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How to Care for a Sick Duck

how to care for a sick duck

Ducks are wonderful backyard animals that can provide you with hours of enjoyment.

They are relatively easy to care for and don’t require a lot of space, making them a great option for even small yards.

There are several things you can do to keep your ducks healthy and help them recover if they do become ill.

While ducks are generally hardy creatures, they are susceptible to several diseases, including avian influenza, salmonella, and botulism.

In this blog post, we’ll review some tips for preventing these diseases and caring for your ducks if they do become sick.

How to Care for a Sick Duck infographics

How to Care for a Sick Duck: General Tips

Below, we’ll cover some basic duck care tips, including how to keep your duck’s environment clean and how to prevent common diseases.

Assess the Signs and Symptoms to Determine if Veterinary Care is Necessary

The first step in caring for a sick duck is to assess the signs and symptoms. Is your duck lethargic or not eating? Do they have diarrhea or vomiting?

Are their eyes swollen or runny? Answering these questions will help you determine whether or not your duck needs to see a vet.

What Are the Most Common Duck Diseases?

There are a number of diseases that ducks can contract, but some are more common than others. Two of the most common diseases are avian flu and bumblefoot.

Avian flu is a virus that affects the respiratory system, and it can be fatal in some cases. Bumblefoot is a bacterial infection that causes swelling and redness on the bottom of the foot.

Isolate the Duck

If you suspect that your duck has a disease, it’s important to isolate them from the rest of your flock.

This will help prevent the spread of disease. Place your duck in a clean, dry environment away from other birds.

Give Extra Water

Another important step in caring for a sick duck is to make sure they’re getting enough water. Ducks need water to stay hydrated, and it also helps flush toxins out of their system.

Give your duck fresh water daily, and consider adding electrolytes to their water if they’re showing signs of dehydration.

Administer Symptom-Specific Care or Head to the Vet’s

Finally, you’ll need to decide whether you’re going to administer symptom-specific care or take your duck to the vet.

If your duck has a mild case of avian flu, for example, you might be able to treat them at home with over-the-counter medication.

However, if they’re showing more severe symptoms, they’ll need to see a veterinarian who can prescribe antibiotics or other medication.

The same is true for bumblefoot. In mild cases, you might be able to soak their feet in an Epsom salt bath, but more severe cases will require professional treatment.

how to take care of a sick duck

What to Feed Ducks When They Are Sick?

There are a few things to consider when choosing what to feed your sick duck. First, you’ll want to consult with your vet to see if there are any specific dietary restrictions for your duck’s condition.

For example, some ducks may need to avoid high-fat foods if they are suffering from liver disease.

In general, though, you’ll want to choose a food that is easy to digest and rich in nutrients. This means avoiding things like processed grains or sugary fruits.

Instead, opt for whole grains like brown rice or oats, and leafy green vegetables like spinach or kale. You can also give your duck small amounts of lean protein, such as boiled chicken or fish.

It’s important to remember that sick ducks may not have a very good appetite, so don’t be discouraged if they don’t eat very much at first.

Just offer small portions of food several times a day, and eventually, they should start eating more as they begin to feel better.

If you have a sick duck, it’s important to consult with a vet and follow their recommendations for treatment. This may include medication and/or a special diet.

When choosing what to feed your duck, look for something that is easy to digest and rich in nutrients.

Avoid processed foods and sugary fruits, and opt for whole grains and leafy green vegetables instead. Small amounts of lean protein can also be given.

Remember that sick ducks may not have much of an appetite at first, but eventually, they will start eating more as they begin to feel better.

how to care for a sick duck feeding

How Do You Force Feed a Sick Duck?

One of the things you might have to do is force-feed a duck if it’s sick. While this may seem daunting, it’s actually not that difficult.

Never force-feed a duck unless you’ve been specifically instructed to do so by a veterinarian—it could be incredibly damaging to your duck’s health otherwise.

But if there’s a need for it, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to force-feed a duck.

Step One: Get the Supplies

The first thing you’ll need is a syringe (without the needle) and some sort of soft food like mashed-up peas or hard-boiled eggs.

You’ll also need gloves to keep the food from getting on your hands.

Step Two: Prep the Duck

Place the duck on its back and hold its head steady. If you’re right-handed, hold the duck’s head in your left hand and use your right hand to insert the syringe into the side of the duck’s mouth. If you’re left-handed, do the opposite.

Step Three: Insert the Food

Slowly squirt the food into the duck’s mouth, making sure not to put in too much at once. The duck will swallow automatically, so there’s no need to worry about that.

Just make sure not to push too hard or fast as you might accidentally choke the duck.

End with its head tilted down so any remaining food falls out of its mouth instead of going down its throat and causing issues.

how to care for a sick duck respiratory infection

What Can I Give My Duck for a Respiratory Infection?

A respiratory infection is a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection of the lungs or airways. Respiratory infections are common in ducks, especially during the winter months when they are more likely to be exposed to germs.

There are several different types of respiratory infections that ducks can get, and they can range from mild to severe.

Symptoms of a respiratory infection include sneezing, coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing, and fatigue.

If your duck is showing any of these symptoms, it is important to take them to a veterinarian as soon as possible so that it can be treated.

