My duck ate a 2ft plastic string!! ohh my gosh is he gonna die??(pics)

Discussion in 'Emergencies / Diseases / Injuries and Cures' started by jz, Jan 24, 2011.

  1. jz

    jz Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 1, 2010
    Hi everyone,

    Last night my dear duck McIntosh ate a ~2ft long piece of waxy, plastic string that is used for giftwrapping (see upper left corner of pic). We stretched and duct-taped it over one corner of his box, and used it to hang toys, broccoli, celery, etc (stupid stupid me). I know he ate it because it was getting old and weak, and it was broken off at each edge of the box, and there were little green flakes in his water dish. He ate the whole freaking thing!!


    He is a 7 week old Muscovy, and is the sweetest duck alive and we love him like crazy (see pic).


    He is kind of a big guy now (pics below taken this week), but still, the string was so long! We are so worried!


    So we are absolutely freaking out, reading horror stories of impacted crops.

    I gave him a few spoons of olive oil as soon as it happened. He has sand in his gizzard as grit, but now he is in a cardboard box with no grit. It is clear that he is passing food (moistened crumbles instead of his normal organic food that has shredded grains and stuff) and he is pooping as freely as ever, but I am anticipating a disastrous impacted something. I can't feel/see any difference in his crop, but would like to take action before it becomes a medical emergency. Should we do the following things?:

    1. Keep giving olive oil by mixing with food
    2. Massage his crop multiple times a day (though I'm not sure how hard I should be squeezing)
    3. Give apple cidar vinegar or red wine (by mouth? by syringe? mix with food?)
    4. Give him plain yogurt and skinless, seedless tomatoes
    5. Withhold treats - peas/dandelion greens
    5. Try to get it out of his crop somehow before it enters his gizzard/intestines/etc and causes more problems? Induce vomiting? Gosh I wish he would just vomit on his own.
    6. If worse comes to worst we will take him to a vet. It is definitely not within our budget but we can't risk losing this guy.

    Has anyone had an experience similar to this?

    Any advice would be very greatly appreciated.
    Thank you,
  2. ejctm

    ejctm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 25, 2009
    I might not be much help, but you could try holding him upside down with his beak facing the ground, and gently massage his crop to see if you can empty it. This will take two people. I suspect that it is too late for this as it may have passed through already. If you cannot feel it with your fingers pressing against the crop, then it may not be there unless it is really soft in texture.

    If it has passed into his digestive system then I think you have only 2 options. Either wait and see what happens - he may pass it out of the other end (perhaps with a little help). Or, get him to a vet for surgery. The vet may want to wait to see if it passes first anyway. The risk is that if it gets stuck or entwined inside then he may go downhill very quickly and there will be nothing you can do in time. It has to be your call.

    You say there were "bits" of the string scattered around. Is it very strong or quite breakable? If the latter, then that would indicate it was broken into pieces before being eaten which would be better than just one long length.

    If you asked me what I would do if it were my duck, then I would probably wait and see what happened and hope for the best. Emergency surgery on a duck is something no vet near me would even undertake, as they really only do cats, dogs and horses around here. Best of luck, and I hope it turns out OK for your little guy.
  3. Berritt

    Berritt Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 2, 2010
    I don't know, but I will be crossing my fingers. He is very cute.
  4. hollymh

    hollymh *A Scrambled Egg*

    Feb 8, 2009
    I have had ducks eat some of the stargest things and turn out fine. One time I had a duck take a bite of a plastic bread bag while I was feeding them and he was okay, with that said I hope your duck is ok too [​IMG]
    1 person likes this.
  5. toadbriar

    toadbriar Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 28, 2010
    central massacheezits
    if you see him begin to pass it, do not pull on it - just wait for it to pass through.
  6. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    One time, one of my chicks (about 6 weeks old) ate a really long string of blue tarp. I tried pulling gently on it and it wouldn't come out. So I cut it near the mouth. It must have passed through because the chick grew up fine.
  7. jz

    jz Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 1, 2010
    ejctm, we will try the method you suggested tomorrow if we cannot get in contact with any knowledgeable vets (I hope he won't hate me forever). It is hard to know where it is, because the string was soft. The bits were just tiny filaments, I'm pretty sure the string is intact unfortunately. I was thinking that if it were in bits then some of them would have come out in his poop (which I have been monitoring closely, gross right?), but it has been 24 hours and no sign of any green or pink.

    toadbriar, thanks for that advice, because I was definitely waiting for the tiniest bit to come out so I could tug-o-war it. Instead I will wait in case I see it.

    chickensaresweet/hollymh, I'm glad you shared that story, it makes us feel better and gives us hope.

    Thank you everyone for all your replies and well wishes!
  8. nettie

    nettie Enslaved by Indoor Ducks

    Nov 20, 2008
    Chicago, IL
    First of all, take a deep breath... It's going to be okay. My ducks have eaten the weirdest things and all turned out fine. When I had Victor, my runner, eat a long ribbon, part of it was still hooked on the comb of his bill. I was able to pull it out through his mouth. It sounds like your guy has already eaten it and it's past his mouth.

    I would add the grit, just to help crunch up the ribbon. If it has become weak enough for him to pull on it and eat it, it may be weak enough to get crumbled into pieces in his gut. If you saw some fragments, that probably means he was pulling and yanking on it (Playing with it) before he got a piece he could eat. This may be a good sign since he may have broken it up into smaller pieces before consuming them. Because it is not a normal food it could take longer to pass.

