2.5 year old drake having balance issues - vet was unsure of what's wrong...any ideas?

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by cymbaline, Aug 7, 2014.

  1. cymbaline

    cymbaline Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My Bullwinkle has been gradually developing issues balancing himself over the past 6 months or so. At first, he would just stumble every now and then, and I attributed it to him being fat and not graceful, lol, as he has always been very big for his breed - he's a Mallard but can barely get off the ground. Then in May or June, I noticed he was wobbling a lot more, as shown in this video. He wasn't this bad all the time, I just managed to catch a bit of it on video. You can see near the end he starts to take off walking pretty well.[​IMG]

    This one was about two weeks ago, although I wasn't really videoing his balancing problems, but rather what he thought of kale, lol.
    [​IMG]

    And this is him in the shower last weekend. He does much better in the water, obviously. You can still tell that something isn't right with his legs though. And that water was clean before I put him in - that's how dirty he gets sitting around in poo all the time. :(
    [​IMG]

    He is pretty much unable to stand up straight unless he is leaning his rear on something. Also, because of this, he's now got wet feather on his rear and belly because he can't reach back there to preen. :(

    At first, I tried just putting brewer's yeast in their food, and that didn't seem to make any difference. Then, on the advice of an avian vet cousin of mine in NC, I made sure he got lots of swimming time every day, to give his legs some exercise and to give him a break in case it was a pulled muscle or something. This went on for weeks and didn't seem to help. Last week I gave up and I brought him inside to live in my shower, and after watching him all weekend, called my vet's office on Monday. Of their (at least) four vets on staff, they felt confident that only one was knowledgeable enough about ducks to help, and she wasn't in on Mondays, so on Tuesday, I drove him down there. She examined him, and thought that it was likely neurological (possibly a brain tumor, although the study she referenced was about crested ducks, it turns out), but just in case it wasn't, she gave me Baytril and a steroid in injectable form (5 doses). We are two doses in and no improvement so far.

    He was never injured that I'm aware of (I'm very over-protective - they are rarely out of my sight if free-ranging, and in a super-safe pen the rest of the time), and he has no other symptoms that I can tell. The vet didn't mention anything else being wrong with him other than what I already knew about, which are all secondary symptoms: wet feather, some spots on his hocks from sitting on them so much outside, and one of the other boys had poked him in the eye and made it foam up a little (which is a big chunk of why I brought him inside). His appetite is great, and his energy level is fine. He tries to get around and preen himself and be a normal duck. His feather quality/condition only recently started to suffer, and it's not for lack of him trying. He had lost some weight recently, but I think that was because he couldn't get to the food bowl as often as he wanted, because when presented with food, he eats plenty! He is never more than 2 ft from food and water now, so I imagine he will put the weight back on soon. I've been giving him vitamins & electrolytes in his water and brewer's yeast in his food since he's been inside. The only thing the vet didn't check for, and I forgot to ask about, is if he could've eaten something he shouldn't have, but I would think the symptoms would've appeared much more quickly and he would have other issues besides balance...right?

    Has anyone else experienced anything like this? I really hope someone out there has some good advice for this sweet boy. <3
    [​IMG]

    P.S. If you have no advice on what could be wrong and/or how to help, do you have any ideas how I can keep him clean? He sits around in the poo, but if I put him in the water to clean him off, he stays wet for hours and hours because half of him is no longer waterproof.

    P.P.S And yes, he is slow to molt, lol...always has been. I think the other boys' heads will be green again before he gets rid of his green, haha.
     
  2. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Running over with Blessings Premium Member

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    It does seem to be neurological but because of what i have no idea. Have you thought about putting some Activated charcoal in his water for a day just to see if it makes any difference.? the charcoal binds to what ever the toxin is and removes it from the body, and what about hardware disease. That one you'd have to read up on, but seems he would be very sick and not eating if that was the case. I don't know honestly but i would try the activated charcoal just because you haven't. He is absolutely adorable that last pic just shows personality shining through. As for wet feather about all you can do there is let him bath and then dry him off in those places he can't reach, i have 2 10yr old ducks that get wet feather every year round this time till molt. Have no idea why.https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/700526/flushes-for-aiding-in-toxin-removal#post_9508213
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/...te-falling-weight-loss-lethargy#post_13244769
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2014
  3. cymbaline

    cymbaline Chillin' With My Peeps

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    He's not even 2.5 years old (born late March 2012). The charcoal couldn't hurt, could it? If there's not much chance of side effects and there's any chance it could help, I'll try it. I figure the vet would've mentioned if she thought he'd eaten metal or something. Guess I should look into it just in case...
    Hardware disease - "Ducks and geese are attracted to shiny things like pennies, screws, nails, staples, coins of any type and other metal objects. They will swallow them. This is extremely dangerous and most often fatal. As it is digested, the metal (and coating on various metals) poisons the bird, harming the kidneys and liver. It can take days and even weeks for any symptoms to become apparent, at which point it is often too late. Early symptoms of hardware disease include a bird that keeps to itself, away from others and eats less. Fecal matter can be flourescent green (though this can also be a sign of other infection). Eventually the bird cannot walk, or walks and falls down. If these symptoms occur, the bird must go to a vet immediately. It must have a xray to see if any foreign objects have be eaten. There is medication that is given to try to get rid of the poisons in the bird, but most often they need to have surgery to remove the objects."

    The only symptom of this that he has is the falling down/inability to walk. His poop is normal, depending on what he has eaten of course. His symptoms have taken months to develop to this point, not days or weeks. I never noticed him staying away from other ducks, he just couldn't keep up sometimes, and he definitely eats fine. I wish I had thought to ask the vet to x-ray him just in case, but surely she would have done that if she thought it was a possibility...she raises ducks at home, along with many other critters. I am just stumped.

