What Smells Can Birds Not Stand?

Birds dislike the smell of hairspray, perfume and after-shave—they can be toxic.
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While birds possess olfactory glands glands, enabling them to smell, they do not rely on this sense as much as humans or other animals. Birds primarily use their sight and keen sense of hearing to find food and detect predators. However, there are a number of scents that may not only be unpleasant for your bird—but are also downright dangerous.

Put it Out

If you enjoy cigarettes or cigars, avoid smoking around your pet bird. Second-hand smoke is detrimental to your bird’s health and is a source of irritation to him. Some birds will begin feather plucking because they dislike the smell of second-hand smoke on their feathers. This habit can be difficult to overcome, even if smoking in the home is eliminated. Second-hand smoke contains 4,000 chemicals, including 69 cancer-causing substances. Smoking around your bird can damage his lungs and respiratory tract. If your bird finds a cigarette butt and eats it, it could cause nicotine poisoning. Nearly 25 percent of the nicotine in a cigarette is found in the butt. Symptoms of nicotine poisoning include panting, vomiting and increased heart-rate. Never smoke around your bird or his cage.

Can You Smell That?

The smell of scented candles, aerosols sprays and air freshener wall plug-ins can be deadly to your birds. Many of these products, particularly the plug-ins contain a high concentration of essential oils, which can irritate your bird’s eyes, throat and nostrils. In some cases, they may also suppress the central nervous system, causing death. Use cinnamon sticks or orange peels to create a pleasing aroma in your home without threatening the comfort of your birds. Open windows to let in fresh air. Some candles contain petroleum products. Although they may smell refreshing to you and your family, they are the equivalent to the smell of burning rubber for your bird.

Remodel Safely

If you are painting the interior of your house or remodeling, ask a friend or family member if your bird can stay with them for a few days. The smell of paint, glue and other chemicals are hazardous to your bird. They could damage the respiratory tract or cause death. Particle board and plywood are fortified with formaldehyde, releasing this smell into the air. New carpet, varnish and lacquer can emit volatile organic compounds, including formaldehyde. The smell of this compound causes headaches and nausea in humans—consider how it could affect your bird.

Cooking it Up

Your kitchen can let off the worst smells and deadliest fumes for your pet bird. Avoid using non-stick cookware. These accessories contain PTFE—a harmful chemical which emits a deadly toxin into the air. The toxin rapidly destroys your bird’s lung tissue, causing them to suffocate. A variety of cookware contains PTFE, including pans, grills, skillets, oven drip pans, coffee makers, popcorn makers and waffle irons. Safer alternatives include cookware made from stainless steel, copper, glass or aluminum.

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