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Things That Are Toxic To Geese

White goose lowering head to eat grass seeds.
“What’s Up Doc” enjoys some non-toxic nibbles. Photo | Edgars Mission

This resource has been updated as of September 13th, 2021

It can be a challenge to ensure geese residents have healthy, happy lives after coming to a sanctuary, and there are many different aspects of care to consider each day. Unfortunately, toxic and poisonous hazards are sometimes overlooked in the hustle and bustle of operating a sanctuary. While minor exposure to many of these toxins is unlikely to cause serious problems, large amounts can cause severe health issues and sadly, even death. Many geese may instinctively avoid toxic plants or avoid them because many are bitter to the taste. However, there are also some toxins that are highly dangerous even in small amounts and others that are quite palatable. In order to help ensure you never run into this problem, we have compiled this resource of common plants and other potentially toxic things that have been known to be a problem for geese.


Toxic Plants

This is not an exhaustive list. There may be particular plants that grow in your region that are not included on the list. Check with your region’s agricultural department to ensure you have a full picture of what could be problematic for geese in your area!


Ask About Activated Charcoal

While prevention is imperative when it comes to protecting your residents from toxins, in the event that they accidentally ingest something toxic, the administration of an activated charcoal product may help absorb the toxins. This is not a magic cure and may not be appropriate in all situations, but it can be helpful to have on hand. We suggest asking your veterinarian if there are specific products they recommend for the various species in your care so you can have them ready should you need them. In addition to seeking urgent medical care, if a resident ingests a toxin, ask your veterinarian if administration of activated charcoal is advised.

Plants That Are Toxic To Geese

We have built a list below of a number of plants known to be toxic in some way to geese. If you’d like a more detailed list and/or pictures of plants toxic to geese and other species, check out The Open Sanctuary Project’s Global Toxic Plant Database and filter Species Afflicted by geese in order to see a list of plants across the world that are toxic to geese. Please note that, while extensive, this list may not contain every single plant toxic to geese!

Plants That Are Toxic To Geese


Azaleas

 

  • Diarrhea
  • Tremors
  • Cardiac Irregularities
  • Weakness
  • Edema
  • Weakened Heart Rate
  • Seizures
  • Death



Bellyache Bush, Wild Cassava

  • Contact Dermatitis
  • Appetite Loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight Loss
  • Dehydration
  • Dilated Pupils
  • Elevated Heart Rate
  • Death



Bitter Almond

  • Weakness
  • Sudden Death



Bitter Root, Dogbane, Indian Hemp

  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness
  • Cardiac Arrhythmias
  • Increased Temperature And Pulse
  • Dilated Pupils
  • Cold Extremities
  • Loss Of Appetite
  • Discolored Mucous Membranes

Black Bean Tree

  •  Depression
  • Weight Loss
  • Labored Breathing
  • Diarrhea
  • Sudden Death
  • Frequent Urination



Black Henbane

  • Diarrhea
  • Increased Heart Rate
  • Convulsions
  • Sudden Death



Black Locust

  • If geese ingest any bark, fallen branches, or young sprouts, they can become poisoned.
  • Symptoms generally present within 1-2 hours after consumption.
  • Loss Of Appetite
  • Weakness
  • Depression
  • Paralysis
  • Death
  • Diarrhea (Possibly Bloody)



Boxelder, Ash Leaf Maple

  • Weakness
  • Stiffness
  • Reluctance To Move
  • Red-Brown Urine
  • Rapid Respiratory Rate
  • Difficulty Breathing



Bracken Fern

  • If birds ingest large quantities of bracken fern it can inhibits absorption of essential B vitamins and result in vitamin B1 deficiency, which can be fatal.
  • Weight Loss
  • Progressive Incoordination
  • Tremors
  • Depression
  • Slow Heart Rate
  • Base-Wide Stance
  • Muscle Tremors



Cardinal Flower

  • Tremors
  • Weakness
  • Hyper-excitability
  • Increased Breathing Rate
  • Diarrhea
  • Salivation
  • Dilation Of Pupils
  • Convulsions
  • Death