    I guess I'll just keep my routine going then...letting him swim and get cleaned up when I get home in the evening, and then putting him in a box lined with a towel. The towel helps him dry off, and the box helps support him so he can dry himself and preen better. I sit the box on the couch with me and feed him bits - grapes, tomatoes, lettuce, even scrambled (chicken) eggs...he seems really content sitting there with me. :)

    If he doesn't get the wet feather under control before winter though he's gonna be a house-duck for a long time...there's no way I can put him outside like this. He shivers at like 60 degrees when he is wet.

    Thanks for the response and advice. :) Here is one more video of my little sweetheart:

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2014
  4. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Running over with Blessings Premium Member

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    That is so sweet and sure looks to have a good appetite, I really didn't think hardware disease, just thought I'd give you the info anyway. I would try the Activated charcoal and follow the direction to the T only side effect can be constipation if you use it for longer than recommended. He sure is in good hands. My 2 with wet feather usually molt before the temp gets to drastic, but at their ages I do worry about them getting chilled. And since he hasn't been on the meds that long yet hopefully they will kick in and get him over what ever it is too. Be sure to give him a probiotic after the antibiotic to get his gut back in gear.
     
  5. cymbaline

    cymbaline Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks :) I appreciate any suggestions at this point, no matter how far-fetched they might seem. I wasn't really sure he didn't have it until I looked it up.
    I don't know much about using activated charcoal. I found some online at Amazon, but it's for people. A little bit of Googling tells me about 2 grams would be a suitable dose for a 3lb duck - does that sound right? That's almost 4 capsules, and the dose for people is two capsules 2-3 times daily. About how many days should I dose him? What would you recommend for a probiotic? The same capsules people take?
    I don't think a molt will help him, because unless he gets better, he still won't be able to keep himself oiled, and the new feathers will degrade just like these have. :/
    Oh, and did I mention I have to give him a shot in the chest every day? Scary!!
     
  6. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Running over with Blessings Premium Member

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    I found Activated charcoal at Walmart in the antacid isle I keep on hand for tummy upset and i have had food poisoning and it sure did help with that too. In the link i gave you on flushes it tells how much to give.
     
  7. cymbaline

    cymbaline Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well folks, he just had his last shot of antibiotic & steroid, and I have seen no improvement at all this week. He hasn't gotten noticeably worse, which is good, but I still wish he could move around better on his own and preen himself without falling over. :( Anyone else out there have any thoughts?
     
  8. cymbaline

    cymbaline Chillin' With My Peeps

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    An update on Bullwinkle:
    I had so many people recommending worming so I picked up some ivermectin/praziquantal from TSC and looked up the dosage for ducks - even had someone else come up with the same dose independent of my result. I dosed him last Tuesday, and the next day he was acting funny. He continued to be lethargic and wasn't eating much, and Thursday his eyelid swelled up and covered his whole eye and he wouldn't even swim, so Friday I took him to an avian vet about and hour and half away. The vet did x-rays, which didn't show anything wrong - no hardware disease, no gout, etc., so they took blood and gave me an ointment for his eye. He ate when we got home that afternoon and then quit. Right before bed he drank a lot of water, and then vomited. He vomited at least once more that night, and a couple more times the next morning. I called the vet back and he called in a prescription for an antiemetic. He threw up the first dose, but once I was able to get him to keep it down, it helped and he was able to hold down water, although he still showed no interest in any of his favorite foods. He continued that way the rest of the weekend, and then this morning he took a few bites of food. He has nibbled a little bit all day, thankfully. The vet called a bit ago with the results of his blood work - pretty much normal. White blood cell count was on the high end of normal, which may be due to his eye infection (which has almost subsided). The avian vet consulted with a specialist who said Bullwinkle may have inflammation, possibly in/around his sciatic nerves, and which could be causing his difficulties, and/or he may have a viral infection or something along those lines. They want to put him on a different antibiotic, this time oral for 3 weeks, and on meloxicam which is supposed to help with inflammation.
    So....no worms, no gout, no injuries, no hardware disease, no kidney or liver trouble...let's hope these new meds help!
     
  9. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Running over with Blessings Premium Member

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    They are just about as good at guessing as we are. except they can give out meds. take blood and at least rule out things. I do hope these new meds work and Bull winkle starts to feel better real soon.
     
  10. cymbaline

    cymbaline Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Another update: I didn't see any improvement at all the first few days he was on the meds, and called and got some clarification from the vet. They think he has encephalitis/meningitis/something along those lines. The meloxicam still does nothing as far as I can tell (maybe he really didn't need any pain relief), but the antibiotic (sulfatrim) does seem to be helping, slowly. Tomorrow will be his last dose. He is getting a little bit of strength back and is now bobbing up and down, trying to stand up. Sometimes he can get up enough to get his belly off the ground.
    Last week, I made him a little walker to help stretch his legs and get him used to being upright and walking around again.
    [​IMG]
    It took him a little while to understand it but yesterday evening he kicked himself over to his water dish and got a drink. :)

    Some videos if anyone is interested:

    [​IMG]
    This is him a few days ago when I took him out of the walker. He was really trying to get up, and coming kind of close (considering how bad he has been).

    [​IMG]
    This is me trying to give him his meds. He really likes them, and gets really excited and tries to eat the syringe, lol. I have to try to hold his head still. He was being especially contrary that evening; usually it goes much more quickly and easily than this, but it did make for a funnier video. ;)
     

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