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Five Smart Ways To Avoid An Emergency Visit To The Avian Pet Hospital This Holiday Season

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The holidays are a time of bustling activity, with a welcomed introduction to seasonal foods, excitement and fun. If you are a parrot owner, however, you need to be especially careful around the holiday time to avoid a potential accident or illness that could land your feathered friend in the bird hospital. Keep your parrot in fine-feathered form by following a few holiday hints for your pet's safety and well-being. Here are five ways to avoid an unexpected incident with your parrot over the holidays:

1. Don't Use Incense, Scented Candles or Plug-In Room Deodorizers

Bayberry, spruce, evergreen and pine. These enticing scents can make a home smell inviting at holiday time. Unfortunately, it can also make your parrot ill. If you house a pet parrot (or any avian species) you should not use air freshening products in the home at any time of the year, especially in the vicinity of your pet's location.

Most dedicated bird owners know that birds have extremely sensitive and delicate respiratory systems. Not only do chemical air fresheners and essential oils irritate a bird's air sacs, they can result in serous illness or even death. Don't take the risk; say no to sprays, plug-ins and candles.

2. Avoid the Risk of Teflon Poisoning

Non-stick coatings contain polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), a chemical that is toxic to birds when heated. Some avian experts refer to this coating as the "silent killer" of avian pets. When burned at heat exceeding 260 degrees, PTFE will emit toxic fumes that may kill a bird quickly or cause serious illness. Signs of non-stick PTFE poisoning in pet birds include difficulty breathing, vomiting and inability to perch.

During holiday meal preparations when busy cooks are rushed for time, be safe and substitute non-stick cookware for stainless steel. Be aware that PTFE coatings may exist in self-cleaning ovens as well. When preparing your homemade Christmas cookies and fudge, remember not to use non-stick baking pans, either.

3. Keep Holiday Treats Away From a Begging Beak

Chocolate, avocado, onions and garlic may all top your holiday meal preparation list, but keep all of the above out of Polly's curious beak. Chocolate contains a chemical compound called theobromine, which may interfere with a bird's metabolism and delicate respiratory system. Avocado contains persin, a compound that causes cardiac issues in birds. Onions and garlic may contribute to red blood cell destruction in your avian companion. Enjoy your Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner, but avoid offering your parrot tidbits made with ingredients on the the forbidden list.

4. Avoid Holly, Mistletoe, Poinsettia and Pine

Poinsettia plants make lovely holiday decor, but the creamy substance on the leaves can irritate a bird's sensitive skin, eyes and beak. In addition, holiday plants such as the potted pine may be treated with toxic chemicals. If your pet is free-flying with unclipped wings, don't decorate with any holiday plants, as they could be toxic if ingested, or they may cause an allergic reaction on contact.

5. Keep The Tinsel and Ornaments Out of Reach

Your curious parrot may be tempted to perch atop the Christmas tree, and this could pose a potentially dangerous situation. String lights could cause electrocution if your parrot chews the cords. Under the force of a powerful parrot beak, glass ornaments may shatter, causing cuts and abrasions. If glass fragments are swallowed, the bird's crop could tear or the digestive system could rupture.

Even the most diligent parrot owner needs to be prepared in the event of a holiday emergency. Keep the contact information of a qualified avian veterinarian or exotic animal hospital handy. Inquire about extended holiday hours and emergency treatment. If your pet experiences an emergency during the holidays, being prepared could save your pet's life.