Carolina Jessamine, Yellow Jessamine, Evening Trumpet Vine

  • Demineralization of Bones
  • Calcinosis
  • Nephrocalcinosis
  • Hypercalcemia

Animals acutely poisoned by Gelsemium species, neurologic signs predominate, and are characterized by:

  • progressive weakness
  • convulsions
  • respiratory failure
  • death



Castor Bean

  • Wry Neck
  • Sudden Death
  • Weakness



Cherry Trees

  • Ingesting just one cherry pit could be fatal.
  • Staggering
  • Falling Down
  • Death



Chinaberry

  • Diarrhea
  • Incoordination
  • Depression
  • Weakness
  • Seizures
  • Paralysis
  • Death



Chokecherry

  • The toxicity increases if leaves are damaged or stressed from frost, storms, drought or seasonal wilting.
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Weakness
  • Hyper-salivation
  • Seizures
  • Sudden Death



Christmas Rose, Black Hellabore

  • Blistering Mucous Membranes In The Mouth
  • Irregular Heart Beat
  • Increased Respiratory Rate
  • Slow Irregular Pulse
  • Dilated Pupils
  • Weakness
  • Convulsions
  • Colic



Climbing Lily

  • Severe Diarrhea With Blood
  • Convulsions
  • Respiratory Distress
  • Throbocytopenia With Haemorrhages
  • Anemia
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Alopecia



Cocklebur

  • Geese may develop acute or chronic toxicity as a result of consuming cockleburs.
  • In acute cases, death is usually due to liver failure and may occur within hours after onset of clinical signs.
  •  Birds that survive acute poisonings usually will develop signs of chronic liver disease.
  • Depression
  • Increased Respiratory Rate
  • Incoordination
  • Stiffness
  • Weakness
  • Reluctance To Move
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Death



Coffee Husk

  • Coffee Tree Husk should not be used as bedding or made available for geese to ingest.
  • Excitability
  • Restlessness
  • Involuntary Muscle Tremors
  • Chewing Movements
  • Excessive Sweating
  • Increased Respiratory Rate
  • Increased Heart Rate



Coffee Senna

  •  Ovaries may be adversely affected, resulting in yolk leaking and dysplasia of the inner layer of the membrane.
  •  Death



Corn Cockle

  • Repeated consumption can also cause illness.
  • Listless
  • Unkempt Appearance (Rough Feathering)
  • Diarrhea
  • Cheesy Material In Mouth
  • Oral Lesions
  • Decreased Respiratory Rate
  • Decreased Heart Rate



Cottonseed, Upland Cotton

  • Sudden Death
  • Weakness
  • Loss Of Appetite



Creeping Indigo

  • Depression
  • Appetite Loss
  • Incoordination
  • Recumbency
  • Death



Crotolaria, Rattlepod

  • Loss of appetite
  • Unthriftiness
  • Anemia
  • Sudden death is seen in acute cases.



Crown Vetch

  • Ingestion of any parts of the plant are toxic to birds.
  • If diagnosed early enough and the bird is provided prompt treatment with activated charcoal, and supportive care, they may survive.
  • Acute Onset
  • Weakness
  • Vomiting
  • Tachypnea
  • Progressive Nature
  • Incoordination
  • Tremors
  • Depression



Curly Dock

  • Listlessness
  • Dullness
  • Incoordination
  • Weakness
  • Coma
  • Excess Salivation
  • Tremors
  • Recumbency
  • Sudden Death



Deathcamas

  • Depression
  • Trembling
  • Incoordination
  • Respiratory Failure
  • Convulsions
  • Coma
  • Death



Emerald Feather, Asparagus Fern

  • Fruit is highly attractive to birds
  • Contact dermatitis
  • Photosensitivity
  • Diarrhea



