If you’re a bird person, there’s a good chance you already know that feeding avocado to your bird is a no-no. Simply put — pet birds have died after eating sliced avocado and avocado-based foods like guacamole. As a healthy food for people, avocado is more popular than ever, and along with that comes an abundance of avocado recipes. Unfortunately, a recent bird death brings up the question, “Could fumes from frying an avocado be dangerous to pet birds?”
According to Karen Allen, owner of Birds-N- More in Lawndale, CA, a woman who shared her home with two caiques Allen had hand-raised called her with some heart-wrenching news. The woman
went to a cooking class and was given a recipe to try at home — fried avocado. Within minutes of frying the avocado, the caiques experienced severe respiratory distress and were rushed to Teresa E. Micco DVM, of Point Vicente Animal Hospital in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA.
Here is Dr. Micco’s account of what she encounter upon the caiques’ arrival.
Q. You recently had a client come to your clinic with two caiques in health distress. What were your first thoughts as to what might be wrong?
Both birds were in respiratory distress, one worse than the other. They were immediately placed on oxygen in an incubator. The one that was worse was placed in an oxygen mask to receive a higher concentration of oxygen. Initially, I thought it was Teflon toxicosis because I was told by the staff that the owner had been cooking when the birds collapsed.
After initial treatment, I went to speak with the owner. I was expecting to hear that she was cooking with nonstick cookware. She insisted that she knew not to cook with anything with a nonstick coating. She owned these birds for four years, and she said that she cooks daily without incident. She said that she keeps a side door open for ventilation. The birds were in the living room, adjacent to the kitchen. This particular day, she was cooking from a Blue Apron recipe of Barramundi and avocado tempura, both in oil.
Within an hour of arrival to the hospital, one bird passed away. The other bird improved overnight and was able to go home the next day. The deceased bird was submitted to the UC Davis/California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory in San Bernardino.
The bird had pulmonary edema, bilateral and severe, with respiratory epithelium hypertrophy (increase in size of the cells). There was also cerebral congestion with perivascular (occurring around the blood vessel) hemorrhages. These changes are compatible with fume toxicosis (inhaled). All other lab tests performed were negative.
According to the pathologist, the changes in the lungs are suggestive (although not specific) of fume toxicosis. Although the foremost documented reports of fume toxicosis in parrot species are those caused by gases produced when Teflon/nonstick products are overheated, there are many other airborne toxins, including aerosol sprays, cooking gas, carbon monoxide, tobacco smoke, candles, and fumes from burned foods and cooking oils.
Resources on Avocado Consumption In Birds
Disclaimer: The consumption of avocados has been shown to be highly toxic to budgerigars and less toxic to canaries. The greater the amount consumed, the greater hazard, and the greater potential for death. To our knowledge, no studies have been conducted to assess the risk of frying avocados to nearby birds from cooking odors. The Lafeber Company shares this report on the chance that frying avocados may pose a risk to birds.
J Am Vet Med Assoc. 1989 Jan 1;194(1):64-6.
Avocado (Persea americana) intoxication in caged birds. Hargis AM1, Stauber E, Casteel S, Eitner D.
Avocados of 2 varieties were mashed and administered via feeding cannula to 8 canaries and 8 budgerigars. Two control budgerigars were given water via feeding cannula. Six budgerigars and 1 canary died within 24 to 47 hours after the first administration of avocado. Deaths were associated with administration of both varieties of avocado. Higher dose was associated with greater mortality. The 2 budgerigars given water were normal throughout the observation period. Results indicated that avocados are highly toxic to budgerigars and less toxic to canaries. Postmortem findings observed in some birds included subcutaneous edema in the pectoral area and hydropericardium.
Before You Reach For That Oil …
Karen Allen expressed concern over the increasing popularity in avocado-based products —
especially avocado oil, which is touted as a healthier alternative to other cooking oils. She urges
those who share their homes with birds to stay away from cooking avocado. “Don’t take any