Top Dangers to Birds

Our pet birds can face many dangers living in our homes. The following are what I consider to be the top dangers to our feathered friends. If these dangers are a potential threat to your bird, please take steps to correct them.

1. Unclipped wings

Birds constantly replace their feath- ers (molting) so wing clipping should be repeated regularly. I recommend that both wings be clipped and that someone with experience trim your bird’s wings. While allowing a bird to fl y can promote its psychological and physical well-being, most owners do not have a safe place to allow this. A frightened bird can mistake a window or mirror for a way to escape, resulting in serious injury when they hit the object. “Free” birds can fl y into pans of boiling water, open toilets and fire replaces, causing injuries that are often fatal. If a bird is taken outside it can only take a second for a bird to fly away. Once a bird has escaped outdoors, most owners do not find their birds again.

2. Trauma

Many birds learn to climb down off of their cages and walk through the house to follow the “fl ock”. These birds can be electrocuted while chewing lamp cords, squished by closing doors, even put in washers/dryers and in many cases these accidents are fatal. Birds should be taught to “stay” when out of their cages and kept in their cage when unsupervised.

3. Toxic Fumes

Birds breathe differently than mam- mals (they are more effi cient at breathing and basically take two breaths to our one) and any airborne contaminant can cause health problems. Overheated Teflon (polytetrafl uoroethylene) releases a toxic gas that is almost immediately fatal to birds. Therefore, do not keep your bird in the kitchen and avoid using non-stick cookware, if possible. Common aerosol products (hairspray, perfumes), clean- ing agents/disinfectants and paint fumes can cause disease in your bird. If you are not sure about a product, don’t use it or move your bird to a well-ventilated area. Never allow smoking around your bird. Exposure to second hand smoke can cause skin, eye, and respiratory disease. Most birds exposed to smoking develop sinusitis, conjunctivitis, coughing, and feather problems.

4. Other Animals

Injuries caused by a dog or cat are of- ten life-threatening to birds. The bacteria in a cat and dog’s mouth can cause a fatal sepsis (infection). If you think your bird has been bitten or scratched, take it to a veterinarian immediately, sometimes the injury is not always noticeable.

5. Hand feeding

Birds do not have to be hand fed to ‘bond’ with an owner. Hand feeding is not something that can easily be done, it defi nitely takes practice. Improper feeding temperatures (both too hot and too cold), wrong consistency, and dirty utensils are just some of the problems I see. Birds can suffer aspiration pneumonia, crop burns, crop tears, and infection, all from improper hand feeding techniques. Do not buy birds that are not already weaned.

Submitted by Carol J. Gamble, DVM, Diplomate – ABVP Avian Practice Brookeville Animal Hospital 22201 Georgia Avenue Brookeville, MD 20833 301-774-9698

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