European Spindletree

  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness



Fiddleneck

  • Not normally consumed unless they have no alternatives.
  • Appetite Loss
  • Depression
  • Jaundice
  • Behavioral Changes
  • Frequent Yawning
  • Photosensitivity
  • Loss Of Condition
  • Head Pressing
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight Loss
  • Incoordination
  • Aimlessly Wandering
  • Awkward Gait



Fly Poison

  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Weakness
  • Lameness
  • Collapse
  • Death



Foxglove

  • Cardiac Arrhythmias
  • Behavioral Changes
  • Seizures
  • Sudden Death



Giant Hogweed, Wild Parsnip

  • Photosensitivity upon contact



Green Cestrum

  •  Ingestion of the plant can result in sudden death in acute cases and severe liver damage if the animal survives the acute toxic episode.
  • Recently sprayed wilting plants are more palatable than fresh healthy plants and potentially can cause more deaths.
  • Depression
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Incoordination
  • Stiffness
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Death



Gooseberry

  • Listlessness
  • Wobbly or drunken gait
  • Loss of appetite
  • Extreme thirst, or refusal to drink
  • Putrid-smelling, watery diarrhea containing partially-digested leaves
  • Grinding jaw
  • Dropped wings
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Darkening of the legs (or comb)
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Dehydration (skin does not return to position when pinched)
  • Head drooping toward the ground



Ground Mexican Poppy

  • Depression
  • Extreme Swelling Of The Legs In Particular
  • Death



Hairy Vetch

  • Labored Breathing
  • Convulsions
  • Excitability
  • Sudden Death



Heliotrope

  • Appetite Loss
  • Depression
  • Jaundice
  • Abdominal Swelling
  • Nervousness
  • Hyper-excitability
  • Death
  • Photosensitivity
  • Incoordination



Holly

  • Diarrhea
  • Depression



Horse Chestnut

 

  • Diarrhea
  • Depression
  • Dilated Pupils
  • Coma
  • Seizures



Horsenettle

  • Not typically consumed unless food is scarce.
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness
  • Slow Breathing
  • Death



Jack In The Pulpit

  •  Painful irritation and blisters in the mouth and throat
  • Hyper-salivation
  • Difficulty Swallowing



Jimsonweed

  • Restlessness
  • Dilated Pupils
  • Frequent Urination
  • Twitching
  • Depression
  • Increased Heart Rate
  • Respiratory Distress
  • Incoordination
  • Diarrhea
  • Lowered Body Temperature
  • Convulsions



Johnson Grass

  • Weakness
  • Sudden Death



Lambsquarters

  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Weak Heart Rate
  • Tremors
  • Weakness
  • Death



Lantana

  • Depression
  • Loss Of Appetite
  • Constipation
  • Frequent Urination
  • Jaundice
  • Inflamed Eyes
  • Ocular Discharge
  • Photosensitivity



Lily Of The Valley

  • Irregular or slow heartbeat
  • Behavioral changes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Coma
  • Death 



Longstalk Springparsley

  • Acute Photosensitivity
  • Redness And Swelling Of Unfeathered Areas
  • Loss Of Feathers In The Periorbital Area
  • Dried Serous Fluid On Comb And Edge Of Beak
  • Keratoconjunctivitis
  • Multiple Lesions On Feet And Legs
  • Tremors In The Legs
  • Limb And Beak Deformities



Lupine

  • Nervousness
  • Depression
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Aimlessly Wandering
  • Muscle Twitching
  • Excessive Salivation
  • Convulsions
  • Coma
  • Death



Meadow Saffron, Autumn Crocus

  • Difficulty Swallowing
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness
  • Shock
  • Respiratory Distress



Milkweed

  • Dullness
  • Depression
  • Dilated Pupils
  • Spasms
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Weakness
  • Inability To Stand Or Walk
  • Irregular Heart Rate
  • Uncoordinated Gait
  • Labored Breathing
  • High Body Temperature
  • Rapid And Weak Pulse
  • Coma



Mistletoe

 

