His back right foot looks a little swollen. A bearded dragon. Just this evening he’s walking good but I noticed he’s not

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Customer: His back right foot looks a little swollen
JA: I'll do all I can to help. What type of reptile are we talking about?
Customer: a bearded dragon
JA: When did you first notice this swelling? Does the Bearded Dragon lick the skin as well?
Customer: just this evening he’s walking good but I noticed he’s not using that foot much
JA: And what's the Bearded Dragon's name and age?
Customer: spike he’s about 1.5 months maybe
JA: Is there anything else the Vet should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: we got him from pet smart on Sept 9th he’s about 4 inches long and we’ve been feeding him Dubia, crickets and tonight he ate mealworms about 6
Answered by Dr. Caryn – Vet in 14 hours 1 year ago
Dr. Caryn – Vet
Pet Specialist

2,520 satisfied customers

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

Hello and thanks for posting your question on JustAnswer.com. My name is***** and I have been a veterinarian for over 21 years, specializing in aquatics, reptiles, amphibians, avian and other exotic species. You may already be aware, but on this platform veterinarians can provide insight and advice, but as this is not considered a legal client-patient relationship, we are unable to prescribe medications, provide medical records or sign documents for your specific pet. For that you would need to make an in person visit with a local veterinarian. I am happy to chat with you via text but if you are interested in a phone call instead that is an option you can choose for an additional charge. In the meantime, I am putting together some questions and/or suggestions to help with your pet’s concern.

I am sorry to hear that your bearded dragon Spike may be under the weather.

If you can upload a photo or video that might be helpful. You can do so using the upload attachment (paperclip) icon below the text field. Also, here are online instructions for how you can share a photo or file with an expert on JustAnswer.com


Great I'm looking forward to your suggestions, thank you

Swollen feet or limbs can be caused by a number of things, such as injury to soft tissue or skeleton, local infection (abscess, usually bacterial) or underlying diseases (like gout or metabolic bone disease).

If you can send me a photo of the swollen foot, that might be helpful.

When did the swelling develop (has it been there long, did it just develop, etc.) and is it getting larger?

Thanks for the diet information. Great that you are already offering him a variety of insects. Are you calcium dusting these insects or providing any multivitamins?

At this age, bearded dragons are primarily carnivorous (insectivorous) but as they grow they become more omnivorous, so it's important to start offering vegetables even at a young age.

I noticed it last night
Sorry I'm trying to send the photos but they're no going through

No worries. You might want to check their size. If they are larger than 5 Mb, then they can't upload. You can edit them to decrease the file size if that's the case.

Customer attachment 9/28/2021 2:06:23 PM
He eats some crickets doesn't love them he's been eating Dubia roaches and mealworms I put the worms in his salad so he gets a little bit of salad i've been dusting them with repashy she's super food
I think the one of his foot just went through

Okay, great, looking at the photo now...

Oh no it looks like his front left arm is swollen also he just turned around

Great that you are offering salad! Which Repashy Superfoods supplement are you giving him?

He's not moving it as well either
Customer attachment 9/28/2021 2:08:17 PM
The repashy superfood calcium plus
Customer attachment 9/28/2021 2:09:39 PM

Looks like in addition to the swollen right (back) ankle he is also missing some toenails. Has this developed recently or was he like this when you got him?

I purchased him with the back toenails missing and didn't realize it until I got home
We got him on Sept 9th
At PetsSmart

Thanks. The Repashy Superfoods Calcium plus is a good calcium, mineral and vitamin supplement. If you aren't already, keep it in the fridge to maintain best freshness. I do recommend substituting just calcium powder a few times a week just to make sure he doesn't get over supplemented with vitamins (and as long as he's getting 10-12 hours a day of UVB exposure).

Ok i'll put it in the fridge and I have another thing of calcium that has D3 in it that I can give him a few times a week
His lights are on a timer he's got it T5 10 UVB light tube that runs the length of the cage and a heat lamp just above his rock

Okay, thanks. Since he's missing toenails and has a swollen ankle on the same foot, I would be concerned about an infection, he's probably a bit young for gout. However metabolic bone disease, even though you are now supplementing and feeding him appropriately, is still a possibility.

