Duck foot infection (Bumble foot)

Q. Phone call regarding foot infection with pet duck.

A. When I spoke to you (Rebeca) on the phone, I suspected the cause was a condition called “bumble-foot” which is common in waterfowl but I wasn’t entirely sure at that moment. My own duck, Dawn has a mild condition of this (an abscess) but didn’t get badly infected as yours did. She got it from cutting her foot on a sharp piece of stone.

According to my research, you did well! Great job! So far, you were treating the problem correctly.

No matter how well we care for our birds, bumble-foot can happen. Ducks can suffer from abscesses on the footpads that resemble corns. The infection typically follows an injury to the footpad and there usually is no pus present. If there is pus, antibiotic treatment is required.

Possible Causes:
Duck’s feet are tender for walking on hard surfaces (concrete, packed dirt, gravel, wire floor cages) and may result in the toe pads being bruised. Sharp objects (rocks, thorns, slivers) may get embedded or cut into the foot.

Remove causes if possible to avoid future occurrence. Provide clean fresh
water for bathing to keep pads from drying, Feed greens high in vit A and
biotin (any dark green leafy lettuce, rabbit pellets, alfalfa).

Bumbles that are infected, lance with a razor and squeeze out pus (looks like cottage cheese and is sometimes yellow). Soak foot in warm solution of epsom salt/water as this helps clean and relieve soreness. Dress with triple antibiotic cream daily – often neosporin ointment. House her on soft bedding until healed. Bumbles that are not infected are hard like a corn we may get. No need to lance it however, rubbing a moisturizer on the foot may help them heal faster.

If wound fills with pus again, continue to squeeze and clean out.

Bumble foot is a staph infection so a key point to remember is that staph is transmissible to humans via a cut or abrasion on your skin so always wear gloves and wash your hands or surface area thoroughly with bleach to kill the staph bacteria.

Clean out the foot by opening the wound area and washing with peroxide or benadine solution until it doesn’t fizz when you pour it in. Pack the wound with the antibiotic cream (DO NOT LET HER PECK AT THE CREAM!!!). Apply a cotton ball over the ointment for cushion, cut strips or gauze and wrap – starting at the foot and coming in around the tones and up the shank. Tape up the shank so the duck cannot peck and remove the wrap. Repeat this every day until the bird begins to improve.

It will help if you keep bedding and the area where she walks as clean as possible. This cleaning procedure may have to be repeated once a day for approx 1 to 2 weeks depending on the condition.

She may also be running a low grade fever so keep her warm and hydrated.

Also, if she doesn’t improve look up an item called “Pen-G”. Check your feed stores, especially those that cater to large stock as they should have some. Cost is about $10. Ask the folks at the feed store how to use it but it usually runs about 1cc of “Pen-G” for the first 3 days and no more than five.

It is an intra-muscular injection into the front leg muscle and is done with the smallest gauge needle at an angle slightly introduced into the muscle as to not penetrate through. Rub the injection area to massage the penicillin into the muscle.

Penicillin can also make an animal thirsty so give electrolytes in water and encourage consumption.


  1. cheryl says:

    I cured “bumble feet” on a pet rat with calendula oil, soak a cotton ball once or twice a day and hold on the bump for 5-10 mins (or as long as he will let you) you will notice a difference in about a week. A holistic vet recommended it. His feet were in terrible shape and I noticed a difference quite quickly.

  2. kim says:

    Thank you. I have been looking for a way to help our duck buddy but information is so hard to find. Yogurt, our duck, was bitten and harrassed by another duck and then i noticed he was limping. the injury looks exactly like a corn on his foot. Thanks to you guys I know how to fix him right up, we were so worried we might have to put him down.

  3. Melissa says:

    I have the same issue with one of my ducks. How can I tell if more pus builds up?

  4. Melissa says:

    My duck has the same thing. How can I tell if pus returns after getting it out?

  5. Marianne says:

    I rescued a baby duckling from a freeway overpass after it collapsed from the temperatures mid-August. He is four years old now but continues to have an abscess on his foot that bleeds out about twice or three times a month. His feet turn in and he trips himself so he is not a candidate for release as cannot run from predators. I give him baths once a week and let him swim in the bathtub and it will bleed freely and then stop. There has not been any sign of pus. I cannot find a vet locally who deals with ducks. Is there anything I can do to make the foot actually heal or is it a lifelong condition. It does resemble a corn but keeps recurring.

  6. Stacey says:

    My poor duck has bumble foot as well. She is a feisty one to get a hold of. Does it hurt them when you’re doing all this to their foot?

  7. Karen says:

    I have a yr old pet muskovie duck that Im thinking got hit by a vehicle 3 days ago. At the time there was no indication of injury except that I could catch him.
    Today however one of his feet is swelled up bad and he wont put weight on it. I have no monies what do I do?
    I see no external injury

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