  • Behavioral Changes
  • Diarrhea



Monkshood, Aconite

  • Diarrhea
  • Tremors
  • Cardiac Failure
  • Convulsions
  • Death



Mountain Laurel

  • Symptoms develop between 30 min to up to 6 hours following consumption.
  •  Symptoms
  • Appetite Loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Depression
  • Weakness
  • Incoordination
  • Paralysis
  • Weak Heart Rate



Nardoo

  • Weight Loss
  • Lethargy
  • Incoordination
  • Tremors
  • Weak Pulse
  • Seizures
  • Death



Nightshade

  • Birds are attracted to the immature (green) berries and the leaves of nightshade plants.
  • Diarrhea
  • Dilated Pupils
  • Loss Of Appetite
  • Loss Of Muscular Coordination
  • Convulsions
  • Sudden Depression
  • Death



Oak (Acorn) Tree

  • Signs of poisoning usually occur several days after ingestion.
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Regurgitating food
  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression
  • Pale mucous membranes
  • Increased thirst 
  • Severe kidney and liver damage can result and be fatal if not treated promptly.



Patterson's Curse

  • Appetite Loss
  • Depression
  • Jaundice
  • Behavioral Changes
  • Photosensitivity
  • Loss Of Condition
  • Incoordination
  • Aimlessly Wandering
  • Death



Periwinkle

  • Diarrhea
  • Depression
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Death



Physic Nut

  • Symptoms begin to appear within 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Appetite Loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight Loss
  • Dehydration
  • Dilated Pupils
  • Elevated Heart Rate
  • Death



Poison Hemlock

  • Salivation
  • Weakness
  • Nervous Signs
  • Paralysis
  • Diarrhea
  • Reduced Growth
  • Hepatic Congestion
  • Enteritis



Pokeberry

  • Diarrhea (Possibly Bloody)
  • Anemia
  • Weakened Pulse
  • Lethargy
  • Convulsions



Ragwort

  • Lethargy
  • Aimlessly Wandering
  • Depression
  • Chronic Weight Loss
  • Photosensitization
  • Weakness
  • Listlessness
  • Jaundice
  • Diarrhea
  • Blindness
  • Circling



Ranger’s Button

  •  It is known to cause photosensitivity if brushed up against.



Rosary Pea

  • Diarrhea
  • Tremors
  • Elevated Heart Rate
  • Fever
  • Death



Rubbervine

  • Sleepiness
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Cardiac Arrhythmias
  • Cold Extremities
  • Sweating
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Sudden Death



Sabi Star

  • Bradycardia
  • Cardiac Arrhythmias
  • Hyperkalemia
  • Colic
  • Loss Of Appetite
  • Lethargy



Sacred Bamboo

  • Weakness
  • Incoordination
  • Seizures
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Death



Sago Palm

  •  Gastrointestinal irritation, and in high doses, liver failure.
  •  Symptoms
  • Increased Thirst
  • Jaundice
  • Sudden Death



Scarlet Pimpernel

  • Plant is generally avoided unless there is no other food.
  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Increased Water Intake
  • Coma
  • Death



Showy Rattlebox

  • Appetite Loss
  • Depression
  • Ruffled Feathers
  • Necroitic Enteritis
  • Easily Excitable
  • Blood In Feces
  • Nasal Discharge (Blood)
  • Weakness
  • Incoordination



Spanish Gold, Rattlebox Tree, Coffee Weed, Brazilian Glory Pea

  • Liver Failure
  • Weight Loss
  • Weakness
  • Listlessness
  • Incoordination
  • Jaundice
  • Aimlessly Wandering
  • Sudden Death



Spring Parsley

  • Redness And Swelling Of Unfeathered Areas Of Skin (Followed By Blistering And Scabs)
  • Loss Of Feathers In The Periorbital Area
  • Dried Serous Fluid On Comb And Edge Of Beak
  • Keratoconjunctivitis
  • Multiple Lesions On Feet And Legs
  • Leg And Feet Deformities
  • Beak Deformities
  • Reduced Eyesight



St John’s Wort

  • Photosensitivity
  • Listlessness
  • Dilated Pupils
  • Lameness
  • Diarrhea



Star Of Bethlehem

  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Weak Pulse
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Death



