Have Reptile Care Questions? Ask a Reptile Vet for Answers ASAP
I am so sorry Saguaro is having problems. I am not a Vet, but have worked with bearded Dragons for over 25 years.
First let me get a State to locate a Reptile Vet for you.
When you have her in the soak, does she use her legs to paddle?
Is she eating for you? What type of diet is she on? Prey/Veggies?
Did the Vet do a Fecal sample? If so did he send it out or do it in house?
What type of medication is he recommeding?
I am in New Mexico. I have been in contact with a herp vet's office in Corrales (60 miles from me), but the vet wasn't in yesterday (his day off). I have also made contact with a vet through the NM Herp. Society, but he has not returned my phone calls yet.
When soaking, no she doesn't use her legs to paddle (she never has)
She eats crickets very enthusiastically. The only way I can get her to eat her veggies (dandelion greens, collards, kale, yellow squash, bell pepper, etc.) is by making a "moving salad" with super worms...I have not gotten the worms yet this week.
No fecal sample. There was a stool in her enclosure a few days back before I knew there was a problem, she has not yet pooped.
She has been prescribed Calcium Glubionate Syrup (taken for 2 days now) and this evening, was prescribed Baytril (liquid antibiotic).
A new behavior she has begun exhibiting: gaping (holding her mouth open) and there's a tiny bit of shedded skin under her lower lip just today.
The medications prescribed are spot on for an infection that is gram Negative and The calcium Glubionate, is used for MBD. The husbandry is excellent, especially using an MVB bulb. Although they do need to be changed once a year because just like the Florescent tubes they do loose potency.
What concerns me is that this has come on so rapidly, it sound more like an infection in the spinal cord or some pressure on the spinal cord whether it is from inflammation from an injury, a tumor on one of the organs, a blockage putting pressure on the spinal cord area. To see if it may be a blockage and if we can get it to pass please try a little baby food prunes as a food. You can feed any way you can get her to eat it. Once she has them place her in a warm soak and make it deep enough where she can touch with her feet, but you can try and get her to paddle or swim. The exercising of the legs even if you move them is important to help keep the muscles from loosing mass and atrophying. While in the soak, please gently massage the abdomen from snout to vent. This should promote a good stool.
The gaping may be the temps in the enclosure or it may be from the antibiotic. Some animals are sensitive to medications and can have some reactions.
I would have her re examined by a reptile specialist. I am going to give you a link to Herp Vets in NM: http://www.arav.org/find-a-vet/#NewMexico or
I think further testing is needed. I would not feed any more high chitin foods like Super Worms which are also high in fat content. I suggest for prey Dubia roaches, silk worms, or phoenix worms. As far as getting the veggies down you can use a fruit baby food like a salad dressing which works well. Even the crickets are high in chitin. over a year old I go to an 80% Veggie diet and 20% live prey.
A Fecal sample should be done before treating for parasites, since the medications can kill off gut flora and be dehydrating. Please let me know if you have further questions. My goal is to give you 100% Excellent service. Joan
Thanks for the feedback. Yes, my greatest concern was how sudden it was. I will try and get baby prunes for her tonight and do the warm soak with massage. We did it a bit ago (but without prunes).
Yes, my thought was also to try and get a stool sample to a vet to test for parasites.
She has not yet started the antibiotic, so the gaping can't be due to that...
The MVB lamp is only about 5-6 months old.
Not sure where I can find a supply of Dubia roaches, silk worms or phoenix worms...the regular pet stores don't stock those...may have to go to Albuquerque for those or the Internet I guess.
I can try the baby food on her greens, but she just shows no interest in anything that does not move and the worms were the only thing I could get to get the green to move...hopefully I can get those that you referred to soon!
My guess was that there is something blocking her kidneys...tumor or something or something like that pressing on a nerve...
I'm hoping to be able to get to the vet in Corrales tomorrow (they're on the same list that you and I both found online).
Have you ever had experience with a Bearded dragon (or other lizard) that has had symptoms like Saguaro before?
