I have a question about my bearded dragon. The back of the inside of his throat os black. No hurt. Mushi 9 months. He's

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Customer: I have a question about my bearded dragon
JA: I'll do all I can to help. What's the matter with the dragon?
Customer: The back of the inside of his throat os black
JA: Where does the dragon seem to hurt?
Customer: No hurt
JA: What is the dragon's name and age?
Customer: Mushi 9 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: Yes he's been having a lot of mucus and open mouth breathing
JA: What else should I tell the Veterinarian?
Customer: Thats it
Answered by Dr. Caryn – Vet in 3 hours 11 months ago
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Dr. Caryn – Vet
Pet Specialist
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2,216 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 the JustAnswer app 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 is under the weather.

If you can upload a photo or video that might be helpful so I can see what you mean by the back of the inside of his throat is black. You can do so using the upload attachment (paperclip) icon below the text field. Please note that files need to be less than 5 Mb to upload properly. Thanks.

However, the respiratory signs you are describing, lots of mucous and open mouthed breathing are concerning and are highly suggestive of a respiratory infection.

Respiratory infections or pneumonia in bearded dragons are usually secondary to environmental conditions such as sub-optimal humidity, temperature or environmental irritants. They can be caused by infectious agents such as bacteria, parasites, fungi, and viruses. Clinical signs might include oral or nasal discharge, bubble blowing, sneezing, open mouthed breathing, abnormal body posture, increased respiratory sounds like gurgling or wheezing, or crusted nares (nostrils). Bearded dragons with a respiratory infection may also show systemic signs of illness such as lethargy (depressed activity or energy level), inappetence (depressed appetite), shallow or open-mouthed breathing. Difficulty breathing or abnormal respiratory sounds could be caused by other conditions such as mechanical obstruction of the airways, nares or choanae with material, like pus, mucous or cage substrate or by abscesses in the mouth or tongue, hyperthermia, or exposure to toxins.

So appropriate treatment depends a lot upon the examination by a trained veterinarian to find the cause of the problem. Because respiratory infections and other disorders that present with similar clinical signs in bearded dragons are potentially serious and life threatening, it is recommended that you make an appointment with a local reptile veterinarian. They will perform an examination, may recommend x-ray to evaluate the bearded dragon’s lungs to look for signs of pneumonia and may prescribe oral or injectable antibiotics.

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.

In the meantime, while you are waiting for your dragon’s vet appointment, there are things you can do to help support your pet. It is extremely important to make sure that the environment is pristine, cleaned of waste, low dust and appropriate temperature and humidity, including a cool side at 77-80F (25-27C), a warm side at 85-90F (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. Having appropriate humidity (30-40%) helps ensure that the mucous membranes of the nose and mouth and any secretions that may be produced in them do not dry out, which would make it harder to breathe, but also ensure the environment is not too moist, which can lead to secondary infection.

If they are not moving around much on their own, it's important to keep them warm so place them in an area of the tank that is 85-90F, but not on top of a hot rock or under the hottest basking area as they can overheat or get burned.

Offer food, even if not eating. If your bearded dragon 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 you use a fogger or humidifier, it is best to clean it regularly and disinfect it periodically to ensure it is not a source of infection.

If your bearded dragon is lethargic, you can give them a once or twice daily warm water soak for 15-30 minutes to help with hydration and help loosen up any respiratory discharge. Use shoulder depth, warm water (85-90F / 29.5-32.2C), but monitored so their head cannot submerge (and dry them off after the bath so they don’t cool off too much).

And with any sick bearded dragon, 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 bearded dragon care (husbandry) reference sheet that I put together. Please review it at your convenience and let me know if you have any questions.

It’s especially important with a sick bearded dragon 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 bearded dragon while they are under the weather or awaiting veterinary care:

-Healing and normal metabolism are linked to proper environmental temperature. Provide a daytime temperature range with a cool side at 77-80F (25-27C), a warm side at 85-90F (30-32C) and a very warm, focal basking area of 95-105F (35-41C) for adults and juveniles and a slightly warmer basking spot 95-110F (35-44C) for babies. A nighttime temperature range of 70-75F (21.5-24C) should be provided. 30-40% humidity is recommended.

-Keep them warm. If your bearded dragon is not moving around much on their own, or are unable to move around at all, place them in a location in their enclosure where the temperature is warm but not super hot: 85-90F (30-32C). This will ensure proper metabolism but they won't overheat or chill at this temperature range. Do not put them on a hot rock or under the basking light hot spot if they cannot move off by themself, as they might get overheated or burned.

-To prevent or treat dehydration, you can give your bearded dragon a soak in a shallow dish of warm water (85-90F or 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. Monitor them while in the bath so their head doesn't submerge.

-Limit handling. If they have an injury, infection or metabolic bone disease (which puts them at increased risk of injury due to weakened bones), 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. Make sure you always wash your hands with soap and warm water after handling your bearded dragon.

-If your dragon has diarrhea, increasing the frequency of cleaning inside the cage with a reptile safe disinfectant will help avoid cross contamination and repeat infection (if it is infectious). You can consider lining the tank with disposable unbleached paper towels or newspaper while they have diarrhea to make clean up easier.

