Symptoms & Treatment of Teflon Poisoning in Parrots

Keeping birds in our homes confronts us with several obstacles. Assuring the safety and well-being of our feathery companions is a significant duty that many people who keep birds as pets take seriously. Keep in mind that our houses are not a natural setting for birds and may be rather unfriendly to them in many ways. To keep them safe, owners should constantly keep an eye on their birds while they are not in their cages.

The following are extracts from Gary A. Gallerstein D.V.M.’s The Complete Bird Owner’s Handbook, Howell Book House, 1994. This great book covers all areas of bird care and health, which are important for both pet bird owners and avian professionals. We’d like to thank the author for granting us permission to share this information with you. Net Pets hopes that you will find Dr. Gallerstein’s knowledge to be a valuable resource in providing a safe habitat for your birds.


Route of Poisoning

  • Ingestion (by mouth)
  • Inhalation (by breathing)
  • Topical (Contact with skin)

If your bird is unwell and you see the following symptoms, you should suspect poisoning:

  • Chewing or playing with the box, as well as exposure to fumes or aromas, are all examples of contact with a known toxic material.
  • Containers of any dangerous material that have been opened or spilled.
  • Toxic plants have lately been chewed on.
  • A strange material was discovered on the feathers.

Signs To Watch

  • For Sudden onset of regurgitation, diarrhea, coughing, breathing problems, and/or depression.
  • Bloody droppings Redness or burns around the mouth.
  • Convulsions.
  • Paralysis.
  • Shock.

Learn more about birds’ behaviors problem explained.

First Aid For Poisoning

1. Remove the poison to prevent further ingestion.

2. If you come into touch with your eyes, flush them with lukewarm water. Flush the affected area with water if there has been skin contact. For fume poisoning, quickly ventilate the space by opening windows, using a fan, or, better yet, removing the bird from the area entirely.

3. Call your veterinarian.

  • Bring a sample of the poison and its packaging.
  • Bring a sample of the bird’s most recent droppings.
  • Provide general supportive care.

Lead Poisoning

One of the most prevalent toxicities in pet birds is lead poisoning. In most houses, there are many possible sources of lead. This form of poisoning is typically avoidable by merely identifying prevalent lead sources in the surroundings.

Sources Of Lead For Pet Birds

The bulk of lead poisoning in pet birds is caused by lead-weighted bird toys, outdated costume jewelry, lead caulking in stained-glass windows, fishing weights, curtain weights, and some kinds of screens and wires. Check out the safest materials for bird toys.

Poisoning will not occur with newsprint, lead pencils, or paint created within the previous twenty years.

Examine branches to be used as perches before putting them in the cage, as bizarre as it may look. There have been reports of birds discovering and consuming buckshot lodged in wood. Be careful when you choose a bird cage for your pet birds.

Signs To Watch For

  • Depression, weakness.
  • Blindness
  • Seizures, “walking in circles,” “head wandering”.
  • Regurgitation.
  • Droppings; excessively wet, may even be bloody (“tomato juice-colored” urine)
  • General signs of a sick bird.

First Aid For Lead Poisoning:

Unfortunately, no first aid is provided. In most cases, the pet owner is unaware that the bird has consumed lead. Treatment is quite specific, and veterinary treatment should begin as soon as possible.

“Teflon Toxicity” or Polymer Fume Fever.

Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) is a synthetic polymer that is used in cookware as a nonstick surface. The most well-known brand names are Teflon, Silverstone, and T-Fal, although PTFE-coated goods are also made under numerous trade names.

According to Dr. Peter Sakas, PTFE-coated cookware is stable and safe under regular cooking settings. When PTFE is heated over 530 degrees Fahrenheit, it degrades and releases caustic (acid) vapors. Water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit, eggs fry at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and deep frying happens at 410 degrees Fahrenheit. When empty PTFE-coated cookware is left on a high-heat burner, it may reach temperatures of 750 degrees or more. Thus, if a pan is pre-heated on a stove and then neglected, or if water boils out of a pot, PTFE breakdown may occur. In other words, PTFE cookware must be “abused” in order to generate hazardous vapors, which is not as uncommon as it may seem; many individuals fall asleep after placing pots or pans on the stove to heat.

