Sick, weak duck, what is wrong, what treatment?

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by Carol_af, Jan 25, 2011.

  1. Carol_af

    Carol_af Chirping

    My Campbell duck appears very sick. I've checked the emergencies and injuries posts, but need something more specific for ducks especially in first identifing the problem, so I can find the best treatment. Not sure what else I can do. No vets available to help. Your assistance will be greatly appreciated.

    I found her sitting quietly near the back door with the other ducks 2 days ago, but when she went to move she could not walk, only flutter her wings and pull herself along the ground. I thought she was lame, possibly from trampling by 2 overenthusiastic drakes. She had been fine, lively and running about with the flock in the morning. The only problem at this point in time (afternoon) was that she could not walk. She appeared bright and healthy in every other way.

    I penned her away from the rest of the flock to let her recover. Next morning she was showing no interest in food. I gave her plain yoghurt and honey in water to keep her hydrated and provide some energy. She dabbled a little in this. I moved a baby bath into the pen filled it with water and put some condies crystals (potassium permanganate) in the water and lifted her in to float. I thought this would disinfect any wound that I could not see. She seemed to enjoy this, but did not even want to flutter in the water as she would usually do. She kept dipping her head into the water and trying to reach the bottom with her bill, she also kept drinking the water. I bathed her all over as ants were beginning to find her and climb all over her. Throughout the day she seemed to move less and less. She did, however, manage to crawl her way up to the wire door to the pen, where she simply layed all day, being as close to her flock as she could get. The others come over and lay outside the door when they are not off foraging. I put a container of cool, clean water just in front of her so she can drink without needing to move more than her neck. Later in the day I put out wheat cereal biscuits mashed up in water for her but she did not even want to look at this. I do the same with food bowls - side by side in front of her - water, yoghurt and honey mixture, cereal.

    By late afternoon she was looking scruffy, feathers fluffed up, eyes half closed, she seems to tremble slightly at times, and there now seems to be no movement in her legs. She seems to be able to move her wings less, too, and is lop-sided when floating, lolling to the right. When placed in the baby bath she just sits and floats, the feet don't move at all, and she drinks, drinks and drinks. Her head lolls from time to time both in the water and out of it, she looks sleepy with eyes half- to fully closed when this happens. When I pick her up she now wimpers slightly as I place my hands under her. She does not like being moved, I think it hurts, and I suspect the pain may be initially in her crop. She wimpers if I gently touch it, and her tummy girgles, so it may have moved down, she may have a sore stomach as well. When given some shell grit she frantically grabbed a couple of mouthfulls, and washed it down with lots of water, but after that would not touch it.

    Possible causes: With the wet season the ducks dabble in the water everywhere, including near the reed bed of the septic system. We have flooding every wet season with the water table rising near to the surface, which also flushes the septic system reed bed to the surface. I thought she may have injested bacteria from this, although the wet season also brings moulds and mildew everywhere. The garden itself smells mouldy. We also have poisonous cane toads, and there is the possibility that she ate one. I've seen the ducks catch and eat little cane toads, and fully expected them to drop dead the next day but they have been fine. So I wondered if she caught a large one and got too much poison. I've also considered that she may have picked up and swallowed some foreign object, a piece of wire, a twist tie, something I've missed. With strong winds all sorts of things get blown into the garden. I pick up everything I see.

    I checked on her this morning. She is still alive, but weak, quiet, not moving, eyes half closed, she looks sleepy and drousy, feathers still fluffed and without lustre. She still wimpers. She is laying one egg a day. I plan to give her fresh water with epsom salts today. I'll also try feeding her some charcoal if she will take it. I will also examine her again incase I have missed finding a paralysis tick.

    I'll continue with treatments of:

    Fresh drinking water
    Water, honey and yoghurt for energy
    A float and bath to clean her and remove troublesome insects

    What else should I be doing?
    What suggestions do you have as to the problem?
    1 person likes this.
  2. Miss Lydia

    Miss Lydia Loving this country life

    How old is she? and do you think she could have some kind of nician diffenciency ? But sounds more like some kind of bacteria possibly from drinking the water from around your septic system, Did you do the epsom salts in her water? A flush is what she needs. what about the food you feed have you checked it to make sure it's not moldy?
    gilbert2 likes this.
  3. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners

    Jan 3, 2010
    Southern New England
    Keep doing what you can with water, I haven't had to use epsom salts but this may be the best thing.

