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Why Do Ducks Pant? (The Two Most Common Reasons)

Why Do Ducks Pant? (The Two Most Common Reasons)

The purpose of this blog is to share general information and is written to the author's best knowledge. It is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. For health concerns, please seek proper veterinary care.

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New to poultry care? Fussing over every little thing your farm pets are doing?

Your constant worrying is valid, especially when it comes to your ducks. These delicate and beautiful creatures require close care and attention. Not only that, but also an adequate environment that meets their needs.

The good side to pet care, fortunately, is that your pets always use nonverbal communication to let you know there’s a problem. For ducks, that’s usually panting like dogs to get your attention. So, why do ducks pant?

Why Is My Duck Panting?

When your duck’s breathing starts to sound abnormal, they’re most likely sending you a warning signal that something needs to be changed or done.

Thankfully, the reasons why your duck is panting are few. Let’s go through them in detail, while also telling you how to fix each problem.

1 – A Hot Environment

When a duck pants loudly, you’d want to double-check their home’s temperature. A heated environment adds stress on a duck’s respiratory system, causing their breathing to be heavier.

What you need to know about these delicate creatures is that they’re not like other cool-blooded mammals. Their bodies are already warm enough because of their thick feathers. That’s why high heat or humidity levels trigger their stress mechanisms, making them breathe harder.

Their layer of feathers isn’t the only thing keeping them warm. They also lack sweat glands that help regulate the body’s temperature when too hot. This is how ducks maintain and trap their inner body heat.

All this is the reason why your duck has to start panting in the first place. How else can it regulate its temperature without the risk of death?

What Can You Do?

Thankfully, the heat stress in your duck’s body can be easily cured by keeping in mind the following:

  • On hot and sunny days, keep your ducks in the shade
  • Regularly provide your ducks with pools of cold and fresh water so they can keep cool while they play
  • Change the pool water once a day at least. If the weather warms up the water by mid-day, add some ice cubes or frozen peas to prolong the water’s coolness
  • Note that ducks enjoy temperatures of 45℉ and less. Fun fact: ducks also do fine in temperatures below 20℉, unlike other Anatidae species
  • You’ll need to increase your duck’s water intake since high temperatures affect their thirst. It also makes them significantly lose weight.
  • You can hose down your ducks with cool water, or even install an automatic sprinkler system. That’ll help them get random cold showers throughout the day to cool their bodies down.

2 – A Respiratory Disease

Your duck’s pants can also be an early warning sign that their delicate lungs are coming down with something. But what might cause this?

Common Causes

Here are the 4 main reasons behind a duck’s respiratory disease:

  • A diet that’s low on vitamin A. Strictly seeds-only diets don’t weaken a duck’s lungs but they don’t make them any stronger either. Consider adding fresh fruits and veggies to their meals.
  • An invasion by infectious microorganisms, such as parasites and bacteria that target the duck’s lungs.
  • High levels of humidity stress out a duck’s respiratory system.
  • A low immunity. The reason for this is often natural, although sometimes it can be caused by a nutritionless diet.

Other rare causes include a lung tumor, less common viruses, or exposure to environmental toxins.

Types of Respiratory Diseases in Ducks

That being said, respiratory diseases in ducks come in two forms:

1 – A Lung Infection

Besides the duck’s panting, other symptoms of an acute infected lung may include:

  • Mucous discharge
  • Decreased appetite
  • Pumping the tail in an up and down motion
  • Lethargy

What Can You Do?

Regardless of the infection’s cause, consult a vet first. Until then, here’s what you can do to help not make it worse:

  • Bathe your ducks regularly with clean water and mild soap. Make sure their environment is also bacteria-free. Often poor sanitation also leads to infections.
  • Check that their drinking water hasn’t become stagnant. Stagnant water collects parasites and bacterias fast, and this contamination can harm your ducks.
  • Avoid leaving sick ducks out in cold or rainy weather. This will only weaken their lungs further.

2 – Aspergillosis

Aspergillosis is a common respiratory disease among bird species. It’s caused by the fungi, aspergillus. Thankfully, it’s not contagious.


Symptoms for aspergillosis are the same as any respiratory infection. But, other symptoms may also include:

  • Increased thirst
  • Drowsiness
  • Eye swelling

Even if the symptoms are more or less the same, the treatment for aspergillosis differs. That’s why a vet is sure to prescribe the best medication for your duck.

How to Treat Aspergillosis in Ducks

Sadly, aspergillosis is a fatal disease and not much can be done about it. The vet normally prescribes antibiotics that might help, but they don’t always do.

Not all is lost however, there are preventative measures you can take to avoid another infection from happening. This will also decrease the recovery period of the infected duck.

Here are these measures:

  • Regularly clean out and disinfect water and food containers to kill out common bacterias.
  • Replace these containers with new ones frequently. This way you can avoid more fungi from piling up and infecting other ducks.
  • Avoid feeding your ducks, whether infected or not, dusty food. Also, steer clear of old food as mold may have infested it already.
  • Frequently clean their homes and replace their beddings. This keeps any bacteria or fungi from accumulating.

These preventative measures won’t only protect your flock but also you. Aspergillus can also infect and weaken human lungs. Remember then to sanitize your tools and clothes after a day out with your ducks.

How to Examine Your Duck’s Health

With everything we said, it’s important you also know that regular checkups with your vet or at home, will do wonders for your duck’s health.

Benefits of Regular Health Examinations

The silver line to examining your duck includes:

  • Early prevention of diseases
  • Constant handling of your ducks makes them feel calmer if or when they get sick

Tips on How to Conduct a Health Exam for Your Duck

Here’s what to remember when examining your duck:

  • Build a relationship of trust with your ducks first. You can do so by familiarizing yourself with their environment.
  • Take note of each duck’s individualistic behavioral patterns. This way, you can easily notice if something is off.
  • Conduct routine check-ups every six to eight weeks. During these exams, thoughtfully observe your duck’s breathing, feeding, and breeding patterns.

Common Duck Behaviors When Sick

Here are other common signs that your duck is feeling under the weather:

  • Socializing less by avoiding other ducks and you
  • Not wanting to play and sitting around more often
  • Limping, having an odd posture, or dropping their wings when standing
  • Being pecked on by their friends
  • Plucking their feathers

Final Thoughts

There are two answers to the question: why do ducks pant?

The first one is that it’s a result of a too hot environment. The second reason is a respiratory infection or disease. Both causes can be handled with the correct procedures and preventative measures.

In addition, you should routinely examine your ducks and take care of their homes. This way, you can guarantee fewer diseases spreading around.

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