Baby BD just diagnosed with MBD (updated 12/07)

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Baby BD just diagnosed with MBD (updated 12/07)

Postby skyfishcafe » Mon Oct 07, 2019 10:44 am

Yesterday Alduîn (appx. 3 months old) was as spunky and rambunctious as ever -- and had a HUGE appetite, eating about 25 BSFL and 15 little dubias over the course of the day! Then this morning, I heard him shuffling around the tank after the lights came on. I walked over to say good morning and noticed he was down at the base of the artificial tree stump he typically basks on. I figured he was still warming up, so didn't think anything of it.

About twenty minutes later I heard some noise again and saw him on top of the stump, but he was dragging his rear right leg -- he wasn't moving it at all. A quick search made me think he might have an impaction, so I prepped a bath. In the meantime he passed a normal-looking stool but didn't move away from it, and instead simply lay in the liquid. I hoped that maybe passing the stool would alleviate his apparent paralysis, so I gently put him in the bath just to tidy his underside. He barely moved for about 10 minutes. Finally he came to me to get out of the bath, then flopped on his basking site and looked super limp and pitiful. No stress marks at all, oddly.

At this point I was beyond alarmed, so I quickly went to see our vet. She said Alduîn didn't show signs of an impaction, but that his right limbs were definitely weaker than his right and she suspected either calcium deficiency or, if that weren't the case, possibly some rare neurological impact from parasites. X-rays confirmed that although his skull and core are still strong, his limbs and particularly his toes are calcium-deficient in a manner consistent with MBD (and possible partial dislocation of his rear right leg -- but no apparent fracture). The vet said that our husbandry seemed fine: good UVB source, nutrition, supplements, etc. She suspects that Alduîn's mother may have been a "repeat breeder" and was herself deficient in calcium when she laid this clutch.

For now, we'll be giving him daily doses of painkiller and calcium gluconate. Re-check a week from today. Prognosis is guarded. It's so sad and frustrating to see him go from a bundle of energy to being so limited in less than 12 hours.

My partner and I are upset with the place where we bought Alduîn... because when we first visited them in January, they seemed so knowledgeable and friendly and helpful, but ever since we finally decided to get our BD in September, we feel like we've been misled again and again and again. This was Alduîn's third visit to the vet in the past month -- initial checkup, questions about appetite, and now this -- and this is the first sign that anything's been wrong with his body. It's so frustrating.

Anyway, I don't think I'm looking for any particular advice or whatever. Just wanted to shout into the void and vent a little.
Last edited by skyfishcafe on Sat Dec 07, 2019 7:07 am, edited 10 times in total.
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Re: Baby BD just diagnosed with MBD

Postby KarrieRee » Mon Oct 07, 2019 2:25 pm

I am so sorry to hear about your little man --- what does Prognosis is guarded mean? Is he going to slowly get worse - is he going to be able to improve and still walk etc?? That is terrible- shame on the breeders--- please keep us updated on him and I am sure some one on here w/ more knowledge can give insight on this
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Re: Baby BD just diagnosed with MBD

Postby claudiusx » Mon Oct 07, 2019 3:02 pm

Hi there,

I'm sorry you are having to go through this with your buddy. I know it can be disheartening.

Just to double check, can you go over your setup with us? A picture or two would help also.

Mainly we want details on your uvb setup. I know you said the vet thinks it's fine, but youd be surprised what we here vets considering fine sometimes.

Its paramount that your uvb bulb is adequate with the extra calcium you are giving him. Otherwise it wont be getting absorbed and it will be much for nothing.

The good thing is, you caught it early! So let's get alduîn back on the right track! :D
We are here for you two.

-Brandon
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Re: Baby BD just diagnosed with MBD

Postby skyfishcafe » Mon Oct 07, 2019 4:45 pm

Thanks, Karrie and Brandon. My understanding of guarded prognosis is basically "it's pretty bad, and recovery without serious complications is unlikely". We're going to do all we can to make him comfortable and, with good fortune, amenable to recovery.

