What is Prolapsed Cloaca?

A prolapse of the cloaca in your bird is very serious and needs immediate attention. There is considerable trauma that can affect the internal organs that are hanging outside the vent and this can have serious health implications for your bird. Cockatoos seem to be prone to this condition, but it has been seen in smaller breeds such as budgies and cockatiels, and in chickens. Replacement of the prolapsed cloaca needs to be immediate. If you can keep the protruding mass clean and moist, preventing it from drying out, reinsertion should be possible by your veterinarian.

The cloaca is part of your bird that is used to store urates, feces, urine and the egg. A prolapse causes it to hang outside the vent.

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Symptoms of Prolapsed Cloaca in Birds

Your bird is an expert at keeping her illness from showing, due to a hereditary response to the fact that birds that are ill are often targeted by predators as they are easy prey, so you will need to watch your bird and be observant to any changes in personality and behavior.

  • Your bird may seem quiet and depressed and may not move around a lot
  • Lack of droppings in the cage 
  • Straining to pass droppings or an egg 
  • Feathers are fluffed out 
  • Blood in the droppings 
  • Poor appetite
  • Tail bobbing
  • Open mouthed breathing
  • Excessive grooming, particularly around the vent
  • Soiled feathers around the vent
  • There may be an odor if infection is present

Types  

  • Technically a prolapse is either physical or behavioral
  • Natural based prolapses where the natural environment and life cycle of your bird causes this condition (for example, chronic egg laying, infection or disease) 
  • Unnatural based is considered behavioral (such as potty training your bird to hold off going to the toilet until a certain time)
  • Over stimulation is another behavioral issue when a hand raised bird bonds to their human regarding them as a mate or parent; stroking and petting can then overstimulate your bird and causes stretching and opening of the vent

Causes of Prolapsed Cloaca in Birds

  • Potty training with your bird, teaching it to hold off when it needs to go to expel and to poop on command; this place the internal organs under a lot of pressure because of the buildup of feces and hence your bird can strain too hard with a prolapse the result
  • The cause is hard to determine as so many factors can instigate a prolapse within your bird 
  • If your bird has an abdominal tumor or growth which is hindering the delivery of egg or feces, prolapse can occur
  • Chronic egg laying may set it off with excessive straining
  • Straining due to the presence of parasites  
  • Poor nutrition and lack of minerals
  • Severe diarrhea
  • Intestinal obstruction

Diagnosis of Prolapsed Cloaca in Birds

A prolapse is hard to miss when you look at your bird unless he is sitting down over it. The large mass extending from the vent can be a shock to new bird owners. It is a good idea to make yourself familiar with how to proceed as time is of the essence once the internal organs are outside of the body. While your veterinarian may be able to determine the cause, first you have to deal with your bird’s condition. If the cloaca is expulsed, it is exposed to air, and can quickly dry out and get infected. At all times the tissue/organs should be kept moist and clean. Gently clean the protruding mass and vent area, by holding it under warm running water and follow with an antiseptic rinse. 

Immediately proceed to your avian veterinarian clinic; call ahead first to let them know that you will be arriving. Keep the mass damp and covered and rush your bird to the specialist. Tests that your veterinarian may do once you get your bird to him are abdominal palpation, blood tests and perhaps even an ultrasound or X-rays to view the presence of abdominal masses such as tumors, fecal exams for parasites, and blood panels to determine health and organ function.

Treatment of Prolapsed Cloaca in Birds

Before the veterinary caregiver does necessary testing, he will want to carefully place the vent back into the proper position. Your vet may need to insert a few stitches into the vent after pushing the contents back inside, to close the opening enough to keep the organs inside yet allow for toiletry concerns. Many birds tend to be hypothermic and will need immediate warming. Your bird may need warm fluids and antibiotics to prevent infection. In severe cases of prolapsed cloaca, surgery is sometimes needed and will range between a minor and more invasive procedure.

Recovery of Prolapsed Cloaca in Birds

With your bird, a lot depends on its age, what caused the event, and the health and response to treatment. Some birds are prone to this condition and live a good life apart from the occasional lapse. The important thing when handling your bird during a prolapse is to keep things as sterile and clean as possible. Infection can easily take hold with the organs and tissue outside the body. 

After the treatment (and especially if surgery was required), your bird will need to take it easy; the prolapse can be a stressful event. Keeping the environment warm and quiet and providing light, easy to digest foods will ensure your bird has the best chance of recovery. It may be a time to reflect on behavioral practices if necessary to ensure your bird doesn’t have this happen again.