Is Perfume Bad for Budgies? Find out the Truth!

Last updated on May 7th, 2024 at 01:15 am

Written by Isra P

Is perfume bad for budgies? That’s a question you shouldn’t ignore. Everybody loves smelling good, and to achieve that, they will use any fragrance they can get their hands on. However, do budgies think the same way? You may believe your budgies will like you more if you have the aroma of a flower garden. Sadly, that cannot be further from the truth.

Perfumes can be devastatingly bad for budgies as they have a highly sensitive respiratory tract, which is vulnerable to all airborne chemicals, including fragrances. In addition, since budgies are small birds, they are even more susceptible than larger birds to everything that pollutes the air. Still, there are steps you can take to minimize the risk for your pets when exposed to harmful scents.

You should know that not all fragrances affect budgies the same way. Some are much more damaging to your pets’ well-being than others, so knowing the difference between them is critical. Learn what makes them dangerous and how to keep your budgies safe.

Perfumes contain many chemicals your pets are not exactly fond of (source). These may include preservatives, solvents, and synthetic or natural compounds that can quickly overwhelm your budgies’ respiratory system, which is detrimental to their health.

Water

Most perfumes have water, with a typical concentration of 5 to 15%. Water is the only ingredient completely harmless to budgies, so you don’t have to worry about it.

Preservatives

Preservatives, like parabens, are often added to perfumes to prevent bacterial growth and extend shelf life. Unfortunately, these notorious chemicals are known to disrupt the endocrine system, causing skin irritation and other health issues in budgies and almost all other animals.

Typically, they range from 0.4 to 0.8 % of the total perfume composition. Although parabens can break havoc if they come in contact with a budgie’s skin, they aren’t the main problem.

Solvents

Solvents, like ethanol and isopropanol, are used in perfumes to dissolve the fragrance ingredients and help distribute the scent evenly. However, these solvents can harm budgies when inhaled or ingested. The fumes can cause lung and throat irritation, disorientation, respiratory distress, and even unconsciousness in mere minutes.

They normally comprise about 60 to 95% of the total perfume, making them the main component of perfumes. Therefore, you would think solvents are the greatest threat in perfumes, but you would be wrong. Even though they are toxic, perfume solvents dissipate rather quickly in a well-ventilated area.

Fragrances

Fragrances are the primary threat to your pets. Why?  The synthetic fragrances used in perfumes can contain dozens or even hundreds of individual chemicals derived from petrochemicals, which can be toxic to budgies. That’s right, the same stuff that powers your car is being used to make your perfume smell nice.

When a bird inhales these chemicals, they can cause irritation and damage to the bird’s lungs and airways, leading to respiratory problems.

Fragrances may include aromatic chemicals or essential oils. Of these two, essential oils are the lesser evil due to their natural origin. Still, they can be dangerous depending on the concentration.

Fragrances constitute 2 to 40% of a total perfume mixture, whether synthetic or natural. The difference that can make in your budgie’s health is enormous. A perfume with a low concentration of fragrance is much less threatening to your pet than one with a lot of it.

Why are Budgies Sensitive to Fragrances?

Budgies are sensitive to fragrances due to their small size and unique respiratory system, which under normal conditions, is good for them.

is perfume bad for budgies

Effective Respiratory System

So, budgies, like all birds, have a pretty sweet respiratory system that’s made to extract a lot of oxygen from the air and fast. Their respiratory system is so unique that it’s even better at breathing than most animals!

However, this also means they’re more prone to getting messed up by toxins floating around in the air, like the fragrances we humans love.

See, budgies need much more oxygen than us because their metabolism is lightning-fast compared to ours. And because they’re breathing so much more, they’re also inhaling more air, which means they’re more likely to inhale any toxic materials lingering around.

The way their lungs work is pretty interesting. Air flows through their lungs in one direction only, called “unidirectional airflow.” This is why they’re such good breathers. It allows budgies to use oxygen from the air more efficiently.

But how does that work? Overall, your budgie’s respiratory system consists of the trachea, bronchus, lungs, and air sacs.

First, your budgies take a deep breath, and air rushes into their air sacs. As they exhale, that air moves forward, where it picks up some fresh oxygen and says goodbye to some carbon dioxide (reference).

Now, things have started to get interesting. Your budgies inhale again, and the new air gets pushed to the back of their air sacs while the first batch of used-up air moves forward.

Then, as your budgies exhale again, that first batch of air gets expelled, while the second breath exchanges more oxygen and CO2.

All this process allows budgies to extract practically two times the amount of oxygen humans do, which is incredibly efficient as their respiratory system can make the most out of every breath.

