My bearded dragon has very swollen joints and is now eating his tail. I have taken him to the vet and despite

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Customer: My bearded dragon has very swollen joints and is now eating his tail. I have taken him to the vet and despite antibiotics for the last 5 weeks along with vitamin and calcium injections he is getting worse. He hardly eats or moves. He is in with another bearded dragon (and has been since we got him) and she is really healthy. I am worried that he is in pain as the vet said he would only chew his tail if it was hurting him. He has had pain killers twice a week but I am still worried that he is in pain.
Answered by Jav917 in 4 hours 8 years ago
Pet Specialist

27,324 satisfied customers

Specialities include: Reptile Veterinary, Herp Veterinary, Exotic Animal Medicine, Amphibian Veterinary


My name is XXXXX XXXXX I have been a Vet tech for 30+ years with special interest in Reptiles and Reptile Rescue. I am sorry it took so long, but I would like to try and assist you.

Is Flip 6 years old?

Can you tell me was the Vet you had seen a Reptile Specialists?

Do you have a UVB light? Age of bulb, Linear tube or compact coil, strength and brand?


Supplements fed?

What type of diet do you feed Prey/veggies?

Temps in Basking area, warm side and coool side?

Did the Vet give any medications for pain?



Hi Joan


- Flip is 6 months old

- Vet is not a reptile specialist but has been consulting one prior to advising me.

- Yes we have a UVB light, the bulb was replace about 2 weeks ago and its a Exo Terra Repti Glo 10

- Substrate is sand

- He has calcium and Nutrobal

- He has veggies, crickets and locusts

- Temp wise the hot end is about 35 and the cold end is around 29.

- There is a heat mat which comes on day or night if the temperature goes below 31

- the vet has been administering pain killers every Monday and Thursday.


It is important to note also that we have another bearded dragon in the same vivarium who is just over a year and she has been checked and is really healthy.


The fact that Flip is chewing his own tail is a real worry to me. I am convinced that he is in pain and since this has been going on for just over 5 weeks I am thinking that if this is the case it is not fair to keep him going, I want to do whats right for him, not me


Kind regards





You have a few Husbandry issues I would correct as a first measure. TheTemps are a bit low. The basking area should be 40.6C in the basking area, 32.2C on the warm side and the cool side 29.4C. This is very important for the dragons health, digestion, activitity, and appetite. If the temps are too low it can throw off a Dragon. The next issue is the sand. It is extremely dangerous as are all loose substrates. You can read about that here: Sand as a substrate: I suggest cage carpet, paper towels, tile, butcher paper, or slate.

Diet can be causing a problem depending on the actual foods you are feeding an over abundance of diet with Oxalates or certain prey can cause Pseudo gout and gout, which can cause swelling in the joints. or

This is a dietary sheet that will help you to decide what should be fed: Below a year old the ratio the prey should be fed at 80% to 20% veggies.

The last issue that is concerning me is the Dragon being housed with another Dragon. I would separate them. We never house two Dragons together unless breeding and at that point the female is brought to the male and then removed afyer being bred. I would love for you to see an actual Herp Vet which I will give you links and also like to give some first aid: These are Herp Vets: and I would love to have you take the Dragon for a second opinion.

Now for first aid. Please give a soak two times a day in a 50/50 warm water and Dioralyte electrolyte replacer. This will help hydrate the Dragon, help to flush the kidneys, and soothe the joints. The pain my be coming from the Kidneys and radiating causing him to bite the tail. You can try some Bitter Apple on the tail to see if it will stop the biting or at least lessen it. While in the soaks massage the joints as well as see if you can get him swimming in the soak. This can act as hydrotherapy to help reduce swelling in the joints. For supplemental feeding please take some chicken baby food and mix with green bean baby food and add a pinch of calcium and drop a dollop on the snout and allow the Dragon to lick it off. This can be done throughout the day to get some nutrition into the Dragon. Please let me know if you need some clarification and I will be happy to assist you further. Joan


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