Introducing Your Bird to Other Pets in the Home

Can you bring a pet bird into a house with other pets? Absolutely. Should you approach introducing a bird to your other pets with caution? Yes. Dogs and cats are natural predators, and your bird would be prey in the wild. If approached properly, your pet bird and dog and cat can get along just fine. In this video, Dr. Laurie Hess explains how she introduced Dale, a blue-headed pionus, to her cat, Bean.

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Video Transcript

Hi, I’m Dr. Laurie Hess, exotic animal veterinarian, and I’m here with my own family of pets. This is Bean, he’s 15 years old, and this is my bird, Dale, a blue-headed pionus who’s twenty-four years old. And we’re here to tell you that when it’s done properly, you can live together with multiple different kinds of pets in the household, even cats and dogs who are predatory animals with birds, with parrots here who are prey. If you do it the right way and you supervise your animals and that’s key, they can all live happily together.

Now, even the most well-intentioned and well-meaning cats and dogs are still predators so they may be very, very curious about your pet bird, your parrot, who is a prey species. That’s very important because cats and dogs may want to play with your animals, even just pick them up and have them act as a toy, but they can really inflict some serious harm. They have sharp teeth. They have saliva that has germs, and they also have sharp nails.

So, it’s really, really important that if your bird is out of his cage at any time, that you’re supervising him around your cat or your dog, and that he is in a secure and locked cage that an animal such as a dog or cat can’t break into. You can take them out together and have them in the same room if you are there watching. You just never want to let them out unsupervised.

When you first introduce them, what you want to do is you want to make it a positive experience for both. So when I first introduce these guys, Dale was naturally a little scared. Again, he is that prey species and this is a scary predator so I gave Dale his favorite bird treats in very small amounts when he first saw Bean and he understood that the sight of Bean, the smell of Bean, even the sound of Bean was something not to be afraid of. He paired it with a positive interaction of getting some of his favorite treats. At the same time, I cuddled Bean and I pet him and I let him know that if he was calm around Dale, that it was really, really a nice interaction and that it was a positive thing and nothing to get anxious about.

So you can do this. You have to do it gradually and again, I always stress, please supervise this interaction. Never let your birds and cats and dogs out together alone, because again, these are the most well-intentioned, sweet animals – dogs and cats – but they may do their natural behavior, which is to swat it or be curious about a bird, and there’s nothing wrong with that. That’s natural. But again, you can have serious injury in your bird. So when done the right way, you absolutely can have cats, dogs, ferrets, birds, rabbits, any kind of other animal together, on the same home, living happily.

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