I will give you a link for the feeders I mentioned: http://www.westcoastroaches.com/ Too much prey protein can be had on the kidneys, so getting her to eat the salad would be our best shot. As far as the salad. Put it in one hour after lights on. do not feed prey until a couple of hours before lights out and we can see if she will start responding. You can add cactus fruit and cactus pads which also may entice her to eat.
I have dealt with paralysis many times. It is usually MBD, pressure on the spinal cord from an intestinal blockage, an injury, or tumor pressing on the spine. The easiest to deal with is the MBD and blockage.
I would make sure when they do the fecal, that it is sent out to a lab vs in house.
I would also ask if they can test for Botulism, which just came to mind and could cause the sudden paralysis. It is a long shot but worth looking into. Please keep me updated. I want to know what the outcome is. Kepp massaging the legs and trying to swim her. This will strength her muscles. joan
Thanks for the link to the supplier...it looks like they only ship in large amounts...50 dubia roaches (for example) is the smallest they ship at a time...that seems a lot for a week...how many worms/roaches/etc. would you recommend feeding her during the week?
I'm hoping the baby prunes will work to get her to pass something...I found a grocery store that carries them...going out to get some soon. I'll look for the cactus while I'm there.
I will try and keep massaging her legs and trying to swim her.
Thanks again and I will let you know how it goes!
50 Roaches is about a weeks worth of food for an adult dragon depending on what age you are feeding and what size roaches. The silk worms are the best feeder as far as I am concerned. I use www.coastalsilkworms.com or www.mulberryfarms.com
The babyfood prunes are safe and work better than using oils which are dangerous and can go into the lungs. Laculose has to be gotten from the Vet. I look forward to updates.
Please do not forget to rate my service before leaving and you can always respond to me through this thread. Joan
I was able to get her to eat some of the babyfood prunes...she licked maybe a teaspoon's worth or so...should I wait for digestion before putting her to soak? How long?
That is plenty of prunes to get things going. I would wait 45 mins to an hour and she should be ready for her nice warm soak. I have seen this work wonders. I had one Dragon that ate bark substrate that the owner and I worked together on for over a month to get a blockage to clear. It was prunes and swimming. She set up a little wadding pool and the dragon would swim twice a day. We finally had a good size stool after a month and a week and the dragon regained the use of the legs as well as started eating normally.
I will wait a bit then. Wow, so it could take awhile to clear it, if it is a blockage. But if it's not a blockage, the chances are it's something not easily treatable, right? I'm worried about the time involved and how long it might be safe to wait to do something else. Trying to figure out if it's worth spending money on the barium x-rays or not...
The Dragon with the blockage I mentioned ate a piece of bark and we had to wait until it broke down inthhe intestinal tract. I am hoping this is just some chitin from the superworms. A reptile Vet will have more clarity and know what to look for that your regular vet did not. A barium x ray may not be needed. This may even be something to do with the female reproductive system. Joan
Ah, ok ...I hope it's just a blockage too...I will contact the herp vet in the morning; hopefully I can get some more clues as to what the problem is.
Please keep me updated on the progress. As I say a Herp Vet is our best shot at getting things back to normal. Joan
Thanks again Joan; I really appreciate your advice!
Will let you know what happens..
Have a great night and thoughts are with you and Saguaro.
Thanks so much...just to let you know, I just tried the soaking and swimming/massaging, but she seemed to react negatively...her tail and back end went more rigid and her spine clenched in a curved position and she was making audible quick breathing sounds...I was afraid it was hurting her, even though I was being gentle, so I stopped and removed her. I will try more soaking in the morning...
It sounds like she was scared. She needs to relax, so take it slow with her and allow her to soak and get used to it. Sometimes that rigidity can be a sign of straining to pass a stool. Try again in the AM. I will be on and off all day. Joan
She only started clenching when I started massaging, but I will try again tomorrow morning, thank you xo
That is a sign of pain. I would give her time to soak and see if she will pass stool without the massage. We will see how she does in the morning. Joan
I did the soak this morning, but could not do it for very long; even without massaging or moving her legs...both of which seemed to bother her...she still was clenching...twisting to the right and began making slight audible breathing sounds. She relaxed after I took her out and put her in the towel. Calling the Corrales vet now..
