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.


13 Comments

  1. One of my ducks is heavy breathing and sounds like it has a blocked nose and a small cut on its foot and the other was sick bile, I think, it might of just been water but are these any signs of it being bad?

    Amberley
  2. Hello, we recently rescued a Duckling and one of his eyes waters a lot and he can’t close it fully… we’re aware that you can’t take them to regular vets so i would love to know where can i seek some help. Tya

    Cynthia
    1. Hi Cynthia,

      I can’t really tell you what to do since I’m not a vet or health expert, but this article has more information about finding vets (there ARE plenty of vets that can handle ducks, but they’re sometimes hard to find) and finding help even when a vet isn’t an option (such as asking on a forum): https://www.raising-ducks.com/sick-duck/

      Also, I’m guessing that the duckling might have an eye infection. I would suggest giving the duckling apple cider vinegar, rinsing his eye with a saline solution, and applying Vet Rx, which is a natural remedy for respiratory issues. Eye issues and respiratory issues often go hand in hand in ducks. Also, make sure the duckling has plenty of water with which to dunk his head and face in. Ducks need to be able to wash their entire head, even if they can’t have a full bath.

      This might help too: https://www.thecapecoop.com/foamy-eye-disease-ducks/

      Hoping the best for you and the duckling!

      Sincerely,
      Hannah Miller

    1. Hi Rebekah,

      Here are some links to avian veterinarian directories:
      https://www.aav.org/search/
      https://www.beautyofbirds.com/recommendedvets.htm
      http://www.majesticwaterfowl.org/vetfinder.htm
      http://www.poultrydvm.com/poultry-vets.php

      This article might also help you, especially if you still can’t find a vet and need to treat your duck yourself (it’s possible to treat an abscess at home, but it will take some research and studying fist): https://www.raising-ducks.com/sick-duck/

      Hope that helps! Let me know if you have any other questions!

      Sincerely,
      Hannah Miller

  3. One of my ducks is having spasms/shaking a lot it started as only his body shaking, then his wings, and now his mouth is uncontrollably twitching. i don’t know what to do, my second has very small twitches. they are only 2 weeks old, and i have 2 ducks and 5 chicks together. please help

    Skyler
    1. Hi Skyler,

      Oh no, that can’t be good. Separate all affected ducks immediately. This is likely to be contagious. Also examine your ducklings for further symptoms. This article might help with examination, quarantine, and finding a vet if you decide it’s necessary: https://www.raising-ducks.com/sick-duck/

      Here are a few diseases I know of that can cause seizures, shaking, or incoordination. These articles suggest possible treatments.
      http://www.duckdvm.com/condition/aflatoxicosis
      http://www.duckdvm.com/condition/duck-viral-hepatitis
      http://www.duckdvm.com/condition/lead-poisoning
      http://www.duckdvm.com/condition/chlamydiosis
      http://www.duckdvm.com/condition/duck-viral-enteritis

      Also consider the possibility of hypothermia. How warm is their environment? Are they getting wet?

      Head trauma and neurological issues can also cause things like this, but since you have two affected ducks, it seems unlikely that both could have received the same trauma.

      I’m so sorry you’re experiencing this. I hope this helps.

      Sincerely,
      Hannah Miller

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