PASTING OF THE VENT OR CLAGGED VENT:
Droppings sticking to vent area:
This is usually signs of Liver or Kidney problems and may be accompanied by the bird appearing very tired but eating normally. Other signs are huddlng, heavy breathing, and or weakness. The droppings should be looked at closely to check for possible blood stains meaning internal problems, or if just watery or mushy it may be related to diarrhoea from foods. It can also be caused by feeding the bird too much watery vegetables (lettuce) or spoiled food (causing a bacterial infection). You can clean this area with a 5% solution of lukewarm salt water and carefully clip the feathers away with scissors to help prevent the droppings from sticking there. Liquid paraffin can be given to help soften the blocked material and allow it to be voided if the vent seems clogged from inside and this can be found at vets or some pet shops. A vet should be contacted if the problem persists for more than a few days.
The Rectum & Cloaca:
The large bowel or rectum (colorectum) is a short, straight structure, whose main function is reabsorption of water and all useful digestive soluble materials; it is helped in this by the proctodeum of the cloaca. The useful materials include bile, mineral salts, used enzymes, sugars, fatty acids, amino acids and vitamins. If an inflammatory process occurs higher up the digestive tract, not only will the flow of ingesta be quicker than can adequately be dealt with by the absorptive powers of the rectum, but also the inflammation may eventually spread to the rectal wall itself. An enteritis seldom remains limited for long to a short portion of the tract. Both acute and chronic inflammations interfere with absorption from the rectum, and diarrhoea results. Tumours of the gut wall are not common in birds, abdominal tumours which press on the gut or liver being more frequently seen. These may cause irritation, increasing the flow of gut contents, or more usually causing partial obstruction. In the case of a large tumour, retained egg, or cyst of the oviduct or other structure in the posterior half of the abdomen, pressure on the rectum or cloaca results in partial or complete obstruction of the gut. When there is a slowly developing structure such as a tumour, the muscles of the gut above the growing obstruction tend to enlarge in response to the extra work. The obstruction to the lumen of the gut results in impaction with faeces anterior to the obstruction, and soon leads to general abdominal enlarge. When straining occurs, the abdominal wall is liable to rupture and the power of the abdominal contraction is lost. This stage usually causes obvious respiratory difficulty. The rate of breathing may increase, panting may occur, and abnormal, fluid-like clicking sounds may be heard in the chest on auscultation. Complete constipation may occur or faeces may be passed in small amounts and be infrequent, depending upon the severity of the obstruction. Sudden obstruction causes considerable straining and distress. Successful palpation of the obstruction is often impossible. Continuous pressure must be avoided because it will kill the bird by causing interference with respiration and blood circulation.
Sometimes the masses of faeces in the cloaca become very sticky owing to the absorption of moisture. The impaction then becomes difficult to void and may cause pressure on the gut, reproductive or urinary tracts. Liquid paraffin by mouth is the most useful simple remedy.
"Pasting of the vent" is the result of a disease causing diarrhoea or excessive excretion of urates, and is not a disease in itself. The "paste" can be composed of abnormal faecal or urinary products. Excessive brooding, incubating in wet or dirty nests, poor diet and hygiene, can all play a part in producing this unpleasant condition. At best it is a sign of some defect in diet, hygiene, or other aspects of husbandry, but in most cases it is a portent of disease about to show-itself in some other way. First, one should eliminate the simpler and less harmful possibilities and then consider the various infections. In uncomplicated cloacal inflammations and diarrhoea due to dietetic disorders, all that may be necessary is simple bathing of the vent, liquid paraffin by mouth, the use of an enema (under professional advice only), and attention to diet and hygiene. In other cases, the casual agent must be found and appropriate treatment given.
"Vent gleet" is a chronic inflammation of the vent or cloaca, particularly in the laying domestic fowl and occasionally in the male birds. It is characterised by necrosis of the mucous membrane which becomes covered with a yellowish layer of dead epithelium. The lesion gives rise to a very unpleasant odour and starts with swelling and reddening of the mucosa. The exact cause is not known, but since the greatest number of victims are laying birds, metabolic or stress factors may be involved. Although various bacteria may be isolated from affected vents, none are apparently capable of producing the disease without a predisposing cause. Only a few birds at a time usually become affected. Diarrhoea with "pasting of the vent" may occasionally be a contributory factor. Although this is primarily a disease of poultry, cage birds sometimes develop clinical signs which are indistinguishable.
"Constipation" is the name given for the excessive dehydration of the faeces in the rectum and cloaca which causes partial or complete retention. Contrary to common belief, this seldom occurs to a serious extent, unless a mechanical obstruction has held up the faeces in the first place. In other cases the cause may be due to an excess of fibrous material or grit in the diet, poor tone of the muscles in the bowel wall due to inactivity or obesity, or "pasting of the vent". Prevention and treatment are self-evident, an oily laxative being most helpful .
Prolapse of the Rectum:
Prolapse of the rectum is usually the result of, or in association with, enteritis of some severity or duration, which produces straining. In some cases the pressure from an enlarged organ or an abnormal structure such as a retained egg, tumour, cyst, or a ruptured or distended abdominal wall is the cause of the straining. This may result in the cloaca being turned inside out and either the oviduct or rectum, or both, also being partly everted and visible. The treatment requires the services of a veterinarian and is usually surgical in nature.
Diarrhoea is not a disease but a clinical sign. It simply refers to the voiding of fluid faeces. It can be caused by irritation or infection of the gut resulting from eating unaccustomed or contaminated food, watery foods such as lettuce or too much fruit, and drinking excessive amounts of milk or oily liquids. The watery urate fraction of the droppings is often mistaken for diarrhoea. Excessive amounts indicate urinary upset and not an alimentary disease. Diarrhoea can also be caused by pressure from a tumor of a gonad or kidney, liver damage, visceral gout, parasitism, a localized bacterial infection or even a change of environmental conditions or feeding routine. You should consult with a vet if any condition persists for more than 2 or 3 days.
