Injured duck - is my first aid ok

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by Carol_af, Sep 20, 2010.

  1. Carol_af

    Carol_af Chillin' With My Peeps

    My muscovies have just learned they can fly and as I live among cane fields the grass just looks so much greener (and taller) on the other side of the fence. A neighbour found one of the ducks hiding under her car. It has been attacked, probably by a dog. The bird has several deep puncture wounds to the chest and back. The worst is under the chest where the skin has been torn in a patch about 2cm (an inch) in diameter. This is quite deep in the centre and bleeds a lot. There is another puncture to the back just above the tail, this one goes very deep into the soft tissue, and a third a little higher up on the back towards the top joint of the leg. This last wound is a puncture but not as deep or wide as the other wounds. There may be other small wounds but I could not see clearly through the feathers and blood.

    I bathed the wounds with warm salty water, then covered them in an antiseptic cream I had in my medicine chest (ie one for people). I folded up some Chux cloths (the kind of material used for nappy liners and household cleaning cloths) and placed these against the wounds then tied another one around the duck's body as a bandage holding the others in place.

    I put an old towel in a large plastic laundry basket, placed another chux cloth on top of this (for ease of changing as nature calls) and placed the bird in the basket with a small container of water with honey and a little plain yoghurt dissolved in it. I put the basket on the verandah where the duck could see his/her (still don't know which) brothers and sisters in the yard, and kept him/her quiet for the rest of the day. The chest wound bled profusely yesterday, and I half expected the bird to die, either of blood loss or shock. Overnight the duck slept in the basket which I brought into the laundry inside the house. I kept the screen door closed and locked but left the back door open to give the bird fresh air (it's spring and I'm in the tropics) as I didn't want the bird to overheat in a closed laundry while bundled up in towels and cloths.

    This morning the duck seems bright enough. I cleaned out the basket and put in a fresh towel and cloth. He/she is drinking but still not eating. I tried to coax him/her with some lettuce (their favourite treat) and some wheat bix in water (another favourite). The bird wouldn't take either but did take fresh water and honey. I put in a second container with honey and yoghurt thinned with a little water of which he/she does take a sip every now and then.

    While I had the bird out of the basket, I disinfected the bathroom handbasin then filled it with salty tepid water. I placed the duck in the handbasin and let him/her float while I bathed the wounds on the bird's back. I was able to clean the wounds more thoroughly this morning by immersing the bird, and I thought this would also attend to any hidden wounds that I have not found. Yesterday I bathed the main wounds by dabbing with cotton balls but did not feel this to be a thorough enough cleaning. However, my main aim yesterday was to stop the bleeding. This morning as soon as I noticed the wound on the bird's chest start to bleed again (the water turned pink) I gently lifted him/her out of the basin and sat the bird on a towel to dry. Again I got out the antiseptic ointment and put this onto all wounds I could see, folded up chux cloths to cover the wounds and then bound the bird up in a crepe bandage to hold the cloths in place. I bandaged over the wings just a little to keep the bird relatively imobilised. The less movement the better at the moment or the chest wound starts bleeding again. The duck is back in the basket out on the front verandah resting for the day.

    A vet is not available. How does my first aid sound? Is there anything else I should be doing, or anything I should not be doing? Your advice and expertise would be greatly appreciated.
  2. Denninmi

    Denninmi Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 26, 2009
    Um, in my very amateur opinion, it sounds like you're doing everything right. The only thing I would do is add some type of antibiotic to the birds drinking water if possible, because the topical antiseptic you are using isn't able to penetrate to the depth of a deep puncture wound, and animal saliva usually has a lot of nasty microbes that love a deep, anaerobic wound, so the bird is liable to get a bad infection that could kill it - that is why so many wounded soldiers died in wars prior to the invention of antibiotics, gangrene in deep wounds. Tetracycline would be a good choice if you can get it where you are.

    Good luck. I hope he pulls through for you.
  3. katharinad

    katharinad Overrun with chickens

    I would say the same. Do you have any Amoxicillin in your house. It is an antibiotic usually used in children for ear infections. Also make sure the bird is nice and dry before wrapping. Moisture is the friend of any nasty microbe. You can also check with your pharmacy and see if you can acquire some sutures to close some of the large wounds. Tell them it is for a bird and even an expired product may be suitable for the birds. You will be surprised with what pharmacies can come with on material. After that you have to count one nature and hope for the best.
  4. ejctm

    ejctm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 25, 2009
    If you look in the emergency/diseases section of the main forum, you will find some really useful threads about treating animal bite wounds, which are the same for chickens or ducks. The important thing is to clean the wound and keep it from getting infected. Sounds like you are doing great.

