My one year old welsh harlequin hen developed a case of bumble foot almost 2 months ago. At first, we just did a very conservative treatment – we isolated her for 4 days on clean bedding, cleaned her foot daily with iodine, and bandaged it every day with neomycin cream. After 4 days, she seemed to be improving a bit so we put her back with her flock. Our ducks are not tame so being separated from her group was very stressful for her. We had to balance the need to treat her foot with her immediate quality of life and the stress caused by isolation and daily bandaging.
Unfortunately after about a week she started to go downhill again. Her limp worsened and it got to the point where I noticed she was resorting to standing only on her good foot. This past weekend, we isolated her again and this time we went all in. We excised the black scab on the bumble, removed the yellow infected core, attempted to squeeze out the pus, rebandaged her foot, and started her on a 4 day round of penicillin injections. Today is day 4, her last day of antibiotics, and 4 days since the foot surgery. I went out to do her last injection this morning and found her once again just standing on only the healthy foot.
The only slight improvement in the foot is that the new scab is mostly yellow and not completely black, and that her infected leg is not as hot as it was 4 days ago. However the leg is still warm to the touch, much warmer than her cool healthy leg. This tells me that even with the penicillin, the infection is still raging in there. I am so disheartened, I was really hoping the penicillin would help us kick this thing.
I feel like my only options left are to attempt yet another surgery and penicillin round (subjecting her to more pain, stress, and isolation) or to throw in the towel and humanely euthanize her before the infection slowly kills her. Our vet will put her down for us, so the death will be as painless as possible. I am hesitant to take her to a vet for professional treatment, as I am sure of the diagnosis and know all they will do is re-attempt what we have already tried (foot surgery, more antibiotics, more isolation). And if I am being completely honest, I really don’t feel like paying $250 to essentially torture my duck all over again when there is no guarantee of success.
I am torn – my duck is still eating, drinking, and laying despite the stress. But she is in pain (as evidenced by her desire to not put pressure on her foot whenever possible), and her leg is clearly infected. When she is with her flock she socializes, but can barely keep up when they run around and the male has been harassing her more since she isn’t as swift as the other girls. I don’t want to keep subjecting her to repeated treatments that hurt and stress her out, and I don’t want to watch her slowly die a painful death while losing her position in the flock and being harassed by an aggressive drake. But I also don’t want to give up on her too early either.
I have never had to make this decision before. Seems like no matter what I do, I'll feel guilty. What would you do?