Sudan Grass

  • Stumbling
  • Paralysis
  • Ataxia
  • Ergot Toxicity



Summer Pheasant’s Eye

  • Lethargy
  • Loss Of Appetite
  • Colic
  • Sleepiness
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Cardiac Arrhythmias
  • Muscle Tremors
  • Weak Peripheral Pulse
  • Ileus
  • Foul Odor
  • Sweating
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Dark Mucus Membranes
  • Dehydration
  • Sudden Death



Sweet Pea

  • Lathyrism is a paralysis syndrome. Once signs develop however, they are irreversible, other then surgery might correct roaring.
  • Abnormal Gait



Tall Fescue

  • Reduced Growth Rate
  • Decreased Egg Production
  • Eggs Laid That Lack Shells



Tobacco

  • Stunting



Toyon, Christmas Holly, Christmas Berry

  • Labored Breathing
  • Incoordination
  • Muscle Tremors
  • Convulsions



Water Hemlock

  • Nervousness
  • Hyper-salivation
  • Tremors
  • Dilated Pupils
  • Grinding
  • Rapid Pulse
  • Rapid Breathing
  • Seizures
  • Death



Yew

  • Labored Breathing
  • Incoordination
  • Collapse
  • Cyanosis
  • Sudden Death


Other Potential Geese Toxins

Blue-Green Algae

Blue-green algae is often found in stagnant water when temperatures are high. This algae can be toxic to geese if they ingest contaminated water. The type of toxin ingested will determine the symptoms. Geese need only ingest but 1.2 oz (40 ml) of algae bloom to be fatal. In most cases of poisoning, geese are usually found dead, due to the potency of the toxin.

Symptoms include:

  • Hypersalivation
  • Regurgitation
  • Diarrhea
  • Tremors
  • Reduced Responsiveness
  • Lethargy
  • Ataxia
  • Dilation of cutaneous vessels in webbed feet
  • Recumbency
  • Wing and leg peresis
  • Cyanosis
  • Excessive thirst
  • Open mouth breathing
  • Intermittent seizures
  • Sudden death 

Botulism

Botulism can be contracted if geese eat or play in contaminated soil, water, or decaying matter, spoiled feed, or by consuming maggots who harbor the toxins. Signs of botulism in geese include:

  • Paralysis
  • Weakness
  • Muscle Tremors
  • Stumbling
  • Recumbency
  • Limp neck
  • Droopy Eyelids
  • Death

In order to prevent botulism, be sure to inspect water sources for dying or dead animals and promptly dispose of any bodies properly, then dump contaminated water and thoroughly clean the water container and refill with fresh water. Prevent residents from accessing stagnant bodies of water!

Cedar Wood

Cedar wood should be avoided in avian living spaces because it can cause respiratory issues. If you use wood shavings for bedding, make sure you are not buying cedar shavings. Aspen and pine are generally safer options, though there is conflicting information regarding the safety of pine.

Chick Starter (Medicated)

Goslings should be given a waterfowl starter, if at all possible. Many chick starter foods contain medication to treat coccidia; this medication can be fatal to goslings. It can also cause niacin deficiency, leading to a host of joint and leg problems for the gosling.

Copper

Sometimes, copper sulfate is used to treat crop mycosis or digestive issues in geese. However, copper sulfate in a single dose of >1 g is fatal and should be used with care. Symptoms of copper toxicosis are listlessness and watery diarrhea. At a necropsy, burns and erosions are found in the lining of the gizzard, along with a green mucous throughout the intestinal tract.

Hardware Disease

Hardware Disease refers to the injuries that can result from any animal resident eating something they shouldn’t, especially pieces of human-made hardware like nails, screws, and staples. Hardware disease can have devastating effects on any resident. Check out our resource on Hardware Disease prevention here. Geese are prone to zinc toxicity which is often the result of eating small, shiny metal objects containing zinc. When ingested, a zinc object, such as a penny, is broken down in the gastrointestinal tract and zinc is released into the body. This can cause damage to red blood cells, the pancreas, and the gizzard. US pennies made after 1983 contain 98% zinc and a single one can be fatal to geese if swallowed. Hardware that may also contain zinc includes, nails, bolts, plumbing nuts, nuts, washers, screws, staples, etc, as well as galvanized metal.

