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Dr. Taus
Dr. Taus, Veterinarian
Category: Veterinary
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Experience:  Veterinarian with experience in equine and small animal medicine.
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I have a 20 year old 120-150 lb sulcata who lives in a dog

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I have a 20 year old 120-150 lb sulcata who lives in a dog house outside. It has a pig heating pad. It is becoming less vigorous last couple months, eating less and for a week about a month ago i noticed some tissue bulging out around his rear leg axilla for a couple days. This is gone. But she is still less vigorous and eating poorly. Anyone have a clue. She is very difficult to take to vet as i can't even lift her anymore. Any ideas? Head and eyes look normal, she hisses and withdraws limbs like normal when i try to move her. 

Hi there. It's great that your tortoise lives outside, where she can graze and get plenty of sunshine to help produce vitamin D. I'm a little concerned about her diet though. The swellings that come and go like you describe can be a sign of metabolic bone disease, an illness due to dietary imbalance.

Sulcatas should eat a diet that is almost completely dark green, leafy, high fiber plants. Grass, clover, and dandelions in the yard are a great start. You can also add grass (timothy or orchardgrass) hay and green, leafy veggies like kale, carrot tops, mustard greens, collard greens, etc. The fruits and other veggies should be fed only as treats. It can be hard to get them to eat the good food after a diet of delicious fruits, but once you get her switched over, it's better for her health.

Although being outside helps with getting enough vitamin D, consider adding a commercial vitamin/ calcium supplement made for reptiles to her food. You can find this at most supply stores.

If this doesn't work, I'd consider seeing if there is a vet in your area that makes house calls. An x-ray may be in order, and you may be able to find someone who can do it at your home rather than having to transport your tortoise.

I hope this is helpful. If so, please rate me positively.
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