No, I would not give him the calcium with vitamin D3 if you are giving the Calcium plus, as it also has vitamin D. You can get a calcium supplement without D3 to give him on alternate days. E.g.,

Zoo Med Repti Calcium without D3

Rep-Cal Calcium without D3

Ok I'll pick up one of those

That's great, how far is the bulb from his basking spot (inches)? A 10.0 has max UVB penetration of 16-18". Also, be mindful that if the UVB bulb is housed outside his enclosure (e.g. on top of a mesh screen) the screen will block 30-50% of the UVB from the bulb. Best to house it inside the enclosure. If you can't then you'll need to get a UVB bulb reflector to increase the UVB getting into the enclosure through the screen. (Also, FYI UVB bulbs even if still producing visible light, wear out over time. Compact fluorescent UVB bulbs should be changed out every 6 months or so.)

Sounds like you are doing a good job caring for Spike. But I think that based on the appearance of the ankle, a trip to a local reptile veterinarian is a good idea. They will examine Spike and may want to take an x-ray to look at his bone structure and bone density. This will help them determine the cause of the swelling and whether or not the lost toenails are of concern. If it is an infection, it will likely need antibiotics. If there are any issues with his bones or bone density then they might recommend more extensive vitamin and calcium supplementation.

If you need assistance finding a reptile veterinarian in your area, I am happy to help. If so, please provide your zip code so I can search for the closest veterinary practices or veterinarians that accept reptile patients.

That would be great my zip is 10598

Thanks, ***** ***** me a few minutes to search for you.

In the meantime, I'm attaching a bearded dragon husbandry/care sheet I put together that might have some additional useful information though it does sound like you are doing a good job caring for Spike already. :-)

Bearded dragons are lizards that are native to Australia. With good care they can live 10 years or more and make excellent pets. It is typically recommended to house them singly, though sometimes it is possible to keep breeding pairs together. It is recommended that the enclosure be at least 10-20 gallons for juveniles and 75 gallons for adults. Care should be taken as to the enclosure substrate as they may potentially ingest loose substrates. If you do use something like paper pulp substrate, feed the dragon in a separate enclosure to prevent substrate ingestion. Paper towels or newspaper are good substrates that are easy to replace very 1-2 days to prevent waste accumulation. It is fine to include cage furniture in the enclosure such as large rocks, pieces of driftwood or cork bark. Hiding boxes or areas are required if you have more than one dragon housed together.

- Temperature: Temperature is very important for keeping your dragon healthy with a gradient of temperature from cool or warm. Daytime temperature range with a cool side at 77-80F (25-27C), a warm side at 85-90 (30-32C) and a very warm, focal basking area of 95-105F (35-41C) for adults and juveniles and a slightly warmer 95-110F (35-44C) for babies. A nighttime temperature range of 70-75F (21.5-24C) should be provided. 30-40% humidity is recommended. Although they are from an arid region, having sufficient humidity is important to respiratory and skin issues and not too much humidity is important to prevent secondary infections from moisture loving microbes.