The prunes should have promoted a small stool by now, even without a soak, so we may be looking at some type of blockage. I am praying that the Reptile Vets will be able to see her today and get some therapy started that can help her. Please try pinching her toes and see if she is audible or seems to have discomfort This will give us an idea if she has feeling down to her feet and toes. Joan
ok, that's what I'm thinking too. I have an appt. for this afternoon. I just tried pinching her toes...no response. Just had to replace the MVB, it finally flickered out and does not work anymore...I could hear filament skittering around when I shook it. That one didn't even last as long as it was supposed to!
I am looking foward to a report from the Vet. I hope they can find the problem. The MVB usually lasts a year. This Chart will help you with the bulbs: http://www.beautifuldragons.com/Researchmain.html The study shows the difference in the amount of UVB output from the various bulbs. I hear all the time "I have the correct lighting" and many times there is no UVB being used. The Pet shops sold the customer a Full spectrum bulb and it does not supply UVB. Joan
do you know what the vet would do to clear an intestinal obstruction? How is it treated?
I can't get any vet to answer me right now...not locally or the one 60 miles away, in fact that one didn't really make any effort to hear my problem and I felt very discouraged.
I need to do something and I can't do anything for another hour to hour an a half...
The Vet could take several different routes depending what type of blockage it is. If it is from food and intestinal blockage, they may use an enema to help relieve it along with Parafin or Laculose. It may be a surgical intervention and they may give fluids to help get the body going with hydration. If the blockage is a tumor, they may use an Ultrasound or do a barium study. A good Herp Vet can palpate the area to feel abnormalities with organs. Are you close to another State line where we can locate a Herp Vet in another State that may be more helpful? Joan
OUr local vet has gone ahead and referred me to a vet in Albuquerque and I am taking her down there asap xo
That is great news! I will be here most of the day. Please let me know what happens and if I can help in any way. Joan
I am finally resting after a marathon of a day! The vet in Albuquerque believes that it could be an issue of diet, since our beardie has always favored crickets over veggies and over time, that has resulted in an inbalance and the problems she is having. She recommended against the barium x-ray, due to risk of aspiration. She has had us get some bearded dragon pellets, grind them up, mix them with pedialyte and syringe-feed her 2x a day, also she upped the dose of calcium glubionate. We are to continue with the antibiotics. She also recommended swimming her, but using a sling (I tried it out for about 5 min. this evening with my son's help and she didn't complain this time) I'm also to gut-load the crickets with the pellet-pedialyte mixture. She recommended a solid substrate, so I cleaned out the entire tank and replaced it with reptile carpet from the pet store. She thinks the rear legs are swollen due to the dietary imbalance as well. She doesn't think that her bones look bad, but she has the symptoms of MBD, so we are treating for that, since that's something we can do, whereas if it turns out to be a tumor or something like that, there's nothing really that can be done. She also gave me a lead on a "shaker bowl", apparently it's something that will make her salad move and entice her to eat it...I will have to look that up online. Since this is something that's been going on for awhile, it will take awhile for her to improve. I check back in with the local vet in a week and then with her in 2 weeks. Whew, I'm so exhausted! I hope all this will work; I feel so guilty for not really being more on top of the veggie thing, but it's always been so hard to feed her her veggies and no one ever gave me any suggestions for what to do or said it would be a problem that she wasn't eating as many as she should...Going to relax now. Thank you so much just for listening and for being there.
I will give you a link for the shaker dish: http://www.exo-terra.com/en/products/vivicator.php or http://www.reptiledirect.com/browseproducts/Jitterbug-Vibrating-Feed-Dish.html
Please keep me updated on what is happening. I will be here if you need me and if I can be of help. I am so glad you have seen a specialist and your Dragon will be on the road to recovery. Joan
Thanks for the link on the Shaker dish!! And I appreciate you being able to be there for me. I am really hoping it's just the diet issue and not a tumor issue so that she can recover!
I'll let you know how things go, thanks Joan!
I have worked with MBD Dragons and it is a slow process, but they can recover with the proper treatment and time. She has you and that is a lot in her favor.
