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Arthritis is inflammation of the duck's joint or joints, resulting in pain and/or disability, joint swelling, and stiffness. It is a common, painful musculoskeletal condition in ducks. Arthritis can be caused by infection, trauma, degenerative changes or metabolic disorders. Although osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis in humans, birds are actually more prone to developing articular gout, another form of arthritis.

Ducks with arthritis usually have varying degrees of lameness and swelling of the associated joint. In one study, 50% of ducks with arthritis developed bumblefoot in at least one of their feet as a result.

Ducks with arthritis are most often treated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory and analgesic (NSAID) drugs (meloxicam, carprofen, ketoprofen, buprenorphine, and butoorphanol) to help with the pain, on an as-needed basis. Other therapies used include Adequan injections, acupuncture, and physical therapy sessions.


Falling over
Reduced activity level
Reluctance to walk or stand


  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Physical exam
  • Radiographs


MethodMethod Summary
Supportive careIsolate the bird from the flock and place in a safe, comfortable, warm location (your own duck "intensive care unit") with easy access to water and food. Limit stress. Call your veterinarian.
Adequan injections

Reported Cases

  • Case 1: Septic arthritis and Osteomyelitis in a Swan and Gull A 20-year-old female mute swan originally in a flock of free-living swans on a Long Island, New York, lake, was presented for facial swelling and decreased appetite. An adult male ring-billed gull was also presented to the same wildlife rescue center for bilateral lameness of 1-week duration. Once referred for veterinary evaluation and care, both species were diagnosed with septic arthritis and osteomyelitis caused by Chryseobacterium indologenes and treated with orbifloxacin until complete recovery. Chryseobacterium indologenes is infrequently diagnosed as an opportunistic pathogen in human medicine, and less so in veterinary medicine. In human patients, this bacterium is the cause of various infections, including meningitis, pneumonia, and implant failure. Ref


  • Provide a balanced diet
  • Allow frequent exercise



Age Range

This condition is most often seen in older, adult ducks.

Risk Factors

  • Heavier breeds
  • Overweight birds
  • Prior wound involving or adjacent to the joint