Took my beardie to a specialist; left with more questions

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Took my beardie to a specialist; left with more questions

Postby lizdragon » Tue Mar 26, 2019 7:07 am

I took in my bearded dragon Liz about six months ago, after she was diagnosed with metabolic bone disease. She was living with my family before that. At the time, she was walking very strangely and crossing her arms. She also wasn't pooping very often, but I think this is because they didn't take her out often. They weren't concerned, so I took her myself to the local vet and they said that she was suffering from MBD. They did x-rays that indicated that though she was calcium deficient, her bones didn't look that bad. They told me to give her liquid calcium twice for thirty days, which I did. The day after the vet appointment she laid a bunch of eggs. Since then, I got a better UVB light for her (she used to only have a spotlight) and take her out way more often and give her more live prey they she used to get (they pretty much only fed her veggies).

Anyways, six months later and she has gotten a bit better. She has gained weight and can walk more normally, however now she has some eating and pooping problems. When I first took her in she was still eating a lot of veggies and started pooping once or twice a week, which was an improvement to how she was before. But lately she is pooping infrequently (every two to three weeks) and does not have an appetite for vegetables. I've tried mixing up what veggies I give and even introduced some fruit, but she just doesn't want it. She'll eat vegetables maybe once or twice a week. However, she still has an appetite for superworms. She'll eat these every day without problem (unless I try to feed her too early or too late).

Anyways, I took her back to my local vet recently and they said everything looked good and it could just be her being picky about food, but gave me the name of a reptile specialist group I could take her to if I was still concerned. Because her pooping has still been pretty infrequent and her eating habits are still weird, I decided to make an an appointment. During the appointment, the specialist vet basically just asked me a bunch of questions, made a few broad statements, and barely gave me any answers or advice on what to do. She made a comment about how maybe my beardie didn't actually have MBD because she hasn't gotten totally better. But then also said that dragons with MBD can never get fully back to normal. So that was the first confusion. Then she felt around in her stomach and said thought she could feel something that could be an egg or just fat but she didn't know. She didn't mention this again and never said anything about what to do. Then she mentioned something about my beardie maybe having a neurological problem but that there's no way to fully tell and that there's nothing I can really do about it. But then she also said that it's not necessarily fatal? I was very confused by that. I felt like she just kept making comments without really suggesting anything, so when I told her that I basically wanted to do everything I could to keep my beardie alive and healthy, she said that she would do a blood test and a fecal exam (luckily my beardie pooped on the way there). I'm still waiting on the blood test but the fecal exam came out normal.

What can a blood test show us? The doc never explained this. Does anyone have any advice at all for what I should do to help my beardie (honestly some of you may be more helpful than this doctor) or what I should ask my vet when I get the blood test results? I just feel like I spent a lot of money (350 dollars) to basically get no answers. I'm hoping the blood test reveals something but if it doesn't I feel like I'm just stuck.
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Re: Took my beardie to a specialist; left with more question

Postby claudiusx » Tue Mar 26, 2019 7:22 am

The blood test can reveal a lot. Post the results up here once you get them for us to look at.

The first thing I look for when appetite is affected is temperature and lighting. Which uvb bulb did you switch to?
And what are the temps in your tank? Basking SURFACE, hot side, and cool side.

What insects are you feeding her?
And do you ever bathe her?

-Brandon
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Re: Took my beardie to a specialist; left with more question

Postby lizdragon » Tue Mar 26, 2019 7:32 am

claudiusx wrote:The blood test can reveal a lot. Post the results up here once you get them for us to look at.

The first thing I look for when appetite is affected is temperature and lighting. Which uvb bulb did you switch to?
And what are the temps in your tank? Basking SURFACE, hot side, and cool side.

What insects are you feeding her?
And do you ever bathe her?

-Brandon


Hi Brandon, thank you for getting back to me. I am using this light for UVB: http://www.lightyourreptiles.com/22-t-5-ho-fixture-high-output-with-arcadia-d3-12-ho-bulb/

The thing with my beardie is because her walking and climbing is not great, I was told to be very careful with the furniture I use for her to bask on. When I'm here and can watch her she can bask on a higher perch (it's a wooden log cut out) that measures 100 degrees F (just measured it). When the smaller perch is in there (when no one is home) the basking temperature is lower. I'm also confused because I feel like the basking temperature changes sometimes. It's a 100 watt bulb for a 40 gallon cage. We are scared to leave a large perch in there for her out of fear she might fall on her back and get stuck. The other day I went to the bathroom and came back and she was lying on her back--she tried climbing to get on a couch she has and fell. The cool side of the tank is 81 degrees, the hot side is 87.
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Re: Took my beardie to a specialist; left with more question

Postby lizdragon » Tue Mar 26, 2019 7:53 am

Oh, and to answer your other questions right now I am feeding her superworms that I dust with calcium and gutload. She is not fast enough to eat crickets anymore. However I've decided I'm going to start giving her dubia roaches. The nurse at the specialist office gave me some advice about keeping dubias.

