Treating a broken “toe nail”

Q. I’m writing with a poultry health question. One of my ducks seems to have broken a nail (talon?) today. She’s hobbling around a bit, which is how I first noticed the problem. It doesn’t seem to hurt her too much – when I tried poking the spot, she didn’t get too upset. There is white nail exposed, but I don’t see any blood on it. Is there anything I should do to help it heal or to prevent infection? Or will it probably just pass just like when a human breaks a nail?

Thanks for any advice you can give.

Peace,
Kaitlin

A. Your poor little baby … I’m sure it was painful when she broke it but ducks don’t have many nerves in their feet or legs. They don’t feel pain that easily down there – hence the reason my ducks can swim in freezing water or walk over the craziest things and keep on going. It drives me nuts but it doesn’t seem to harm them a bit.

As you well know, keeping any kind of bandage clean and dry on a duck is near impossible; and keeping a bandage on a duck for any period of time is completely impossible.

The whole problem will probably pass just fine without you doing a thing about it I’m sure.

But just to insure no infection sets in, I would suggest making sure there is no skin or something hanging off the break – not sure how to explain it but sometimes there may be a flap of skin or nail and just go ahead and snip that off to make sure it’s a clean area and no dirt can get caught under a fold of skin. Then clean it with alcohol and apply Neosporin. You can monitor it in the days ahead and reapply Neosporin or alcohol if you think it’s getting too dirty.

Like I said, even without intervention, it’ll be okay but precautions are always good.

Good luck to you and your duckie!

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