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Teflon Toxicity in Birds

From time immemorial, human beings have been known to favor convenience above other things. One perfect example of this preference is the popularity that teflon or non- stick cookware has among people.

Because non- stick cookware is extremely easy to use and clean, many people prefer it to other types of cookware. However, this Teflon cookware comes at a price; and a heavy price for that matter.

When Teflon cookware is heated to extremely high temperatures, it releases very toxic fumes. These fumes can kill your pet bird within seconds, in addition to causing you flu- like symptoms usually referred to as Teflon Flu.

How does Teflon Toxicosis occur?

When Teflon is heated to very high temperatures, especially those beyond 5360 F, then toxic perfluorooctanoic acid fumes (PFOA) are released to the atmosphere.

These are deadly fumes to life, especially to birds. When one is cooking, the Teflon cookware is usually heated to between 2500 F and 4000 F, which should ideally pose no harm of the release of toxic fumes.

When Teflon pans are accidentally left dry on fire, or cooking food is left unsupervised for long periods of time, they can get heated to temperatures beyond 5360 F thus releasing those poisonous fumes. However, scratched Teflon pans can breakdown at lower temperatures thus causing unforeseen harm.

When your pet birds inhale toxins from the Teflon, their lungs get quickly filled with fluid and this fluid leaks into airways thus clogging them.

This condition is referred to as edematous pneumonia and in the case of Teflon Toxicosis, the condition is severe and fatal.

Birds are extremely sensitive to Teflon toxicity for two reasons. First, they have a very unique anatomy of the respiratory tract. This tract is extremely efficient in gaseous exchange because the bird needs a lot of oxygen for flight.

When the air that the bird is supposed to inhale is filled with toxins, this efficient respiratory system works against the bird because the toxic gases are delivered just as efficiently as the oxygen.

Secondly, birds have small bodies which means that they have a high metabolic rate, and this increases their susceptibility to Teflon toxins.

Signs of Teflon Toxicosis

There are no unique symptoms of Teflon poisoning in birds, but birds that have been exposed to the toxic fumes usually exhibit symptoms of other respiratory diseases.

The primary symptom that such birds exhibit is that of struggling for breathe, and of choking. These can be shown in a number of ways such as raspy breathing and wheezing, gasping for air, in coordination, falling off perches, tail bobbing and even seizures.

When birds can’t fight for air anymore, they drop down dead. The lungs of such birds are usually found to be dark red with hemorrhages and congestion. Most birds do not survive Teflon poisoning.

What can you do to save your bird?

If you notice that your bird is suffocating because of Teflon cookware that you are using, then the first thing that you should do is to remove that cookware from the house, but remember to put it out of anybody’s reach.

Then you should open all the windows and switch on all the fans in order to increase ventilation in your house. You should then quickly take your parrot or other pet bird to the vet’s clinic, after notifying the vet that you are taking a bird that you suspect is suffering from Teflon toxicity.


Because Teflon cookware is so dangerous to your pet bird, you might want to consider other types of cookware that do not pose such a health risk to you and your bird.

You also need to get rid of chipped and scratched cookware in order to reduce the risk of your bird suffering from Teflon Toxicosis.


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