My gecko has a blue belly and is losing waight. He had some trouble shedding over the summer and has been losing weight

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Customer: my gecko has a blue belly and is losing waight
JA: I'll do all I can to help. When did this weight loss start? Has the gecko been drinking more or less water than usual?
Customer: he had some trouble shedding over the summer and has been losing weight quite rapidly for the last 2 months
JA: Any changes in the gecko's appetite?
Customer: was eating normally until recently has refused food for last 11 days
JA: And what's the gecko's name and age?
Customer: harry he is 5 years and 8 months
JA: Is there anything else the Vet should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: his health seemed to start going downwards after trouble sheading his skin around his eyes . Dispite us ensuring his Viv is correct humidity and temperature , this has continued to be a problem . how much will connection cost ?
Answered by Dr. Caryn – Vet in 12 hours 11 months ago
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Dr. Caryn – Vet
Pet Specialist
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2,224 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 in the US 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 leopard gecko Harry is under the weather. Loss of appetite and weight loss are certainly concerning signs. The blue you are seeing in his belly might be an enlarged gall bladder. When animals don't eat the gall bladder can become enlarged and will be more visible through the light colored skin on their bellies. It is not necessarily the cause of his problem.

However other causes of a blue belly are more serious, such as hemorrhage (bleeding) or an enlarged stomach, so perhaps uploading a photo so that I can see what you are seeing might be helpful. You can do so using the upload attachment (paperclip) icon below the text field. Note that uploads must be smaller than 5 Mb to upload properly.

There are a number of reasons why your leopard gecko may not be eating a normal amount of food. Some of them are transient and may be normal while others are more concerning and warrant a veterinary evaluation.

Leopard geckos may not eat normally due to emotional or physiological stress. Changes in environment such a new tank or changes in décor, or changes in lighting, temperature or diet might trigger temporary disinterest in food. Geckos kept with other geckos may be bullied by a more dominant individual. The stress or physical intimidation may prevent a more submissive gecko from eating. Close observation of interaction between geckos is important and this may require separate feeding bowls, tank partitions or even separate housing.

Improper lighting (too little visible light or UVB light) or temperature can negatively impact appetite. As cold-blooded animals, leopard geckos require sufficient temperatures for proper digestion. Before and after shedding, appetite may be down. Shedding is energy intensive and potentially itchy and uncomfortable so while they will commonly not eat during the shedding process, their appetites may be depressed just before and after shedding as well.

However, other than for improper environment, I would not expect these transient causes of appetite depression to lead to weight loss or persistent inappetence as you have been seeing for the past 11 days.

Some abnormal causes for appetite depression include mouth rot (infectious stomatitis), trauma, sickness (bacterial, parasitic, nutritional (metabolic bone disease, hypovitaminosis A)), indigestion or maldigestion, and gastrointestinal impaction.

Since Harry is displaying other signs of illness such as weight loss (other signs might include weakness, lethargy, sunken eyes, skin discoloration, abnormal defecation or urination) and the depressed appetite has persisted more than a few days, a visit to a local veterinarian with experience in reptile medicine is warranted.

To find a local veterinarian with reptile experience, here is a useful website you can use to search for a local reptile veterinarian:

https://arav.site-ym.com/search/

(please note this site may not work on older browsers like Safari)

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

With any sick gecko, it is always a good idea to start by checking that their environment and husbandry are proper for their species. Taking a physical measurement of the temperature gradient within the enclosure and measuring humidity with a hygrometer are a good idea. Making sure the UVB bulb is appropriate for the size of the space and has been changed regularly. Even if they are still producing visible light, UVB bulbs have a limited lifespan and need to be changed every 6-12 months, depending upon bulb type. Making sure diet is varied and the insects have been gut loaded with a nutritious gut-loading diet as well as dusted regularly with calcium and multivitamin powder. Therefore I am attaching a leopard gecko care (husbandry) reference sheet that I put together. Please review it at your convenience and let me know if you have any questions.

The dysecdysis, or abnormal shedding, you were seeing can be caused by a number of causes such as husbandry issue (too low but more often too low humidity, cool temperatures, insufficient cage furniture to help initiate or rub off shedding skin), dietary insufficiency (hypovitaminosis A), infection or parasitism, or skin damage (akin to sunburn) from too much UVB exposure.

Humidity issues are often the primary cause, the leopard geckos require 30-40% relative humidity in the main enclosure but also need a moist hide with 70-80% humidity to promote proper hydration and skin health. Measuring humidity with a hygrometer is important to make sure humidity is adequate.

Does he still have trouble shedding and is there still material stuck around his eyes? Eye issues and shedding issues could both be related to dietary insufficiencies, such as too little dietary vitamin A. The care sheet I previously attached does have dietary and supplementation recommendations.

It’s especially important if your leopard gecko is sick or injured to make sure that their tank is clean, food is fresh and prepared hygienically and that the temperature is appropriate and that your UV-B bulb is in proper working condition. Here are some additional recommendations of how you can support your ill leopard gecko while they are under the weather:

-Keep them warm. If they’re not moving around much on their own, place them in an area of the tank that is around 85F, (30C) but not on top of a hot rock or under the hottest basking area as they can overheat or get burned.

-To prevent or treat dehydration, you can give your leopard gecko a soak in a shallow dish of warm water (85-90F, 30-32C) for 15-30 minutes once or twice a day. Dry them off after the bath so they don't cool off too much.

-Offer food, even if not eating. If your leopard gecko is having difficulty reaching or getting to their food, put the food dish next to them or you can also hand or tong feed them. Place an insect gently against their lips and if they are hungry, they will bite at it. If not, don’t force it.

If needed (if inappetence is prolonged), you can syringe feed them a replacement formula like ReptaBoost by Fluker's but go slowly and don't feed too quickly to prevent choking.

If you’ve never done this before there are some good online videos that you can watch first such as this one by exotic pet veterinarian Dr. Laurie Hess:

https://youtu.be/38BbTokTwjI

-Limit and be gentle with handling. If they have MBD they are more susceptible to injury as their bones are likely weakened so limit handling and limit time out of her enclosure to avoid injury. If you must lift or remove them from their tank, go slowly and support their weight from underneath with your palm.

-Calcium supplementation. It is important to still offer calcium and vitamin supplements if they are eating. If they are weak because they are experiencing a severe calcium deficiency related to Metabolic Bone Disease or dietary insufficiency, you can buy a liquid calcium supplement at the pet store and give them one drop into their mouth once a day and this should help, but isn't a replacement for a veterinary evaluation and treatment.

Fluker's Liquid Calcium Reptile Supplement

Zilla Calcium Supplement Reptile Food Spray

It is also a good idea to re-evaluate your current husbandry practices as some common disorders, such as metabolic bone disease, are caused by deficiencies or imbalances in diet, UVB lighting and calcium/vitamin supplementation. Therefore, I have already attached a general leopard gecko care sheet that I put together as a reference.

Please note that if you are outside the US, you will need to choose Advanced Search if using the ARAV find a vet website

https://arav.site-ym.com/search/

Choose Advanced Search (at top)

Advanced Search: Step 1 of 2, Member status

Select/toggle honorary member, life member, new grad, active veterinarian, and associate.

Press Continue.

Advanced Search: Step 2 of 2

Use the drop down menu in Country to select your country. Press Search.

I should be notified if/when you respond with additional information so we can connect about your gecko Harry but, in the meantime, I hope this information is helpful and I wish you both the best. Thanks again for posting your question to JustAnswer.com. Sincerely, ***** *****

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Dr. Caryn – Vet
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