Birds kept in close proximity to the kitchen generally perish very quickly after inhaling the fumes. Even birds housed in another room are at danger. Severe breathing problems, such as gasping for air, may be seen just before death. Humans, dogs, cats, and other animals are less vulnerable to the potentially fatal effects of these gases.

First Aid For Teflon Toxicity

1. Remove the afflicted bird from the house immediately and provide plenty of fresh air. Unfortunately, there is no alternative kind of first aid.

2. Call your avian veterinarian immediately.

Insecticide Poisoning

When the home is sprayed (“fogged” or “bombed”) for different pests, the most frequent pesticide poisoning in pet birds happens. Birds, as previously said, have very sensitive respiratory systems. Before spraying, always remove the birds and their cages from the home. After you’ve done spraying, open all doors and windows to assist disperse the scents. If necessary, use fans. Do not bring your birds back inside the house for at least 24 hours. For the safest and most effective foggers, consult your veterinarian.

First Aid For Insecticide Poisoning

1. Remove the bird immediately and supply lots of fresh air.
2. Provide general supportive care.
3. Call your veterinarian immediately.
4. Bring the insecticide along.

(Author’s Note: Many harmful goods “live” in our houses. Pets getting into them is a serious possibility. The kitchen is the most dangerous place for birds. Gallerstein, Howell Book House, 1994, The Complete Bird Owner’s Handbook)

Common Household Poisons

Ammonia, Acetone Antifreeze, Ant syrup or ant paste Arsenic, Toilet bowl cleanser, Boric acid, bleach Camphophenique, tetrachloride of carbon, lighter made of charcoal, Clinitest pills, Cleaners for copper and brass, Wart and corn remover, Deodorants, Detergents, Disinfectants, Crayons Drain cleaners, etc. epoxy adhesive, Softeners for clothing, Toxins in garbage, Sprays for the garden, Gasoline, Cleaner of firearms, Gunpowder, Hair coloring, Herbicides, Hexachlorophene (in some soaps), Markers that are irreversible, Insecticides, Kerosene Iodine, Fluid that is lighter, Linoleum (contains lead salts), Matches, Modeling glue, Mothballs, Muriatic acid, et al. Mushrooms (varieties) Nail polish, remove nail polish Cleaner for the oven, Paint, paint thinner, and paint remover Perfume, Solutions for permanent waves, Photographic solutions, pesticides Plants that produce pine oil Prescription and non-prescription medications Squill in red, Rodenticides, Using rubbing alcohol, Shaving cream, Silver luster, Spot remover, Snail bait starch spray Sulphuric acid, strychnine, suntan lotion Superglue, etc. Turpentine, Window cleaners and weed killers

(Source: Gary Gallerstein, Bird Owner’s Home Health and Care Handbook (New York: Howell Book House, 1984); Sheldon Gerstenfeld, The Bird Care Book (Reading, Mass. : Addison-Wesley, 1981); and Margaret L. Petrak, ed., Diseases of Cage and Aviary Birds, 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Lea & Febiger, 1982)

Common Poisonous Substances

Petroleum Products, Acids, Alkalis Dishwasher detergent, drain cleanser, floor polish, and furniture polish are all examples of cleaning products. Kerosene, gasoline Remover of paint, thinner for paint, Toilet bowl cleanser, shoe polish Preservative for wood (floor or furniture), zinc.
( Source:Sheldon Gerstenfeld, The Bird Care Book (Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley, 1981)

Plants Considered Toxic to Birds
The following is a list of some potentially toxic plants. Be sure you correctly identified all plants in your bird’s environment.When using these lists, ensure you use the Scientific Name to identify Plants, if uncertain remove the plant. Always choose safe home plants for parrots instead.
(Abbreviations: Spp=subspecies, Sp=species)

