If you are a first-time parrot owner (or new owner of any avian species), you need to be aware of the hazards that could land your new feathered friend in the pet hospital. Unfortunately, many first-time bird owners are unaware of certain household dangers that could make their pets seriously ill, as well as other issues that commonly affect pet birds. Avian care differs greatly from that of pet dogs and cats.
Here is a list of dos and don'ts for the new bird owner:
1. DO find yourself a qualified avian veterinarian with on-call staff to treat any after-hours pet emergency: If you own a dog or cat, don't assume your vet will treat your bird as well. Avian physiology is quite complex, and birds require specialized care. Ask your bird breeder or exotic bird store for an avian veterinarian recommendation before you bring your new friend home. Keep the name and number of the vet on hand and be prepared for any emergency. You should also keep track of your pet's health records, as it will be helpful during an emergency visit in the future.
2. DON'T leave your pet out of its cage unsupervised around other pets: You may think your dog or cat is well behaved and not aggressive towards other pets, but a bird in the home may peak the curiosity of other pets. A swipe of the paw or playful nip could seriously injure or even kill a pet bird. Crushing injuries could cause internal injuries or severe bleeding.
Don't take the risk. When your bird is out of its cage for daily exercise (preferably on a play stand or bird gym), keep it separated from other pets. Close the door to the bird room and do not allow your dog or cat to enter. For extra protection, keep your bird's cage and play gym at a level where other pets cannot reach it.
3. DO Keep Your Pet Bird's Wings Clipped: You may think your unclipped pet is safe flying around the house under supervision, but dangers do lurk. All it takes is the opening of a door or window for your pet to escape and be gone forever or injured from outside dangers. A fast-flying bird may also become crushed in a slamming door. Ask your vet to clip both wings, enabling the bird to merely glide rather than fly. You'll need to have the wings clipped after each full molt, when the newly formed flight feathers have grown back.
4. DON'T Burn Non-Stick Cookware or Use Room Deodorizers Around Birds: It's been proven that fumes from over-heated non-stick coatings are toxic to birds. While these fumes (caused by polytetrafluoroethylene or PTFE) may be unnoticed by you, your parrot may become seriously ill and require emergency treatment if exposed. Pet birds have been known to die due to exposure from non-stick cookware burned at high heat. If your bird shows symptoms of toxicity, such as respiratory distress (open-beak breathing), vomiting or inability to perch, remove it to fresh air and seek emergency treatment at once from a professional clinic, such as Mainland Animal Emergency Clinic emergency vet clinic. It is a good idea to play it safe by not using products made with non-stick coating. Additionally, room deodorizers, especially the plug-in variety, may cause respiratory issues in pet birds. Because of a bird's delicate respiratory system, particles from deodorizers that are dispersed into the air become toxic to birds. You should not use any type of deodorizer or room freshener in the vicinity of your pet bird. The same applies to scented candles, incense, carpet deodorizers and potpourri.
5. DO familiarize yourself with foods that are toxic to birds: Keep chocolate (of any variety, including milk, dark and white) out of your pet's reach. Also, do not allow pet birds to consume avocado, apple seeds, onion or garlic. All of these foods should not be given to birds, as they may cause illness.
If you have any questions or concerns about the safety or health of your new pet bird, ask your avian specialist for advice. Remember, bird ownership will require an entirely different set of rules than what you may be accustomed to. A little knowledge will go a long way in helping to ensure your pet enjoys a safe and healthy life.