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is perfume toxic to budgies?

Can Perfume Kill Budgies?

Budgies are very sensitive to odors and fragrances, such as perfume. They’ve been known to experience breathing difficulties around strong airborne odors.

Due to their delicate respiratory system, owners are discouraged from wearing perfume.

Perfume can be fatal if it’s sprayed near a budgie or the scent lingers where it breathes. Budgies inhale twice as much oxygen with each breath as humans, which means they breathe in twice as many toxins.

The significant amount of essential oil and alcohol binders in perfume makes it toxic to all birds.

If you intend to wear perfume, never apply it in the same room as your budgie. Spray it outside, in your car, or at the office, and stay away from the budgie for 6-8 hours.

If you must spray perfume in the home, do so on a different floor in a well-ventilated room.

Is Perfume Toxic To Budgies?

Perfume is considered toxic to budgies due to its chemical composition. The average bottle consists of 20-40% essential oils and binders, such as alcohol.

Spraying perfume near a bird can lead to respiratory distress, as it releases volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air. Some brands of perfume contain more VOCs than others.

The small daily amount of perfume that most people wear is unlikely to kill a healthy budgie immediately, but regular dosages will impact your budgie’s health within weeks or days.

Budgies that are routinely exposed to perfume may develop:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Damage to their air sacs (or lungs)
  • A weakened immune system
  • Lung infections

For this reason, owners must be cautious about where they apply their perfumes.

Essential Oils

Based on the traditional classification, perfume has the highest concentration of essential oils of all worn fragrances. For this reason, perfume is the most dangerous scent to wear around budgies.

Perfume has 20% essential oil in one bottle, and more concentrated perfume can reach 40%.


The alcohol content of perfume is less dangerous than essential oils because alcohol evaporates quickly, and its scent dissipates quickly. Essential oils have larger particles that linger in the air for hours.

Even by itself, alcohol can be dangerous to budgies, as it produces strong fumes that are difficult to breathe. Budgies will have a more difficult time processing these vapors than humans.

Consequently, exposure can irritate the lungs, throat, nostrils, and eyes.

can I wear perfume around my bird?

Is Perfume Bad For Budgies?

Inhaling too much perfume will permanently damage a budgie’s respiratory system, leading to premature death.

The size and functionality of the lungs make them vulnerable to airborne substances for these reasons:

Highly Efficient Respiratory System

According to Poultry Science, air only flows in one direction throughout a bird’s respiratory system.

Instead of having a pair of lungs, birds have a series of interconnected air sacs in their chest cavity that function in the following way:

  • When a bird inhales, air enters the air sacs.
  • When it exhales, this air moves forward, where oxygen is taken in, and carbon dioxide is removed.
  • The bird inhales again, and while the new air is moved to the back of the air sacs, the first batch of oxygen-depleted air moves further forward.
  • Another exhale, and the first batch of air is expelled, all while the second breath exchanges oxygen and CO2.
  • Birds inhale twice as much oxygen with a single breath.

Their respiratory system makes breathing more efficient for budgies. With a single inhalation, budgies gain twice as much oxygen, and the air has far more contact with their respiratory system. This means no air is wasted, a tactic that’s important when flying at high altitudes with limited oxygen.

Unfortunately, this also makes budgies more sensitive to airborne toxins.

According to Environmental Health Perspectives, birds’ sensitivity to odors makes them valuable in laboratory testing to uncover what toxins affect the human respiratory system.

Small Physical Size

Airborne toxins affect all birds, but smaller species will be more affected. Due to a budgie’s small physical stature, it takes fewer toxins to damage its air sacs.

This is the case for any strong scents, including the following:

  • Deodorants
  • Aftershave
  • Candles
  • Essential oil diffusers

Aerosols are perhaps the most toxic to birds since they’re easy to inhale. These include:

  • Hair spray
  • Air fresheners
  • Disinfectant sprays 

Is Cologne Bad For Budgies?

In the U.S., the terms are often gendered or used interchangeably.

Perfume refers to scents marketed to women, while cologne refers to those directed at men. However, traditional definitions separate them based on the essential oils they contain.

Cologne contains about 2-4% essential oil and more alcohol. The lowest concentration of all the fragrance types is Eau Fraiche, which contains just 1-3% essential oils and almost no alcohol.

However, exposing budgies to cologne remains unsafe.

Can I Wear Perfume Around My Bird?

Wearing perfume in the company of a budgie can damage its health. However, that doesn’t mean you need to give up wearing fragrances entirely.

There are no bird-safe perfumes. Even fragrances marketed as “bird-safe” and used as an air freshener around the home must be used in limited quantities and kept away from the budgie’s living space.

There’s no way to eliminate the VOCs and alcohol inherent in fragrances. Despite some being natural, they can still disrupt a budgie’s respiratory system, and synthetic varieties are even more dangerous.

For this reason, the only way to make perfume budgie safe is to keep it away from your budgie.

Here are some precautions that owners should take when they wear perfume:

Apply Perfumes Outdoors

When spraying perfume, do so in another room on a different floor and let the space air out.

However, ventilation can be difficult, and scent particles can remain on surfaces for a long time. To be extra safe, apply perfume in the car, outdoors, or at your workplace.

Let The Perfume Sit Before Coming Home

A perfume remains on the skin for about 4-6 hours, sometimes longer. So, it’s sensible to wear perfume only when you’ll be out of the house for the entire day.

For those who work full-time, leaving for your job provides sufficient time to let the perfume run its course. Avoid perfume entirely if you’re going out for dinner or buying something from the store.

Change Clothes When You Return Home

Changing as soon as you return home is a good habit, as this will allow you to interact with your budgie without exposing it to your perfume.

Take a shower and change your clothes if you want the budgie to sit on your shoulder or perch on your fingers. This will remove the scent, ensuring that your budgie isn’t exposed while nuzzling against you.

Perfume is dangerous to birds, so avoid wearing it near it to ensure your budgie doesn’t have difficulty breathing, develop long-term respiratory illnesses, or die prematurely.

All strong fragrances are dangerous budgies, colognes included, but perfume is the most harmful.