-In addition to tank lighting that supplies UVA and visible light exposure, bearded dragons require UVB exposure to maintain proper health. Just as with temperature, their enclosure should have a gradient of UVB exposure with no UVB at the coolest end and highest at the basking spot. To avoid over supplementing, at least ¼ of the tank should not be directly illuminated with UVB light. Distance from the UVB bulb is vital as it dictates how much UVB exposure an animal will receive in the basking site. Distance depends upon the type and UVB output of the bulb. The most common types of UVB bulbs used with bearded dragons are the compact fluorescent (CFL), linear fluorescent or mercury vapor bulbs. For example, a CFL or linear fluorescent 10.0 bulb should be placed no more than 16-18" from the basking site while a 5.0 bulb should be placed 12” or less. A mercury vapor bulb can be used in a larger enclosure due to its greater depth of UVB penetration, up to 3 feet. The mercury vapor bulb’s wattage dictates the heat output of these dual use bulbs it does not change the UV penetration. There should be no glass or acrylic between the bulb and the surface as these will block UV light. Note that metal screening between the bulb and the enclosure will cut UVB output of the bulb significantly, sometimes as much as in half. Conversely, UVB light reflectors can improve UVB penetration by bouncing and focusing the UV light produced by the bulb. All UVB bulbs loose effectiveness over time, even if the light still appears to be working, it may no longer be producing UVB. It's recommended that you change the bulbs regularly, compact fluorescent bulbs at least every 6 months, linear fluorescent bulbs and mercury vapor bulbs every 12 months. Some bulbs may last longer but the only way to know for sure if they are still effective is to measure their UV output with a meter that measures UV Index or total UVB.

-Balanced diet of 30% vegetables and 70% insects for a young, bearded dragon (< 6 months old) which are more carnivorous than the omnivorous adults. That should be reversed as they age and adults fed 70-80% of their diet as vegetables for an adult. Greens should be introduced to bearded dragons at a young age. Nutritional insects include black soldier fly larvae (soldier worm larvae), superworms, earthworms, Dubia and cockroaches and the occasional wax worm, mealworm or silkworms (limit them due to their high fat content). Vegetables should be a variety of primarily dark leafy greens (dandelion greens, parsley, cilantro, watercress, escarole, endive, chicory, etc.). Some greens have high amounts of goiterogens which can impact thyroid function so while they can be fed and are nutritious, feed them in moderation and in rotation with other vegetables. Examples include, bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, kale, mustard/collard/turnip greens, arugula, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts. Lettuce, such as romaine, iceberg, green/red leaf, Boston, etc. are not very nutrient rich so should be avoided or fed in very limited quantities. Also avoid feeding oxalate ***** *****s like swiss chard, spinach or beet greens as these can interfere with calcium absorption. A small amount of other vegetables (carrots, beans, peas, squash, green beans, bell peppers, etc.) and be added; variety is the key! Salad should be chopped and offered in a clean bowl or plate once to twice a day. They can be given flowers and fruit as treats or as top dressing on the salad, with fruit not making up more than 10-20% of plant material fed each day.

-Calcium and vitamin supplementation: 2-3x per week dusting of salad mix with calcium powder (without Vit D3) and 1-2x per week light dusting of reptile multivitamin powder that has calcium, vitamin D3 and vitamin A. Insects should be dusted with calcium powder just before feeding at every meal and crickets should be both gut-loaded and calcium dusted always. Do not use calcium with vitamin D3 for daily dusting as over supplementation of vitamin D3 can lead to toxicity. It is better if the reptiles make most of their own vitamin D3 from proper UVB exposure. And if the bearded dragon is not yet reliably eating salad, in addition to daily dusting with calcium powder, dust the insects 2-3 times weekly with a reptile multivitamin powder that contains calcium, vitamin D3 and vitamin A.

-Clean environment. Avoid sand or gravel substrates as bearded dragons may eat this and become impacted. Paper towels, newspaper, slate, tile or reptile carpeting are safe alternatives. Make sure to clean the substrate at least every other day or more frequently as it becomes soiled.

If you have any specific questions about housing or nutrition, please let me know I would be happy to advise.

These veterinarians are active members of the Association of Reptile and Amphibian Veterinarians, which means they should have interest and experience in treating reptile patients. The practice they work at sees reptile patients.

Dr. Laurie Hess and Dr. Amanda Marino

Veterinary Center for Birds & Exotics
Bedford Hills, New York 10507-1501  United States

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Great thanks for the information I'll give them a call and see what they say

I hope this information has been helpful and I wish you and Spike the best. Thanks again for posting your question to JustAnswer.com and please let me know if I can be of any further assistance. Sincerely, ***** *****

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Dr. Caryn – Vet
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Pet Specialist
Dr. Caryn – Vet
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