Our Privacy/Cookie Policy contains detailed information about the types of cookies & related technology on our site, and some ways to opt out. By using the site, you agree to the uses of cookies and other technology as outlined in our Policy, and to our Terms of Use.


What Are the Causes of a Duck Limp?

| Updated September 26, 2017

Ducks, like many other animals, can suffer from uncomfortable leg and feet problems. Pain, swelling and tenderness resulting from these problems can impede a duck's mobility and result in a limp. In response to leg and foot ailments, ducks might also limit their mobility, preferring to remain stationary so as to lessen the pain. This should not be confused with the normal duck behavior of raising one leg and sleeping while standing.

Leg Injuries

i Tom Brakefield/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Ducks can injure their legs when entering or exiting water. To facilitate easy access to water and limit the frequency of this type of injury, provide the duck with a ramp that has good traction or sturdy steps. Foot injuries that cause a limp can also occur when a duck gets its foot caught in or cut by a wire cage floor. Covering the exposed wire will make the flooring safer and more comfortable for the duck to stand on.


i Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images

Bumblefoot, a frequent cause of limping in ducks, is characterized by abscesses on the footpads that resemble corns. Usually the result of a footpad injury, bumblefoot symptoms include redness, swelling and possible infection, although pus is not usually present. Bumblefoot can be treated with antibiotics and foot wraps that are kept clean and dry. Consult a veterinarian when symptoms of bumblefoot first appear to determine the correct treatment and to rule out other conditions such as botulism, poisoning and pasteurella, which can all cause leg problems.

Bacterial Infections

Bacterial infections can cause a duck's ankle or hock to swell, resulting in an unnatural gait or limp. Antibiotic injections are the most effective treatment for this type of infection; injections should be administered in the breast muscle and not the leg where a tendon could be accidentally damaged. If left untreated, some swellings can distort the hock joint to the point where the tendon over the hock is displaced. Ducks with this type of leg problem are unlikely to recover.

Recovery From A Foot Or Leg Injury

i Tom Brakefield/Stockbyte/Getty Images

An infected leg joint often swells and is hot to the touch, which may account for why ducks seem to prefer sitting on cool water when they have this condition. Limping ducks should not be confined without their mate, as this may cause depression or lethargy that impacts their recovery. Because ducks eat better if they are out and about rather than confined, a limping duck should be left to roam freely provided that it's able to access its food easily.