I bathe her a few times a week, but the specialist advised me to do it every day which I will.

I will definitely post the blood test results when they arrive.
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Re: Took my beardie to a specialist; left with more question

Postby claudiusx » Tue Mar 26, 2019 8:09 am

Ok that's a great uvb to have. And good idea with the lower furniture. No need to stress her out by forcing her to climb. How close does she get to the Arcadia while she's basking? And is it mounted inside or outside the tank.
Temperatures are good too as long as you're measuring with an accurate device.

Dubia would be a great insect to switch too. Personally I use supers as a staple feeder for my adults, but they can be harder to digest than other insects. When a dragon isnt pooing regularly it's a good idea to stop with the tougher insects and switch to something easier. Dubias, silkworms, hornworms, butterworms, and BSFL are all great options you can try too.

And I agree with the daily baths. At least until the poo gets more regular just incase she is impacted slightly. You can also try some applesauce or a few drops of olive oil on her mouth to help move things along.

Sounds like you're doing all you can for the time being. Will be interesting to see the blood results.

-Brandon
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Re: Took my beardie to a specialist; left with more question

Postby lizdragon » Tue Mar 26, 2019 8:19 am

claudiusx wrote:Ok that's a great uvb to have. And good idea with the lower furniture. No need to stress her out by forcing her to climb. How close does she get to the Arcadia while she's basking? And is it mounted inside or outside the tank.
Temperatures are good too as long as you're measuring with an accurate device.

Dubia would be a great insect to switch too. Personally I use supers as a staple feeder for my adults, but they can be harder to digest than other insects. When a dragon isnt pooing regularly it's a good idea to stop with the tougher insects and switch to something easier. Dubias, silkworms, hornworms, butterworms, and BSFL are all great options you can try too.

And I agree with the daily baths. At least until the poo gets more regular just incase she is impacted slightly. You can also try some applesauce or a few drops of olive oil on her mouth to help move things along.

Sounds like you're doing all you can for the time being. Will be interesting to see the blood results.

-Brandon


Thank you. With the lower basking log, the UVB is about 11 inches away from her. It's mounted outside the tank but I can mount it inside if I use wires (though my biggest fear is that it could not be secure enough and fall on her!). I'm using a temperature gun to measure the temperature. I've given her drops of olive oil in the past to get her to poop and it has seemed to help a bit.
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Re: Took my beardie to a specialist; left with more question

Postby lizdragon » Wed Mar 27, 2019 5:46 am

I'm going to make a new post about this once I get the specific results, but I just wanted to give you an update. The vet emailed me that the blood work is done and it came out normal. The only thing is that they said her calcium levels are high which indicates she likely is in "reproductive mode" and I need to monitor her carefully. I called the office and asked if I could speak with the vet about this in detail and also asked for them to send a copy of her lab work. I wonder if the high calcium levels could also be because I've been dusting her food with calcium powder (with D3) every day, as I was advised to months ago when she was diagnosed with MBD. At the recent appointment with the specialist, she said not to use the stuff with D3 every day, only a few times a week, and I can use calcium powder without D3 all the other days.

Overall, I'm very relieved my Liz's results came out looking good.
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Re: Took my beardie to a specialist; left with more question

Postby claudiusx » Wed Mar 27, 2019 5:51 am

Definitely ask for a copy of the results!
That is a relief to hear but still would be nice to see the actual numbers.

The specialists suggestion about the D3 is a valid one. Especially with the uvb bulb that you have.

IMO it's usually better to keep everything to one thread that way all the info is in one place and anyone new to your situation doesn't have to go searching for info or ask you repeat questions. :mrgreen:

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Re: Took my beardie to a specialist; left with more question

Postby lizdragon » Wed Mar 27, 2019 5:55 am

Yes, they're going to send it over today! I will post them here once I have it. Do you have any advice for when a dragon is about to lay eggs? I'm so worried she will get much worse once she lays eggs as she'll have lost a lot of calcium again. Should I still only give her the D3 twice a week after laying eggs and losing all that calcium?

Ahh ok. I wasn't sure if members were alerted when a new comment was posted in a thread (I get notifications but I'm the one who started the topic) so I wasn't sure if you would even see my response! I guess I can keep it all here. Thanks!
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Re: Took my beardie to a specialist; left with more question

Postby claudiusx » Wed Mar 27, 2019 6:03 am

Well you will be able to feel the eggs before she has them. And she should look obviously bigger when has them.

