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How to Care for a Sick Pet Chicken or Duck

Do you feel something is wrong with your pet chicken or pet duck? Your gut feel tells you that your pet is sick. Since you consider your chicken or duck as a member of your family, it’s understandable that you’ll fear losing them. So, when your chicken or duck gets sick, it’s really bothersome on your part, like when other pet owners feel when they have a sick dog or cat. 

One common health problem that chickens and duck experience is bumblefoot in birds, which starts as a cut or scrape on a foot caused by bacteria. In this case, you’ll observe your pet limping or hopping. Also, you’ll notice swelling or inflammation in the affected leg area. 

Regardless of the reason, here are some ways to care for a sick chicken or duck:

1. Assess Signs and Symptoms 

Assessing your sick chicken or duck is crucial in diagnosing the root cause. Check if your pet is eating or not. If your chicken or duck won’t eat, it’s a telltale sign that something is wrong. 

Here are some other tips when assessing your pet chicken or duck: 

  • Inspect the eyes: Are they clear? Do you notice any discharge? Are they foamy or cloudy? 
  • Check the nose: Are the nostrils clear, runny, or clogged?
  • Assess mobility: Can your chicken or duck walk? Is your pet limping? Do you see any cuts, abrasions, or inflammation on the feet?
  • Assess the feathers: Are the feathers dirty and ragged? Do you notice any unusual feather loss?
  • Inspect the poop: Does it smell odd? Can you see any fresh or occult blood?

2. Isolate Your Pet Chicken Or Duck

duck wheelchair

After assessing any symptoms, isolation or quarantine is the next step in caring for a sick chicken or duck if you have two or more of them. Avoid taking any risk because you’re unsure yet of the cause of the illness. It can be contagious and spreads fast, like a viral disease, which can quickly infect others. 

Here are important things to keep in mind when you quarantine a sick chicken or duck:

  • Recommended distance: The isolation area should be at least 40 feet from the others to prevent airborne transmission. 
  • Quarantine duration: The isolation period should be four to six weeks to prevent the chicken or duck from spreading the disease. 
  • Separate feeding supplies: Separate the sick bird’s food and water supplies.

If you quarantine your chicken or duck, try creating a hospital bed for your pet. A cozy hospital bed, like a dog crate, provides your sick pet a quiet place and time to rest and recuperate. 

3. Catch Your Pet 

When the DIY or crate hospital bed is ready, you can place your sick pet inside the enclosure. When catching your pet chicken or duck, try to take it slowly and calmly because your pet may sense danger and run away very fast, making things more difficult for you.

Take a look at the following tips to catch your chicken or duck without causing fear: 

  • Funnel your pet into a small enclosure and then corner and grab your chicken or duck. 
  • Try to hold your chicken or duck to avoid struggling and injury. Never grab the feet because they have fragile legs.  
  • Use treats to bribe your pet. However, this may not work for all because sick chickens and ducks have a poor appetite and won’t likely eat.

4. Give Water

Dehydration is usually the cause of many illnesses. Your pet chicken or duck can suffer from dehydration especially with a scarce water source. So, make sure that your sick pet is properly hydrated. 

You can also add electrolytes to your pet’s water. This will help prevent dehydration and heat exhaustion. You can create homemade electrolytes, too. Add some apple cider vinegar to boost your pet’s immune system. Don’t worry as apple cider vinegar is safe for chickens and ducks.

5. Provide Aid Device or Equipment 

chicken wheelchair

With advanced technology, new devices and equipment are now available to help pets. Some examples are automatic feeders equipped with sensors and a wheelchair.

If your chicken or duck has difficulty moving or walking, you can now provide aid. For instance, mobility devices, such as a duck wheelchair, can help your pet move without assistance. 

A bird mobility cart helps chickens and ducks to stand when they are unable to fully support their weight normally. Duck and chicken wheelchairs can be used as temporary rehab tools to help birds maintain their balance, walk while supported, and stand up.


Caring for your sick pet chicken or duck takes a lot of patience and a keen eye. Make sure to assess your pet to determine its health condition. Isolate and keep your sick pet well hydrated. You can use devices that can help your pet, too. If you’re unsure what to do with your sick pet, seek the help of a veterinarian.

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