Trichomonas (Canker), Sour Crop & Vent Gleet, Part Three
Trichomonas Gallinae (Canker), Sour Crop and Cloacitis (Vent Gleet) Treatment - Part Three
Cloacitis aka vent gleet is an inflammation of the cloaca. There are numerous causes of Cloacitis including bacterial infections, fungal infections (candida albicans), pH imbalance, internal parasites, renal impairment or stress.
The cloaca is part of your birds reproductive and digestive tract. The health of your birds cloaca is important, vent gleet (cloacitis) will affect your birds ability to breed, if it is a species that lays eggs for consumption, such as a chicken production will slow or stop, and it disrupts the health of the digestive system. Vent gleet can affect just the cloaca and surrounding area or the entire digestive system, it is not uncommon for sour crop to also be an issue when a bird has vent gleet.
Vent gleet is usually detected upon visual inspection of the bird as the vent area will have soiled feathers that have chalky (dried urates) or yellowish discharge on them and inflammation of the vent and surrounding area, cracked skin and blood may also be present. Cloacitis means inflammation of the cloaca. Another indicator is smell, if the condition has been undetected the build up of the discharge and continual seepage will result in a very pungent odor. If the birds has been suffering from vent gleet for a while s/he may appear “droopy” and puffed up, the abdomen may feel swollen and bloated, your bird may also loose their appetite. Vent gleet is more common in laying hens versus cocks/roosters. In a female bird the infection (bacterial or fungal) is a risk to both her digestive system and reproductive one as both systems meet at the cloaca, so, what starts out as a digestive issue can then travel up into her reproductive organs. The sooner the condition is noticed, the higher chance for a good outcome. In males it can cause stool to be off, diarrhea or even constipation can occur, in addition to lack of appetite and listlessness. Laboratory work will help you determine the cause of vent gleet if you are unsure. An avian veterinarian can use fecal and blood samples to determine the cause. If veterinary care is not available there are labs where you can send samples to on your own, here are two we highly recommend:
Fecal samples (to determine if the problem is parasite related)
Blood & Swab Samples (bacterial or fungal causes)
If you have questions about how to collect and send in your birds samples give them a call. Both companies are extremely helpful answering questions.
How do birds get vent gleet? As mentioned in the first paragraph of this article there are numerous causes for vent gleet. Risk factors include exposure to fungus or bacteria in feed or environment, internal parasites disrupting the birds digestive system, stress from changes in environment, flock or extreme weather, antibiotic use, as they kill not only the bad bacteria you were treating for but the good bacteria that helps keep your birds internal flora healthy. Keeping galliformes (chickens, turkeys, guinea, peafowl, etc.) in a mixed flock with waterfowl is also a risk factor as waterfowl create environments that are very fungus friendly due to how they eat, bathe, and their watery waste. Mating can also result in the bacteria or fungus causing vent gleet to be transferred to another flock member. Renal impairment can disturb the pH balance of a birds waste and caused chronic vent gleet, this is often seen in older birds and requires different treatment that bacterial or fungal causes.
Treatment will depend on why your bird has vent gleet. Some measures are universal for all causes so we will start there.
Gently bathe your birds vent area and surrounding feathers. Trim or remove feathers in the area to prevent buildup of discharge during treatment. The discharge is very irritating to their skin and can cause a secondary infection from the vent and surrounding tissue chafing, cracking, and bleeding. Apply a soothing balm or ointment. We highly recommend Healthline Nutritions Silver Salve as it has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties plus soothing aloe, jojoba oil and vitamin E which help accelerate healing.
Fungal (yeast) cause:
Nystatin added to the birds feed will help treat the digestive tract by directly contacting the fungi. In addition to the using the nystatin an antiprotozoal is recommended. Metronidazole which is available in tablets or powder for drinking water is one option. If your birds appetite is poor and they are not consuming water normally direct treatment with the tablets, dosed by weight, assures they are getting the needed medication. If the bird has been living in a flock, where other birds have been exposed, the powder is useful for treating a group. Another option for the flock, if you see no symptoms in the others, is using Acidified Copper Sulfate in their water as a prophylactic measure. Ketoconazole is the other antiprotozoal option and it is available in a tablet. It is a stronger medication, often a second choice if metronidazole is not resolving the issue.
If the cause of vent gleet is bacterial metronidazole or ronidazole are treatment options for common bacterial causes. As mentioned above, if your bird is not eating/drinking normally tablets are a good choice to assure they are getting the needed medication. If your hen has an infection of the reproductive system then an antibiotic such as enrofloxacin or amoxicillin may be needed. Lab tests would help determine the best choice.
Treatment with a broad spectrum anthelmintic (dewormer) and then using an external treatment such as Healthline Nutritions Silver Salve to calm and heal the area. We have multiple anthelmintic (dewormer) options.
Renal Impairment can cause chronic issues with urates being deposited around the vent and surrounding feathers. This can occur in birds of various ages but is more common in older birds. Keep the feathers trimmed in the area, clean it often to remove the urates causing irritation and use a salve such as Healthline Nutritions Silver Salve to heal and soothe the area. Veterinary care is recommended for a treatment plan to help with kidney function. Dandelion root and milk thistle supplements can help, make sure any tinctures you use are alcohol free, drops can be added to their drinking water.
Vent gleet (cloacitis) is a condition a bird keeper does not want to ignore. The cause should be sought out and the bird treated appropriately. If left untreated the condition can result in death. Be sure to check your bird for sour crop if you discover vent gleet. If caught early and care is given to the affected bird they can recover and continue to have a healthy and productive life.