To better understand why Listerine is toxic to parrots, and other problems of using any products on parrots that contain methyl salicylate (oil of wintergreen) check out Leslie’s monthly column, ‘The Holistic Parrot’. Read the full article, ‘Watch out for oil of wintergreen’, in Parrots magazine, number 286, November 2021.
Feather destruction is a very serious condition in parrots. There are several things you can do to assist them. For more information on this please see our other posts in our ‘Feather Destruction’ area, including, ‘About Healing Feather Destruction’.
Online many people promote using Listerine to cure feather destruction. There are many dangers of spraying your parrot with Listerine.
To better understand this, let’s look at some of the risks.
Listerine’s main active compound- methyl salicylate, is a highly dangerous substance for our birds. Find the whole story in ‘The Holistic Parrot’ November, 2021 article.
The wintergreen plant (Gaultheria procumbens) contains Methyl salicylate. Methyl salicylate is known for its anti-inflammatory and pain relief properties. Acetyl salicylate, a salicylate derivative is the active ingredient in aspirin.
However, when using Listerine, or other feather sprays that contain oil of wintergreen, any benefits also come with possible risks and side effects. These can range from breathing abnormalities to seizures, kidney damage, and death.
Many people and children have been poisoned when methyl salicylate was applied to the skin or consumed in excess. This resulted in them needing medical care. And most importantly, because birds are so sensitive, with delicate body systems, these toxic effects can cause a fast physical deterioration.
Additionally, because birds are much smaller than people they can be more easily poisoned. A tiny amount of methyl salicylate (oil of wintergreen) can harm a parrot. Some of the well documented reactions of birds to the salicylate compound in aspirin are:
- Loss of desire to move
- Respiratory tract irritation
- Alterations in blood composition
- Significant intestine damage that leads to hemorrhaging
This hemorrhaging leads to severe anemia, and even death.
I believe unbalanced nutrition is at the heart of feather destruction. – Leslie Moran
With that in mind, is the use of wintergreen oil or Listerine on our birds really worth the risk?
We can help our bird pals to heal feather destruction by taking a holistic approach that addresses the physical, mental and emotional aspects that are at the root of the problem.
Learn more about healing feather destruction using Leslie’s Holistic approach starting with the powerful foundation of a Balanced Food Plan for your parrot, starting with BBFE!