Ducks can be feeble animals, and unfortunately, injuries can happen within the flock, by accident, or through intentional injury from a predator. Whether you’ve found a wild duck with a hurt leg or one of your own has a broken leg, we’ll share all you need to know about how to help a duck with a hurt leg.
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How to Help a Duck With a Hurt LegAn injury to a duck’s legs can be devastating because of how vital movement is to survival tasks like swimming, eating, and nesting. If you see your duck walking funny because of an injured leg, you need to act soon. They have a better chance of making a full recovery and having a longer, healthier life if you take action as soon as you see an issue.
Catch the BirdIf your flock is used to you touching them, you might be able to pick up a duck without any problems, but this isn’t always the case when a duck is hurt. Hurt animals tend to isolate themselves, so you might need a net or towel to catch it. Take your time and be as gentle as possible so as not to add to the suffering. Immediately after catching the duck, you should remove them from the net in a pet carrier or a large box. While waiting for the vet or while being transported, make sure the carrier has a thick towel for comfort, is secure, and is in a quiet place.
Inform the VetIf your duck is hurt, you should contact a veterinarian or avian carer immediately. For emergencies, head to the emergency vet and call ahead to describe the situation. For injuries that aren’t so serious, such as a bleeding wound, call your vet, explain the problem, and ask for advice. Your vet may recommend a series of medications or topical treatments, or simply antibiotic spray and gauze. Read More: How to Train Ducks to Free Range (and other fun tricks!)
Clean the PensParasites and illnesses acquired from nesting near or walking on fresh duck poop can make painful leg injuries even worse. Duck health can be improved by maintaining a clean environment for them. Ducks will never be the cleanest animals on the face of the planet, but doing your best to maintain a clean pen will go a long way in helping your duck heal.
Reduce Stress and StrainMake life easier for your injured duck by providing them with easy access to water and food, and consider placing them in a separate area where they won’t be around other birds or feel pressured to conform to the flock. One of the best treatments for an injury is rest. Read More: What Does it Mean When a Duck Shakes? Shivering could be a good sign or something wrong. Here’s what to look out for.
Remove the CulpritIf your duck was injured outside, remove what hurt your duck to prevent further injury. For example, ducks are often injured on barbed wires on the ground or other sharp objects.
AntibioticsIf your duck’s wound has become infected, it may need antibiotics as prescribed by your veterinarian. Antibiotics, can counteract inflammation and completely get rid of any infection. Here’s a great video showing how you can care for a duck with a hurt foot: Read More: How to Clip Duck Wings. If you haven’t already, you’ll need to clip your injured duck’s wings to prevent them from flying.
Reasons for Hurt Legs in DucksBefore everything else, keep in mind that not all wounds present themselves externally. You can tell if your duck has a cut or sores on its feet, but there may be other causes of its limp.
Cracked LegsYour duck’s webbing or legs may fracture if you don’t provide enough water for them during dry periods of the year. Be aware of whether or not your duck’s skin is becoming too dry. In the beginning, you may notice a few flaky or peeling areas of their skin. Major fissures may appear on the lower extremities, including the feet and legs.
MitesDucks are a prime host for the leg mites that burrow into the legs of the birds, feed, and multiply there. You may notice that your duck is constantly pecking at the spot that seems to be bothering it.
BumblefootDucks, like many other captive birds, are prone to this illness. Bumblefoot is an inflammatory disease that affects the feet of ducks, causing them to swell and become less nimble. If your duck has bumblefoot, it will result in a noticeable limp. This is usually the cause of an injury or infection that’s gotten bad enough to be Bumblefoot. Read More: Why is My Duck Losing its Feathers? Is it normal or a sign of something wrong? Learn more!
Foot InjuryFoot injuries are quite common with ducks as they spend their time walking on the ground and swimming in ponds. They are susceptible to breaking their legs, fracturing them, scraping, cutting, or getting their legs stuck. It’s especially common in murky water if they’re unable to see where they’re going.
InfectionsIt’s one thing if a duck hobbles around with a limp because it cut its foot on a rock and can’t fully straighten it out. On the other hand, if they cut their leg or foot and an infection develops, they may be forced to walk with a limp for several weeks or months. A severe infection even has the potential to be lethal. If you discover that your duck has a visible wound, you must keep a close eye on it. Be sure to take the duck to the vet as soon as possible and clean the injury to help prevent infections from developing in the wound. Read More: How to Keep a Duck Pond Clean Naturally. When it comes to keeping your ducks safe it’s essential to keep their areas clean as well, so make sure their pond or swimming area stays free of bacteria all year round.
Can Ducks Survive With a Broken Leg?By evaluating the wound’s location and severity, the vet can tell if it’s a major or minor break. Typically a broken leg on a duck will heal, but it’s important to encourage rest upon the duck as they usually will try to continually move. There are many things you can do to make your bird comfortable and safe despite the broken leg:
- Ensure the duck has easy access to food and water.
- Give it a secure place to stay where the weather and other ducks or birds won’t be an issue.
- Give the duck fresh bedding daily to prevent infection.
- Avoid stray string trash. Amputations have been reported as a result of contact with fishing lines, kite strings, etc.