Car Air Freshener Danger

Car Air Freshener Danger

Does your bird go in your car? To the Vet’s, on holiday with you, a day trip, etc.?

Gillian Willis, a toxicologist and pharmacist in Vancouver, reported that all volatile (essential) oils have the potential for causing toxicity in birds. The majority of these oils can cause either stimulation or depression of the central nervous system as well as possible irritation to the eyes, nose and upper respiratory tract depending on the oil and concentration used. Birds are very susceptible to the effects of inhaled volatile toxins, including essential oils.

Recently, she was consulted on a case involving two cockatiels that were brought to her avian vet. One bird had been lethargic for a few days and was brought into the clinic for assessment. The owners brought in its mate to keep it company during hospitalization. Over a period of hours, both birds became progressively lethargic, could not stand, developed hyperventilation and respiratory distress. Despite aggressive intensive care treatment, both birds died within a minute of one another within 24 hours of arriving at the clinic. A necropsy revealed congestion in the lungs, but there were no other significant findings.

Heavy metal poisoning was considered and ruled out radiographically. After an extensive investigation into the possible cause of death in the two birds (one being apparently healthy prior to being brought into the clinic) the cause of death was blamed on exposure to TWO pine-scented impregnated paper air fresheners that hung in the car bringing them to the clinic. The length of exposure was approximately one hour in a closed vehicle. The clinical manifestations in both birds were consistent with pine oil inhalation exposure.

Any volatile oil (fragrance) has the potential for causing illness and possibly death in birds. Obviously, the concentration in a product and length of exposure are factors to be considered. Products containing a high concentration of volatile oils, such as in Glade Plug-ins should be avoided completely.