You still want to dust normally with calcium powder, you just don't need to use the calcium + d3 every day. so if you only have a calcium +d3 you will want to buy one without d3 also.

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Re: Took my beardie to a specialist; left with more question

Postby lizdragon » Wed Mar 27, 2019 6:08 am

Got it. Thank you.

I can't feel any eggs in her right now, but the specialist said she could feel what could have been an egg, but she said it could also be fat. I'm wondering if eggs are something I should expect within the week, or if it's something that could happen over the next few weeks or even months.
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Re: Took my beardie to a specialist; left with more question

Postby lizdragon » Wed Mar 27, 2019 3:16 pm

Here are Liz's results:

GLUCOSE: 279
URIC ACID: 2.5
PHOSPHORUS: 7.6
CALCIUM: 40.9
SODIUM: 158
POTASSIUM: 3.5
TOTAL PROTEIN: 7.1
ALBUMIN: 3.6
GLOBULIN: 3.5
ALB/GLOB RATIO: 1
ALT: 53
AST: 19
ALP: 49
LDH: 431
CHOLESTEROL: 317
CREATINE KINASE: 3290
WBC-EST: 6.0-8.0
WBC: 7
HCT: 43
HETEROPHILS: 13
HETEROPHIL BANDS: 0
% LYMPHOCYTE: 74
% MONOCYTE: 13
AZUROPHIL: 0
% EOSINOPHIL: 0
% BASOPHIL: 0
THROMBOCYTES: Adequate
BLOOD PARASITES: No parasite seen
REMARKS: Slide reviewed microscopically.Differential, estimate(s), and/or slide evaluation were performed on client slides. No whole blood received for manual WBC count.
ABSOLUTE HETEROPHIL: 910
ABSOLUTE HETEROPHIL BAND: 0
LYMPHOCYTE: 5180
MONOCYTE: 910
ABSOLUTE AZUROPHIL: 0
EOSINOPHIL: 0
BASOPHIL: 0
PLASMA PROTEIN: greater than 12.0

None of that means anything to me, but the results indicate that her calcium, total protein, globulin, ALT, and HCT levels are high and her absolute heterophil absolute azurophil levels are low. Do any of these results stand out to you (apart from the calcium which I know is very high)?

The vet told me I could put some sand in a portion of her cage so she has somewhere to dig to lay her eggs.
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Re: Took my beardie to a specialist; left with more question

Postby Drache613 » Fri Mar 29, 2019 12:21 am

Hello,

How is Liz doing today?
Have you made a laybox for her now? I do think that's a good idea to be sure she has an
appropriate place to lay if needed.

I looked over the blood test results.
The ALT(liver) is a bit higher but if she is producing or shelling eggs that is to be expected. If
for some reason she reabsorbs them then her liver will be taxed from having to break down all
of that yolk.
The uric acid levels look good, along with most of the values. It does look like she may have
a bit of an infection going on, or just some stress due to her body shelling eggs. The calcium is
very high which does occur during the shelling process. The protein levels are normally high
when they are getting ready to lay, especially the albumin levels. The globulin can become
elevated when fighting disease or infection, too.
The HCT or hematocrit will be higher during follicular activity as well. Glucose levels aren't too
much out of range, but can become elevated during stressful times, also.
She doesn't appear to have much if any infection but maybe just some stress.

Let us know how she is doing.
Tracie
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Re: Took my beardie to a specialist; left with more question

Postby lizdragon » Mon Apr 01, 2019 5:51 am

Hi Tracie,

Thank you so much for your informative post. I'm sorry for my late response, I have been out of town since Friday morning. Anyways, yes she now has a lay box in her cage filled with sand. However there are no eggs yet and I still can't feel any in her. She pooped yesterday which we are happy about, because that was only six days since her last poop and lately she has been pooping weeks apart.

If she did have an infection, I'm guessing I would notice more signs? I'm wondering if I should take her back to the vet if there are still no eggs in the next week. I'm just not sure how long I should wait. I'd like to avoid going back to the specialist not only because of cost, but it's a bit hard to get to using public transportation (I'm in NYC) from where I am, but I will go back if I need to.

Again, thank you so much for taking the time to read my post and helping me interpret the numbers.
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Re: Took my beardie to a specialist; left with more question

Postby lizdragon » Thu Apr 18, 2019 8:32 am

Just an update on Liz--she has been doing much better lately. She has been eating her vegetables every day now and pooping at least once a week. I'm very happy about that. However, she still has not laid eggs yet. I wonder if that is something I should be concerned about since the doctor made it seem like it would be happening soon. And I still can't feel any eggs inside her when I hold her.
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