I feel like a terrible owner

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I feel like a terrible owner

Postby lurker » Thu Apr 18, 2019 1:43 am


Though I've only ever lurked, this forum has been a constant source of information and positive vibes for me. Pele, my beardie, died Saturday and I'm hoping that making this post will bring me some sense of resolution. She wasn't even 2 years old yet, and I had no idea she was so sick, or what even caused this. I feel like I've failed her as a caretaker, and as much as I loved Pele I don't think I'll ever have another bearded dragon again.

I'm questioning everything I did for Pele wondering if it was more harm than good. In August her appetite was. Between that and her super smelly poops I figured she had parasites and took her to a vet I thought had experience with reptiles. She had a fecal test done that came back positive and we did a two part treatment. She also had bloodwork done that the vet said showed slightly elevated phosphorous levels, which is somewhat expected from the dehydration the meds can cause. A month later we did a second blood test which the vet lost. I hate myself for it, but we never had more blood drawn and I just took a refund. I figured Pele was getting good water between the weekly baths and eyedropper I'd use with her, and at that point I began to question the judgement of the vet. Just as it seemed like Pele was recovering from the parasite treatment winter was approaching, and she went into brumation. She'd come around every once in a while for food or a bit of exercise, but last month she finally seemed to really wake up. It was great to see Pele so active again, she was climbing all over her stuff and looking alert, and eating every day again. She slowed down a bit at the beginning of April, but I figured it was normal for an adult beardie to be a bit lazy and didn't worry about it. Then last Wednesday was the time sign I should have known something was seriously wrong. She had a bit of diarrhea from some blackberries I had given her as a treat. Only it wasn't blackberry juice giving her poo a funny color, it was blood. I was in denial, or I'm actually this stupid. I kept a close eye on her, but after getting a bath to wash off and drinking a lot of water Pele perked right up and happily climbed onto her basking area. I noticed she was breathing quickly throughout the day, and possibly dehydrated from the diarrhea with a wrinkly back, but no black beard or anything else that made it seem like she was in pain. I gave her a second bath that day, and she began to pass multiple yellow urates(no blood) Wednesday and Thursday. Then when I woke up Satuday to find that she had terrible diarrhea during the night, it looked completely of blood and it was so terrible. I had a sinking feeling the moment I saw it. There was so much blood all over, she was stuck to the enclosure floor from it getting on her belly. I think it was kidney failure.

I hate myself for letting this happen. I will forever regret not demanding another blood test, or going to a different vet entirely. I'm scared that the medicine Pele was given wrecked her system. I should have taken her somewhere for help Wednesday, and I shouldn't have written off her rapid breathing either. I blame myself for Pele dying in such a terrible way. She was so young still, this doesn't just happen. She died because of something I did or didn't do.
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Re: I feel like a terrible owner

Postby AHBD » Thu Apr 18, 2019 3:58 am

I'm so sorry to read this about Pele, please accept my sincere sympathy. :( Beardie health is still not easy to understand + illnesses not easy to identify. One thing for sure, it was not your fault at all !! Pele did not show many signs of illness really until the terrible night. The fact that she came out of brumation pretty active, eating + drinking shows that she was not in distress at the time. Bloodwork may or may not have revealed anything identifiable that would lead you to think she needed emergency care of some sort.

One thing though, when you say she passed a lot of yellow urates is there a possibility they maybe were infertile eggs ? Even if they were, it doesn't mean there was anything to alert you of impending death. Please don't blame yourself, and again, there are things that were out of your control and probably out of any vet's control. Sometimes cancer, aneurysms, organ failure come on very quickly and even the top vets can't help. Don't blame yourself at all, you need compassion, not condemnation. My heart goes out to you, and I'm sure any one else who reads this would feel the same.
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Re: I feel like a terrible owner

Postby Aaradimian » Thu Apr 18, 2019 1:18 pm

My wife is a bit of a perfectionist, and I have to remind her from time to time that doing everything 'right' is absolutely no guarantee that the worst won't happen anyway. It's sadly the same with our beardie friends. You are certainly not a terrible owner! A bad owner wouldn't give a toss about the loss of "one stupid little lizard" and might even hasten the process intentionally if they were cruel enough. And one certainly wouldn't be broken up about losing their dragon to the point of posting about it and anguishing over the 'what ifs'.

Please don't add to the sadness of losing a beardie by piling on yourself, and definitely don't deprive yourself (or a needy dragon!) of the joys that having these little guys around can bring. There are so many out there for whom someone like you who cares would be a godsend, so IMO, grieve for little Pele as long as you need to and then go out and give another beardie a good home like she had. Hang in there!
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Re: I feel like a terrible owner

Postby Drache613 » Thu Apr 18, 2019 10:02 pm


I am so sorry to hear about Pele's passing. I know how awful you must feel. No amount of
what if's will bring him back. Definitely don't blame yourself or guilt yourself because it will
just destroy you from the inside out & I am sure Pele wouldn't want you to be unhappy.
I am very sorry about your loss. :cry:
Most of us on this forum completely understand the true sorrow that one feels when losing
a precious dragon, it is quite indescribable. To say anything that you feel anything less is an
understatement. It feels like you have lost a part of you & nothing you say or do will make it

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Re: I feel like a terrible owner

Postby AxiomForever » Fri Apr 19, 2019 11:49 pm

First I would like to extend my deepest sympathy to you losing your companion Pele. I understand your situation with blaming yourself for the passing of your dragon as something similar happened to me. I left the lock to my dragons cage unlocked which lead to a fatal accident. I spent time blaming myself for what happened and know how it is to feel like you've failed your bearded dragon. If you can, try not to think of the should ofs because there is nothing you can do to change the past. You did what you felt was right and it is a lesson learned. It sounds like you really loved Pele. You had faith in your vet and there's no way you could have known what the medicine would do to her. I know it is hard but try to forgive yourself, there isn't any going back but there is moving forward. Though it may feel like you won't have another dragon in your life, give it time and if the day comes when your ready to adopt again use what you've learned from this experience. I'm very sorry you lost your girl, I hope you find healing and forgiveness during this time <3
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