When to euthanize duck suffering from recurring bumblefoot -worried about quality of life

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by duckiquackers, May 17, 2016.

  1. duckiquackers

    duckiquackers New Egg

    Apr 17, 2015
    My one year old welsh harlequin hen developed a case of bumble foot almost 2 months ago. At first, we just did a very conservative treatment – we isolated her for 4 days on clean bedding, cleaned her foot daily with iodine, and bandaged it every day with neomycin cream. After 4 days, she seemed to be improving a bit so we put her back with her flock. Our ducks are not tame so being separated from her group was very stressful for her. We had to balance the need to treat her foot with her immediate quality of life and the stress caused by isolation and daily bandaging.

    Unfortunately after about a week she started to go downhill again. Her limp worsened and it got to the point where I noticed she was resorting to standing only on her good foot. This past weekend, we isolated her again and this time we went all in. We excised the black scab on the bumble, removed the yellow infected core, attempted to squeeze out the pus, rebandaged her foot, and started her on a 4 day round of penicillin injections. Today is day 4, her last day of antibiotics, and 4 days since the foot surgery. I went out to do her last injection this morning and found her once again just standing on only the healthy foot.

    The only slight improvement in the foot is that the new scab is mostly yellow and not completely black, and that her infected leg is not as hot as it was 4 days ago. However the leg is still warm to the touch, much warmer than her cool healthy leg. This tells me that even with the penicillin, the infection is still raging in there. I am so disheartened, I was really hoping the penicillin would help us kick this thing.

    I feel like my only options left are to attempt yet another surgery and penicillin round (subjecting her to more pain, stress, and isolation) or to throw in the towel and humanely euthanize her before the infection slowly kills her. Our vet will put her down for us, so the death will be as painless as possible. I am hesitant to take her to a vet for professional treatment, as I am sure of the diagnosis and know all they will do is re-attempt what we have already tried (foot surgery, more antibiotics, more isolation). And if I am being completely honest, I really don’t feel like paying $250 to essentially torture my duck all over again when there is no guarantee of success.

    I am torn – my duck is still eating, drinking, and laying despite the stress. But she is in pain (as evidenced by her desire to not put pressure on her foot whenever possible), and her leg is clearly infected. When she is with her flock she socializes, but can barely keep up when they run around and the male has been harassing her more since she isn’t as swift as the other girls. I don’t want to keep subjecting her to repeated treatments that hurt and stress her out, and I don’t want to watch her slowly die a painful death while losing her position in the flock and being harassed by an aggressive drake. But I also don’t want to give up on her too early either.

    I have never had to make this decision before. Seems like no matter what I do, I'll feel guilty. What would you do?
  2. The Pinto Pony

    The Pinto Pony Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 6, 2014
    I would get her euthanized, if you don't want the vet to try to help and you tried to help her and it hasn't worked. Then it's probably best to let her go. At least you tried :(. Or you can have your vet just look at her and see what they say [​IMG].
  3. duckiquackers

    duckiquackers New Egg

    Apr 17, 2015
    Thanks! We are going to bring her to the vet in the next couple of days. They are going to evaluate her and how she has responded to her treatments. If needed, they'll put her down there.
  4. Kroelies

    Kroelies Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 21, 2015
    Last edited: May 17, 2016
  5. Amiga

    Amiga Overrun with Runners

    Jan 3, 2010
    Southern New England
    If she is eating, drinking, and laying, I don't think she's ready to give up. In other words, I really would not consider euthanasia at this point.

    Bumblefoot can take weeks to really get rid of in many cases.

    I think I'd switch out the antibiotic, go with duramycin or baytril (since the vet is getting involved).

    Perhaps you can get her some Rimadyl, too, for pain and inflammation.

    Sometimes there is an object still imbedded in the foot - getting that out makes the difference.

    Our vet was able to extract the teeniest sliver from Romy's foot, once. Astounding.

