Zinc is primarily used to prevent corrosion by coating iron or steel in a process known as galvanization. Zinc prevents corrosion of steel and iron and dissolves in aqueous acids and bases. Zinc powder coating has recently become a popular option to polish steel cages. Because of the remarkable success of raising parrots in captivity and keeping them as pets, numerous cage manufacturers are now providing galvanized powder coated cages in the mid-price category.
Although a bird needs a specific amount of zinc to be healthy, too much zinc is very harmful and may induce liver, kidney, and pancreatic deterioration, as well as death. Parrots must be considered very vulnerable to all environmental zinc. Wire cages are widely used to hold parrots. The majority are kept outdoors or in avicultural settings in galvanized steel wire cages or aviaries. However, parrots are parrots, and many see their cages or aviaries as something to gnaw on. Due to their tendency of gnawing on galvanized aviary wire mesh or galvanized powder coated cages, parrots are regrettably examples of zinc poisoning waiting to happen. Read more about bird cage tips.
It is thus up to parrot owners and breeders to understand more about this lethal metal and how to protect their birds. They must understand the indications of zinc toxicity and what may be done if our bird gets unwell.
Zinc poisoning may be classified into two types:
Acute poisoning occurs when a bird consumes a zinc-containing metallic item or paint flakes containing zinc pigments. In this situation, a relatively high quantity of zinc is consumed at once, and zinc levels in the body swiftly rise.
Chronic toxicity generally occurs when tiny doses of zinc are eaten on a regular basis.
Zinc dissolves in both mild water and acids. Zinc may contaminate and be ingested when galvanized plates are used for water or acidic meals (fruits and juices). The quantity of zinc consumed is lower, but it is regularly replenished, causing internal organ damage. Another source of persistent poisoning is zinc corrosion from galvanized wire.
Zinc is a cumulative toxin that is difficult to eradicate from the body. It is deposited in the liver, kidneys, muscle, and pancreas after ingestion. There is little excretion through the urine, digestive system, or bile. The easiest way to cope with zinc toxicity is to avoid it. Remove the zinc sources, and your bird will be safe, and you will be able to sleep easier. Zinc may be obtained from a number of sources, but it must be consumed in order to be harmful. Because birds spend the most of their time in cages, this is the primary location to safeguard. Paint flakes may be consumed by birds. Most cage makers now utilize acceptable paints and powder coating, but before purchasing a cage, ask questions. If the paint on your cage is peeling, you should get the paint flakes evaluated for toxicity. If the cage is poisonous, either strip and refinish it or replace it. Make careful you choose lead-free and zinc-free paints. Many anti-rust coatings include zinc, so consult a professional. Replace the cage if you don’t want to bother.
Galvanized metal that has been electroplated is safe, however hot dipped galvanized wire is not. Birds may absorb zinc through galvanized wire cages and clips, according to Ritchie, Harrison, and Harrison’s Avian Medicine: Principles and Application. Scrubbing the wire with a brush and vinegar or a moderate acidic solution may minimize (but not remove) toxicity. This eliminates any loose bits as well as any white rust (zinc oxide) that has formed on the wire. More white rust, which is equally harmful, will build over time, thus enclosures must be re-treated on a regular basis.
Cheaper galvanized wire is of inferior quality and should never be used. If you look carefully, you’ll see puddles of lead and zinc metal in the corners of each square of the mesh, inviting an inquisitive bird in. If you must use galvanized wire, use galvanized after welded wire, which has less pooling and should flake less, or electroplated wire mesh if available.
Padlocks have been linked to zinc poisoning in the past. This has been seen in bigger birds, who may flake off bits of the coating or dissolve some of the zinc by placing parts of the lock in their beaks.
Excessive urine in the droppings (polyuria), polydipsia, weight loss, weakness, gastrointestinal difficulties, anemia, cyanosis, hyperglycemia, and seizures are common symptoms of zinc poisoning. Feather plucking has also been mentioned as a symptom (Resolution of zinc toxicosis has resulted in dramatic improvement in parrot’s feather picking in many instances). Acute poisoning symptoms included tiredness, weight loss, vomiting but not stopping eating, greenish diarrhoea, loss of balance (ataxia), and death. Chronic poisoning symptoms include occasional tiredness and sadness, as well as gastro-intestinal distress. Kidney disease may cause an increase in urine and water consumption in a bird. Feather plucking is a typical symptom of zinc overdose in parrots. Learn more about parrot behavior problems explained.
If you feel your bird has zinc poisoning, take him to a veterinarian right once. He may run a blood serum test to determine the amount of zinc in the blood. Zinc toxicosis is defined as blood zinc levels more than 2 ppm (parts per million). For cockatiels, for example, 1.63 ppm is considered an average normal amount. White Blood Cell Count may also be high. If your veterinarian suspects zinc poisoning, he may use x-rays to check for a piece of metal that may have been ingested.
A chelating substance, which binds with zinc in the body and is subsequently excreted, is one technique of therapy. Calcium EDTA and D-penicillamine injections were employed. DMSA, an oral chelating drug, is also available (dimercaptosuccinic acid). If a piece of metal has been ingested, the main therapy is removal, either with a catheter or forceps, or with cathartics such sodium sulphate, activated charcoal, or mineral oil. Surgical removal is also an option. There are many therapies available. A veterinarian should make the treatment(s) decision based on the unique scenario. (References: Ritchie, Harrison, and Harrison’s Avian Medicine: Principles and Application.)
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