Symptoms of zinc poisoning include:

  • Depression
  • Weakness
  • Increased thirst
  • Seizures
  • Green to yellow droppings
  • Stiffness
  • Cyanosis
  • Incoordination
  • Posterior paresis/paralysis
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy 

Lead Toxicity

Lead was once used in paints and pesticides, and can also be found in natural environmental sources. Even if you have never used any products containing lead, it may still be present in old barn or fence paint, or in the soil. Places, where old machinery and leaded gas have been stored, may also have caused the contamination, as would old treated lumber and railroad ties. Geese may ingest the lead in the environment through the consumption of paint flakes, plant material that has absorbed lead in the environment, and tainted surfaces.

Signs of lead poisoning in geese are:

  • Emaciation
  • Depression
  • Inappetence
  • Thirst
  • Weakness
  • Greenish droppings commonly seen within 36 hours
  • As poisoning progresses, the wings may be extended downward. 
  • Young birds may die within 36 hours of ingestion. 

Having the soil tested at your sanctuary is an easy way to learn if the environment is safe for residents. You can check with a local environmental conservation service, or agricultural extension office to inquire about testing. It is usually a fairly quick and easy process. Prevent your residents from accessing buildings and fences with old paint.

Consult a veterinarian immediately if you suspect a goose has ingested lead or is beginning to show symptoms of lead poisoning.

Mycotoxins

Mycotoxins are a toxin produced by molds (fungi) that are harmful to many animals, including geese. Mycotoxins, specifically aflatoxins can affect geese through contaminated food or bedding. Moist, warm environments make a perfect recipe for mold reproduction. Aspergillus and Penicillium can produce aflatoxins and can be a particular concern for birds.

Symptoms include:

  • Inappetence
  • Ataxia
  • Convulsions
  • Opisthotonos
  • Depression
  • Death

Prevention is key in avoiding serious health issues. Luckily, there are a number of steps you can take to help ensure resident geese do not suffer the ill effects of mycotoxin poisoning:

  • Be sure to keep food, grain, and hay storage areas clean, dry, and cool.
  • Try to keep food storage areas protected from mice and rats and other wildlife, as they can chew holes in food bags, increasing the likelihood of grain being exposed to damp conditions.
  • Always feed the oldest sources of food first. Try to use up open food bags within a few weeks after opening in the winter and in even less time in the summer.
  • Clean any storage bins or cans thoroughly to remove old grain that may get stuck in cracks and crevices.
  • Check with your food manufacturer or supplier to see if they regularly test for the presence of mycotoxins in grains before mixing food. If they do not, avoid using them and find another supplier.

If you are concerned about the possibility of mycotoxin contamination, have your food stores tested. This could be especially important if you have a goose that shows initial signs of mycotoxin exposure.

Pesticides, Herbicides, And Rodenticides

It may not come as a surprise that herbicides and rodenticides can cause toxicosis in geese if ingested. If geese ingest plants or insects that have been sprayed with phenoxy acid herbicides, they can become ill or even die. For this reason, it is imperative that geese are not given treated plants or are allowed access to pastures that have been treated with herbicides.

While rats and mice can pose challenges for sanctuaries, it is important to respect them and use compassionate mitigation practices. In addition to the compassion and consideration mice and rats deserve, many rodenticides are anticoagulants that act by preventing the blood to clot and geese may find and attempt to eat the poisoned body of a mouse or rat and become poisoned themselves if poison is used. There are many new and innovative ways to address rodent populations that are more effective and compassionate.

Early treatment is critical. If you suspect a goose may have ingested any of the poisons above, contact your veterinarian immediately. Blood tests may confirm poisoning.