Types of Respiratory Infections

There are several different types of respiratory infections that ducks can get. The most common types are caused by bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

Bacterial respiratory infections are the most common type of respiratory infection in ducks. They are usually caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae or Haemophilus influenzae.

Viral respiratory infections are less common than bacterial respiratory infections, but they can still occur. The most common virus that causes a respiratory infection in ducks is influenza A virus.

Fungal respiratory infections are the least common type of respiratory infection in ducks. However, they can still occur if your duck inhales spores from the environment.

The most common type of fungal infection that affects ducks is Aspergillosis.

The symptoms of a respiratory infection depend on the type of infection and how severe it is. Mild respiratory infections may cause your duck to sneeze or cough occasionally.

More severe respiratory infections can cause your duck to have difficulty breathing, wheeze, or make raspy noises when they breathe.

In some cases, ducks with a respiratory infection may also stop eating and drinking and become lethargic or fatigued.

If you notice any of these symptoms in your duck, it is important to take them to a veterinarian as soon as possible so that they can be treated.

The treatment for a respiratory infection depends on the type of infection and how severe it is.

Mild bacterial and viral infections may only require antibiotics or antivirals for a short period of time. More severe bacterial and viral infections may require hospitalization and intensive care.

Treatment for fungal infections usually involves antifungal medication given over an extended period of time. In some cases, surgery may also be necessary to remove infected tissue from the lungs or airways.

how to care for a sick duck and ducklings

What Should I Have in My Duck First Aid Kit?

As a responsible duck owner, you should have a well-stocked first aid kit on hand in case your duck becomes injured or ill.

By being prepared, you can help your duck heal quickly and avoid complications. So, what should you have in your duck first aid kit?

Oyster Shell

Oyster shells are an excellent source of calcium for ducks. It can help ducks lay strong eggs and also aids in feather growth.

If your duck is injured or ill, an oyster shell can help them recover more quickly.

Vitamin B

Vitamin B is essential for ducks, as it helps them convert food into energy. It also aids in the production of red blood cells and helps ducks’ nervous systems function properly.

A lack of vitamin B can lead to poor growth, decreased appetite, and even paralysis. Therefore, it’s important to make sure your duck has enough vitamin B if they are sick or injured.


Probiotics are live bacteria that are good for ducks’ digestive systems. They help ducks absorb nutrients from their food and protect them from bad bacteria.

Probiotics can also help ducks recover more quickly from illness or injury by boosting their immune system. Therefore, it’s a good idea to include probiotics in your duck’s first aid kit.

Other Items

There are a few other items you may want to include in your duck first aid kit, too. These include things like:

  • Bandages
  • Activated charcoal
  • Milk thistle
  • Vetericyn
  • Antibiotics
  • Syringes
  • Tube feeding supplies

how to care for sick ducks

How to Prevent Duck Illnesses in the First Place

As a duck owner, you no doubt want your feathered friend to stay healthy and avoid getting sick.

Fortunately, there are some relatively simple measures you can take to help prevent your duck from getting sick in the first place.

Upgrade the Nutrition

A healthy diet is essential for keeping your ducks happy and healthy. Ducks need a diet that is high in protein and low in carbohydrates.

A good way to achieve this is by feeding them a ration of chopped vegetables along with high-quality duck feed.

You can also supplement their diet with insects, snails, earthworms, or other small prey items. It’s important not to overfeed your ducks, as this can lead to health problems such as obesity.

You will also need to provide your ducks with clean water at all times. It’s best to use filtered or distilled water, as tap water may contain harmful chemicals that can make your ducks sick.

Immunize Against Known Diseases

One of the best ways to prevent your duck from getting sick is to immunize it against known diseases.

Ducks are particularly susceptible to viruses like avian influenza and Newcastle disease, so it’s important to make sure your duck is vaccinated against these diseases.

Your veterinarian can help you determine which vaccinations are appropriate for your duck based on its age, health, and lifestyle.

Improve the Swimming Water

Another important way to prevent duck illnesses is to improve the quality of the swimming water. Ducks love to swim, but dirty water can harbor harmful bacteria that can make your duck sick.

To keep the swimming water clean, be sure to change it frequently and add a disinfectant like chlorine or bleach. You should also make sure the water does not contain any harmful chemicals or toxins.

Maintain Clean Living Conditions

Ducks need a clean, safe place to live. Their housing should be large enough for them to move around freely and exercise, but it doesn’t need to be fancy.

A simple shed or coop will do just fine, as long as it’s correctly ventilated and protected from the elements. The floor of the duck house should be covered with straw or another absorbent material to keep it clean and dry.

How to Care for a Sick Duck: Final Thoughts

Ducks are hardy creatures and can often fight off illness on their own, but there are some things you can do to help care for a sick duck.

By following the tips in this article, you can give your duck the best chance at recovering from whatever ails it.

Have you ever had to care for a sick duck? What methods worked best for you?

READ NEXT: Common Duck Diseases and How To Prevent Them

One thought on “How to Care for a Sick Duck

  1. What about returning a recovered duck back to the flock in winter? Our house is 70° outside is currently 50°. I have concerns that it’s too drastic a change. Also, the lows in the 30s.

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