4 Reasons Your Duck is Limping and What to Do About It


Have you noticed that your duck or duckling is waddling more than what you’d describe as normal? Does it actually look like it is limping, rather than its typical adorable waddle?

Like most animals, ducks too are susceptible to various injuries, infections, and maladies that leave them with a limp that needs to be analyzed and treated. What could be causing the limp? How do you go about treating the issue and caring for your duck?

What Could the Problem Be?

There are many reasons why your pet duck or duckling could be limping. It is important not to get alarmed by all the information you get off the internet.

When your duck is outside, roaming and playing, it is quite possible that it eats something that is not quite right or good for it. This could result in possible bacterial or fungal infections.

Bacteria called Staphylococcus can cause the underside of your duck’s feet to swell up with a condition commonly known as Bumblefoot, often seen in other birds as well.  In such cases, antibiotic injections and treatment are available, to reduce swelling and get your duck back on its feet.

Sometime, your duck could be infested by worms, lice, red mite, and other tiny insects that can hinder your duck’s capacity to move properly, or display other symptoms like diarrhea and a general feeling of being under the weather. There are ways to treat infected ducks and get rid of those pesky critters.

Another possible reason why your duck might be limping is an injury to its legs from cuts, bruises, or from a pulled muscle. Your duck’s feet are sensitive, so you should watch out for any signs of limping that could lame your duck.

A deficiency in the nutrients that it gets through food or an excessive intake of certain vitamins and supplements it gets can and will cause problems as well.  Age-related arthritis or inflammation of tendons is another common reason why your duck might be limping.

Let’s take a closer look at what could be the reason you pet is limping and how to go about giving it the care and treatment it needs.

4 Reasons Why Your Duck Could Be Limping

1. Bumblefoot

Bacteria named Staphylococcus are responsible for a condition called bumblefoot.

If your duck tends to roam around on hard and rough terrains, it is vulnerable to abscesses that form on the bottom of its foot pad. This abscess will then turn into hard calluses. These calluses will make it hard for your duck to waddle around, and the resulting limp will cause it pain and inconvenience.

How to Treat Bumblefoot on Ducks

Washing the callused foot, and subsequently cleaning it with prescription ointment or bactericide should help alleviate some of the symptoms. Antibiotics such as Amoxicillin, can be injected to relieve muscle pulls or aches.

Another way to remove the calluses would be to drain it of any pus by pressing the abscess. Take your duck to a vet to rule out other conditions such as botulism, poisoning, and pasteurella, all of which can cause leg problems with your duck’s legs. You can also cover the hard surfaces that your duck has access to with fresh litter.

2. Nutrition or Niacin Deficiency

Dietary deficiencies can cause your duck’s feet to tremble and give away when standing or walking.

When you give your duck feed that is meant for chicken, it causes a deficiency in a vitamin called niacin. Wild ducks get their niacin by eating insects, worms, or fish but pet ducks that don’t have the opportunity to forage for their own food, need to be given adequate supplements they need to avoid issues with limbs and muscle.

Ducks and ducklings also eat more than chickens and will possibly overdose on certain nutrients, if not monitored

How to Treat Nutrition or Niacin Deficiency in Ducks

If dietary and nutrient deficiencies persist, it can greatly harm your duck and cause it to limp even more.

Give it fresh and clean water, and ensure that you replace the water supply frequently to flush out toxins.

Vitamin supplements in the form of Livestock Grade Brewer’s Yeast, mixed with starter at the prescribed water to feed ration should provide the nutrients your duck or duckling needs.

3. Injury or Infection

Your duck or duckling probably loves to waddle around and swim. Their legs however are delicate and can easily be injured when they get in and out of water.

Lameness or limps in ducks can be a result of infections caused by splinters in their feet, cuts, and grazes or because of muscle injuries, sprains, pinched nerves, or dislocated hips.

How to Treat a Foot Injury

Your duck will prefer to sit in cool water as infected limbs will be swollen and hot to touch.

Monitor your ducks movements around your home and yard. Keep a sharp eye out for broken glass, wood splinters, sharp corners. Your duck might be of a mind to embrace its inner swan and take a swan dive off a steep step or into shallow water.

Any cuts or bruises should be treated with antibiotics, ointment, and regular cleaning with fresh water. If left untreated or not cared for effectively, swellings and bruises can mangle the joints and displace hocks, and your duck will not be able to recover from that.

Muscle pulls and sprains can be healed by gentle massaging as instructed by your vet, and good exercise. Do not confine your duck, or keep it from its mate, as lethargy or immobility will only slow down the healing process. Let your duck swim it off.

4. Age or Arthritis

Lameness and limping can be caused by arthritis. This is an affliction common to humans and animals, and your aging duck will not be spared.

It is common for older ducks to limp or move slower as time passes. Tendon inflammation, or tenosynovitis, is a common and often painful condition found in older birds that cause their limbs to ache or swell.

Kidney diseases, too, can cause lameness or loss of the legs because the nerve that goes to their legs passes through the kidneys. Mycoplasma synoviae or Marek’s disease is often seen in older ducks and can cause the hocks and joints to become infected and causes lameness.

How to treat it

You duck is now old, and all you can do is care for it, love it, and alleviate any pain. A vet can advise you on the best way to proceed and how to care for and treat older ducks.

In summary

To wrap things up, keeping your duck or duckling in a safe, danger-free zone in your house or backyard can go a long way to prevent any injuries, scrapes, and cuts. As a responsible pet owner of a cute and fuzzy duck, you need to keep its pen or play area clean. Replace its litter often, sweep away any dirt and keep the space bright and airy.

Make sure that the water bowl or trough is cleaned and the water in it is replaced with fresh and clear water frequently. Feed them well and make sure their diet gives them the vitamins and nutrients their body specifically need.

A well cared for and healthy duck is less likely to develop any illness or infections that can cause it to limp or go lame. While you can’t always prevent any unforeseen injuries like a fall, monitoring your ducks movements and activities can keep it safe and limp free.


Hi, My name is Rasmus. I am a hobby "polytarian" and a backyard farmer. Ever since I was a baby, I have been surrounded by poultry of all kinds. This blog is my way of sharing what I have learned from my bird-crazy family, books, and my personal experience.

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