Attention! This is a potentially life-threatening condition for your bird and possibly your flock. Time is of the essence, contact your veterinarian immediately.Find me a Vet


It is a common misconception that ducks don't require protection from the cold. A duck's beak and feet are highly susceptible to frostbite---whether they are domestic or wild. Ducks living in cooler climates are more at risk of developing frostbite, however it can also occur in warmer regions if they are not provided with adequate shelter and supplemental heat. If ducks have been relocated from a warmer climate and are not yet acclimated, they too are at an increased risk of frostbite.

During early stages of frostbite, ducks' feet may feel cold to the touch and/or show mild redness. As the severity increases, as does the degree of inflammation (redness, swelling and pain), often spreading from the toes into the webs of feet. If left untreated, ducks may develop permanent damage, resulting in dry gangrene and sloughing of the tissues. Advanced stages of frostbite may present as shriveled, deteriorating feet with black tissue. At this stage, ducks often will have difficulty standing and walking, and their feet usually end up getting amputated.


Black areas
Shriveled appearance
Inability to stand or walk


  • History
  • Clinical signs
  • Physical exam


MethodMethod Summary
Provide warmthGradually provide warmth to the affected area of the duck. If feet are affected, put the duck's feet in a lukewarm shallow bowl of water and let them soak for 10 minutes.
What NOT to doDo not apply any direct heat (such as that produced by a heat lamp or hair dryer).
Do not rub or message affected areas.
Do not disturb blisters, if present
Supportive careOnce the affected skin is warmed up, place the duck in a quiet, comfortable recovery area that provides them with supplemental heat, possible fluid therapy, and treatment of secondary complications.
Do not place the duck back outside in the cold, as thawing and refreezing of skin tissue will cause more damage. Healing time will differ depending on the severity, but may take up to 6 weeks.
If advanced stagesThe foot may require amputation. However, there have been an increasing number of ducks that have had new, 3D printed feet made for them, which in many cases have been successful.




Risk Factors

  • Not providing ducks adequate shelter and protection from temperatures below freezing
  • Wind chill