Margaret A. Wissman, DVM
Is there a safe perfume alternative for my birds, like natural patchouli or some other natural oil?
I don’t believe it is necessary for bird owners to completely abandon wearing some sort of scent. Personally, I wear eau de toilette, which isn’t quite as strong as most perfumes, and I always spray it into the air in front of me, and then I walk into the mist.
Of course, there are also alternatives to using perfume, cologne or eau de toilette, such as the wonderful body wash products that leave a nice lingering light fragrance. I also believe that some of the natural oil fragrances, such as patchouli oil, can also be a good alternative to alcohol-based fragrances. In all cases, birds should not be allowed to come into contact with any perfume, fragrance or oil. Even once it has dried or become absorbed into your skin, make every effort to keep your bird off of the areas of your skin where fragrance has been applied to prevent the inadvertent contact with any residue.
While we know that birds have a sensitive respiratory tract, we need not abandon all hope of gracious living when we share our lives with a bird. When it comes to body scents, I always say less is more, and many colleagues and bird-owning friends feel the same way. Some perfumes are so chokingly strong that my husband and I can’t even tolerate sharing an elevator with someone wearing an overpowering scent.
Always be sensitive to the people around us, as well as to our birds. But, that doesn’t mean that we can’t wear a fragrance that is subtle and light and not likely to cause respiratory irritation.
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