Tiny Size

Budgies are small birds compared to, let’s say, macaws or African Gray parrots. That’s another reason they are so vulnerable to airborne toxins, odors, or strong scents from perfumes, which can easily saturate their fast respiratory systems in just minutes.

What Types of Perfume are the Least and Most Dangerous to Budgies?

Not all perfumes are the same. Some are mostly water, alcohol, and a bit of fragrance. However, a few have a staggering concentration of essential oils or chemicals that can overtax a budgie’s respiratory system.

Eau Fraiche

Eau fraiche refers to diluted perfumes comprising only 1 to 3% fragrance (resource). They are the least threatening to budgies as the amount of perfume particles is fairly low and only last 1 or 2 hours at most. If you need to apply perfume at home, that’s the least likely to cause problems.

Cologne

Colognes are also toxic to budgies, although they aren’t as bad as pure perfumes. They are usually 2 to 5% fragrance with over 90% alcohol. Colognes tend to last from 2 to 3 hours making them more problematic than Eau fraiche but less of an issue than highly concentrated extracts.

Eau de Toilette

Not many perfumes are as popular as Eau de toilette. They comprise 5 to 15% fragrance, which is a big jump from colognes. They are a much bigger threat to budgies than colognes and take 3 to 5 hours to dissipate.

Eau de Parfum

At this point, perfumes get extremely dangerous for our pets. Eau de parfum has a fragrance concentration of 15 to 20%, which means trouble. It takes approximately 6 hours to disperse; consequently, you must stay away from your pet for at least that many hours.

Budgies can barely breathe when exposed to this type of perfume, even after a few seconds, so you should avoid it for the sake of your feathered buddies.

Perfume

Plain perfumes are extremely harmful to budgies and every other bird, for that matter. Even large parrots, such as cockatoos, have a hard time breathing when exposed to perfume extract.

This type has a composition of 20 to 40% fragrance, lasting from 8 hours to a day or more (data). Of course, it goes without saying you have to stay away from it if you love your pets.

Is There any Fragrance that is Safe to use Near Budgies?

While many fragrances can harm our feathered friends, some options are considered safer around budgies. For example, fragrances made from natural ingredients like essential oils can be less toxic than synthetic ones found in most perfumes.

natural fragrance

Select fragrances with approximately 1% of essential oils or close consisting of mostly water. However, it’s important to remember that even natural fragrances can cause irritation, shortness of breath, and lung damage if used excessively.

In any case, a good rule of thumb is to use fragrances sparingly and in a well-ventilated area and always keep an eye on your pet’s behavior and health for any signs of distress.

What can I do to Wear Perfume around my Budgies?

As mentioned earlier, perfume and other scented products can be damaging to budgies due to their highly sensitive respiratory system.

Therefore, it is best to avoid wearing them around your winged companions to ensure their well-being. Still, if you must wear perfume, there are some precautions you can take to reduce the risks.

Pick the Proper Perfume

Firstly, it’s vital to choose your perfume wisely. Opt for fragrances that are made from natural ingredients and avoid those with synthetic chemicals like the plague. This will reduce the risk of harmful toxins being released into the air.

Use Sparingly

Be careful of the amount of perfume you use. Just a few sprays, and you will be set.

Apply It Far Away

Next, try applying perfume in a different room than your budgie’s. This will help reduce the fragrance concentration in the air and minimize your pet’s exposure.

If you can’t resist spritzing your scent in the same room as your bird, then make sure the space is well-ventilated. Open a window or turn on a fan to help disperse the fragrance and reduce the time it lingers.

Wait Until It's Dry

Allow the perfume to dry before entering your budgies’ room. It will reduce the amount of scent released into the air and lower the chances of your budgie inhaling the chemicals.

Take a Shower

If you just got home, it’s a swell idea to shower before getting close to your budgies. Your pets can still perceive the perfume coming from you, especially if you are wearing a highly concentrated fragrance. So eliminate any traces of perfume by bathing and changing your clothes before reuniting safely with your birds.

It is best to avoid using any perfume or scented products around your budgies. However, if you have no choice, take precautions to diminish your budgies’ exposure to the chemicals by limiting the amount you wear, applying it in a well-ventilated area, waiting until it has dried before getting close to them, and keeping your pets far from the spot where you spray perfume.

With a little common sense and some careful planning, you can still enjoy wearing perfume while keeping your budgie safe and sound.

He is the leading creator of featheredbuddies.com, a website dedicated to helping bird owners. For many years, Isra P has cared for budgies and other birds to ensure their happiness and well-being. His passion and enthusiasm for them have led him to a quest to find out why birds act the way they do and how to enrich their lives.