Pet cockatiel doused in Febreze makes full recovery

February 12, 2021
dvm360 Staff

To help prevent stories like these, the Pet Poison Hotline recently created “Toxin Tails," an online platform that educates the veterinary community and pet owners about pet poisoning dangers.

When it comes to masking pet odors, a little Febreze can go a long way. Although deemed relatively safe for use around pets, for one pet cockatiel, this odor eliminator nearly took her life.

Regina (Gina) Bonura of Levittown, NY, was cooking dinner when her 6-year-old grandson Christopher came out of the bathroom carrying Febreze. She assumed he just wanted to freshen the air after they had cleaned their pet cockatiel Tequila’s cage.

“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,” recalled Bonura, in a Pet Poison Hotline release. “Then we realized what happened.”

Her grandson had soaked Tequila in Febreze. Soon after, the cockatiel exhibited signs of respiratory distress. Bonura said she immediately called Pet Poison Helpline and brought Tequila to the local veterinarian who then referred her to the Veterinary Medical Center of Long Island (VMCLI). Upon arrival at VMCLI, Tequila was bathed with Dawn dish detergent and placed on oxygen.

“I don’t think we’ve seen an avian Febreze poisoning before,” said Christine Stambler, DVM, an emergency veterinarian at the VMCLI. “When Tequila arrived at our hospital, she was experiencing respiratory distress symptoms, and because of the unique sensitivity of birds to spray products, we know our first priority was getting her into an oxygen cage. Once stabilized, we could work on removing the substance from her feathers.”

Tequila’s extensive care also included subcutaneous fluids, nebulization treatments, and antibiotics to decrease the chances of developing a secondary infection.

“Taking Tequila to a veterinarian immediately after exposure to the spray probably saved this bird’s life,” said Ahna Brutlag, DVM, MS, DABT, DABVT, a board-certified veterinary toxicologist at the Pet Poison Hotline.

To help educate the veterinary community and animal lovers about pet poisoning dangers, the Pet Poison Helpline recently created “Toxin Tails.” All the pets highlighted on this newly- formed platform have been successfully treated and have made full recoveries.