Pet Parakeets and COVID-19

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When I wrote my most recent post giving advice about working from home with budgies for coworkers I had no idea that I would end up in a mandatory work from home situation! But, here we are, due to attempts to slow the spread of COVID-19 I’m in my home office for the foreseeable future.

My new supervisor
My new supervisor sure likes to stay on top of me! Talk about micromanaging!

In the mix with all of our other coronavirus related concerns, it is certainly scary to think that either we could give our pet parakeets COVID-19, or that they could transmit it to us.

First, the good news, per the CDC there is no evidence that COVID-19 will transmit to any pets or other animals, or that pets could transmit it to people.

But, here are some coronavirus related considerations:

  • Although your pets cannot contract and transmit this coronavirus, they could carry the disease on their bodies. Say, for instance, someone with COVID-19 coughs on a budgie (which, let’s not in the first place) – the virus could live for several hours on the budgie’s body and be transmitted to someone else who handled him. So, we should all take care not to cough or sneeze directly on our pets. I think that’s generally good advice, even without a pandemic!
  • It is never a bad idea to wash your hands before handling your parakeets, but watch out for using hand sanitizer. Sanitizers that are alcohol-based could be toxic to your birds. Plain old soap and water are perfectly good for getting rid of the virus on your hands and body. Additionally, it might be tempting to hose your home down with disinfecting sprays but these are also known to be deadly.
  • Supply chain issues could become a concern. We all know that toilet paper is virtually impossible to get at the moment. I don’t advise panicking and buying up a pet store, but there is not any harm in buying enough of whatever you feed your birds to get you through two to four weeks of quarantine.
  • Similarly, now is a good time to make sure you’ve got a good first aid kit for your budgies in case of emergencies. I imagine that veterinary clinics will stay open to some extent as a necessity, but I think it’s safe to assume that hours may be limited, and already difficult to find avian vets may be even harder to see.

As we all get settled in to practicing social distancing and getting used to being homebodies our parakeets can be a source of stress relief and humor. Although I’m trying to keep mine out of my work day I know that I appreciate, more than ever, their company and their goofy antics.

Stay safe and healthy out there, readers, and know that this trying time will pass. Also, it might be the perfect time to quarantine a new feathered friend, if you’re stuck home anyway!

handsome kevin
Kevin is a handsome gentleman and a messy eater.
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Products and parakeets – with a focus on eliminating fragrance and cleaning safely

I am generally a no muss, no fuss kind of person about my personal care routine. Also, because of my husband’s severe allergies we don’t use many products with scent. Even before parakeets we didn’t have candles, potpourri, plug-ins, Febreeze or any other home fragrance products. We had also cut out harsh chemical cleaners and started using Seventh Generation All-Purpose Cleaner to clean in addition to Mr. Clean Magic Erasers, which are a modern miracle.

We also only use unscented Laundry and dishwasher detergent, Dish Soap and hand soaps. Instead of using dryer sheets, we use Wool Dryer Balls.

There’s no perfume in the house or scented body products, including all face and hand/body lotions and we don’t use any hair products at home beyond Desert Essence Fragrance Free Shampoo & Conditioner Unscented. So, we don’t have hair gel, spray or any other hair treatment products.Something might sneak through occasionally that has an oatmeal or mint scent, but by and large our house is scent free.

Scents and home-fragrance products can be very bad for parakeet health, they cycle air through their bodies much faster than humans, and can be irritated by air contaminants just like people can. We had already installed a few Winix HEPA Filtration Air Purifiers around the house for my husband’s health, but they are also recommended for parakeets and other birds.

I think we had a much easier time eliminating products before getting parakeets since we started out unscented; the only thing that was hard to part with were our non-stick pans. I’m sure there are people who say they used teflon with parakeets and their budgie lived to be 30 years old and was never sick a day in its life, but who doesn’t have an Aunt Myrtle who smoked since she was 11 years old and lived to be 150? I mean, obviously hyperbole, but the exceptions don’t really entice me to chance it.

What prompted me to write this post is my one personal grooming vice, and that’s getting highlights. I get them done about every 8 weeks and it was always sort of a big issue because Patrick can’t handle the chemical aftermath, but now with the parakeets I feel even worse coming home after a bleaching!

I asked my stylist if I would be damaging my hair by washing it the same day as getting it colored and she said no, so as soon as I get home from the salon I hop right in the shower. That cuts the chemical smell but it’s still pretty heavy, so I usually throw on a knit cap (much more comfortable in winter!) before letting the birds out. Toby is constantly on my head and Kelly loves grooming hair too, but I take every precaution to keep them away from my hair for at least day 1, and then after washing again the next day it’s usually so faint that I feel like I’m not a danger to anyone.

Should I stop highlighting my hair? Probably, since it causes my husband discomfort and potentially is bad for the parakeets. Still – I’m not quite ready yet.

I’d love to have some comments from other bird parents- what products do you use and does anyone else feel they can’t live without hair color? If so, what precautions do you take (if any)? Feel free to tell me I’m a lunatic and should stop worrying about it!