    I have read that putting neosporin or other antiseptic cream, bathing in a betadine solution and putting honey (a natural antiseptic) straight into the wound really helps. Also, getting a shot of penicillin seems really important too, and you might be able to get hold of this through a vet or a store or online, I am not sure.

    Best of luck.
  5. Carol_af

    Carol_af Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thanks to all for your advice. I'm heading to the first aid forum following this post.
    I've made notes from your advice and will be visiting a chemist as soon as I can get to town.

    However, the wounds are worse than I first thought. Now that the bleeding has stopped and the bird is less frightened I was able to put the bird on it's back and examine the wounds more closely. Poor little thing just laid there on its back, wings folded, one foot in the air and the other lolling beside the tail wound. I didn't need to hold it down, and it just rests in my arms when I pick it up now.

    The wound on the chest is weeping but healing slowly. The puncture wound near the tail I was able to examine from underneath and I was horrified by what I saw. It looks as though the dog has grabbed the bird by the tail and torn the flesh away exposing sheaths where feathers would have been embedded in the flesh and worst of all, I think the intestinal tract has been exposed. No wonder the poor bird is not eating. There is a smelly discharge coming from what would be the birds anus, and unless I'm reading bird anatomy incorrectly, flesh to the side of this appears to be missing - the equivalent of what would be a human "cheek". I am less certain that the bird may survive after all and I worry at the pain and distress the bird may be in.

    The duck allowed me to wash the tail wounds with condies crystals but it made little quite squealing noises as I dabbed the wound and tried to clean it. I have now gently rubbed some insect repellant onto his/her feathers on his back, neck and head (away from the wounds)and sprayed the bedding with same (again where wounds, or bill, cannot come in contact with it) as flies are coming around the bird when outdoors and, horror or horrors - the tail wounds are infested with maggots! What do I do? How do I get rid of them without harming the bird? Do I get rid of them - in ancient times maggots were used to eat dead flesh and clean wounds? I am at a loss at the moment. I have considered euthenasia but don't have the heart or knowhow to kill the bird, and to my surprise neither does my husband although he is always complaining he would rather eat the ducks than keep them.

    Thanks again.
  6. MysticalMom

    MysticalMom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 1, 2009
    Personally, I would either get it to a vet QUICK, or put it out of it's misery. I know making the choice to put it down is hard to do, but this sounds bad. Don't take my word for it, wait for someone with more knowledge of injuries like this. I am not a duck injury expert by any means, but exposed intestines etc? This duck sounds really severely injured.
  7. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 30, 2009
    Charlotte, NC

    That does sound awful, and you do need to get rid of the maggots, one way or another. Maggots are still used in healing, especially burn victims, but clinical maggots are a specific strain and free of parasites & fungus & harmful bacteria. Wild maggots can be any number of species, some of which will eat healthy tissue along with the dead, and may carry various diseases and parasites with them.

    I have to concur that the injuries sound pretty severe, especially since there is an infestation. I don't know what I would do, but most likely I would euthanize. On the other hand, my birds are livestock, not pets, so I interact with them differently than I do with, for instance, my cat. If it were my cat, I'd take her to the vet. So it's a deeply personal choice. Ducks are incredibly resilient and can bounce back even from the most horrifying injuries if given the opportunity, but the maggots are not a good sign.

    If you want to give her a chance, I think you're doing the right things (though a vet would be able to help even more). You can buy bug spray that is safe to use on and around wounds, and I'd recommend that. To clean the maggots out, though, is going to be a gross and probably traumatic experience. You can't just kill them with bug spray--enough to do that would be toxic to the duck too. You'll have to wash them out manually, and then apply the bug spray to kill what remain. Then you'll need to check it regularly and probably need to kill additional maggots as they appear (there may be eggs you can't see, and as they hatch and grow, you'll have to continue cleaning...).

    Good luck. I'm sorry you're going through this. Most of us have to deal with this kind of thing eventually, and it's never fun. [​IMG]
  8. Carol_af

    Carol_af Chillin' With My Peeps

    Again thanks for your advice. The poor bird is no longer suffering. I brought it in for the night and about an hour later I went into the laundry and the bird had died.

    From this experience I am checking through the emergency forum and taking note of treatments and materials required so that I can assemble an emergency first aid kit to keep at hand for the birds should future injuries of any description occur. I don't have a vet anywhere near that I can get to, so the poor creatures are reliant on me for first aid.
  9. duckluv

    duckluv Overrun With Chickens

    Aug 20, 2010
  10. ejctm

    ejctm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 25, 2009
    Poor thing, I am so sorry to hear it didn't make it. Sounds like both you and the birds have had a thoroughly horrible experience. I hope you never have to go through this again, but I'm sure you will be more than prepared if you do. I have added that link to the first aid kit to my favourites and will be stocking up very soon myself.

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