Pet Health Hospital

Bird Toxins

BIRD TOXINS

TOXINS IN THE HOME

By David Hannon, DVM, Dipl. ABVP-Avian

With the holidays approaching, it’s time to keep an eye on all of our birds as our houses are inundated friends and relatives, gifts and trinkets and new foods and drinks. The following is a list of some common household items that are potentially toxic to your birds. For more information about how these toxins work, their clinical symptoms, and their treatment, please refer to the new edition of Avian Medicine: Principles and Applications, by Ritchie, Harrison, and Harrison, or contact your avian veterinarian.

Household Cleaners

bleach

pool chemicals

ammonia

anionic and cationic detergents

drain cleaner

furniture polish

paint/varnish remover

pine oil disinfectants

Sources of Lead

lead weights (curtain, fishing, etc.)

bells with lead clappers

batteries

solder

bullets/shotgun pellets

lead-based paint

lead-free paint with leaded drying agents

hardware cloth

galvanized wire

champagne and wine bottle foil

bases of light bulbs

linoleum

contaminated bone meal and dolomite products

glazed ceramics

costume jewelry

plaster

contaminated cuttlefish bone

stained glass windows

seeds for planting (coated with lead arsenate)

some lubricants

mirror backings

lead putty

Tiffany lamps

leaded gasoline fumes

some welds on wrought iron cages

Other Heavy Metals

Zinc (galvanized metal, pennies minted after 1982, Monopoly game pieces)

Copper (copper wire, pennies minted before 1982, copper sulfate, copper-covered items, over-supplementation in diet)

Mercury (thermometers, mirror backings, mercury switches in thermostats)

Toxic Inhalants

most nonstick surfaces (Teflon)

gasoline fumes

hair dryer fumes

smoke (any source)

automobile exhaust/carbon monoxide

self-cleaning ovens

bug bombs and pesticide strips and sprays

hair sprays and permanents

chemical sprays

glues, paint, and nail polish

mothballs

flouropolymers from spray starch

burning foods and cooking oils

boiling vinegar fumes

Toxic Plants

The list of toxic plants is too extensive to include here, but a very good list can be found on pp. 66-67 of the November 1993 issue of Bird Talk Magazine.

Toxic Foods

avocado

chocolate

caffeine

alcoholic beverages

rhubarb, excessive amounts of spinach, and tea (oxalates)

poor grade peanuts and moldy grains (fungal toxins)

apple, apricot, cherry, peach, and pear seeds

green potatoes

vitamin oversupplementation

excessive amounts of salt

Other Toxins

deodorants

fireworks

petroleum products

matches

pencils (graphite)

perfumes

rodenticides

insecticides

herbicides

rubbing alcohol

styptic pencil

shampoo

tobacco products

formaldehyde

many over-the-counter and prescription drugs

acetone

antifreeze

denture cleaner

If your bird ingests, inhales, or contacts something on this list, contact your veterinarian immediately. If you bird ingests something that is not on this list, and you want to know if it is toxic, contact your veterinarian, or call Poison Control at

528-6048 for information.

References:

1. Ritchie, Harrison, and Harrison, Avian Medicine: Principles and Applications, 2nd Ed., 1994, Winger Publishing Co., Lake Worth, FL, pp. 1030-1052.

2. Lablonde, J., Avian Toxicology, Vet Clinics of North America, Vol 21:6, Nov. 1991, pp. 1329-1342.