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CheriS, Herpetologist
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 49
Experience:  30 years exp captive reptile husbandry & other exotics
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How do i treat gut impaction in a 14 week old Bearded ...

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How do i treat gut impaction in a 14 week old Bearded Dragon?

Thank you for using for this very important question on moving impactions out of a young bearded dragon. Below is a method that has worked many times and is suggested to try before surgery is needed providing he dragon is not in distress

Here is a method that we have used several times now with bearded dragons that has worked. You need to move the impaction down and out

  1. Setup a hospital tank with under-tank heat. This is one of the few times that a bearded dragon will need heat directly on the tummy area. Make sure it does not go over about 95F for a bearded dragon. For other reptiles, a few degrees less than their normal basking temps.
  2. You can give the animal a few drops of mineral oil, olive oil or vegetable oil (depending on his size) daily. For a young dragon under 4 months and up to 60 grams we use 3 drops. For a larger animal we increase the drops, one drop for each 20 grams.
  3. Then warm soaks, do not force him to move any of his legs, let him do it on his own. Do the warm soaks several times a day. Make sure the water is the appropriate temps they normally bask at, not hotter.
  4. Try to get as much fluids in him as possible, diluted Gatorade (strawberry-kiwi they love) is something they will usually drink good from a dropper. The fluids and soaks help relax then move the impaction along the digestive system
  5. NO crickets, worms or any solids right now, get some strained baby food like chicken, squash, sweet potatoes (just veggies for vegetable eating reptiles, like iguanas) and make it runny with water or pedialyte (also warm, not hot), feed that with a dropper. You can also add calcium and vitamins to this mix. Depending on his age, if under 4 month, get at least 1 cc in him daily or broken into 2 feedings a day. Older reptiles you can give more if he will eat it. What you need to do is support his strength while the impaction moves through him and not contribute to it.

It may take several days using the above method to get him to move an impaction down and out. You do have some time to work here before it becomes risky to him. DO not let it go more than 10 days, (less if the animals is showing other signs of distress amd then you should have a vet check him and supervise any attempts to get it to move) if the impaction has not passed by then, he may need to have enemas to try and move the impaction out (WHICH SHOULD ONLY BE ATTEMPTED BY A VETERINARIAN!) and also he will need a fecal run on it to determine if the impacted food created bacteria when spoiling in him. IF this does not move the impaction you will have to consider surgery as the last option.

Once the impaction is out, it may take several weeks for him to regain the full use of his back legs and eating, so don't panic if he is still not moving then, it will take that time for the inflammation around the spinal cord to go down and they will usually regain the use slowly


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CheriS and 3 other Pet Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 10 years ago.
Reply to CheriS's Post: The lizard has passed some by being bathed in warm water while gently stroking stomache towards rectum. Is this helpfull or not?

If the impaction is low enough, it might.... you need to be careful you do not perforate the intestinal wall. Since he has passes some, this looks very promising if you can get him hydrated enough, he can get it all through. You have not said what caused the impaction... if it is anything that had chitin shelling like superworms or mealworms or something sharp like a substrate that has been ingested the massaging could cause it to do damage if any pressure is applied, So just keep it to very gentle to encourage waves and not any pressure.

With enough hydration, a bit of oil, some runny food and the heat, that should work to move things on through. once that is complete, you need to keep to soft foods for the next few days it can happen again easily until he heals. You also need to try and figure out why he got impaction and change that.

Possible causes are too large prey item, too little fluid intakes, heat too low, enclosure too small, too much food at one time or ingesting substrate Usually it is more than one that contributed to it and a change in those will help avoid it in the future.

Very best to you and him/here, sounds like you are doing good!

Customer: replied 10 years ago.
Reply to CheriS's Post: Hi, I was told to put them on play sand. It was this they have digested. This was very fine grain sand, so should we continue to stroke gently. I did not put any great pressure on her, only her body weight resting on my fingers while she was in water. Since your first email she has eaten some runny sweat potato with a small amount of vitamins. Also she has had a drink with some oil included.
I would like to take this opertunity to thank you for your support and advice as she has two very worried parents. You have been very helpful.

Resting on your finger is okay and very gently tracing your finger down her tummy is okay also. Give the soaks, heat and oil some time to go through, sometimes it takes a few days to flush out an impaction( if you can get it to move)

Play sand for any bearded dragon is risky, but even more so for young dragons as they are messy eaters and love to taste everything (that includes their substrate) . I do not use or recommend any particle substrate be used on baby or young dragons. Owners are advised if they want to try it, to wait until they are older and watch them closely when you add it in. Contrary to what many people tell owners, sand is not their natural environment, a hard packed type clay is along with shrublands, rain corridors and other humid type substrates.

They can safely go on a good quality reptile carpet, non adhesive shelf liner, paper towels, butcher paper, tile or linoleum. Here is a young dragon set up of Shelf liner, reptile carpet and paper towels.... as you can see, very safe and clean,