Parrots have proportionately larger and more sensitive respiratory systems than humans, enabling them to get oxygen (which is in low supply at high altitudes) while flying.
The respiratory sensitivity of birds is a double-edged sword. While it’s beneficial for flight, it makes birds far more vulnerable to environmental contaminants that are largely inconsequential to us.
Consider how canaries were once used in coal mines to detect deadly gasses. If the bird died, it was time to exit. The birds were affected by airborne toxins earlier, which served as an early warning system.
Synthetic air fresheners, including aerosol sprays or plug-in devices, carry toxic chemical compounds that linger in the air with life-threatening consequences for all bird species.
When inhaled by parrots, commercial air fresheners cause wheezing, coordination loss, seizures, paralysis, and death. The sooner a pet bird is removed from the environment, the more likely it is to survive.
If you’re concerned about the freshness of the home due to pet parrots, consider spot-cleaning the cage to remove poop and food waste more frequently or use bird-safe air fresheners.
Can Air Freshener Kill Parrots?
All strong scents can overwhelm parrots’ respiratory systems, often with fatal consequences. For this reason, bird owners should avoid spraying or diffusing scents and burning scented products.
Most pet owners already understand how difficult it is to keep a house clean and fresh without using chemical-based cleaning supplies or scented air fresheners.
However, since standard air fresheners can have life-threatening implications for pet parrots, consider using natural products that are considered safe and non-toxic.
Is Glade Safe Around Parrots?
While Glade products are marketed as non-toxic air fresheners for humans, they harm birds. The aerosol room sprays and fragrances in the Glade range contain toxic compounds, including the following:
- Polyethylene glycol (PEG).
- Volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
Exposure to these toxic chemical compounds can have deadly consequences for birds.
Which Air Fresheners Are Harmful to Parrots?
Air fresheners come in various forms, including air fan vents, essential oil diffusers, plug-ins, and aerosols. When choosing the ideal air freshener, ensure it’s not toxic for pet birds.
Some of the air fresheners and scents that are dangerous to parrots include:
Many people use essential oils for their therapeutic, soothing, relaxing, and restorative properties. Some are even effective in managing stress, anxiety, and depression.
Unfortunately, not all essential oils are safe when inhaled by parrots. Avoid the following:
Peppermint has a potent aroma, so it’s used as an ingredient in rodent and insect repellents. Unfortunately, peppermint is a scent that can harm a parrot’s respiratory system.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is among the worst essential oils. In a case published in BMC Veterinary Research, a cockatiel suffered serious liver damage and neutropenia after exposure to just a few drops of tea tree oil.
Cinnamon oil has a strong scent that’s ideal for repelling pests. However, the smell can irritate a parrot’s respiratory system, so you shouldn’t use it in a diffuser around pet birds.
Citronella is another essential oil used in diffusers to improve the scent of homes. Unfortunately, the aroma of citronella oil is too strong for most parrots to tolerate.
Parrots have fragile lung membranes that are sensitive to intense fragrances. Consequently, when they inhale an undiluted essential oil as potent as citronella, they may struggle to breathe.
Aerosol Air Fresheners
Aerosols are air fresheners sprayed as minute liquid droplets from a pressurized container.
Usually, aerosol air fresheners comprise a blend of chemicals that give off a distinct scent, and in most cases, these compounds are entirely chemical-based and unnatural.
All fragrances in the aerosol category of sprays are toxic to parrots, including canned air fresheners, deodorant sprays, and hairspray. Avoid using these hazardous aerosols around pet birds.
Incense has an aroma that most people find uplifting and therapeutic.
However, parrots dislike incense since it releases strong fragrances and smoke when it’s burnt. This puts an enormous strain on a parrot’s respiratory system, causing severe respiratory distress.
Candles (Scented vs. Unscented)
There are various things to consider when using scented candles to improve the scent of the home when you have a companion parrot. The most important factors are as follows:
- Wax type (petroleum-based vs. soy).
- Same room or a different floor.
- Scent emitted by the candle (strong vs. neutral).
- Type of wick (avoid lead and zinc wicks). Paper and cotton wicks are preferred.
It’s likely okay if a candle burns 3 rooms away from the parrot’s living space. Likewise, if the candle is made from natural wax and has no fragrance (unscented), it’ll be safer.
All candles produce smoke and soot, so keep the door closed and aerate the room afterward.
Parrot-Safe Air Fresheners
While parrots are sensitive to fragrances, there are still air freshener products you can use in the home without jeopardizing the health and well-being of an avian pet. These include the following:
Parrot-Safe Essential Oils
Although most essential oils have potent scents that can overwhelm a parrot’s lungs and air sacs, there are essential oils that are milder for use by pet bird owners, including:
Potpourri is among the best ways to freshen the air in a home if you keep a parrot.
You can make potpourri with various fresh-smelling components, including flowers, citrus slices, spices, and parrot-safe essential oils, like lavender and eucalyptus.
The easiest and quickest way to make a natural home-blend air freshener is in the oven:
- Select your favorite fragrant flowers, herbs, and spices and place them on parchment paper.
- Add a few drops of bird-safe essential oil and put the mixture inside an oven, setting the temperature to 275 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Allow the potpourri to dry until the flowers are brittle but not burnt.
- When the potpourri is ready, douse it with more essential oils and transfer it to a bowl.
Although potpourri is made from natural organic products that aren’t harmful, a parrot might still find the scent unpleasant if it is too strong, so don’t put it next to the bird’s cage and monitor its response.
Potpourri won’t cause a parrot respiratory discomfort like commercial aerosols, air fresheners, incense, and strongly-scented candles might.
This blend of natural fragrances loses its scent over time as it dries and cools.
Aroma bead air fresheners are harmless, provided parrots don’t swallow them. Since aroma beads are brightly colored and circular, a parrot can mistake them for seeds or nuts and eat them.
To be safe, use faintly fragrant fragrance beads. Store them in a sealed jar to prevent the parrot from accessing and ingesting them when exercising or playing outside its cage.