When holiday festivities are underway, a parrot owner needs to be aware of potential dangers that could land a bird in the emergency pet hospital. At Thanksgiving and Christmastime, you need to be mindful of holiday decor, food and chemicals that could be toxic to your feathered friend. In addition, it's important to prevent your parrot from potential accidents in the kitchen. There are several ways to accomplish this.
Why Parrots Are Prone to Holiday Incidents (and How to Prevent Them)
The holiday season is a time of excitement. Family gatherings often include a flurry of activity in the home. It's easy to become forgetful of small details that could be potentially hazardous to your pet bird. This is especially true for first-time parrot owners with little or no experience in bird care. In the midst of the holiday hustle, keep these guidelines in mind by following six rules of parrot safety:
1. Keep Your Christmas Tree Inaccessible to Your Parrot
Parrots are naturally attracted to tree branches, especially live ones. Unlike in the wild, an indoor Christmas tree has potential dangers for a parrot. Allowing your pet to perch on the branches of a decorated Christmas tree could mean disaster, which is why you need to keep it out of reach.
All hook-billed species love to chew, and your Christmas light cords could be a temptation. Biting through the wire could electrocute your parrot, and frayed cords could be a fire hazard. Shiny tree ornaments often attract parrots as well. A curious and powerful beak could break an ornament easily, and sharp fragments could cut your pet or become impacted in the crop.
Play it safe by placing your Christmas tree in an area of the home that is off limits to your parrot. Also, don't place a mini-Christmas tree, even an artificial one, in your bird room.
2. Say No to Mistletoe (and Poinsettia)
Mistletoe and Poinsettia are common holiday plant decor in many homes. They may be pretty to look at, but if ingested, the poinsettia and mistletoe plants are toxic to birds. Holly berries, often attached to the mistletoe, may have the same toxic effect. Even a small nibble from your parrot could cause vomiting, diarrhea or respiratory issues.
Ingesting a larger amount off these holiday plants may cause organ damage, seizures and death. Play it safe and keep these plants out of the home, or in a safe location where your birds cannot gain access to them.
3. Don't Share Holiday Treats With Your Feathered Friend
Those holiday chocolates may be a welcome gift, but they need to be out of the reach of your pet parrot. Chocolate contains caffeine, theobromine and theophylline, all toxic substances to birds. When ingested, these chemicals increase heart rate, and may also cause seizures or death in a bird.
Also, don't share avocado with your pet bird, as ingesting the leaves and stems may affect respiratory function or cause cardiac arrhythmia. Rhubarb has toxic effects on birds as well. Also, keep salted chips out of Polly's reach, as excessive sodium may cause dehydration and impair kidney function.
4. Beware of Non-Stick Pots and Pans
The holiday season is a time for preparing meals, but parrot owners should choose safe cookware. Overheated non-stick pots and pans will cause toxicity in birds, and this can be fatal within a short time of exposure. As a concerned parrot owner, you might want to avoid the use of products containing polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), commonly marketed as Teflon.
PTFE toxicosis due to overheated particles in non-stick cookware and appliances, may cause respiratory failure and seizures in birds. If you notice these symptoms, you should ventilate the area and move the bird to fresh air. Seek veterinary treatment at once.
5. Don't Use Room Freshening Plug-Ins or Scented Candles
Are you considering freshening your home with invigorating holiday candles and room fresheners? Although plug-in room deodorizers and scented candles make your holiday home inviting, these should be avoided if you keep pet birds. The fumes from these chemicals are known to cause respiratory issues in all bird species. In some cases, the effects can be fatal.
6. Keep Your Parrot's Wings Clipped
A parrot with a full set of flight feathers may get into mischief, particularly during the holidays. During your holiday meal preparation, you don't want a flying bird crashing into the stove. The best way to avoid a potential accident from a scalding stove-top is to keep your bird's flight feathers trimmed. Ask your bird groomer or veterinarian to do this for you.