A partridge in a pear tree may not be a good idea during the holiday season. The holidays are a festive time for you and your bird, but can present special challenges to bird owners. Birds may not cope well with new sights and sounds that accompany the holiday season. These new things can represent big changes, even if your bird never leaves his cage. With some care, you can help minimize the holiday hazards for your bird and make the season safe for you and your bird.
- Christmas Tree-
Decorated trees are magnets for birds because of the many hanging ornaments, tinsel and the fact that it is a tree. Many trees are sprayed with chemicals, fertilizers and insecticides to keep them fresh and can be harmful when absorbed/inhaled. Flocking and artificial snow are also dangerous to birds because of their toxic nature.
2. Holiday Plants-
Prevent access to holiday plants which include:
English Ivy (Hedera helix)
Holly (Ilex spp.)
Mistletoe (Viscum album)
Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima)
Yew (Cephalotaxus sp.)
3. Electric Wires-
Electrical wires are temptations for birds which they love to chew on and can lead to electrocution or serious burns. It is important to conceal all wires with pet-proof covers and never allow you bird unsupervised around wires that can not be covered such as lights on trees and around windows.
Inexpensive ornaments may contain heavy metals or other dangerous material. Ribbons and tinsel are chewing temptations for birds which lead to intestinal blockages.
- Fumes –
Scented candles, potpourri, room fresheners, cleaning agents, second-hand cigarette smoke, and nonstick pots and pans are all potentially dangerous because of the strong fumes they omit. Remember super heated Teflon (polytetrafluoroethylene) is known to be toxic to birds, causing respiratory distress or even death. Birds have a highly efficient respiratory tract which leads to them inhaling irritating and toxic particles easier and in higher quantities compared to mammals.
- Furry Visitors-
Be aware of any visiting dog and cats. Visiting animal’s predatory instant may cause them to hunt and attack. Even the nicest pets have been known, when given the opportunity, to attack and kill birds. If visiting animals do enter your home, keep them separated from your bird and remain vigilant.
- Holiday Cooking/Food-
Be aware of boiling water and frying food. Companion birds may accidentally fly into cooking food leading to burns and possible death. Many holiday foods can cause serious illness in pet birds. Refrain from sharing salty snacks, items containing caffeine, avocados, alcohol, and rhubarb. Chocolate, which contains theobromine, should never be fed to birds due to its toxic nature. Sweet treats can be irritating to the gastrointestinal tract of birds and therefore should be avoided.
During the holiday season it is important to remember your pet’s safety. If an accident does happen, be prepared with contact information for your veterinarian. Remember during the holiday season office hours many be limited or your local avian veterinarian may be off for the holidays. Be prepared with the phone number for an emergency veterinarian to care for your bird. If poisoning is suspected seek medical attention immediately and contact The Animal Poison Control Center so your veterinarian can be prepared to treat your pet with the best medical care. With some care, you can help minimize the dangers during the holidays and make the holiday season safe for your bird.
– Meghan, GVH Veterinary Technician