Items and Foods that are Toxic to Pet Birds

April 21, 2015 in Aerowood Animal Hospital

Do you have a pet bird? Here is a list of items to watch out for that could be poisonous if ingested or inhaled by birds.


  1. Lead – Thanks to increased awareness of the health problems caused by lead, the use of this metal in the home is decreasing. However, there are still sources of lead that owners should be aware of including the use of lead-based paints on imported bird cages and toys. In addition, the foil wrappers on champagne and wine bottles, curtain weights, and stained glass are also potential sources of lead. Symptoms of lead poisoning in birds include depression, weakness, loss of appetite and weight, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst and urination, and seizures.
  2. Zinc – Since lead is being used less, zinc is now the most common metal poisoning in pet birds. Galvanized products such as wire cages, mesh, staples, nails, metal food and water bowls and toys contain zinc. Other sources include fertilizers, some paints, dandruff shampoos, and U.S. pennies minted after 1982. Zinc toxicity shares the same symptoms as lead toxicity.
  3. Avocado – Consuming avocado pits can be fatal for all birds. Signs of avocado poisoning include agitation, feather-pulling, lethargy, loss of appetite, difficulty breathing, and death.
  4. Teflon – “Teflon toxicity” is a very common airborne form of poisoning in pet birds. Birds have unique respiratory systems that make them more sensitive to toxins in the air than mammals. Teflon is often found in nonstick cookware, irons, and ironing boards. When the products surface is heated past a certain temperature, toxic particles and gases are released into the air. Another source can be stain-guard treatment applied to upholstered furniture. In mild cases, symptoms can include difficulty breathing, loss of coordination, and depression or anxiety. Higher levels of exposure can be fatal.
  5. Inhaled toxins – Other potentially harmful sources for inhaling toxins include wood burning fireplaces, tobacco smoke, air fresheners and sprays, scented candles, paints, glues, cleaning products, mothballs, hair spray, perfumes, and nail polish.


When using products around your home that give off strong fumes, move your bird to a separate room and open windows to ensure good ventilation. During home construction, remodeling projects, or intensive house cleaning, consider boarding your pet bird with a family member or friend until complete.


If you suspect your pet bird has been poisoned, seek immediate veterinary attention.

Bird Toxic Poisons

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