    I would keep vigil, over his poop and keep calling every vet you can explaining it is an emergency (that usually gets their attention) until you find once with some experience with large parrots or best, waterfowl. If you start to see bits of green in his poop, you'll know the ribbon has broken up. If you see an end sticking out, do not pull, If the end hanging out his behind gets long, you can cut it closer to his body so it doesn't trip him or get in the way. Be careful not to give him too much olive oil, as it is a fat and ducks shouldn't get too much fat. I'd also research the entire area where his brooder box is, and make sure that any of it didn't fall on the other side of the box or end up under neath blankets, or was dunked in his water. You may find larger pieces that he hid/flung thus making you feel better about how much he may have eaten.

    If you don't see anything over the next two days coming out the other end, call a vet. If you can't find a vet who will see him, find an emergency vet that sees birds (when you call the emergency places, you can just ask if they see birds) and just bring him in. Usually if someone is terrified holding their animal telling their story to the receptionist, especially in front of other patients, the likelihood they will just see him and do an xray is higher. Tell them to xray his belly and that they don't need to knock him out, but try to hold him still first. Sometimes they will let you aid in this. I've had many ducks get xrays and only once did one need to be knocked out (it was of her throat). If he's upset and wiggling too much, then he'll need to be put under, so it'll be good for you to calm him.

    This sounds like something that should crumble inside his gut and come out in smaller pieces. It also seems likely he shredded it into smaller pieces when he ate it.

    Make sure to give us updates!
  9. jz

    jz Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 1, 2010
    Thanks for your helpful reply. I should consider myself lucky to live in Gainesville as we have several avian vets who see ducks, unfortunately the problem is a financial one. If it comes down to it, I have no problem spending all my money on my lil guy, but I want to be smart about it- like if I pay for multiple office visits and many x-rays, and then I dont have enough to pay for a surgery (and then explain to my parents about what happened to my tuition money lol). I have been calling vets all day and they wont give me any advice unless I bring him in for an office visit. I understand it's a liability issue, but it is frustrating. They said the string would show up on an x-ray, and it would be great to know where it is and if it is bunched up or straightened out. I think your two day limit is a good estimate, and I will take him in after that.

    Because it is not a normal food it could take longer to pass.

    That is good to know, because that is my main hang-up - if his food is passing, why hasn't the string passed yet, ie is it stuck. I have been googling it and apparently this happens a lot in cats, and it seems to result in 70% the cat passing it no prob, or 30% dying horribly.

    We are keeping the remaining string fragment and soaking it in water/vinegar to see how dissoluble it is. The grit is a good idea, and we will grind our sample piece in our hand to see if it grinds up easily. Unfortunately we already searched everywhere and there are no lost string fragments.

    It is amazing how he can be so chipper and care-free, as I'm staring at him waiting for him to fall over dead.

    Thanks again,
  10. jz

    jz Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 1, 2010
    So I broke down and couldn't wait two more days and took him to a vet. I will write all what he told me for my records and in case anyone has a problem like this in the future.

    Either it is going to pass in the next three days, or he will digest it in the next week or so, or it will rupture his intestinal wall and he will go into shock, stop eating, and lay on his side and die within the hour. He took the string sample I had and wetted it, and then tried pulling it apart. It broke apart, but I had my doubts because I don't think a duck's digestive system uses a yanking apart motion, but rather grinding. He said that the string will probably break up inside him, because many more plastics are biodegradable these days. He looked at his poo under a microscope to look for tiny synthetic fibers as evidence of digestion, but found none. He said if it was going to cause a problem, it probably would have started by now. He said if it were bothering him, they have a way of sensing when something has been in the crop too long and will try to shake their heads, gag, or scratch excessively at their throat. If it were bothering his stomach, he would be "thumping" his leg against his stomach. Near his cloaca, he would be excessively preening his vent area. He said to watch him and his feces and make sure he didn't poop it out and eat it again, or if he has any new symptoms. He felt his crop and looked down his throat but said he couldn't see/feel anything, but I doubt you would be able to feel it because it is pretty soft (imagine a string made out of a thick plastic wal-mart bag material). He said it would be very difficult for the string to show up on a contrast x-ray or ultrasound.

    He said we shouldn't try to make him vomit because he doesn't think it is still in the crop. But last night I took my string sample that had been soaking in water/vinegar to simulate what its doing inside my duck, and put it in a plastic bag with sand. I massaged the bag, trying to do what a gizzard would do, and the string broke apart lengthwise, but not width-wise - unfortunately there were some knots in the string, giving it strength even if it were to be split lengthwise/frayed apart. Some tiny fibers did come off all of the way, which made me think if it had passed into his gizzard, we would be seeing some tiny fibers in his poop (which we are not). Therefore if I had to guess, I would think it is still in his crop.

    He seemed to be very knowledgeable, but I was a little worried when he told me that if I saw a piece of string coming out of his vent, to pull it out; but I don't think that is the right thing to do based on all of your guys's info and my google research. He also said that if he was completely digesting it, then there would be no fibers in the poop, but I thought it was impossible to completely digest something even if it were edible (otherwise duck poop wouldn't exist), especially something synthetic.

    Overall it was $45 for the office visit and $20 for the fecal exam - I felt that was very fair and reasonable. He could have easily taken me for a financial ride in terms of x-rays, ultrasounds, etc. I am much more at ease knowing that I have done all I can, and that I have a vet on standby now. If god forbid my duck did die in the next few days before I took him to a vet, I would have regretted it the rest of my life.

    I forgot to ask him if I should give him more olive oil. I think I will, just a little bit.

    Thanks for listening,
    1 person likes this.

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