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Degenerative Joint Disease


Degenerative joint disease (DJD) is a non-infectious, musculoskeletal condition associated with varying degrees of chronic lameness. It occurs commonly in older ducks, especially heavier breeds or overweight birds. It occurs when the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of the bones wears down.

Ducks with DJD usually have varying degrees of lameness and swelling of the associated joint. Affected birds often develop bumblefoot in at least one or both of their feet resulting from the irregular load bearing.

DJD is usually treated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory and analgesic (NSAID) drugs (meloxicam, carprofen, ketoprofen) 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 large enough pool for ducks to swim
  • Maintain proper body weight
  • Provide soft surface(s) for ducks to walk and rest



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