke as well as pipe tobacco are all dangerous. Even traces of nicotine on your hands or clothes can cause dermatitis and foot problems if the bird comes in contact with it.
Non-stick coatings on pots and pans – such as Silverstone and Teflon – are highly toxic to birds if they overheat. Even a non-stick ironing board cover can cause problems if it scorches. The best rule is to keep all non-stick products out of the house.
Houseplants. Philodendron, daffodil and iris bulbs, holly berries, oleander are all toxic. Most ferns are safe, but if you’re planning to bring home a plant, check with your veterinarian to make sure it’s safe for your bird.
Foods. Avocados are toxic to birds.
Lead and other heavy metals. If you live in an old house, flaking paint can be a problem. So can antique furniture and stained-glass. Also, items such as curtain weights, fishing weights, costume jewelry and any kind of metal hardware that may chip or flake should be kept away from the bird. These items can contain cadmium, zinc or lead, which are toxic. If you think your bird has been chewing on any such object, get him to the vet right away. If the metal is still in his crop, or gullet, the vet may be able to flush it out; if traces of the metal have already entered the digestive system, your bird may be in for long – and costly – treatment.
Household sprays. Carpet fresheners, furniture polish, tile and tub cleaners, insecticides and so on are all harmful to birds. On housecleaning days, take the bird out of the room while cleaning and bring him back after the room has been thoroughly aired.
Hairsprays, aerosol deodorants and other sprays are problematic, too. Don’t let your bird perch on your shoulder as you style your hair with a spray.
Plastic pot handles can release toxic fumes if they overheat. Even certain kinds of woods can cause problems when burned in a fireplace that isn’t well vented.