Polytetrafluoroethylene Toxicosis (Teflon Flu, Polymer Fume Fever)

Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) is found in many household items but those that are intended to be heated are the main source of toxicity. At high temperatures, items containing PTFE can put out highly toxic fumes, resulting in toxicity or even death. Make sure any heat sources you use in resident living spaces, such as a radiant heater or heat lamp, are free of PTFE. We advise against the use of glass bulb heat lamps due to their associated fire risk, but another reason to steer clear is that some are coated in PTFE. Other sources of concern include some hairdryers, heating pads, irons and ironing board covers, computer wires, and non-stick cookware. While polytetrafluoroethylene toxicosis is a concern for any avian resident, be especially vigilant if you share your home with an avian companion, since there are many household items that could contain PTFE.

Snakebites

Venomous snakebites are not common, but when they occur, should be treated seriously and immediately. If you notice a snakebite, look for others. Snake venom varies by species, and the severity of a bite can also be influenced by size, age, and the number of bites. Most venoms can impair blood clotting and damage the heart, while some others contain neurotoxins. Signs of snakebite may include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling at the bite site
  • One or more puncture wounds
  • Sloughing of tissues near the bite site
  • Cardiac arrhythmias
  • Impaired ability for their blood to clot
  • Shock
  • Collapse
  • Paralysis
  • Death

Seek veterinary care immediately if a goose is bitten by a venomous snake. Do NOT try to suck the venom out or place a tourniquet. Keep the goose calm while seeking immediate veterinary care. Depending on the severity of the bite, treatments may include antivenin, pain medications, fluid therapy, wound treatment, tetanus vaccination, and antibiotics. Check out our Compassionate Wildlife Practices At Your Animal Sanctuary for some tips on how to dissuade snakes from your property.

Wood Stains And Paints

Some wood stains and paints can be toxic to residents. Geese may try to peck at painted or stained surfaces and can become ill if the stain or paint is toxic. When painting or staining fencing or the exteriors of buildings, look for products that are specially made for barns and fencing and listed as animal or “livestock” friendly. If you choose to paint the interior of an enclosure, we suggest you opt for a zero VOC paint- some are even labeled “pet friendly.” Birds are very sensitive to fumes and should be kept away from freshly painted or stained areas until you are absolutely certain there are no residual fumes.

Foods That Can Be Toxic To Geese

Consider These Variables You may see food on this list that you have fed to your residents without any apparent issue. That may be because some foods are toxic in higher amounts while others are toxic in small amounts or whether they are being consistently offered the food over a period of time. It can also depend on the individual. We all have sensitivities to different things. Just as there are dogs who have eaten chocolate and don’t show clinical or subclinical signs of poisoning, there are many dogs that weren’t so lucky. The amount that may cause one goose to become ill (or even die) may be different for another goose. Different breeds or species of birds can also affect their sensitivity to a toxin. In addition to these considerations, certain plants, fruits, vegetables, and other foods listed below may contain varying amounts of the toxin. The toxicity in some fruits and vegetables may even depend on their ripeness, the amount of sun exposure, the temperature, and more! Below we have put together a list of foods that are known to contain some toxin that is potentially harmful to geese. It is our hope that providing this information will help you provide the best care possible to your residents. When possible, we have researched scientific papers to provide solid sources and tried to give more details. However, it is not an exhaustive list and is not meant to replace veterinary advice.

If You Have The Slightest Doubt…
Just because something might not be listed here as a toxic food or substance for geese, please do not take that to mean it’s safe to give them! Even normally non-toxic produce can cause health issues if given in large amounts. Check our Daily Diet, Supplement, & Treats For Geese resource and see if it’s listed as a safe treat for geese residents. If you aren’t positive that it will be safe for geese, it’s best to avoid feeding it to them in order to be as safe as possible!

The following is a list of foods that can be toxic to geese. While we were able to find some sources directly referring to geese, the following list also uses sources on birds in general, as well as sources that refer more specifically to chickens, or more generally to “poultry”.