If you’re new to the world of parrots, you’re probably used to using products like Febreeze, Pine-Sol, air fresheners, perfumes, candles, or all-natural scents such as essential oils, to freshen your home. While all of these things are safe to use around people, they can hold certain dangers when used around our pets – particularly, our feathered friends. Even right on the bottle, Febreeze products say that they are NOT suitable for use around pet birds. But, why is that?

Sereno, et al. 2008

Since birds are built to fly, their interal organs and organ systems are different from that of humans and other mammals. The respiratory system of birds consists of both lungs, and several air sacs; the presence of both of these organs makes it possible for a bird to take in oxygen, even while it is exhaling! Pretty cool, huh? (source) Unlike our respiratory system where inhaled air resides only in the lungs, birds’ bodies retain air in the lungs and air sacs; this is why the effects of inhaled toxins are more dramatic in birds than in humans and other mammals. So, it shouldn’t be any surprise that they are more sensitive to “pollution” in the air, be it aerosols, smoke, or scents.

It is known that aerosol sprays, such as furniture polishes, Febreeze and other deodorizing sprays, as well as any air freshener is a potential threat to all birds in your household. If you must use these products, make certain that your bird is not in the room and rather in a well-ventilated area of the home. Be aware that your bird may exhibit extreme side effects to inhaling air borne toxins, such as muscle weakness, difficulty breathing, loss of conciousness, and even death.

While the jury is still out on the use of essential oils in the presence of birds, extreme caution is suggested by many veterinarians. Of veterinarians I have polled on the subject, all agreed that the possible benefits of using the oils near pet birds do not out-weigh all of the possible risks. Even expensive, purified oils can present the same negative reactions as known dangers like Febreeze. The use of essential oils is a market trend; it is nearly certain that human market trends will eventually trickle into the pet market, and that is what we are seeing with the use of essential oils and pets of all kinds.

Keeping your parrots safe is a big responsibility, but it often boils down to plain common sense. What are some things you do in your daily life to ensure your birds, and other pets, are safe?

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Danger, Will Parrotson! Household Hazards for Birds: Scents, Sprays, and Candles

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