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Preen Gland Infections

Blocked Oil Gland

Pleen gland infections occur when a duck's oil gland becomes blocked, resulting in the duck's inability to produce oil for preening.

Clinical Signs of Preen Gland Infection

Upon close inspection of the duck's preen gland, the gland and surrounding area will be enlarged and swollen. It will usually contain purulent or caseous material. Affected ducks will usually have poor plumage and will not be seen preening, a behavior which should normally occur multiple times daily. Ducks may also avoid accessing swimming areas.

Diagnosis of Preen Gland Infections

Preen gland infections are diagnosed based on clinical signs and history. Cultures of the preen gland fluid are useful for pinpointing the species of bacteria present. Candida species may also be present.

Treatment for Preen Gland Infections

Treatment is usually dependent on the results of the culture---whether to give antibiotics or antifungal therapy, depending on the organism responsible for the infection. Other therapies performed differ on the severity, and may include flushing the gland, infusing it with a proteolytic enzyme ointment, or in severe cases surgical removal of the gland may be needed to avoid eventual rupture and secondary septicemia.


Unthrifty appearance
Poor plumage appearance
Lack of preening


  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Physical exam
  • Laboratory tests


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.
Antifungal therapy
Flushing the gland
Infusion with a proteolytic enzyme ointment
Vitamin ALess than 20 KIU/kg administered IM once a week until resolved
Surgical removal in severe cases


  • Encourage increased time spent in swimming pool
  • Provide access to small pools for ducks to swim in.
  • Encourage preening activities



Risk Factors

  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Poor plumage
  • Non-preening ducks who do not molt regularly
  • Sedentary ducks with decreased swimming patterns
  • No swimming access