    Try to get some charcoal in her - it absorbs toxins, as you know. Perhaps mix some up in water and give it to her with a dropper - I need a helper for this, someone to hold the duck while I open her bill and squeeze medicine down her throat.

    Keep her warm, let her see and hear her friends - I sometimes bring a buddy in who can lie right next to the sick duck.

    Do you have any antibiotics you can give her? Even apple cider vinegar in water?

    ETA: vitamins/electrolytes/probiotics

    you've been doing well to try the yogurt and honey, I think
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2011
  4. kswaterfowl

    kswaterfowl Songster

    Mar 11, 2009
    Greencastle, IN
    You may try crushing Brewer's yeast tablets up and mixing it with the feed. It is a source of Niacin. We had some Buff Orpington drakes that ended up lame and we treated them that way and they were back within a week or so. You have to give it to them several times, but it can't hurt to try. I buy Brewer's Yeast at CVS and our dog even takes them from time to time. [​IMG]
  5. duckyfromoz

    duckyfromoz Quackaholic

    Jan 11, 2010
    Vitamins may aid her recovery- if that is to happen- but it sounds to me like this is some toxic she has ingested causing her to be so unwell. If it was just niacin you would have noticed symptoms before she got so ill. And it would be likely others in the flock would also showed symptoms. For some reason everyone in America seems to mention Niacin any time a duck is doing poorly- but here in Australia- niacin deficiency is rarely heard of- must be that our feed is manufactured better!! Another question.. has she been laying still since so sick? It could be that she has an unpassed egg inside her that has caused an infection. Even if you could get her to a vet there is no guarantee they would know what was wrong with her anyway, there are so few avian experts anywhere in the country. She will need to eat something soon to start to regain some strength. You may need to have to tube feed her is she will not eat anything herself. I have never had to do this myself- but it is a two person job- and you need to make sure that the tube goes down the right way so the feed doesnt end up in the lungs- but I would highly recommend if it came to tube feeding you would need to seek some kind of professional help for at least the first feed. If there is a local wildlife carer- someone from WIRES even- they may be kind enough to help out. Were you anywhere near the areas flooded? I know here in Victoria the flood areas now have severe mosquito plagues - she may even have contracted some disease from mosquitoes.
  6. Carol_af

    Carol_af Chirping

    My little duck is doing better, moving her legs when placed in the baby bath and flapping her wings a little. She has also started eating again, only small quantities but that is a start. She is looking a little brighter, too, and her eyes are clearer, although one a little more "glazed" than the other - I don't know how else to describe it. I gently dabbed both eyes, and nostrils, with cotton balls soaked in water last night as I thought she will not be dipping and cleaning her head as much as she would normally do so. She will squwark and flap wings in protest when I go to pick her up, which I think is a good sign. Previously she would just hang in my hands, limp and uncaring about human touch. Her crop and tummy do not appear to be as tender anymore, and she is no loner wimpering or trembling. I felt for an unlaid egg yesterday, as she not lay yesterday but did the two previous days while she was ill and unmoving. I will check again, but I suspect she has finished laying for this batch as I usually find eggs towards the end of her laying cycle - she is very good at hiding them and we also have hungry snakes that steal them, which is why I leave the ducks to free range - they can run away rather than be locked in a coop with a hungry snake that would like some duck for dinner. The snakes even manage to get in our house at times.

    This little duck is about a year and a half old.

    I gave her a full day on water and epsom salts, and hand fed her very thin slices of fresh apple, of which she took a little. I put some charcoal through the blender and hand fed her as much of this as she would take. I wouldn't try tubing as I do not have the experience or expertise to do so and may injure or kill her by mistake. All my ducks are used to getting treats direct from my hand, so I only have to put food in the palm of my hand and they will try it, which is how I managed to feed her the charcoal. As she looked better and was moving more, though still unable to get up on her feet, I mixed up some very finely chopped onion and tomato in a little water and she took quite a bit of this as tomato is one of her favourites. I thought the onion might also help to flush any worms or bacteria she might have picked up from the septic.