Plant NameScientific NameParts Known to be Poisonous
AcokantheraAcokanthera spp.all parts toxic
American YewTaxus canadensisNeedles, seeds
Angel’s TrumpetDatura spp.,leaves, seeds, flowers
ApricotPrunus armeniaca,pits, leaves, and bark
* Autumn CrocusColchicum autumnallebulb
AvocadoPersea americanapit, leaves, unripe fruit, and stems
AzaleaRhododendron occidentaleLeaves
Balsam pearMemordica charantiaSeeds, outer rind of fruit
BaneberryActaia spp.Berries, roots
BelladonnaAtropa belladonnaAll parts
Bird of ParadiseCaesalpina gilliesiiSeeds
BittersweetCelastrus spp.All parts
Black LocustRobinia pseudoacaciaBark, sprouts, foliage
* Bleeding HeartDicentraall parts
Bluegreen algaeSchizophycaea sppSome forms toxic
Bracken FernPteridium aquilinumAll parts
Some forms toxic BoxwoodBuxus sempervirensLeaves, stems
BuckthornRhamnus spp.Fruit, bark
BurdockArctium spp.All parts
ButtercupRanunculus spp.Sap, bulbs
Calla lilyZantedeschia aethiopicaLeaves
CaladiumCaladium spp.Leaves and rhizome
Castor Oil PlantRicinus communisBeans, leaves
Catclaw AcaciaAcacia greggii,twigs and leaves
Chalice vineSolandra spp.All parts
Cherry treePrunus spp.Bark, twigs, leaves, pits
ChinaberryMelia azadarachAll parts
ChokecherryBirdcherry Prunusseeds (stones),
Christmas candlePedilanthus tithymaloidesSap
ClematisClematis spp.All parts
Coral plantJatropha multifidaSeeds
CowslipCaltha polustrisSeeds
Crocus (autumn)Cholchicum autumnaleAll parts
Cycad, or Sago CycasCycas revolutaAll parts
DaffodilNarcissus sppBulbs
DaphneDaphne spp.Berries
DaturaDatura spp.Berries
Deadly amanitaAmanita muscariaAll parts
Death camasZygadenis elegansAll parts
DelphiniumDelphinium spp.All parts
Devil’s IvyEpipremnum aureumAll parts
DieffenbachiaDieffenbachia pictaLeaves
EggplantSolanaceae spp.All parts but fruit
ElderberrySambucus mexicana,roots, leaves, stems, bark
Elephant’s ear (taro)Colocasis spp.Leaves, stem
English ivyIlex aquafoliumBerries, leaves
English yewTaxus baccataneedles, seeds
EuonymusEuonymus spp.fruit, bark, leaves
European PennroyalMentha pulegium
False henbaneVeratrum woodiiAll parts
FigsFicus sppsap
Fly agaric mushroom (deadly amanita)Amanita muscariaAll parts
Four o’clockMirabilis jalapaAll parts
FoxgloveDigitalis purpureaLeaves, seeds
Golden chain (laburnum)Laburnum anagyroidesAll parts, especially seeds
HeliotropeHeliotropium spp.,leaves
Hemlockpoison Conium spp.All parts, especially roots and seeds
Hemlockwater Conium spp.All parts especially roots and seeds
HenbaneHyocyanamus nigerSeeds
HollyIlex spp.Berries
Horse chestnutAesculus spp.Nuts, twigs
Horse NettleSolanum carolinenseAll parts
HyacinthHyacinthinus orientalisBulbs
HydrangeaHydrangea spp.Flower,bud
Indian turnip (jackinthepulpit)Arisaema triphyllumAll parts
Iris (blue flag)Iris spp.Bulbs
Ivy (Boston, English, and some others)Hedera spp.All parts
Japanese yewTaxus cuspidataNeedles, seeds
Java bean (lima bean)Phaseolus lunatusUncooked beans
Jerusalem cherrySolanum pseudocapsicumBerries