-Offer food, even if not eating. If your bearded dragon 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 for prolonged appetite loss, 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 these ones:

How to assist feed an insect by hobbyist Curtis Lasane (2:50 to 3:50 in the video). Note, I recommend if assist feeding insects to a lethargic bearded dragon, that you dispatch the insect first by pinching off it's head.

https://youtu.be/96rfaETGLKY

How to syringe feed (slurry, water or medicine) by exotic pet veterinarian Dr. Laurie Hess:

https://youtu.be/38BbTokTwjI

-Calcium supplementation. It is important to still offer calcium and vitamin supplements if they are eating. This is usually done by gut loading insects with a diet that provides a good source of calcium and vitamins as well as dusting insects with powdered calcium and multivitamins. There is more specific information about how to properly supplement your bearded dragon in the care sheet I have shared with you.

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

I should be notified if/when you respond with additional information so we can connect about your bearded dragon Mushi 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, ***** *****

Customer
I've been nebulizing with f10 for about 8 days now.
Customer
I think it's making more mucus in his mouth

So F10 is an antiseptic that can be used in a pinch if there is a delay getting your bearded dragon to the vet, but is not a replacement for a veterinary evaluation and antibiotics. It can be used as an adjunctive therapy but for pneumonia or a respiratory infection, antibiotics are a required treatment, so a trip to a local reptile experienced veterinarian is recommended. If there has been no improvement with the F10 nebulization I would not continue it.

And yes, prolonged use, may be irritating his airways....

Customer
We've already done baytril with no luck

Did your bearded dragon have a hands on veterinary examination? Did they do x-rays?

Customer
they did xrays but that was a while back and supposedly his lungs were clear then which how can he not have anything in his lungs and have all these problems

Okay, thanks. I am sorry that the antibiotics and vet visit did not resolve his issue.

Can you please tell me a little about his environment?

Humidity?

Temperature gradient: Cool side? Warm (main area)? Basking spot?

Thanks.

Customer
Right now basking spot is 108.5 humidity 27% cool side is 81.7 humidity 65%
Customer
I also have a little dehumidifier that sits in the bottom of the tank

Okay, thanks. That's a big range for humidity in the tank. Ideal is 30-40%, so 65% at the cool end is quite high since that means humidity is even higher in the evening when the basking light is off. This can predispose them to respiratory infections. You might want to move the water dish farther away from the basking spot.

Ways to lower humidity:

-Move water dish away from heat source or heat lamps

-Decrease frequency and amount of misting

-Increase ventilation and air flow in the room and the enclosure. Use an air screen on the tank. If using vent holes in the enclosure, ensuring they are on opposite sides of the tank and top vs bottom will help encourage air flow.

-Use a room air conditioner or a dehumidifier in the room the tank is housed in. If using an AC make sure you check that tank temperature stays in the ideal ranges, 75-85 gradient and 85-105 basking area.

-Check the room humidity and consider moving the tank to a different part of the room or home that has lower ambient humidity.

-If none of these work, you can purchase a silica gel dehumidifier for use inside of the tank (for example: Eva-Dry Wireless Mini Dehumidifier).

Also, juveniles usually require it a little cooler in the basking spots, so you might consider taking the basking temp down into the 100-105F range.

Open mouthed breathing can sometimes be caused by overheating....

Customer
I do have a silica dehumidifier in there.

So I don't have an easy answer for you. I would stop the F10 nebulization, try to moderate the humidity, decrease the basking temp slightly and if Mushi is still having a lot of discharge or open mouthed breathing, then a return trip to a reptile experienced veterinarian is in order. While most cases of respiratory infection are caused by bacteria, they can also be caused by viral or fungal agents, which won't respond to antibiotics. If (and I stress if) this is a respiratory infection, the vet might need to do a more invasive diagnostic such as a trans-tracheal wash to get a sample of the mucous, white blood cells and microorganisms that are in the airway for microscopic evaluation and culture to better target the therapy.

Okay, thanks. Does it need to be recharged? And you are still getting 65% humidity? I would stop misting the enclosure and consider changing to a smaller water dish as well.

My best to you and Mushi. Please let me know if I can be of any further assistance.

Sincerely, ***** *****

Customer
I don't mist and i don't use a water dish

It is a good idea to have a water dish in (at least during the day) in case they need extra water though most will get the water they need from their food.

Customer
I use a dropper for water
Customer
Should i hang the dehumidifier up or leave it sit on the bottom?
Customer
I forgot to mention he also has glaucoma in his left eye his eye ball sticks way out and bubbles come out sometimes could that effect his breathing?
Sorry for the delay I am driving to pick up my daughter so not at the computer. Interesting has he always had an enlarged eye? I wouldn’t expect that to affect breathing unless there is a tumor or other growth affecting both the eye and nearby respiratory structures. Has the eye issue been worked up? True glaucoma is unusual, usually an enlarged eye is due to something going on inside or behind the eye like an infection, trauma, tumor.
The dehumidifier can be either propped up or hung up but I’d recommend putting it in the cooler side where you are having the elevated humidity issues.
I have to start driving again so I’ll be offline again. But if you respond I’ll write back as soon as I am able. Thanks
Customer
His eye has always been like that
Customer
File attached (45Z33VS)
Okay, thanks. Sorry but the file didn't work.

If it's always been like that then there may have been a previous injury.

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