Injured Indian Runner Duck


7 Years
Sep 24, 2013
Yesterday I went to change our 3 runner ducks water and noticed what appears to be puncture wounds on the back of one of their heads, a wound on each side. His head looked swollen (as you'd expect) and I tried to clean the wounds and examine them, but he seemed too freaked out to try and catch him. He's moving around with the rest of the flock, in and out of their "ponds", even attempted to mount the female just now, but definitely not being his normal, high strung, dominate self.

I'm not sure what to do. I've had them for about 4 months and they are about 5 months old now. They are "pets" but not super tame, they don't let you pick them up or eat of your hand. That being the case, it is making it hard for me to know if I should catch him and attempt to clean his wounds, which would be stressful for them even if he wasn't injured. I am trying to determine if he's wounded in such a way that he will not recover and if so if he needs to be put out of his misery. Or perhaps he's hurt but will recover on his own?

I'm really just not sure what to do. I care for the ducks and love them but the nearest vet is over an hour away and doesn't work with birds. If there is anything I can do to increase his likelihood of survival, without causing further damage , I'd definitely do it, but I am not sure what that'd be. I don't get the feeling that he needs to be put down today but I am uncertain what to look for.

I have not seen him eat from their feeder or forage like he usually does. He's drinking water, but not like usual either. Just tiny little drinks.

He has spent a large part of today standing with his head pressed against his chest as shown in the picture.

Any help or advice is greatly appreciated.
Hi, my guess is he is not feeling well. I think I would try to catch him and bring him in for a bath in warm ish Epsom Salts water... But don't let him drink it (bcz it's laxative). I think you'd want to check out the punctures. Get a pic if you can, that will help us advise you. I'd just flush the wounds as best as you can, try compress if you want to. Does he have any special treats? If so I might offer them now, after the bath.
Welcome to the Duck Forum, elizabeth21.

This could be a serious injury. Ducks can recover from them, and at the same time, they need help to do so.

If it were my duck,

I would set up a sick bay. A dog crate or similar container with clean bedding, clean water and a little food in a safe place. I would get him into it, with help if needed.

I would make sure the rest of the flock is safe, from whatever attacked him. It could have been a wild animal or domestic. Are there dogs or cats in the household? Do the ducks have a safe place especially at night? That is another priority.

As HollyDuckFarmer said, Epsom salt is a great help for cleaning. And it is a laxative. Since this is a head wound, I would irrigate it with mild saline solution three times a day at first.

Storey's Guide to Raising Ducks suggests clipping feathers away from a wound site. I don't know your hemisphere or climate, but if there are flies around, keep him away from them. They will lay their eggs in the wound. You can clean them out, but it is additional misery for you both.

After cleansing the wounds, I would then either spray them with Vetericyn spray or dab some antibiotic ointment without pain reliever around the wound. Take a look at

ducklover87 has helped her duck recover from a very serious injury.
Thank you for the response!
They have a safe place at night, but spend all day wandering around our 6' fenced yard between their various "ponds". This drake is kind of the troublemaker in the bunch. Once he and the others were full grown, he started chasing the dogs. Both dogs have been great with the ducks and we've spent a considerable amount of time working with the dogs to leave the ducks alone, and they do. This drake had been charging the dogs from behind whenever they moved with in 20' or so of him. He'd been getting more brave and the day before this happened I saw him actually grab a tuft of tail fur from our younger dog. The dog ran away with his tail between his legs. I think our older dog found himself in the same situation when he turned an nipped the duck. I know neither of the dogs attacked it nor do I think he intended to hurt it, rather just say, "back off". Unfortunately, the duck is hurt and I'm kicking myself for not having dealt with the dominance issue with the duck before this happened.

He seems to be eating more now and is stretching his neck, legs & wings out. I'll try and get some closer photos.

My husbands out of town and I am reluctant to try and catch him for fear of injuring him more. Whenever we've had to catch them this guy goes wild, the other two, not so much. He's the wild one, for sure. I think I'll have to grab a friend to help get him into a sick bay, and even then, I'm reluctant.

Thanks again! I very much appreciate it!

Does anyone have experience with a dog dominate duck? He never chases me, just the dogs and I have no idea how to handle that either.
Something that occurs to me is what I feel is a high risk of infection. I think I would get him on some oral antibiotics soon.

I am not a vet, so I cannot say what is the best, but some of the antibiotics people use include Duramycin, Tylan, and penicillin. Not all of them at once, but those are some that would be available for animals without a prescription.

Or you can just watch and wait, I realize that overmedicating with antibiotics is not a good idea. Hard to decide sometimes. Go with what you feel is right.

I would lean toward getting antibiotics, since it is a puncture wound.

And it's tough when our animals don't behave in their own best interests.

You may find this thread helpful
I think it really depends on the dog. Some (like mine) are perfectly fine-- but they've been trained that way, it took time. As far as the duck dominating the dog, ultimately the dog will always win. So with training, dogs might be alright, but for now, def separate. How is your duck today?

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