Veterinarians should alert clients to the top 5 toxins in companion birds

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Veterinarians should alert clients to the top 5 toxins in companion birds

These common household items could put your clients' pets at risk of illness—or even death.
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Jun 30, 2014


GETTY IMAGES/KONSTANTIN ANTIPENKO
Toxins can be a serious problem in companion birds due to several factors, including their size, efficient respiratory system and curious nature. In addition, many pet owners are unaware that certain substances can be toxic to their birds. The following is Pet Poison Helpline's list of the five most common toxins to be aware of for these pets.

Lead


Lead poisoning has historically been the most common metal poisoning in caged birds, but due to increased knowledge of the human health problems caused by lead, its use in the home has significantly decreased.

Sources

> Lead-based paint

> Foil wrap on some champagne and wine bottles

> Curtain weights

> Bells with lead clappers

> Imported bird toys

> Stained glass.

Clinical signs

> Depression

> Weakness

> Anorexia

> Weight loss

> Vomiting or regurgitation

> Polyuria and polydipsia

> Seizures

> Hemoglobinuria

> Diarrhea.

Clinical pathology findings

> Heterophilia

> Hypochromic regenerative anemia

> Cytoplasmic vacuolization of RBCs

> Increases in hepatic enzymes (lactate dehydrogenase [LDH], aspartate transaminase [AST]), muscle enzymes (creatine phosphokinase [CPK]) and uric acid (indicator of renal function).

Diagnosis

> History

> Clinical signs

> Clinical pathology

> Blood lead concentration

> Evidence of radiopaque material in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

Treatment

> Remove lead object via crop lavage, cathartics or endoscopy.

> Perform chelation therapy with succimer or calcium EDTA.

Public health considerations

Pets have long served as sentinels for lead poisoning in people, especially children. If a bird or any pet in the home is diagnosed with lead poisoning, always recommend that people in the home—especially the children—be tested too.