Egg Binding in Birds

Veterinary reviewed by: Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS

Egg Binding in Birds - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

Veterinary reviewed by: Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS

Egg Binding in Birds - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

What is Egg Binding?

In many instances, a bird may be unable to expel the egg due to lack of contractions or weak contractions from inadequate calcium intake. If you have been feeding your bird seeds only, with no other supplements, you will need to administer vitamins right away. However, it is best to let the veterinarian tell you what amount of vitamins to give her. The complications of egg binding include damage to the kidneys from pressure of the retained egg, peritonitis from a ruptured egg, and prolapse of the cloaca or reproductive tract. It is important to get your bird to the veterinarian if you believe she is egg bound.

Egg binding in birds is a common but possibly life threatening condition in which a bird is having a hard time laying an egg. It is more common in small birds such as canaries, finches, parakeets, budgies, lovebirds, and cockatiels and the most common reason for egg binding is a lack of calcium or other vitamins. It is also more often seen in birds that are already ill or have other health issues such as advanced age, lack of exercise, and obesity. Another risk factor is inadequate environmental conditions such as not enough nesting materials, too cold or hot, and not enough water or feed.

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Symptoms of Egg Binding in Birds

In all birds, the symptoms can vary, especially with the cause of the condition. However, the most often reported signs of egg binding include:

  • Tail wagging or bobbing
  • Straining
  • Visibly swollen abdomen
  • Fluffed up appearance
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Inability to balance on perch
  • Paralysis of a leg or lameness
  • Weakness
  • Decreased or absent droppings
  • All white droppings
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Depression
  • Sitting at bottom of cage
  • Death

 Types

Egg binding in birds is sometimes referred to as:

  • Post-ovulatory stasis
  • Impacted oviducts
  • Egg retention
  • Dystocia
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Causes of Egg Binding in Birds

  • Physical deformity of the reproductive system
  • Lack of calcium or other vitamins such as selenium, vitamin E, vitamin A, or protein 
  • Infection
  • Trauma
  • Inadequate nesting area
  • Dehydration
  • Excessive egg laying
  • Obesity
  • Stress from overcrowding or unsanitary living conditions
  • Lack of exercise
  • Being one of the smaller bird species like canaries, finches, budgerigars, lovebirds, and cockatiels
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Diagnosis of Egg Binding in Birds

The veterinarian will usually be able to feel the egg with palpation and see the distended abdomen. A complete physical examination will include checking the eyes, skin, beak, feet, weight, comb, nares, feathers, breast, crop, wings, glands, and vent. The most essential diagnostic procedure is radiographs (x-rays) because most eggs contain a large amount of calcium and will show up nicely. However, if the x-rays are inconclusive, an ultrasound may be done. In addition, a CBC, plasma biochemical profile, and ionized and total calcium levels should be checked.

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Treatment of Egg Binding in Birds

Egg binding requires immediate emergency care by an experienced avian veterinary professional. Immediate warming and fluids are usually needed in these cases. Other treatments may include an intraosseous catheter to administer fluids if she is in shock, medication to help induce muscle contractions, deflating the egg while it is inside the uterus (Ovocentesis), manually expelling the egg, or surgical removal of the egg.

Warming and Fluids

The veterinarian will immediately check your hen’s body temperature and place her in an area specifically kept at 85 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit to increase her body temperature. Fluids will be given by injection or with an intraosseous catheter to reduce the chance of shock or dehydration.

Medication

The veterinarian may decide that your bird needs a calcium injection or another medication that promotes contractions such as oxytocin, prostaglandin, or arginine vasotocin. Another option is to apply prostaglandin gel rather than an injection. Antibiotics to reduce the chance of infection and steroids to help with pain may also be beneficial.

Ovocentesis

If the veterinarian is unable to get your bird to lay the egg herself and she is in distress, an ovocentesis will be performed. This is done by inserting a syringe into the egg to remove the contents. Once the egg is smaller, your hen should be able to pass the egg with no problem. Lubrication will be applied to help with this process.  

Removing the Egg

If your bird is unable to expel the egg herself, the veterinarian will try to remove it by applying lubrication and gently trying to ease it out. If this does not work, the veterinarian will have to surgically remove the egg.

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Worried about the cost of Egg Binding treatment?

Pet Insurance covers the cost of many common pet health conditions. Prepare for the unexpected by getting a quote from top pet insurance providers.

Recovery of Egg Binding in Birds

Once your hen has laid the egg, you should try to keep her in a cage by herself to recover. This is especially important if your bird had to undergo surgical removal of the egg. Continue to monitor her daily to check for complications and call the veterinarian if you suspect anything is wrong. Be sure to provide a healthy diet and fresh water for your bird on a daily basis.

A high-quality diet is essential for keeping your bird happy and healthy. Nutrient deficiencies and food allergies can be expensive to treat. Compare pet health insurance plans to save more than $270 a year on vet care.

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Egg Binding Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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parakeet

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Six Years

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5 found helpful

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5 found helpful

Has Symptoms

Possibly Egg Bound

my parakeet is trying to lay an egg but it looks like it is stuck with her vent area hanging out i can't get to a vet until tomorrow how long can she be like this and survive

Aug. 6, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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5 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. If you are able to get your parakeet seen before tomorrow morning, that would probably be better, As that is a very stressful situation for her to be in. I can't say for sure how long she will survive, as every bird is different, but having her seen sooner rather than later would be better. I hope that all goes well.

Aug. 6, 2020

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chicken

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Sexlink

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16 Months

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7 found helpful

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7 found helpful

Has Symptoms

My hen had an egg hatch inside her. She had problems for quite a while I took her in to wash her backside and noticed she was trying to (I thought) poop. What I saw was a deformed leg. I pulled it out and a hairless deformed chick came out. I washed her some more. but she even looked better. I put her back in the pen. Should I have her somewhere else? Have you heard pf this before?

July 26, 2018

chicken's Owner

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7 Recommendations

Egg binding is caused by a few different causes with nutrition being a predisposing factor, if this is the case where a retained egg has broken/hatched then you should visit your Veterinarian for an examination (there may have been some abdominal laying) and for supportive and symptomatic treatment. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 26, 2018

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