I am sincerely ***** ***** there was a delay in someone responding to your question. (Experts are independent contractors and as such are online based on their own schedules.) However, I am available and can assist you if you still need veterinary advice.
Hello and thanks for posting your question on JustAnswer.com. My name is***** and I have been a licensed and accredited 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. For US based clients, 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 Little Homie has some plastic stuck in his throat. I can advise you on how to try to get it out, but if you cannot, then you will need to take him to a local veterinarian, preferably one with experience in reptile medicine, or a small animal emergency clinic for treatment.
Choking is a medical emergency: the animal cannot get appropriate amounts of air due to a blockage of their airway. If the animal is able to breathe fairly normally on its own, do not attempt to intervene as you may accidentally make a partial blockage into a complete blockage. However, if they appear to be struggling to breathe or unable to breathe, you can try to gently to open their mouth to see if they have any food items stuck in the glottis (the opening to his airway at the base of the tongue) or the choanae (the slit like opening to the nasal cavity on the roof of the mouth)? Please be gentle so you don’t hurt or get hurt yourself. If you can see objects blocking the airway in the mouth and are safely able to remove any items blocking the airway (you can use a tweezer) then please do so. You should seek emergency veterinary care for your bearded dragon. Please remember that it is very important to remember to wash your hands after handling any reptile.
If they are still able to breathe, that is very good so at least it is not a life threatening emergency at this point.
You can try to open their mouth and see if you can extract the piece.
You will likely need a second person to help you and you will need a rubber spatula or a credit card (to open the mouth), a pair of tweezers and a bright small flashlight or pen light.
Hold them in one hand and place your thumb and forefinger on either side of the head to prevent them from shaking their head. With the other hand gently introduce the credit card or small rubber spatula between the lips on one side of the mouth and work it back and forth until it causes the mouth to open. Then twist the credit card or spatula 30-45 degrees so it forces the mouth to stay open slightly. The other person can then shine the flashlight in the mouth to see if they can see the foreign object. The entrance to the airway, the glottis, is at the base of the tongue, you should see this open and close with breathing.
If you see a something obstructing the glottis and you can safely grab it without forcing the object farther into the airway, then do so. If it's deep in the airway or you can't see well or are not comfortable doing this, do not proceed as you don't want to inadvertently force the object farther in causing a full obstruction of the airway.
If they are still having breathing difficulty and you cannot remove the object then you will need to get her to a veterinarian for treatment.
To find a local veterinarian with reptile experience, here is a useful website you can use to search for a local reptile veterinarian:
(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.
I appreciate the expense of veterinary care, though it is a necessary part of responsible pet ownership. Veterinary costs can vary but it would be at minimum an office visit ($50-125, wide range because the basic office visit cost can vary depending on location and practice type). Diagnostics and treatments would be extra, example bloodwork $75-175, etc. That being said, you have the right to ask for an estimate of cost before they perform diagnostics and treatments so you know how much to expect these to cost. And if there are financial constraints, I encourage you to be polite, but up front about this with the vet, so you can agree on a budget and work together to prioritize the most vital tests and treatments within your budget.
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, especially when/if they are not eating, 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. The water should only be shoulder depth and please monitor them while in the bath so their head doesn't submerge. Dry them off after the bath so they don't cool off too much from evaporation.
-Limit handling. If they are ill or injured limit handling and limit time out of the enclosure. 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 or any cage furniture.
-Make sure the enclosure is clean as built up waste, dust and other irritants can predispose your animal to infection. Cleaning the enclosure more thoroughly at least once monthly with a reptile safe disinfectant is recommended. F10 Veterinary Disinfectant is a good option, safe with reptiles and comes pre-diluted and ready for use in a spray bottle. You can also consider lining the tank with disposable unbleached paper towels or newspaper while they are ill to make cleaning easier. The papers should be changed out daily or more frequently if they become soiled. Also, since they defecate into their water bowls often, cleaning the water bowl daily with soap and warm water before refilling it and weekly disinfection of the bowl is a good idea while they are ill (normally, it's okay just to do a daily rinse and refill of the water dish with 1-2x per week washing/disinfection).
-Calcium and vitamin 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.
If they are weak because they are experiencing a severe calcium deficiency or they are not eating, you can buy a liquid calcium supplement at the pet store and give them a few drops into their mouth once a day and this should help, but this isn't a replacement for a veterinary evaluation and treatment or proper diet and routine calcium supplementation.
Fluker's Liquid Calcium Reptile Supplement
If they are experiencing signs of hypovitaminosis (A or D) or they are not eating, then you can buy a liquid multivitamin supplement at the pet store and give them 2 drops for every 50 grams of body weight. If they are not eating, you can give this supplement every other day for a week before decreasing to twice weekly. The supplement can be placed onto a food item before feeding or dropped directly into their mouthes if they are not eating. Once they are back to eating or no longer have signs of a vitamin deficiency, this liquid supplement should be stopped in favor of multivitamin powder dusting of food and gut loading of insects, as described in the care sheet I shared with you.
Fluker’s Liquid Vitamin (Reptile Supplement)
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 am sharing a care sheet with recommendations on diet, temperature, lighting, supplements, etc and other aspects of bearded dragon care. If you have any questions about the general bearded dragon care sheet please let me know. Thanks.
I should be notified if/when you respond with additional information so we can connect about your bearded dragon Little Homie 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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