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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Bird
Satisfied Customers: 30325
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience
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I have an adult Aylesbury drake that has developed a balance

Customer Question

I have an adult Aylesbury drake that has developed a balance problem also has discharge around one eye eating and drinking well just can't seem to move about well
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Bird
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I have brought him inside now in a box given seaweed tonic in water and added vit e to food gave him a warm bath in bathtub which he loved can't seem to preen his chest though without falling over.his eye itself is clear just around it that is stained yellowish this has got worse over last couple of days. Seems his normal greedy self and can't wait to get out to food in the morning. When this first started I really thought it was because he was so fat and that he had some arthritis that made walking about painful. Then he stopped going in the pond and again I thought it was because he was struggling to get out now the balance problem has got more marked as has the gunk around his eye.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 2 years ago.

Helen, I'm sorry that your question wasn't answered in a timely manner. These ducks present a diagnostic challenge because so many disorders look alike. His balance problem (ataxia/"drunken sailor") can represent infectious diseases such as Riemerella anatipestifer (also known as Pasteurella anatipestifer) or toxicity due to alfatoxins - molds that grow on cereal grains and oilseeds. In the acute form Rimerella can cause incoordination and eye discharge but we expect considerable worsening and high mortality with this infection. Birds are commonly found on their backs, paddling their legs.

We have to be pragmatic in these cases and treat presumptively. An avian-oriented vet would be ideal (please see here: but I understand that they're few and far between and those you might find might not treat waterfowl. Nevertheless, penicillin, enrofloxacin and sulfadimethoxine-ormetoprim (0.04-0.08% in feed) are effective in reducing mortality due to Riemerella infection...if, indeed, that's what we're dealing with. Such a vet can prescribe these antibiotics but if you have access to them please let me know and I'll provide you a dose for them for your drake.

Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 2 years ago.
I'm just following up on our conversation about Helen Gillman. How is everything going?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi sorry it's taken a while to get back to you. Drake is still with us, no worse in fact definitely brighter now standing up in his box and very interested in everything, so much so that I put him outside with the others on Saturday. Everybody very excited and girls doing lots of head bobbing he made straight for pond and had a really good wash and swim but still can't seem to walk well, best way to describe him is he sort of swims across the grass using his wings like stabilisers.
I had some left over amoxicillin which I started him on friday (125mg in 5ml) giving him 5ml per day as he is quite large. Also did some online research and wondered if this could be a niacin deficiency? Started him on 100mg per day (non flush kind) how long would you expect it to take if this is the problem? He does free range but I think he has become so fat that he hasn't been doing much foraging. He is always first to food bowl but have been feeding layers as also have chucks. I would value your opinion. The eye discharge is definitely not coming from his eye that is clear and bright both sides. No others affected and I have to admit he has been struggling to walk for last few weeks but had been putting it down to obesity and poss arthritis as he is about 4 yrs old. I know that's not too old, I previously had a muscovado duck that lived for 12 years. Am really not convinced it is something catching as all others absolutely fine.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 2 years ago.

What a good update! I agree with you. I believe intoxication is more likely than infection. Niacin is always mentioned when neurologic deficits are seen but with the advent of better waterfowl feeds and ready access to forage, such a deficiency isn't likely. Supplementing won't be harmful, however. I don't know the value of the amoxicillin at this point but it too isn't expected to be harmful. Please keep me posted. I can't set a follow-up in this venue and so would appreciate your returning to our conversation with an update - even after rating - at a time of your choosing.