Is Blow-Drying Safe for Parrots?

I thought talking about this would make a good post, as it’s been on my mind for a long time now. Blow-drying is not good for your bird in two ways: First, it can dry out a parrot’s skin. This is most relevant because many will begin to pluck when their skin feels itchy and gross. It’s kind of like how people will dig at their itchy flesh because the feeling just won’t go away. Not fun. You’ve noticed also how human hair can get too dry, and need special shampoos/treatment after heat damage? It’s much the same with feathers.

Beautiful blue parrotlet.

Preening after a bath (as with Pacific Parrotlet ‘Ptak’) promotes good feather health. Excuse the blurriness.

Second, blow-drying puts your bird at risk for burns. Even if you’re careful and do it on the low setting, it can be like with little kids – too long and you’ll scorch the skin. And it’s too easy to do.

The best way to bathe a bird is to let it air-dry afterwards. Don’t worry, it won’t catch cold – they’re evolved to do this. If you’re concerned about a chill, though, you should be placing your bird somewhere warm and draft-free. A little bit of shivering is actually okay, and you shouldn’t worry about this – unless your bird is, say, majorly shaking.

Letting a bird air-dry after a bath or shower promotes healthy preening habitsThis is the real purpose of bath-time: The preen-session afterwards. The drying process is the important part! It’s not so much about that romp in the water, although that has its benefits, too. It’s about the time spent afterwards literally zipping feathers back into place, and removing dirt and debris that may have remained. Towel drying also discourages good preening behaviour, and doing so can really ruffle things up and make a bird upset.

Also note that a bird should never be shampooed, soaped, or otherwise treated with product (human, or ‘avian safe’). Contrary to what some companies will assure their buyers, a bird’s health is best promoted by letting nature do as nature intended – where possible, at least. Stay away from shampoos and soaps of any kind. These can leave a residue on feathers, which will again discourage preening and encourage bad habits like plucking.

There is one more huge disadvantage to hair dryers, which is that many have a non-stick coating. Do you know if your brand uses this? Such a coating is also included on many products, including cookers (ovens), hair straighteners, curling irons, and more. Just like the non-stick coatings on many household pots and pans, this can heat up and release toxic fumes that will instantly kill your bird.

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Combine the methods – here, a sink and a dish for Charlie the canary. What about a dish and spray bottle, or a shower and spray bottle?

Three big benefits of showering and bathing for birds:

Benefit #1: Birds who shower multiple times a week in the summer (and at least once a week in the winter) – and by this, I mean getting really soaked to the skin – are less likely to pluck or feather-barber. But remember, even letting your bird bask in the steam from the shower has its benefits, if it doesn’t want to get in yet.

Benefit #2: Feathers tend to look healthier with a bird preening them gently after a bath. Showering also encourages a healthy respiratory system in your bird (and it can help you by suppressing dust on those dusty Old World birds).

Benefit #3: It’s an enrichment thing. Don’t be afraid to look at shower time as fun time! Many birds enjoy bathing, and you can turn this to your advantage. Make it a group activity for added benefit.

Need help getting your parrot to bathe? Check here for some easy tips to make bath-time for your parrot an enjoyable experience.

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Pacific (Celestial) Parrotlet, post-bath.

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14 thoughts on “Is Blow-Drying Safe for Parrots?

  1. you forgot to mention that certain blowdryers omit certain toxic chemicals during heated especially some newer brands! I am against the blow drying but I do it every so often when I take a shower at night and don’t want to sleep with wet hair (along with my birdy). My bird showers with me EVERY time and believe me when I don’t share with her omg she will be mad at me hahaha birds are NOT pets they are companions. So at the most I have ever used a blow dryer was twice in 1 month…other than that I don’t use one. I wouldn’t advice to use it monthly but every so often isn’t bad if you know your blowdryer is safe that is. Just like people, birds are sensitive to certain things. Since I use the heater in my home, my bird takes several baths a day. In the sink, in the tub with my kids, and in the shower with me. I especially love how when you take a steamy shower, you can place your bird near you and she can get the steam from the shower! It really helps their skin absorb the moisture so they don’t have flaky dry skin or dander. <–speaking for conures btw ^_^
    I love your last pic!! Looks like my bird hahaha

    • I did forget! Oops, better put that in. I started to talk about it and got distracted, haha. But it is a really important part. Sounds like your bird is a real water bird, haha. Our flock weren’t at first, and some never will be water lovers, I think – but our parrotlet, shockingly, has become a bathtime fiend! He would happily shower multiple times a day, I think. And I love steam – letting your bird sit in the steam is amazing for it. I should definitely add that in, too.

  2. Thanks for this post–I feel like this information really needs to get around the avian community. And I love soggy Ptak! 😀 Does he like his baths? He looks rather put-upon. 😉

    • Soggy Ptak was a bit grumpy with me there, but he did turn into a real water bird at some point, and now I can’t get him out of the shower, haha! And thanks – I feel like this is one topic people might not necessarily think about, but I’ve seen it crop up a lot lately.

    • My cockatoo screams at me if I don’t blow her dry .i adopted her and the previous parent told me to dry under her wings and then let her dry the rest naturally..

  3. Yep, K is right. A lot of dryers have Teflon or other non-stick coatings that will release fumes when they get hot. I just mist my bird, then turn the thermostat up a degree.

  4. What?! That’s the last thing I’d think of doing with a bird! It sounds cruel!

    Showering , though, sounds very nice.

    • A lot of birds love it, so I don’t think it’s cruel, really. Done with the best intentions! But it’s just not great for birds. And most of ours love showering now (although some merely tolerate it). Ptak in particular is a water fiend. Don’t get in his way at bath time!

  5. Good article! It is all very confusing for new parrot owners. Lots of people advise blowdrying. I only did it once, but my quaker was scared of the drier. Only recently did I learn about the Teflon. And I was horrified! I am glad Basil never took to blow drying. Now I am very careful about using the drier myself, so as not to hurt the birdies.

    • The Teflon is the scariest part! I mean, if you have a safe drier, I can see the uses of doing it once in awhile, but honestly, bathing is about preening – so I choose not to. I think Ptak might drop dead of shock if I tried, haha. He’s a bit like Basil in that regard!

  6. I never blow dry my birds anymore, especially since it’s so difficult to discern whether or not your blow dryer has that non stick coating. But in the winter time when it’s cooler out, I was blowdrying them. On the cool setting, of course, and just to dry them enough so that their wings weren’t so heavy that they nearly hit the floor when they’d try to fly, poor things. They get soaked, and I mean really soaked. Does anyone know if there is a blowdryer that even exists that has a ceramic coating or some other safe non stick coating? And it has to have the cool setting. My husband actually bought me a dryer with NO cool setting. didn’t know they existed. Leave it to a guy, right?

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