Ducklings Sneezing And Coughing? Here’s Why!

If you are a duck lover, the one fear that horrifies you the most is your duck or duckling falling ill.

Ducks, unlike other animals, do not exhibit any noticeable symptoms when they fall sick.

This aspect makes it difficult for the caretaker to perform an early diagnosis.

Ducklings coughing and sneezing

The ailment is usually treated with more intensive procedures at a later stage.

One underlying symptom of every sickness in ducks or ducklings is sneezing and coughing.

It, however, may not always be a cause for concern.

Possible Causes Of A Duckling Sneezing And Coughing

Sneezing might not always occur as an outcome of an underlying disease.

However, sneezing and coughing together should sound the alarm for getting your ducklings examined.

Several respiratory diseases could be the possible cause of this perturbation.

The possible causes are summarized below.


Your duckling might be sneezing or coughing to aspergillosis.

It is a fungal infection that is frequently misdiagnosed as the common cold.

It is typically a disease secondary to another infection.

The common symptoms include sneezing, coughing, lethargy, bobbing tail, loss of appetite, and isolation.

It is often caused by the fungus “Aspergillus fumigatus”.

It forms spores that settle on moldy grains and wood shavings. Moldy grains are a common vector of this disease.

The spores are lethal in small amounts.

If your duckling has been ailing for a long time, it probably has aspergillosis.

Once the spores invade a duckling’s respiratory system, they accumulate in the air sacs and form dense plaques that are hard to eradicate. Ducklings can fall fatally ill to this infection.

Likewise in adult ducks, the situation gets dire as well.

Usually, a veterinary doctor performs antifungal drug treatment on the ducklings, but it is an intense and lengthy procedure that takes up to six months.

You can therefore practice measures to ensure the safety of your ducklings.

Ducklings coughing and sneezing why

Maintaining a clean house and adequate ventilation keeps away Aspergillosis.

It would be best if you used avian-friendly fungicide spray to keep their living space clean.

Since Aspergillus spores grow in wet and humid conditions.

Therefore you should ensure that the avian living space is moderately warm and dry.

If it is necessary to keep the barn warm in winter, you should replace straw with wood shavings to prevent avian living space from getting too dusty or moist.

If severe infections affect a flock, it is advised to permanently separate the ducklings from humans to avoid spread.

Infectious Bronchitis

This disease is presented as sneezing, snoring, and coughing.

The symptoms later progress to secretions that leak out the nose or eyes and cessation of egg-laying.

The name itself suggests that this disease is highly infectious.

It is highly contagious, infecting flocks quickly because it spreads through the air, feed bags, dead birds, and rodents.

Since it’s highly contagious, you should isolate your infected ducklings to prevent the infection from spreading to the remaining flock.

Provide them with a warm and dry place to recover. 

It may help to treat any secondary bacterial infections by giving antibiotics for three to five days.

This viral disease has no specific treatment. However, a vaccine is also available for infectious bronchitis.


This is a common duck infection caused by E.coli bacteria which affects both ducklings and older ducks.

It often follows a primary infection such as infectious bronchitis.

It causes infections in a duck’s bloodstream, peritoneum, and yolk sac.

Common symptoms are coughing and sneezing, whereas other symptoms include retarded growth, loss of appetite, and swollen abdomen.

Numerous treatments are available for colibacillosis.

The treatment protocol varies depending on the degree and location of the infection.

You can control the infection by ensuring proper sanitation and the use of additives in duckling food.

Consulting a veterinary doctor regarding the disease is a must since it needs immediate action.

It spreads rapidly and inflicts immense damage.

Early detection is very important, so you can manage and treat the infected ducks with an antibiotic course.

Avian Cholera

This disease, also known as fowl cholera, is highly contagious and caused by harmful bacteria which is very fatal for duck health.

Majority of the ducklings who contract fowl cholera develop localized infections.

The infection if left unattended will lead to a duckling’s death.

Several symptoms exist for avian cholera. A common manifestation is a dejection.

Other common symptoms are persistent coughs and diarrhea.

Some ducklings may display ruffled feathers and decreased appetite.

In some cases, liquid discharge from the duckling’s eyes, mouth, or nose occurs.

Infection of the nasal passages is causing this discharge.

Joint inflammation is a common observation in infected ducks which can cause lameness.

It is very important for a veterinarian to handle avian cholera.

A thorough examination of the disease is necessary before any antibiotic prescription.

The class of antibiotics and dosage depends on the stage of infection.

This infection has a high chance of reoccurrence.

Therefore, you should take the necessary preventative measures.

You should maintain proper sanitation, and hygiene and administer a live oral vaccine at 6 weeks.

Make sure you implement effective measures for rodent control as well.

Blocked Nostrils

As mentioned earlier in the start, coughing and sneezing might not always be indicative of a lethal disease.

Some ducklings might be sneezing or coughing due to blocked nostrils only. This simple issue has a simple solution to it.

If your duckling has suspected blocked nostrils, place it in a tub of warm water or under a hot shower.

The steam will open the blocked airways.

If there is a lot of gunk blocking its nostrils, then use a Q tip soaked in warm water for intervention.

Let the duckling soak for some time before removing the gunk. This makes it easier to remove it.

If you try to remove the gunk when it’s still hard, you might damage the tissue and cause more harm.


If you want to identify a disease in your duckling flock, you will have to perform close observation while spending ample time with it.

By performing regular body examinations, you will learn to differentiate between a healthy and unhealthy duckling.

Nevertheless, you need to maintain a healthy and hygienic avian living space to keep away any germs (viruses, fungi, and bacteria) from infecting your flock.