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Thank you Joan xo
Just thought I'd update you on what's happening with our beardie. I've been managing to give her her liquid medicines and food ok up til now. She's now not wanting as much of the "food" (mixture of dragon pellets and pedialyte) which concerns me, since she's not getting as much hydration. This afternoon our first silkworm pod came. I got one out on the desk surface in front of her and she was immediately intrigued...they don't move as fast as the crickets and stayed near enough to her that she just snatched it right up in a ravenous way. I thought "good! let's try another". But all attempts to get her to eat anymore of them have failed...she just turns around and tries to run away (same as she is doing with her liquid food). I'm not sure what to do now and the vet frankly was not sure either and was having to call another expert. I haven't heard back yet. I'm so discouraged.
Continue with the silk worms. I would like you to try some chicken or beef baby food with calcium and try feeding instead of the pellets. I would also like you to do a daily soak in the 50/50 plain Pedialyte and warm water daily. This should help with hydration and should help sustain Saguaro with nutrition. To the baby food I would like you to add two more items that can be gotten at the Health food store. The first bee pollen and the second Royal Jelly. They come in capsule form so they can be mixed in and fed. They are high nutritional value and will help with appetite. Hopefully this slurry will help along with the silk worms. Joan
Thanks for the suggestions. I will get the baby food and bee pollen and royal jelly tomorrow. We'll try the 50-50 soak tonight. Just wish she'd eat the worms...I've tried different locations, too, but that doesn't seem to have made any difference. She just sits there or runs away from it..
If need be you can gently stroke the side of her mouth to get her to open it and slide a worm in the mouth. If thst does not work, I would gently pull down on her beard to open the mouth and put the silk worm in. We have to get her eating the prey and this may be a last resort. The baby food should go over better than the pellets. Joan
Thanks for the suggestions on getting her mouth to open, I will try that :)
You are welcome. Sometimes it is a fight, but hopefully she will get the hang of it and start eating on her own. Joan
I think I will need more practice getting her to open her mouth, so far it's just been a frustrating experience in her doing everything she can to turn around, hide, and not open her mouth!
If you have help, have someone hold her and you grab her beard and gently pull down using some strength, enough to open the mouth. Once open pop the silk worm in and close the mouth. She should start chewing and swallow. It does take practice. Joan
I will try to enlist some help! thanks :)
Have a great night and let me know. Joan
Success! I decided to wrap her in a towel and pulled down on her beard while shoving the worm in the space between her lips until her mouth opened and she began chewing on it! I managed to get her to eat 7 silkworms this way! I'm relieved!
She's soaking in the bath...I can't really afford 50-50 pedialyte every night...each bottle is $7! so I'm trying to stretch out the pedialyte. The worms were expensive too...about $1 per worm (I got the 25 small pod one)
You can make your own Pedialyte or use generic:
Glad she ate those for you. This can be done with small crickets too. Another feeder is Dubia Roaches that are good feeders. Joan
Thanks for the recipe!
The crickets would be trickier...they move more. Not sure I could bring myself to touch the roaches...I can handle worms ok and crickets to some extent...hmmm...
Glad to be of help! Keep up the great work. You can always cool the crickets in the Refrigerator to slow them down and then try to feed. Joan
Good idea...will try that ... ok, turning in for the night !
Just a quick update, Joan,
The baby food mixture is a hit! Much easier to get down her than that other stuff and she seems to like it. I still have to force feed the silkworms, but she's been eating them every day. Her baths are going well too and the best news: she finally pooped! I saw it in her terrarium this morning...not a huge amount, but decent...both brown and white. I put it in a plastic ziplock thinking I could save it for the vet, but my appt. isn't til Tuesday morning...should I freeze it? In the bath this morning, I saw her splay her legs more to the side and got a little more poop out too, but it was on the towel when I took her out, so couldn't really get that one for collection.
You need a fesh sample, so the freezing will not help. Try and give a bath before the visit and hopefully she will produce a sample. Dragons love to deficate in warm water. Glad all is gong well! Joan
ok, thank you, will try :)
and me too!
