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Breathing problems in a duckling

post #1 of 4
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I have a duckling that was weak and had to be helped out of the shell.  She pipped internally but could get no further, and after 48 hours showed distress in the shell.  We helped her out.  After being born, she was quite weak.  The first day she pecked at a bit of food.  The second day she ate a bit more, but then her appetite dropped off.  She did not eat.  This may be because she is a lone duckling; the other eggs did not hatch.  (She visits older ducks daily for socialization.)


To keep her alive, I have been tube-feeding her for several days and she is hanging in there.  She has ground up all-flock chick starter with some added vitamins, a bit of brewer's yeast and a touch of vitamin C for good measure.  She occasionally runs around for brief moments before resting, out of breath.  She seems alert.  She did not have breathing difficulties at the start, but she did spit up part of her feedings the first two or three days (no matter how little I gave her, some of it came back up, sometimes looking slimy).  She has now gotten over spitting up food, and holds it down cleanly.  Unfortunately, she breathes with difficulty.  She is gaining weight, though not as fast as I think she should.  (Day 2, 35 grams, day 3 = 40 grams, day 4 = 45, day 5 = 55, day 6 = 63.)  Day 6 is today.        


Her nose is clogged up, and I use warm water with a tiny bit of salt to wash it out a couple of times per day so it stays open.  She breathes with some difficulty even when I hold her bill open, so it's not just the clogged nose that is the issue.


I have started her on antibiotics last night because her whole body moves with her effort to breathe.  I am using oxytetracycline 10 (181.5 g) at the rate of 1/8 tsp per 2 cups (16 oz) as suggested in another thread by casportpony.  No improvement yet, but it hasn't been 24 hours.  I use the doctored water as her drinking water and also to moisten the food that is tube-fed.


Any other suggestions?  

post #2 of 4
Thread Starter 


Video attached of the duckling's breathing problems.  Also visible on:

post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 



Day 7:  68g  Day 2 antibiotics.  Maybe slightly better but not much difference.  Still quite sick.


Day 8:  74 g  Day 3 antibiotics.  Somewhat more active.  Breathes hard but not quite as hard.


Day 9:  84 g  Day 4 antibiotics.  Definitely breathing better.  Still weak.  


Day 10:  115 g  Day 5 of antibiotics.  Ate like a horse all day.  Instead of emptying her crop every hour and a half, she emptied what I fed her in 45 minutes and needed more - and needed a larger amount (7.5 grams up from 5 grams per feeding).  She put it all to good use.  Clearly feeling better, nose is clear.  Obviously catching up on missed growth.


Day 11:  123 g (morning).  Day 6 antibiotics.  Fat and sassy.  Breathing easily (fast, but I think that's normal for ducklings.  Nose seems clear.  Still not eating on her own, but doing very well.  Walking much farther than before.  All in all, doing great!


When her mother got really sick (she was eight weeks old) she quit eating.  After she was better and healthy, she still took a couple or three weeks of tube feeding before deciding to eat on her own.  I'm thinking the baby is the same.  It is now over it's illness and will eventually begin to feed on its own when ready.  


I am very thankful that this duckling was so strong as to survive where the other four perished.  She's good at "hanging in there."  Yayyyyyy!


post #4 of 4
Thread Starter 

Day 12 she got sicker.  Took her to the vet.  Said she had an upper respiratory infection and gave a different antibiotic than before.

Day 13 she had sticky mucus that kept her wet and sticky under her bill.

Day 14 I went to check on her.  She was doing poorly and then died in my arms.



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