    There is the nonsurgical method of dealing with bumbles that involves a good soak, followed by just a few drops of clear - clear - clear, not brown - iodine on the center of the bumble. Wait several days, then soak again - there should be a scab, and when it's gently pulled off (if it won't let go with gentle pressure, stop, reapply clear iodine, try again in a few days), it pulls yuck with it.

    Sometimes this needs to be done a couple of times.
  6. duckiquackers

    duckiquackers New Egg

    Apr 17, 2015
    Update for anyone interested:

    We went to the vet on Saturday and she thought the duck might have one more chance. So far the treatment has been showing some promise, and now I am hopeful she may recover if we keep up with it for a few more days.

    The vet felt her foot, but instead of doing surgery on the underside of the foot where the scab was, she opted to open the abscess at the top of the foot where it was bulging. She did this after lancing it with a needle and seeing the white pus. Using a razor, she opened it until it bled freely, and then irrigated it well with a prescription antiseptic. Finally she used tweezers to pull out some thick pus.

    We were instructed to irrigate the wound 2x a day (morning and evening) with the antiseptic and then pack the abscess with a prescription antibiotic ointment. We are using a curved syringe to irrigate it well. Then we use the pointed tip of the ointment tube and insert it into the wound to fill it with the medicine. Afterwards, we use bleach to clean/wipe off the syringe and ointment tube so it is clean for the next use.

    The duck's foot is still warm, although it appears to be getting less warm over time, and she isn't limping as terribly when walking. She is however still trying to keep weight off the foot when just standing around. We still have 2 more days of treatment to go, so I'm hoping we continue to see improvement.

    Thinking back, it was smart of the vet to open the wound at the top of the foot instead of the underside - it keeps the wound cleaner and is much easier to care for. I feel like this treatment was a good middle ground - it is pretty aggressive in that we have to irrigate/pack the wound twice a day, but she doesn't have to be isolated and can still hangout with her flock. If it doesn't work, at least we know we really tried everything we could without completely torturing her.
    Last edited: May 23, 2016
    1 person likes this.
  7. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

    Apr 17, 2015
    Long Beach, WA
    Well, now you know, when dealing with bumblefoot, you must get every last bit of infection out. And you now know how to get all of the infection out, and how to care for the wound while healing.
    To help prevent injuries to the feet, check the area the ducks frequent for potential hazards. I am constantly finding old fishing lures and shards of glass in and around my chicken run that have been buried for years, unearthed by chickens scratching.
  8. duckiquackers

    duckiquackers New Egg

    Apr 17, 2015
    Sad, final update:

    After showing some initial improvement after her 3rd round of treatment, our duck started to deteriorate again a couple of days ago. Her limp started to worsen, and the abscess had refilled with pus. We made the tough decision to put her down today rather than subject her to a 4th intervention, given that the treatments were painful and very stressful for her. Sigh. I feel pretty crummy even though I know there really wasn't much else to do for her.

    Has anyone successfully treated an aggressive case of duck bumblefoot to the point where the bird healed completely, or do most cases just recur until the bird is incapacitated? I feel like we tried everything (isolation, bandages and daily cleaning, penicillin injections, surgery, irrigation, ointment packing) but maybe it was too far gone?
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2016
  9. frenchbet

    frenchbet Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 3, 2015
    I am so sorry for your loss. I know it's hard. It sounds like you went above and beyond treating her and doing everything you could to help her. I have never dealt with bumblefoot, but have read a lot about it just in these forums and it seems to be very challenging in some cases. I think for some cases it's just too severe for them to recover esp. If it is no longer localized and becomes systemic. You did a great job trying and were kind enough to make the decision to let her go....never an easy choice to make regardless of what kind of animal/bird. Hopefully as you heal from this loss you'll think more of the good times when she was healthy rather than of the time when she was ill. Hold those good memories close. She was lucky to have a kind and caring owner, just as you were lucky to have had her.

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