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Why is My Duck Coughing? (Answered)

by Alex Kountry
Updated on

It’s a really upsetting to see your duck coughing, but if you do, please don’t turn a deaf ear on this condition.

Sneezing, coughing, and ill-looking ducks are usually suffering from respiratory diseases that may prove lethal if stayed untreated for long.

As with us humans, coughing and sneezing means you’ve caught a cold or some respiratory infection is present.

However, it can be quite different with ducks.

When one of my Muscovy ducks started coughing I thought it’s some bird flu but the vet told me about this unknown, unexpected condition called Aspergillosis.

It was very confusing for me as could be for any duck parent as it is often mistaken for cold.

So, before you brush off the coughing sign as a mere cold, get expert advice along with some guidance through this article.  

Understanding the Problem of Coughing in Ducks

Why is My Duck Coughing
Photo by NEOSiAM 2020 on

It is downright upsetting when your waterfowl doesn’t seem his happy self.

Your expertness can regarding various medical conditions save a dying duck and vice versa.

This is why one should be informed and vigilant with duck health care.

To know why your duck is coughing, you need to examine the symptoms closely and rule out the various ailment options one by one.

Because you cannot afford to take your duck to a vet just because it is coughing. It can barely be an allergic reaction.

Why is my duck coughing?

It is probably because she ingested something that causes an involuntary coughing action, or it could be some lethal infection, on the other hand.

There could be multiple common diseases.

Let’s start with the most virulent medical condition.

1. Riemerella Anatipestifer infection.

This is also known as “RA infection”, “infectious serositis”, or “New Duck disease” and is highly contagious.

It affects all types of birds, including ducks.

Caused by a bacterium, the organism is either inhaled or enters through foot wounds.

Waterfowls are seen coughing, sneezing, and shivering if they are infected.

Some ducks suffer from respiratory issues when they have RA.

2. Aspergillosis.

Aspergillosis is critical because sometimes it is wrongly identified as a common cold.

If taken lightly, it can prove to be fatal.

You can distinguish Aspergillosis from the cold by examining closely.

It is a fungal infection caused by breathing mold from the surroundings.

Moldy seeds are the principal vector of this disease. If not treated timely, it can lead to severe condition of pneumonia.

3. Infectious Bronchitis

Similar symptoms of cough and sneeze are observed with an additional sign of snoring.

This one is a viral disease that can spread rapidly via air.

If you are wondering how often you should be feeding your ducks, then read this article here

How do I treat my coughing duck?

Unfortunately, only RA infection can be treated with the help of an antibiotic.

But, these have harmful side effects. Ducks have a feeble immune system and a large dose of antibiotics inside their body may lead to complications.

  • On the other hand, few antibacterial compounds like Sulfadimethoxine have been researched to give a positive response overall. It comes as a soluble powder, to be used only in an emergency. This antibacterial agent is effective against various infections found in ducks.
  • Pneumonia can easily be treated with Sulfadimethoxine without overdosing the water birds.
    One of its drawbacks is that it is still not viable against fungal and viral diseases.  

If you sense something wrong with your duck such as constant sneezing and coughing, and there isn’t an immediate diagnosis, this comes in handy.

Prevention is better than cure

  • Administering antibacterial and antibiotics in a feeble body of a duck is unsuitable. Moreover, such medication only cures the secondary infection but is unable to treat the main cause/disease.
  • Therefore, one must take proper steps in caring for ducks to avoid ducks falling sick.
    Firstly, to abstain from an RA infection, you need to keep the duck’s living space clean and sanitized. Use your sense of smell to know if the poultry house is moldy or musty as there’s a specific smell related to it. Moldy feed or bedding must be completely avoided.
  • Ammonia also causes sneezing, coughing, runny noses, and watery eyes. So even if you get a whiff of it from the poultry house, act accordingly and quickly. Ammonia tends to damage the lungs and eyes permanently. Continuous usage of citric acid and salt aids in fending off mold and ammonia production.
  • Secondly, to stop contagious infections from spreading out (especially RA infection, bronchitis, or even common cold), you must isolate the infected duck from others immediately. Give them a warm, dry, and semi-dark place to recover. Also, avian vaccinations are available for these contagious diseases which are the best prevention technique.

How do you treat respiratory infections in ducks?

Most of these respiratory infections are treated through antibiotics.

Take the duck to a vet for a thorough treatment.

They usually go for enrofloxacin or amoxicillin for five or seven days.

Anti-inflammatory shots are also given along with antibiotics.

Moreover, these infections also lead to nervous disruption which is sometimes irreversible.

Provide proper shelter, which is warm, completely dry, odorless. A peaceful house will surely encourage the duck to recuperate.

Appropriate medication and a good diet definitely help in healing.

How do I know if my duck is dying?

It is not easy to look at your sick duck that is dying.

There are tell-tale signs of it, such as:

  • limping
  • lethargy
  • ruffled feathers
  • shivering
  • nasal discharge
  • falling over of ducks
  • loss of appetite
  • zero activity
  • diarrhea (with sometimes bloodstains in it)
  • paralysis

Sometimes ducks tend to die suddenly, in a matter of ten minutes or even lesser time.

Trauma, stress, or loneliness is usually the reasons for sudden death.  


Ducks are amazing creatures.

They are more active than chickens and can lead a healthy life only if we make enough effort.

Treatment of such virulent diseases is costly and tiring, both for the pet and its parent.

But if we pay more attention to prevention techniques and maintain the duck’s health, it is very unlikely that ducks will die either all of a sudden or after suffering from health issues.

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About the author

Alex Kountry

Alex Kountry is the founder of HayFarmGuy and has been a backyard farmer for over 10 years. Since then he has decided to write helpful articles that will help you become a better backyard farmer and know what to do. He also loves to play tennis and read books


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