08-27-2010, 05:08 PM
Pasting of the Vent
Pasting of the vent is the official name for what the rest of us call
"oh no, my budgie has droppings stuck to its bum!"
It is important to keep our eyes on all parts of our birds, including their vent, to be sure everything is in good working order.
Pasting of the vent (when droppings stick to the feathers around the vent or the vent itself) is a medical situation that must be addressed immediately.
First, it is important to understand the leading causes of pasting of the vent. But first, the science and study of poop, known as: poopology:
There are 3 parts to a bird's dropping:
1. The green/brown part (the fe-ces). The color of the dropping will depend upon the bird's diet, how long ago it ate, and whether the dropping is fresh or has long since dried. Normal colors range from very dark green to light green, dark brown to light brown. Coal black droppings are not normal and can indicate that a bird is not eating.
Birds that consume pellets tend to have droppings that are light green to dark brown to light brown depending upon the pellet. Those that consume colored pellets will often have rainbow droppings.
The concern with feeding colored pellets is that it can cause us to think there is blood or discoloration in the dropping when there is not, thus causing us an unnecessary increase in our blood pressure. Or - the reverse - because the droppings are pretty rainbow colors, it can disguise an illness such as seeing blood in the dropping.
2. The white part (the urates). This part should be white. If it takes on any other color, and especially yellow or lime green, the bird needs to see an avian vet for a check up immediately. Again, some colored pellets can cause a discoloration in the white part - another reason to shy away from them and choose a pellet that does not contain food coloring.
3. The urine. This is clear liquid, just like in humans. Given the small size of a budgie dropping, we do not always see this part. It can usually be seen simply as a wet ring around the green and white part of the dropping, and it is easier to see on a newspaper or white paper towel. Sometimes it cannot really be seen. A bird that has an excessive quantity of urine while the rest of the dropping is well formed, and a bird that is consuming excessive amounts of water, needs to see an avian vet. Be aware that certain fruits and vegetables can cause an increase in urine production or even runny droppings.
While most droppings contain all 3 parts, we may occasionally see a dropping that does not. I never concern myself over 1 dropping, unless that dropping has blood. Otherwise, an unusual looking dropping is cause for further observation and investigation, not cause for panic.
So, what is going on when my budgie's bum is covered in poo?
Diarrhea - when droppings contain too much water, they will appear to be runny and not well formed. We also may see staining around the vent. If the vent feathers are normally white, they may appear yellowish, brown or green. This lets us know that the bird has experienced diarrhea.
Because the extra liquid is diverted to the runny droppings, other droppings have insufficient amounts of liquid. They are drier, and thus stickier than they should be. Normally, a dropping clears the vent and does not stick at all. So when it sticks, we know it is too dry. This may be due to the diarrhea.
Or - sometimes we see pasting of the vent when no diarrhea is present (or none that we notice). This can occur when a bird is simply dehydrated due to illness or stress that results in the bird drinking too little water.
We are often quick to dismiss illness symptoms as "stress", because we certainly do not want our birds to be ill! In my experience, birds are a lot stronger and hardier than we give them credit for. They are dynamic and flexible; they are survivors and adaptable. One of the most important concerns about stress is its ability to reduce the functioning of a bird's immune system making it more susceptible to illness.
Whether there are sticky droppings, diarrhea or both, we need to address the cause and solution. Only a veterinarian can determine if a disease agent is present. So it is imperative to have the bird checked by an avian vet. If there is any germ causing the problem, the vet can prescribe medicine. Be sure to ask the vet to show you how to properly administer the medicine. If it is prescribed to be given by mouth, do not add to food or water. And vice-versa... if it is supposed to be added to food or water, do not give to the bird by mouth. The dosage of medicine prescribed takes into consideration the method of dispensing, and giving it in a different mode other than it is prescribed could mean either under or over dosing the bird. Too many antibiotics can cause liver and kidney disease (or worse); too little antibiotics and the bird does not get better and the germ becomes resistant to the medication.
While as companions we do not have the knowledge or skill to be the avian vet, we do have an important role to play:
1) Respond quickly. Have a relationship with an avian vet already so they are there for you when you need them. Waiting until a bird gets sick to find an avian vet just adds more stress to an already difficult situation!
2) The bird only needs to be "kept warm" if it is showing signs of being chilled. An example of this would be sitting listlessly on a perch, all fluffed up, very sleepy, and refusing to move much. Fluffing up is something that most birds do while they sleep, so we need to learn our own birds so we can tell what they look like when they are napping. That way we can tell if it is different from when they are sick. Fluffing up is a way of retaining body heat. So a sick bird that is trying to stay warm will be extra fluffed. They also usually sit on the perch with a slouched posture or do not perch. (And, I would add that if I had a bird that was unable to perch, I would not wait - I would take them immediately to the avian vet).
If the bird is experiencing diarrhea and pasting of the vent, and is not fluffed, it is probably not cold. Giving too much warmth can cause a bird to become too hot and move their wings away from their body. It appears as if they are "trying to air out their armpits". This is not good, and lets us know that we've gone too far in the other direction!
3) If a bird is dehydrated or not eating and drinking much, I will keep the lights on 24/7 until I can get them to the vet for further instructions. We want the bird to eat and drink as much as possible to regain strength and rehydrate. Birds WILL sleep in the light, but they will NOT eat and drink in the dark! Keeping the lights on gives them more opportunities to eat and drink, and it means that if they wake up from a nap hungry and thirsty, they are more likely to partake.
4) If the bird is in a cage with other birds, put it in a separate cage. This allows you to monitor its droppings more easily. Since the bird was with other birds, if there is illness, the others have already been exposed. However, we do not want to continue the exposure. For example, if we go to a neighbors house and visit, and find out they have measles, we have already been exposed. But we do not continue to visit anyway! We stay away! Remove the bird from his friends right away to reduce any further exposure. This will also reduce your vet bills if your bird is sick.
If it is very stressful for the bird to be moved to a different room (if the bird calls to the others incessantly), then I would move the bird back into the same room but keep its cage on the opposite side of the room.
5) I would give the sick bird a 50-50 mixture of water and natural apple juice (juice that has no sugar added to it other than what is naturally in the juice) and change this twice a day cleaning the bowl with hot water and soap each time. I like to do this only for 2-3 days at most, or until I can get the bird to the vet for further instructions. We do not want to overdo the sugar, even natural, as it can cause other problems. The little bit of juice sweetens the water and can encourage drinking. Be sure to offer the bird's usual food and millet for energy.
6) Keep the bum clean! Droppings cannot be allowed to build up. They must be removed by toweling the bird and using a cotton ball, soaked in warm water only, to wipe the bum. Wipe in the direction of the feather growth, not against it. So, move from the top of the tail to the bottom tip of the tail. Do not rub, do not use soap, and do not worry that there are still stains on the vent feathers. Just need to keep that bum dropping free!
7) Attend the vet appointment that you have already scheduled. Take some sample droppings for show and tell. Right before the vet visit you can replace the paper towel or newspaper in the bottom of the cage with a piece of waxed paper. This will catch the droppings and allow the vet to examine them. Of course, most of our birds are quick to offer the vet an impromptu dropping sample anyway, it is good to be prepared.
Pasting of the vent is not something to ignore, it is not normal, and it does need to be addressed. While I hope you will find these tips helpful, I truly hope you will never need them!
Last edited by Robin's Nest; 08-27-2010 at 05:13 PM.