Duck head flopping issue

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by nealkal, May 8, 2014.

  1. nealkal

    nealkal Hatching

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    May 8, 2014
    I first want to say thank you to everyone that participates on this website. I've gotten most of my information on duck related questions from these forums. But I have an issue this is not exactly like anything I can find.

    I have 4 Welsh Harlequin females that are 5 weeks old. About 5 days ago I hear some chirping coming from the birds and one of them was flailing around. Her legs were kicking and her head was flopping back and forth. It seemed uncontrollable because she would knock into the sides of the pen, and knock over water and food dishes. I first thought she was having a seizure so I didnt' touch her. After a couple minutes she started to slow down but her head was still tilted all the way back and flopping back and forth, all the way to the ground on each side of her. After about 10 minutes she would just slow and and eventually snap out of it, stand up, just look around confused for a couple minutes, then go about her normal business. After 2 days of this I started to notice that certain things would set it off. When she would drink some water and tilt her head back to swallow, it would throw her into another one of her episodes. Or when she would tilt her head back to clean, it would throw her into it again.

    I did as much research I could and found her "seizures" could be nutrient deficiency, virus, bacterial infection, toxins, liver issue, ear infection, or just a phase she will grow out of. So for the past few days, in their water I started a mixture of water, apple cider vinegar, niacin, vitamin E, and an antibiotic (duramycin). In their food I mixed in oregano and brewers yeast. I'd like to start on some activated charcoal too. I then separated her from the other three into a crate near by. Mostly because I had a hunch that the other ducks were setting her off so she was having problems getting rest, but also to help keep her dry.

    Then we noticed that if we gently hold her head while she started flailing, she snaps right out of it. So she would take a drink of water, almost start flopping, then we would support her head and she would be fine. Which seems like it would not be a seizure. But, 80% of the time she can eat, drink, and clean herself without an issue. She also has a very healthy appetite.

    It almost seems like she looses her balance and goes into a kind of dizzy spell. I'm leaning towards some kind of ear infection, maybe neck injury? Any one ever hear of this kind of thing before?
     
  2. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners

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    Welcome to the Duck Forum. (c:

    You have done some good research. Let's step back a bit and try to sort things out. So much to sort!

    I agree with you on the possibilities. When you say it's when she makes certain head movements, that makes me think spinal injury.

    Before going further, a well-trained, experienced duck vet (with a good bedside manner while we are dreaming) is best.

    And many of us cannot do that for one reason or another.

    And that means in a way, we are flying blind.

    Now.

    Keeping her quiet, but perhaps within sight of her buddies seems good to me. If it is an injury then rest, support (perhaps physical, like propping her up with a stuffed animal when she rests - or internal, like vitamins), and time may be the best strategy.

    Clearly if she has an infection, she needs treatment for that.

    Good nutrition is always a basic, and we don't want to overdo supplements, or use things that might counteract each other (for example, I think charcoal absorbs some nutrients as well as toxins in the gut).

    I would limit multivitamins to once a week, but niacin or brewer's yeast I would include daily, per Storey's Guide to Raising Ducks.

    Can you find a vet who might help diagnose?
     
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  3. kendradillon

    kendradillon Chirping

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    wry neck?
     
  4. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners

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    I think wry neck tends to be the way the neck is held most of the time, and can be accompanied by seizures, but we have not had that in our flock so please correct me if I misunderstand.
     
  5. nealkal

    nealkal Hatching

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    May 8, 2014
    Going to call a couple vets in the morning. I let her drink tonight and she was pretty consistent with the whole, her head flopping back and losing control, thing. But I was able to support her head and she came out of it. I looked up wry neck and her symptoms don't really match it.

    I tried giving her a stuff animal for neck support but she was scared of it and freaked out. So that's out.

    Besides talking to a vet, the wait-and-see route seems to be the only thing I can do right now.
     
  6. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners

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    Prayers.
     
  7. nealkal

    nealkal Hatching

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    May 8, 2014
  8. nealkal

    nealkal Hatching

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    May 8, 2014
    Peep hasn't gotten worse or better, just different. She still goes into her head swinging fits randomly and it's also triggered by tilting her head up to swallow water. But she seems to be compensating for it by purposefully trying to keep her head low so she doesn't have to tilt her head back as far.

    I've also been looking at her very closely and I'm noticing some differences between her and her sisters. First, her head appears to be smaller and flatter. And I don't think it's because her sisters heads are a little fluffier. Second, she seems to be a little googley eyed and less focus than the others. She kind of stares into the distance or appears confused. Third, her head does seem slightly tilted to the right. Which is when I thought of wry neck, but the symptoms are not the same. Her head is only slightly titled (barely noticeable) and she can walk around and hold her head up just fine. She stumbles backwards but not on her back. She only loses control of her head and swings it back and forth.

    My wife also thinks her neck is more sensitive than the others, and there might be a bump on her neck. I haven't noticed this though.

    Peep has always been the smallest of the 4 since birth (and brightest in color - hence she looked like a 'Peep') and she has always walked away from the others to do her own thing. We just thought she was spunky/adventurous but now I'm wondering if there are some mental/developmental issues.

    I'm still finishing out the week with antibiotics and plenty of niacin to all of them.

    Our other concern was a neck injury because one of the other ducks go their head stuck in the cage they are in. The other duck is perfectly fine and we have remedied the source of the problem since. And we never witnessed Peep getting stuck or having a problem with it.

    My wife also called a vet and described the best she could what is happening. The vet thought it could be an ear infection and Peep would need stronger antibiotics.

    On top of this, I'm in a scramble right now to get their coop/pen built. They are going on 6 weeks and are getting too messy for the basement. AND, we are leaving for vacation in 2 weeks and we are getting a sitter for the week we will be gone. I'm hoping Peep will recover by then. If not, we are considering putting her down if she is not better by then. She will have a poor quality of life if she is like this forever.
     
  9. nealkal

    nealkal Hatching

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    I took her to the vet 4 days ago. The vet noticed one ear was smaller than the other and maybe thought she had an inner ear deformity. She also thought it could be caused by toxins. We had a flood in our basement when they were about 3 or 4 weeks old and their food got wet and started to stink. The food was replaced but we didn't noticed the food smelling bad until a couple days later.

    She gave her a vitamin B shot and within 24 hours she seemed to be doing better. Since then she has been on steroids and I've been giving her 2-3 ounces of vitamins through a syringe per day. She also seems to do much better outside. So so far she is improving with all of this. She still stumbles backwards when she drinks sometimes but she snaps out of it pretty quick. I also noticed yesterday that her one leg shakes occasionally, which to me points to niacin and vitamin deficiency. But I'm treating that so hopefully that should be resolved soon. I am hopeful :)
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2014
  10. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Loving this country life

    I hope as the days go on you see her completely recovered. your sure doing an awesome job caring for her.

    not same issue but this may give you some inspiration.. https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/857143/treating-wry-neck-in-crested-duckling-edited-title
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2014

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