Brandon, definitely. Our setup until today was this:

[Click image to enlarge]


- 40G breeder tank, mesh top (usually not covered)
- Non-adhesive shelf liner "substrate"
- ReptiSun 22" 10.0 HO UVB mounted inside at rear top of tank, ~7" away from primary basking branch
- 75W PAR30 in deep dome on adjustable lamp stand for basking/heat
- Basking sites range from 100-115°F (37-46°C) depending on exact surface; "stump" and "bridge" were usually hottest at around 110-115°F (43-46°C) while branch was 100-105°F (37-41°C)
- Ambient tank temperature on hot side was about 95°F (35°C) during the day
- Ambient tank temperature on cool side was about 85°F (29°C) during the day, down to about 75°F (24°C) at night
- Temperatures taken by digital probe and/or Ryobi temp gun (the dial thermometers in the photo are pretty much worthless, not sure why I bother to keep them in there)


The vet recommended sectioning off a smaller part of the tank during recovery, as well as removing his climbing/perching areas. She did recommend keeping one or two hides in case he wanted to get out of the light or heat. This is what I threw together after getting home from the vet:

[Click image to enlarge]

[Click image to enlarge]


One of my concerns with the small setup is that the UVB may be too far now without a reflector. He's about 14-16" from the bulb now, so I think that essentially puts him into "partial sun" UV strength. I'm sure I could mount new Command strips fairly easily lower on the tank wall.

Since coming home, he has passed a normal-looking stool. He has also eaten about 20 BSF+BSFL, including ones into which I injected his meds. He's not really taking water or veg yet (he did get fluids injected before leaving vet, so I'm not too surprised).

It feels surreal that 24 hours ago he was running around and hiding in his blanket with us while we watched TV. At this point, we're kind of expecting the worst and hoping for the best.
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Re: Baby BD just diagnosed with MBD

Postby claudiusx » Mon Oct 07, 2019 6:20 pm

Thanks for the extra details and the pictures :)

I probably wouldn't have sectioned off the tank myself. I don't really see the point to it.
But it's probably a good idea to keep his climbing options limited if his leg is dislocated.

How is his movements now? Hopefully it will get better on its own in a few days.

Would you be able to take him outside for some natural sunlight every once in awhile? That should do him some good!

It's great news that he ate a good meal after the vets! A lot of times they are stressed and don't want to. He's a tough one!
You will probably want to move the reptisun down lower. The only downside to that and partitioning off the tank is that he won't really have a place to escape the UV if he wants to. Not unless he goes into a hide or something.

How long have you had him? It's pretty unlikely IME that a dragon would develop MBD in 3 months unless he was under subpar exposure for those 3 months. If you got him young, I'd kind of doubt the diagnosis of MBD. But it's hard without seeing the xrays that the vet saw, and still, it's hard to make that call on a young dragon IMO.

Either way, don't be too down in the dumps about it. Hopefully everything is ok, he doesn't have MBD, and he just hurt his leg a little bit! :D
And if he does have MBD, well you caught it early and we will remedy the problem. MBD is definitely not a death sentence, and it has a very good survival rate especially when caught early! There should be no real lasting issues from it!

-Brandon
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Re: Baby BD just diagnosed with MBD

Postby skyfishcafe » Tue Oct 08, 2019 12:14 pm

Hi Brandon,

Thanks for your thoughts and encouragement. I did end up lowering the UVB about 5 inches just to ensure Alduîn has a higher amount available. We also opened up the tank to see what would happen and he pretty much ignores the cool side anyway, so we're just leaving it open (but pretty bare) for now. His movement is pretty stiff but he is able to get around in small increments, particularly after his daily dose of anti-inflammatories. His front right leg tends to just get left behind when he lays down, and his rear right leg is pretty swollen but he hops along on it from time to time.

As for natural sunlight, we typically take him outside for about 30 minutes of sun each day (except yesterday of course). Today I took him out in the early afternoon and he immediately hid in the shade and gaped, so I think I'll wait until a bit later and try again when the sun isn't so intense.

We brought Alduîn into our home on September 7th, almost exactly one month ago, and he was estimated to be about 2 months old at the time. We took him to the vet 2 days after getting him just to ensure he was healthy and to get additional husbandry info, and all seemed well until this. It really makes me question what his life was like at the small independently-owned "exotic pets" store where we got him. We had thought we were doing the right thing by getting him from people who seemed to care about their animals; the employee we spoke with when we first sought info in January went on and on about how they are always careful to select BDs that don't have missing toes, broken tails, lethargy, etc. We are considering going to talk with the owner to find out more about how they keep their dragons, who their breeders are, and so on... We can't rewind time for Alduîn but maybe we can alert someone to a potential problem with the source.

