Since this Thanksgiving is this week and the constant cooking of holiday season commences at this time of year, we thought this would be a good time to make you aware of the potential risks to your birds.
Several years ago the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center in conjunction with the Association of Avian Veterinarians endorsed a brochure titled Breathing Easy: Safeguarding Your Pet Bird from Dangers in the Kitchen. This educational pamphlet was sponsored by DuPont and the Cookware Manufacturers Association (CMA), and includes safety tips by Dr. Karen Rosenthal, Director of Special Species Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.
“The kitchen is just one of many places in the household that could pose danger to pet birds,” says Dana Farbman, CVT, spokesperson for the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. “Our Center is very excited about this new brochure, as it can help bird owners safeguard their feathered companions from common household hazards.” Birds are extremely sensitive to inhalant fumes, and it is important for bird owners to be aware that any type of cookware – not just non-stick – can be harmful to your pet bird if left unattended and allowed to overheat.
The brochure offered several key safety tips for pet bird owners, especially during the holiday season when we are all cooking much more often than usual:
- Always keep pet birds out of the kitchen before cooking – Many veterinarians urge pet owners to keep their birds in a room other than the kitchen. However, if the kitchen is your family’s – and your bird’s – favorite place to flock, always move your pet into another room before cooking.
- Never leave heated cookware unattended – Sadly, fatalities can result when birds and cooking pots or pans are left together in the kitchen unattended—even for just a few minutes. Cooking fumes from any type of overheated cookware – not just non-stick – can damage a bird’s lungs with alarming speed. And if your bird is out of his cage, he might come too close to the hot burner.
- Never preheat your cookware on high heat – If accidentally overheated, Teflon and other non-stick cookware, which contain polytetrafluoroethylene, can emit fumes and particles that may be harmful to birds. The fact is, any type of cookware pre-heated with cooking oils, fats, margarine or butter can harm your bird.
- Always keep your kitchen well-ventilated – It is important to make sure that your kitchen is properly ventilated, so open windows or turn on exhaust & ceiling fans or both. In addition to cooking fumes, birds are highly sensitive to a variety of other fumes, such as aerosol sprays, non-stick sprays, spray starch, perfumes, smoke, self-cleaning ovens and cooking gas.
Many bird enthusiasts are familiar with the hazards that overheated non-stick cookware can pose, but may not know that other cookware preheated with oil, fats, margarine or butter could also emit dangerous fumes if allowed to overheat.
“It’s crucial that bird owners always keep their birds out of the kitchen while cooking,” advises Ms. Farbman, “cookware should never be left unattended or preheated on high heat, and steps should be taken to make sure that the kitchen is properly ventilated.” Cooking fumes, smokes and odors that have little or no effect on people, can seriously sicken birds, often quite quickly. Birds are also highly sensitive to a variety of other common household fumes such as: aerosol sprays, perfumes, potpourri, scented candles, tobacco smoke, pesticide sprays, glue, paints, self-cleaning ovens and cooking gas.
Avian veterinarians agree that dangers in the household for birds lurk in many seemingly innocent places—and the kitchen is just one example. “Birds have unique respiratory systems so owners must take the necessary steps to protect them from the potentially dangerous environments of our modern homes,” said Dr. Karen Rosenthal.
This holiday cooking season, and all year, be sure to follow these tips to keep your pet bird safe. For more bird safety tips, visit the ASPCA’s website, www.aspca.org and check out the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.