EGG BINDING IN BIRDS

1. What causes egg binding?
Egg binding is an emergency medical condition when a female bird is unable to lay an egg.
There are many factors that can increase the risk of egg binding. These include a diet which is low in calcium (e.g. all seed diets), obesity, egg deformities (e.g. over-sized egg), hereditary causes, excessive egg laying and hormonal issues.

2. Are certain birds prone to develop egg binding?
Yes. Budgerigars, canaries, cockatiels, finches and lovebirds most frequently have problems related to egg laying, although any bird can become egg bound.

3. How can I tell if my bird is egg bound?
Clinical signs that may indicate that your bird is egg bound include:

      depressed demeanour, fluffed up appearance

      unable to perch or may often sit on the bottom of the cage or in food bowl

      tail bobbing

      straining to lay an egg

      paralysis of one or both legs (due to the egg putting pressure on the nerves that control the legs)

      vomiting

      swollen abdomen

Since the signs associated with egg binding are also seen in sick birds with other illnesses, diagnostic testing, such as x-rays, is essential in formulating a proper diagnosis.

4. How does the veterinarian diagnose egg binding?
The veterinarian may gently palpate (feel) the retained egg during the physical examination. Radiographs may also be needed to diagnose egg binding.

5. How is egg binding treated?
Treatment options depend on the clinical presentation and severity of the condition.
Medical treatment
Supportive treatment is offered in the form of subcutaneous fluids, heat and assisted feeding. Injectable calcium and oxytocin and/or prostaglandin gel may be used to assist in muscle contraction to expel the egg. If the egg is near the cloacal opening, your veterinarian may be able to gently extract it.
More advanced treatment
Eggs that do not pass with drug therapy require more invasive treatment. The veterinarian may need to place a needle through the abdomen into the egg shell and aspirate the contents of the egg, causing the shell to collapse. The shell will usually pass out of the bird within a few days. Failing this, surgery may be performed to remove the egg or shell fragments.

6. Can egg binding be prevented?

       Birds that are obese should have their diet modified to assist in weightloss. An appropriate diet can be discussed with your veterinarian.

       Oral calcium supplementation is recommended, especially in chronic egg layers.

       Husbandry modification is also important to try and decrease hormones that may lead to egg laying. Such modifications include extending night periods, taking food out of the cage overnight, removing any nesting material and restricting access to male birds.

       Hormonal drug therapy may be required, especially in chronic egg layers. This option can be discussed in more detail with your veterinarian.

       Surgery to remove the reproductive tract may be a last resort option.

 

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