Major Sources of Poisoning in Pet Birds:

First Aid Instructions following Toxic Exposure

Toxicities in Your HomeNon-toxic Household Products

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).



Cleaning Products


Toxic Foods / Plants




Other, including Heavy Metals: Lead can be found in curtain (drapery) weights, curtain pulls, leaded and stained glass, fishing sinkers and ammunition carelessly discarded in ashtrays or dropped on the floor, jewelry*, and in the lead wrapping around the tops of wine bottles, to name the most common sources.


Ref: Clinician Notebook

*Ladies! Our birds love to chew on our jewelry when they sit on our shoulders. Please do not allow them to do so! It’s best to take off jewelry when having your bird with you. Birds playing with your jewelry will ingest minute particles and this has the potential of killing them! Many pet birds died from this. Keep yours safe!


Common Household Hazards:

Toxins Sources Clinical Signs
Nicotine Tobacco products
  • Occur quickly after ingestion, usually within 15-45 minutes.Excitation, tachypnea, salivation and emesis.With severe cases, muscular weakness, twitching, depression, tachycardia,dyspnea, collapse, coma or cardiac arrest.Death occurs secondary to respiratory paralysis.
Products containing cationic detergents Liquid potpourri, fabric softeners, germicides and sanitizers
  • Dermal exposure: erythema, edema, intense pain and ulceration.Ocular (eye) exposure: mild irritation to severe corneal injury.Oral exposure: tissue necrosis and inflammation of the mouth, tongue, pharynx, and esophagus
Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)-coated utensil Overheated (above 280°C) cooking utensils with nonstick surfaces
  • Rales, dyspnea, ataxia, depression, restless behavior and acute death.
Avocado (Persea Americana) Leaves, fruit, bark and seeds of somespecies (toxic principle unknown)

Small birds:

  • respiratory distress, generalized congestion, hydropericardium,anasarca and death.
  • Onset occurs after 12 hours of ingestion, with death occurring within 1-2 days of the time of exposure.

Large birds:

  • nonspecific signs = reduced activity, fluffing of feathers and labored respiration
Plants containing calcium oxalate crystals Dieffenbachia (dumb cane), philodendron, pothos, peace lily*, schefflera
  • Dysphagia, regurgitation, inappetence.If ingested, crystals can cause oral irritation, intense burning and irritation of oral cavity.
Ref: Clinician Notebook


Toxins Cause of Action

Examples of Noxious Inhalants

  • Some nonstick surfaces (irons and ironing board covers, pots and pans, woks, drip pans)
  • Teflon / non-stick surfaces
  • Carpet and upholstery fresheners
  • Carpet and upholstery cleaners
  • Gasoline fumes
  • Smoke (any source)
  • Automobile exhaust/carbon monoxide
  • Self-cleaning ovens
  • Insecticide sprays and foggers
  • Chemical sprays (e.g., disinfectants, deodorizers, furniture polish)
  • Glues, paints, nail polish
  • Ammonia or bleach
  • Mothballs
  • Burning foods and cooking oils
  • Fumigants (sulfuryl fluoride, aluminum phosphide)
  • Aerosols

Common Toxic Foods / Plants

Inhalant Exposure

  • Remove bird from source and supply fresh air immediately!

Your vet may choose the following therapies:

  • Humidify oxygen therapy.
  • Provide diuretics for pulmonary edema.
  • Bronchodilators may be helpful.
  • Give anti-inflammatory drugs* and broad-spectrum antibiotics.
  • Provide thermal regulation and nutritional support.
  • Hydration therapy may be necessary


  • Gently flush eyes with tepid tap water or saline for 20-30 minutes.
  • Use eyedropper to flush in small birds.
  • Perform fluorescein staining and followup exams in cases of exposures to corrosive agents or if redness, pain or ocular (eye) discharge occurs

Dermal Exposure:

  • Stabilize bird first!
  • Do not remove toxicants from feathers if bird is seriously ill.
  • With light dermal exposures, wash gently with solution of mild liquid dishwashingdetergent (e.g., Dawn) and warm water, rub gently, then rinse with plain warmwater to remove soap. Repeat if needed.
  • With heavy dermal exposures, a thorough bath may be indicated. Pat dry, keep warmand monitor for signs of hypothermia.
  • Because detergent may seep between the feather barbs, multiple rinses may be required
  • An E-collar may be necessary to prevent ingestion of toxicant.
Ref: Clinician Notebook


Safe / Healthy: Trees with Safe Wood for Perches and ToysSafe DisinfectantsNatural Pest Control

Safe Disinfectants / Natural Pest Control

First Aid

Heavy Metal Toxicity

Lead in your Drinking Water

Find Your Local Avian Veterinarian

Information contained on this website is provided as general reference only. For application to specific circumstances, professional advice should be sought.


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