Three Things Bird Owners Need To Know About Lead Toxicosis

Posted on: 28 June 2016

You probably already know that people can get lead poisoning, but surprisingly, pet birds are also susceptible to this condition. When birds are exposed to dangerous levels of lead, the resulting condition is known as lead toxicosis, and it can cause serious health problems. Here are three things bird owners need to know about lead toxicosis.

How do birds get lead toxicosis?

Your pet bird can be exposed to lead in many different ways. If your home has lead pipes, the lead may leach into the water that you use to fill your pet's water bottle. Over time, drinking this contaminated water will allow lead to build up in your bird's body.

Birds are very curious, so when you allow your pet out of their cage for play time, they may ingest lead inadvertently. Many household items can contain lead, including pottery, toys, costume jewelry and even paint. As your bird explores your home, they may curiously nibble on these items and ingest lead. To protect your bird, make sure to bird-proof your home before you let them out of their cage and supervise them while they're playing.

What are the symptoms of lead toxicosis?

If your bird develops lead toxicosis, they may experience nervous system symptoms like difficulty walking. They may also seem depressed. If your bird is depressed, they may make louder noises than they normally do or pluck their feathers with their beak. A depressed bird may also peck at you or be otherwise aggressive when you try to interact with them. Watery, green diarrhea is another clue that your pet has lead toxicosis.

Can lead toxicosis be treated?

While taking steps to prevent lead toxicosis is the best strategy, birds are very inquisitive and may find sources of lead that you missed when you were bird-proofing your home. Fortunately, veterinarians can treat lead toxicosis.

Your vet will give your bird medication that will bind to the lead and help the lead move through your bird's digestive system instead of building up in their tissues. One of these medications, calcium disodium versonate, can be given in injection form. If your bird won't cooperate with the injections, your vet can feed them peanut butter. Peanut butter coats the lead and helps it pass out of your bird, and as a bonus, it's a lot more enjoyable for your pet than getting injections.

If you think your bird has lead toxicosis, get medical attention for them right away at your nearest veterinary hospital.