See Bacterial Infections for more info on Enteritis, Salmonellosis, Avian Cholera, Pseudotuberculosis, Streptococcal Infections, Staphylococcal Infections, Erysipelas, Tuberculosis, Mycoplasmosis.
Enteritis is the inflammation of part or all of the gut behind the gizzard. Although the symptoms of enteritis may resemble psittacosis, enteritis doesn't present a danger to humans. The droppings from enteritis are usually light green in color and are very smelly. The one intestinal infection of Budgerigars that can be transmitted to humans is the type caused by paratyphus bacilli. Laboratory work is needed to make a differential diagnosis. Standard enteritis is an intestinal infection, and affected birds exhibit a sticky, green diarrhoea. Birds with serious cases are deathly ill. Enteritis is highly contagious and in a single aviary you can have dozens of cases at the same time or close together. There are known instances where a breeder lost his entire stock inside several weeks. Early symptoms are dull looking feathers that tend to be loose. The sick bird flips its tail from time to time, sleeps a lot with half-closed eyes, and is listless and depressed. It breathes laboriously and seems to lose all fear of man. The diarrhoea is a later symptom. When it occurs, the bird spends a lot of time on the cage bottom. Producing droppings appears to be difficult, and accompanied by hefty movements of the tail. The cloaca seems to evert, and the feathers around it show the same stickiness as with psittacosis. Sometimes the droppings contain blood. If that happens, it is a sure sign that an intestinal illness is involved. If diarrhoea is accompanied with nasal secretions, then the problem is more likely to be psittacosis. You should take the bird to a vet if you suspect enteritis. In any case, the ill bird should be quarantined. I recommend isolating any sick bird, in a hospital cage, you will be able to study the symptoms calmly, and you will eliminate the chance of infecting other birds. If enteritis is suspected, thoroughly disinfect the cage of the suspect bird. Use Lysol or Chloroxylenol or chloroxylenolum (UK spelling). Bathe the bird itself in Chloroxylenol as well. Be extremely careful not to let intestinal diseases spread.
THE DUODENUM AND SMALL INTESTINE:
These organs are erroneously believed by many aviculturalists to be the seat of over half of the ills that affect birds because loose droppings are a common sign in digestive disorders and many diseases which are not confined to the digestive tract. These diseases are frequently lumped together, being referred to as "diarrhoea" or more often as "enteritis", the two words being used interchangeably by bird keepers. Diarrhoea is not a disease but a clinical sign. It simply refers to the voiding of fluid faeces.It can be caused by irritation or infection of the gut resulting from eating unaccustomed or contaminated food and drinking excessive amounts of milk or oily liquids. The watery urate fraction of the droppings is often mistaken for diarrhoea. Excessive amounts, however, indicate urinary upset and not alimentary disease. Enteritis is the inflammation of part or all of the gut behind the gizzard.
The gizzard is a tough structure and resistant to the enzymes and acids produced by the proventriculus. (glandular or forestomach) In the gizzard of omnivorous and seed-eating birds a great deal of pummelling and grinding of food occurs aided by grit which is normally present in this organ. The ingesta or partially digested food emerges as a pulp of fine particles of gruel-like consistency and is still strongly acid. In weak, debilitated birds the ingesta may be incompletely pulverised on entry into the duodenum, (part of intestine) where it is then liable to irritate the openings of the bile and pancreatic ducts thus leading to digestive disturbances. If a foreign body, such as a coin, button, nail, staple or small piece of wire is swallowed, it may cause no trouble until it reaches the gizzard, where it tends to be retained, in the same way as grit. Round objects cause a mild, chronic "gastritis" or ven-triculitis, which may not prevent the bird from living a relatively healthy life, but may cause occasional brief bouts of indigestion.
Sharp or hooked objects tend to bury their ends into the gizzard wall during contraction of the organ, probably causing pain and perhaps resulting in loss of appetite and consequently weight. Sometimes a sharp object will perforate the gizzard wall and cause peritonitis and death. Unfortunately x-ray examination does not always differentiate between foreign bodies and the shadows cast by grit in the gizzard. When a foreign body is strongly suspected an operation for removal is not to be embarked on lightly, even by an experienced veterinarian, because this is usually very difficult and the chances of success are low. Erosion of the horny lining of the gizzard does not appear to be as common in cage and aviary birds as it is in poultry, but it may result from a lack of vitamins such as vitamin A. In waterfowl and occasionally other species, gizzard worms produce severe erosions. Gizzard erosion can be suspected in vague illnesses accompanied by indigestion and loose, greenish, mucoid and intermittently bloodstained droppings. Distension and flabbiness of the gizzard musculature occurs mostly in debilitated birds, especially when the exit into the small intestine is impacted with hard fibrous ingesta. Such an obstruction soon causes depression, loss of appetite, and soft droppings which rapidly become smaller in amount, and are passed progressively less frequently. If the condition is not relieved, death can result from toxaemia even before the effect of starvation is felt. Birds affected in this way are generally those kept in planted aviaries or where little food and an abundance of coarse fibrous material is present. Liquid paraffin given slowly by mouth in liberal amounts using a dropper (10-20 drops per 100 gramme body weight) is the most effective and safest treatment. This tends to ease and soften the obstruction, and soothe the mucous membrane of the gut. Diagnosis is difficult and has to be based on careful observation, and consideration of all the circumstances.
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H&D Budgerigar Society Inc.