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Pet Cockatiel Survives Accidental Dose of Odor Eliminator

Posted by SusanStokes on February 12, 2021

Pet Poison Helpline makes a big effort in keeping pet owners informed of pet toxins and how to avoid pet hazards. Every now and then a story stands out for being unusual, yet a situation that could happen in anyone’s home. The following story concerns a pet Cockatiel named Tequila.

As the story goes, a six-year-old boy was visiting his grandmother’s home with his father where the pet Cockatiel named Tequila lived. While she was busy making dinner, the young boy found a bottle of Febreze in the bathroom. (Febreze is a popular odor eliminator.)

As reported in the Pet Poison Helpline press release:

"We thought he had just sprayed it around the area, but my son came down from upstairs and saw the bird looked like she was dunked with water. Then we realized what happened,” said the grandmother.  

The six-year-old had literally soaked the bird with Febreze liquid, who was already having difficulty breathing. The family knew the first step was a visit to their local veterinarian, who referred her to the Veterinary Medical Center of Long Island (VMCLI), and her first call was to the Pet Poison Helpline. Once at the VMCLI, doctors immediately bathed the bird and placed her on oxygen.

Cockatiel Tequila.jpg
Photo credit Pet Poison Helpline Press Release

"Taking Tequila to a veterinarian immediately after exposure to the spray probably saved this bird's life," said Dr. Ahna Brutlag, a board-certified veterinary toxicologist at Pet Poison Helpline. "They immediately placed the bird in an oxygen chamber and bathed Tequila in Dawn dishwashing detergent. While Dawn is not formulated as a pet shampoo, it is often used to clean up just about anything covered in oil, including birds, sea turtles and human skin. We also recommended that they check her blood glucose as there is a small amount of ethanol in Febreze and ingestion could potentially cause hypoglycemia."

Dr. Christine Stambler at Veterinary Medical Center of Long Island said when the bird arrived at their hospital, she was experiencing respiratory distress symptoms, and because of the unique sensitivity of birds to spray products, they knew their first priority was getting her into an oxygen cage. Once she was stabilized, they could work on removing the substance from her feathers.

Only when used as directed, Febreze is a safe product for use around pets. Proctor and Gamble, the manufacturer of Febreze, has veterinary professionals available to answer pet-related questions about any of their other products and can be reached by calling 1-833-224-2018.

Tequila's care included SQ fluids and nebulization treatments, and she was also started on an antibiotic to help treat a possible secondary infection. Thanks to quick action by the owners, Tequila made a complete recovery, and the family is very happy with the treatment and care they received at VMCLI, especially the grandson, who learned a valuable lesson about chemical products and pets.

Perhaps this is a lesson learned for us all. Visit our Pet Health Emergency Info resource page and stay prepared for your own pet's health and safety.

Recommended Reading:

Birds Require Specialized Veterinary Care

An Important Message for January Adopt A Rescued Bird Month

I Found Love at the Super Pet Expo

Rest in Peace That Guy With the Birds