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If you are a bird enthusiast, a bird owner, or simple know someone with a bird, this article published by the Orange County Register is a must read!

Marie Hulett: Why some appliances are no friend to pets

Fumes emitted by Teflon-coated pans, self-cleaning ovens and even irons put parrots at risk of death.


Last week I received this email: “Help help…..I had no idea about the self-cleaning oven thing and I just started mine this morning for the first time ever. I did put my African Grey parrot in my office which is on the same floor on the other side of the house with the door shut. I must be dumb. I have never used a self-cleaning feature and I didn’t even know it would smell. Once I started smelling it, thinking it was a fire or something, I went out to check it. I then looked online to see about the effects on people and found the effects on birds. I have turned it off and opened all of the windows in the house and the heating system so it wouldn’t circulate it in the house. I still have my bird in the office with me and I have the fan on and all of the windows open. I am so, so scared. I have already lost one African Grey several years ago and I honestly felt like I had lost my best friend. I am by far closer to this bird than the last and I don’t want to lose him. It is only 40 degrees outside here and his wings are not clipped right now. His appointment is next week so taking him outside is out of the question. Please, please can you give me any advice….I don’t have any idea what else I can do. I am praying you see this email right away.”

As the “parent” of a parrot myself, I can understand the panic this person was experiencing. It does not take long at all for an avian family member to succumb to the toxic fumes given off during the self-cleaning operation of ovens. I generally try to remind readers about this and other common household dangers as often as possible, but the best advice I can give to everyone is to always educate yourself about pet care for your specific pet BEFORE it comes home for the first time.

Fortunately, this parrot was kept in another part of the house with the door closed which probably saved him; but generally, if you do want to use the self-cleaning feature for your oven, it’s best to pack your bird up and have him spend the day at the home of a neighbor, family member, or even your vet’s office, where he may as well get an annual checkup. Most people don’t run their self-cleaning feature more than once or twice a year anyway, so the latter option makes a lot of sense.

In addition to self-cleaning ovens, bird owners should NEVER cook with Teflon or nonstick pans. These too, give off toxic fumes and can kill birds in a matter of minutes. For people who have never had parrots as pets, it may be difficult to understand how special these companion animals are to the folks who share their homes and lives with them. Birds are extremely intelligent – even more so than dogs and cats – and have personalities like small children, well, perhaps small, bratty children! Regardless, they become beloved family members. To experience a completely preventable tragedy like this would be devastating and might also leave lasting feelings of guilt.

Other things to avoid if birds are in the household are scented candles. During the holiday season, this type of candle becomes very popular. Unfortunately, bird owners will have to be content using L.E.D. candles instead. On the bright side, you don’t have to worry about accidental fires and this type of candle is also great to use if you have cats and dogs that knock things over.

As a general rule, avoid using anything around your bird that has a strong smell of any kind. Air fresheners, hair spray, cleaning products, etc. are all examples of chemical solutions that may be dangerous. Obviously, everyone will still need to use cleaning and hair care products, but prior to doing so, move your pet birds to closed-off rooms located far away from where these chemicals will be utilized. You might also consider using more natural alternatives for cleaning, such as vinegar or baking soda.

Finally, with the holiday season well underway, remember that all pets should be kept away from festive food tables where chocolate, guacamole, and other potentially dangerous human-only treats may be accessible. Let’s make this a safe and happy holiday season for everyone.