Ducks are hardy animals and, if kept well, are not susceptible to disease. However, almost any flock raiser is bound to encounter a problem eventually, whether it is a disease, injury, nutritional deficiency, infection, or some other form of health problem.
In the event of a sickness or health problem, here’s what you need to do, regardless of whether you take the duck to a vet or not: https://www.raising-ducks.com/sick-duck/
Sometimes, especially if you are knowledgeable about duck health, you may be able to solve the problem without the intervention of a vet. (And in some cases the duck will solve the problem itself without your intervention!) Many health problems, such as bumblefoot, can be cured at home. Knowledge is power; doing a lot of research may save you a trip to the vet.
But at other times, you may be completely baffled and feel at a loss for what to do. One option is to ask for help on a forum, such as www.backyardchickens.com, which has a section for ducks. I’ve seen experienced duck raisers on Backyard Chickens help frantic duck owners with health problems that seemed utterly hopeless without a vet. Many maladies are possible to solve by yourself, provided you know what to do.
And if you can’t solve it?
Then you might want to take your duck to a vet.
You should definitely know a vet and keep a phone number or address handy just in case a problem comes up requiring the help of professionals. Unfortunately, many vets will not see ducks or other poultry, because they simply do not have the experience. If you can find a vet that specializes in avian care, that’s wonderful! And if you can’t, chances are you can still find a vet that is willing to try to help you. In these cases, it is often helpful to have knowledge of poultry yourself. This is what I’ve done. No one around has experience with poultry, but our vet is open-minded and willing to talk with me to find solutions that will work. In the case of one injury, I asked her, “What would you do if the patient was a dog?” We explored her suggestions, found some natural things that were safe for ducks, and it worked wonderfully.
Some duck owners live in remote areas with no easy access to high-tech care, medications, or experienced vets. These people should research a lot and acquaint themselves with duck health so that they can save as many of their ducks that are worth saving as possible.
In summary, I think every duck raiser should prepare themselves and find a vet, no matter what their philosophy, just in case. Much of the time, you can spare yourself the expense, but when you’ve wracked your brain and are desperate to save a bird, a veterinarian is a wonderful solace. And if there simply are no competent vets, a comprehensive knowledge of duck maladies may be enough for you.