Just wanted to update you...so she had a second blood test and the results were unreliable for some of the readings due to the small sample, so then I had to take her back for another blood draw. Her results came back and the uric acid levels were better, but glucose high still, calcium still a bit high (if I recall correctly). The vet agreed to stop the calcium supplementation. I'm still having to hand feed her the silkworms (she still refuses everything else live) and won't eat any green leaves at all, even with the "moving salad" technique that used to work. I am giving her veggies via babyfood/water mixture with syringe, but as the greens that would really be ideal dragon food are not available that way, I'm not sure what to do. Both vets are at a loss as to what is really wrong with her as she is still not using her back legs for movement, though she will kick back at me more now in the bath (but it could be from pain as her spine curves when she does it). I'm going to drop off a stool sample to have it checked today. The vet in Albuquerque believes the best thing to do next is have a CT scan...but at a cost of $1500, that's out of the question. The vet in SF is saying barium x-ray. Both vets suspect a tumor/growth of some sort. Then if it is a tumor/growth, there would presumably be surgery to remove it at who knows what cost and not sure what the outcome is. I am at a loss as to what to do. The Alb. vet suggested contacting Colorado State U Vet Hospital to get more expert opinion, but I imagine that opinion and subsequent treatment will be expensive as well...What would you do? I feel like I'm stuck!
Thank-you for the update. You can try oureeing the veggies she needs and feed the same way you would the baby food. I make a slurry and mix everything in and feed veggies that way. I call it a heath slurry. as far as the calcium and glucose levels they are not reliable if the Dragon is stressed. I have seen MBD Dragons with off the chart calcium levels when they go in for blood work. I would ask for a University Consult. The University of Fl in Gainsville have some great Herpetologists and they have been doing advance studies in many areas most Vets have no experience. It may be worth a phone call for a consult. I would continue with the swimming therapy as that will keep the muscles from atrophying. Before going through any more tests, I would do a consult with the University Vet. They may have some other ideas for treatment, before putting her through unessesary tests. Joan
Thanks for the suggestions Joan, I will try the puree thing on the greens she needs and try and call for a university consult. Thanks
I look foward to further updates. I think the University Herpetologist will be able to sed more light on what is going on and with Computers today all recodrs can be reviewed very quickly and suggestions made. Joan
Hi Joan, just another update...
No word back from Colorado State University. I will try locating the correct person at U of FLorida in Gainsville. No change in behavior from Saguaro. She still refuses to eat on her own, though otherwise appears normal (until she tries to walk)...she has good energy though. The Coastal Silkworms place sent me an insufficient amount of worms last shipment and so we have been out of the only protein source I can get her to eat for 3 days. I did locate another supplier with worms in stock, but it is going to take a total of 5 to 6 days before they will arrive (they only ship 2-3 day via post office and make you wait an extra day before they will ship after you order...and they cost more!) I was able to force feed her a few green leaves today...maybe 6 pieces...she mostly was spitting them out. Completely unsuccessful at pureeing greens with the tools I have...it only gets to a fine pulpy stuff, even when blended with other stuff and wouldn't go through the syringe properly. I would have to buy a masticating juicer apparently and that would cost about $300. So not sure what to do now.
Go to baby food with calcium mixed in. You can use Chicken, Beef, and Greenbeans mixed together and feed. This will at least get some nutrition into Her. I am so sorry about Coastal shorting you. They are usually very good about their orders. The fact she has energy and seems to be doing well otherwise is a postive. This may help with the U of F: http://smallanimal.vethospital.ufl.edu/clinical-services/zoological-medicine/invertebrates-and-reptiles/ It has the Doctors and clinicians. Joan
will do, I was so hoping to get the correct types of foods in her and now that seems impossible, so frustrating.
I will call the number on that link...thanks, I had no such luck finding that page when I looked!
I have dealt with the U of F before because of their work with Reptiles and Adeno Virus studies. They have some of the top Vets there. I appreciate the updates and always ready to help you. Joan
Sounds good but they won't deal with me over the phone. I'm in the process of trying to get one of my vets to do a consult with them...
Your Vets have the records and can do a consult and may be able to shed more light on what is happening. At least you have made initial contact and that is a step in the right direction. She sounds like she is doing better now than when we first started this almost a month ago. I have a lot of hope for a recovery. Joan