Poisonings in the Avian Patient

Key Points

  • Toxicities are relatively rare in pet birds, with lead toxicity being the most common poisoning reported in companion birds.
  • Lead can affect all major organs, particularly the brain, kidney, and gastrointestinal tract.
  • Injectable calcium EDTA is the initial chelating agent of choice for heavy metal toxicity.
  • Consider organophosphate or carbamate poisoning in birds with non-specific signs of illness, crop stasis, dyspnea, and/or neurologic signs,  including a prolapsed nictitating membrane.

Poisonings are relatively uncommon in companion bird emergency medicine, but these conditions do occur and can involve a wide assortment of toxins. In principal, treatment in birds is the same as for other animals. First, stabilize the patient presented with abnormal clinical signs. Establish an airway, initiate respiration, and address cardiovascular needs . . .

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Jenkins JR. Avian emergency and critical care. Proc Annu Conf Am Board Vet Practitioners. 2005.

Jenkins JR. Avian critical care and emergency medicine. Altman RB, Clubb SL, Dorrestein GM, Quesenberry K (eds). Avian Medicine and Surgery. W.B. Saunders Company; Philadelphia, PA. 1997. Pp. 839-845.