    The ducks forage continually and have a balanced diet of fresh vegetables, especially carrot for its vitamin A content when they are very young, corn, oats, I grow buckwheat and millet for them, they graze on edible leafed taro, cassava, and lablab bean, and I treat them to "weet bix" for its vitamin B content- definitely no niacin deficiency.

    I gave her fresh water first thing this morning and a bowl of oats, of which she immediately ate some. I'll give her more fresh fruit and vegetables today, and continue with the yoghurt and honey. I have been disinfecting all bowls with a little condies crystals. I had previously used a household disinfected on their bowls, always being careful to thoroughly rinse them, but I thought I'd switch to condies crystals as this can be given to ducks in a very dilute form, so I thought if any residue remained after rinsing, it should not harm them. I'm just trying everything I can think of.

    Mosquitoes are a problem up here and nearly always in plague proportions. We are on the edge of the wet tropics in northern Queensland and we were flooded in over Christmas. We get at least one flood every wet season. Our mosquitoes carry Ross River Fever, Dengue Fever and Malaria. The main one that visits our garden is the Ross River Fever mosquito - we had it identified. Both my husband and I were very ill just after Christmas with absolute exhaustion, weakness, loss of appetite (sounds rather like the duck) - we put it down to a virus - either from the water or the mosquitoes. We often have a fever of some description and usually attribute this to the mosquitoes because it happens so often. I had thought of this regarding the duck, as I have seen mosquitoes biting her. If this is so, she will gradually recover in a week or so, and if she feels anything like we did, she would not be moving very much at all.

    Thanks for your help. I'll keep you informed of her progress.
    aflacmy3rdson likes this.
  7. Carol_af

    Carol_af Chirping

    My little Campbell duck has recovered and is toddling about on her little feet.

    Her appetite has returned and over the last few days she would get up and walk a few steps but chose to stay in the pen even though I left the door open for her. Today she ventured out of the pen of her own accord and returned to the flock.

    Tomorrow night, she and the rest of the flock are having a sleep over in the house - yes, in the people house - we have a huge cyclone descending upon us! I have a one man tent and child's play pen ready to set up in the laundry to contain them in some safety. Hubby and I will be sheltering in the bathroom.
    aflacmy3rdson and rescueacres like this.
  8. duckyfromoz

    duckyfromoz Quackaholic

    Jan 11, 2010
    Carol - Great news about ducky- Even if you dont know what the cause was- the TLC that was given has done what was needed, so a great outcome. Its good that you took action when you did before it was too late to save her.

    I was in the area in April 2006 and was shocked to see the devastation. Seeing things on TV just isnt the same as being there and seeing it for yourself.

    I was in Cairns just over two weeks ago- and so the lay of the land is still fresh in my mind -so much low land but the mountains as well. Flying over Victoria- I could see all the flood waters- but we were to far inland to see the impact of the floods around Brisbane. Todays there were fires here in Victoria and up north you have a cyclone heading straight for you.

    My Dads partner is still there in Cairns and I worry for her- and will also be thinking of you Carol, and hope you - your family and the ducks all stay safe.
  9. dumb_cluck

    dumb_cluck Songster

    Mar 26, 2010
    Upstate NY
    What was she eating before she got sick? I had a chicken (hen) get sick like that just recently.
    Turned out to be constipation.
    The warm water bath will be soothing and keeping her quiet and relaxed will help also. Keep an eye on the stool. If it's real watery, it is probably constipation.

    If it is, then review what you have been feeding.
  10. chimbica88

    chimbica88 Chirping

    Feb 17, 2011
    WOW! just what im looking for! My duck has beentge exact dame way for two weeks now, after countless doctor visits a specialists an luck! I starte the Epsom salt treatmen you put in the tub water too? She I taking 3 baths a day...I also starte giving her oyster shells cause I haven't gotten eggs..meaning she is lacking on the X-ray her egg laying bones(hind legs) were full of calcium...ready to lay..but isn't laying so she is stealing from her body...also the vet gave her a calcium shot...but she is eating and drinking , very happy, very pink, good leg movement, but can't walk or swim properly....any suggestions..,also where can I get brewers yeast? Did it workfor you?? THANKS IN ADVANCE!

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