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August Abbott, CAS
August Abbott, CAS, Certified Avian Specialist
Category: Bird
Satisfied Customers: 7611
Experience:  Cert. Avian Specialist; Int. Assoc.Animal Behavior Consult; Pet Ind. Joint Advisory Council; author
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My canary has a very swollen area under his tail. I have a

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Hector's ventMy canary has a very swollen area under his tail. I have attached a picture. The poop also appears to be collecting on it and is very hard. I first noticed it a couple of months ago. (I noticed it visually - nothing in his behaviour indicated anything was wrong). All along his energy has seemed pretty normal and he has been eating regularly.  However, I have noticed more recently that he seems to be sleeping a little more and he hasn't resumed singing after molting. On Saturday I noticed blood in the bottom of the cage and I also noticed he seemed to be sitting a little lower and breathing more quickly and shallow. (Still on his perches, not on the bottom of the cage). I set him in some water hoping that it would loosen the feces - it didn't do much at all (he has refused to bath on his own for the past couple of months). I read a little about birds getting eggbound. I am fairly confident the bird is a male, but I don't know that for sure.  I'd like to know if there is anything I can do to help him.  If he needs to go to the vet, I'd appreciate any info as to how involved it could be.

-- I appreciate your concern and how obviously you value your companion. You are doing the right thing with the warm water, but chances are it won't 'cure' this.


Of course a definitive 'diagnosis' is impossible with a photo, but I suspect this is what's called 'cloacal prolapse'.

The cloaca is also known as the vent in a bird, the opening from which both feces and urine exit the bird. In males it is also where the delivery tube (epididymis) for sperm from the vas deferens meets with the female’s cloaca which receives it for fertilization of her ovum.
Cloacal prolapse is when the inside of the bird pushes out. In some cases it’s noted as a ‘red bottom’ or some owners will describe it as a ‘hemorrhoid’ – in other cases it’s unmistakably an emergency situation. In all cases it requires urgent veterinary intervention. The cloaca must be replaced (this is an organ and not supposed to be on the outside).
Most often it’s seen in females attempting to lay an egg or suffering Dystocia. Dystocia is the obstruction of oviposition or cloacal function because of an egg in the distal oviduct. This is one reason knowing the sex of a companion bird is essential. The same symptoms could indicate very different problems in each sex.
Cloacal prolapse can also be caused by parasites or tumors, even nutritional problems.
It’s not just vital to get the organ replaced (put back into the body), but figuring out why it happened to begin with is important or it will likely just keep happening, weakening the bird and the organ each time.
Expect (or insist upon) a blood chemistry, X-rays and fecal exam .
Sometimes surgery will be necessary to prevent it from happening again. A stitch called a ‘purse string suture’ is performed at the vent area to hold it in. This isn’t a ‘sure thing’ though and the bird needs to be monitored carefully, fed ideally for the species (in all birds a mostly pelleted diet is recommended) . When the prolapse recurs, surgical de-sexing, a very complicated and admittedly dangerous surgery, may be the only option.
In just about every case though, no matter what the treatment is, an antibiotic is necessary in conjunction with it.

So yes, please schedule a vet visit for your little friend and be sure to let me know how it goes. I'll be happy to work with you on nutritional modifications afterward to lend to a long, healthier and hopefully incident free future.

And never stop loving him!

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