Jessamine, YellowGelsemium sempervirens,leaves, stems
JonquilNarcissus jonquillaAll parts
Jimsonweed (thornapple)Datura spp.Leaves, seeds
JuniperJuniperus virginianaNeedles, stems, berries
LantanaLantana spp.Immature berries
LarkspurDelphinium spp.All parts
Laurel Kalmia, LedumRhododendron spp.All parts
Lilly of the valleyConvallaria majalisAll parts, including the water in which they have been kept
LobeliaLobelia spp.All parts
LocoweedAstragalu mollissimusAll parts
Lords and ladies (cuckoopint)arum sp.All parts
LupineLupinus spp.All parts
MarijuanaCannabis sativaLeaves
MayapplePodophyllum spp.All parts, except fruit
Mescal beanSophora spp.Seeds
MistletoeSantalales spp.Berries
MilkweedAsclepias spp.All parts
Mock orangePoncirus spp.Fruit
MonkshoodAconitum spp.Leaves, roots
MoonseedMenispermum canadenseAll parts
Morning gloryIpomoea spp.All parts
MushroomsAmanita spp. and many othersAll parts
NarcissusNarcissus spp.Bulbs
Nightshades (all types)Solanum spp.Berries, leaves
OakQuercusacorn, young plant
OleanderNerium oleanderLeaves, branches, nectar of blossoms
PennyroyalMentha pulegiumAll parts
PeachPrunus persica,leaves, pit, bark
PeonyPaeonia officinalisAll parts
PeriwinkleVinca minor, Vinca roseaAll parts
PeyoteLophophora williamsiiAll parts
PhilodendronPhilodendron spp.Leaves, stems
PigweedAmaranthus spp.All parts
PlumPrunus spp.,leaves, pit, bark
Poison HemlockConium maculatumAll parts
Poison ivyToxicodendron radicansSap
Poison oakToxicodendron quercifoliumSap
Poison SumacRhux vernixAll parts
PoinsettiaEuphorobia pulcherrimaLeaves, flowers
Pokeweed (inkberry)Phytolacca americansLeaves, roots, immature berries
PoppyPapaver somniferum and related spp.All parts
PotatoSolanum tuberosumEyes and new shoots
PothosEprimemnun aureumAll parts
PrimrosePrimula spp.All parts
PrivetLingustrum volgareAll parts, includling berries
RagwortSenecio jacobea and related spp.All parts
Red MapleAcer rubrumAll parts
RhododendronRhododendron spp.All parts
RhubarbRheum rhaponticumLeaves
Rosary pea (Indian licorice)Abrus precatoriusSeeds
SageSalvia officinalisAll parts
SedumSedumAll parts
Shamrock PlantMedicago lupulina, Trifolium repens, Oxalis acetosellaAll parts
Skunk cabbageSymplocarpus foetidusAll parts
SnowdropOrnithogalum umbellatumAll parts, especially buds
Snow on the mountain (ghostweed)Euphorbia marginataAll parts
SorrelRumex spp., Oxalis spp.All parts
Spindle TreeEuonymusleaves, fruit, bark
SpurgesEuphorbia spp.All parts
Star of BethlehemOrnithogalum umbellatumAll parts
Sweet peaLathryus latifoliusSeeds and fruit
TansyTanacetum vulgareall parts
TobaccoNicotinia spp.Leaves
TomatoLycopersicon esculentumstems and leaves
TulipTulipa spp.All parts
VetchesVicia spp.All parts
Virginia creeperPathenocissu quinquefoliaSap
Water HemlockCicuta spp.
WaxberrySymphoricarpos albus
Western yewTaxus brevifloraNeedles, seeds
WisteriaWisteria spp.All parts
Yam beanPachyrhizus erosusRoots, immature pods

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