Anyway, today he has eaten some BSFL + meds and even a few mouthfuls of butternut squash and collard greens -- and he's drunk about 1.5cc of water from the syringe, so I think he's keen to stay hydrated. The vet's office called to follow up and see how he was doing, and we have a re-check scheduled for next Monday at the clinic. I've also asked if they would email me a copy of the xrays; admin said she needed permission from the vet to release them, so maybe tomorrow. Now it's one day at a time.

Thanks again for your support! Even though my original post was cathartic venting, it's nice to have someone to talk with about this.

Aaron
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Re: Baby BD just diagnosed with MBD

Postby claudiusx » Tue Oct 08, 2019 12:22 pm

Hey Aaron,

That's such great news that he seemed to have ate well today. That's a decent amount of water too. So things are looking good so far at least!

I feel your pain, unfortunately a lot of places just aren't that knowledgeable, and it's usually not with any ill-intention. I really wish these companies would stop marketing these coul bulbs, or at least redesign them to be effective.

Is his leg visibly swollen? Would you be able to get a picture of it?
If you end up getting the xrays definitely post them up. I dont have too much experience analyzing them but Tracie I'm sure does, and she can at least offer you a second opinion on what she sees.

It really sounds like hes not too bothered by the whole ordeal since his appetite is still good. They are tough little creatures.

skyfishcafe wrote:Thanks again for your support! Even though my original post was cathartic venting, it's nice to have someone to talk with about this.

That's one of the beauties of this community. A lot of us have been through things like this so we understand the emotions that come along with it. It's harder to vent that into the real world.

-Brandon
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Re: Baby BD just diagnosed with MBD

Postby skyfishcafe » Wed Oct 09, 2019 5:43 am

Yesterday around 4pm Alduîn ate a HUGE meal (2 BSF, ~15 BSFL and ~15 dubia roaches), maybe because he hadn't eaten as much that morning. Normally his lights go out at 8pm and he digs & jumps at the sides of his tank to get our attention and fall asleep on the couch, but yesterday he started that routine just a few minutes after eating. At first I thought something had scared him and he was trying to hide, but I had to leave to pick up my partner so I tried to calm him with his blanket and then left.

We got back at 5pm and he continued his "dance" routine. We figured he might be exhausted from not feeling well, and from being stressed and in pain, so we let him fall asleep and turned off his lights early. I would have preferred that he had at least a couple of hours to bask before sleeping to help with digestion but was also worried that he would further injure himself if I'd just let him keep digging/jumping.

Unfortunately he's much less energetic this morning and does not hold up his head or body. I'm guessing at least some of that is because the painkillers have worn off. He passed a large, well-hydrated stool, but so far has refused food & water. He isn't using his right front leg at all (it seems swollen now, too -- maybe over-exertion to compensate for his injured right rear leg?) and his other limbs sometimes tremble. I wish I could just get the anti-inflam into him but there's not much I can do for now other than keep temperatures stable and keep offering.

Here is a picture from this morning where you can see the swollen right rear leg (near hip) and the unused right front leg:

[Click image to enlarge]


Hoping he'll get hungry and take his meds soon so he can get some relief. I'll be sure to post xrays if/when they are released to me.

Aaron
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Re: Baby BD just diagnosed with MBD

Postby claudiusx » Wed Oct 09, 2019 6:50 am

Aww I was hoping the story continued on that good note. It's great that he at least got a lot of nourishment in. That should help him out a lot.

It is possible he over exerted himself. You might want to limit that in the future if you can. Hes hopefully just a bit tired.

They rear leg doesnt look too bad, but it does seem a bit swollen your right.

How did his urates look?

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Re: Baby BD just diagnosed with MBD

Postby skyfishcafe » Wed Oct 09, 2019 1:10 pm

Not sure how he's doing right now to be honest. He has mostly just stayed in the basking area all day (seems very difficult to move), though we did finally get him to eat his meds with 1 BSFL, 3-4 dubias and some butternut squash. He also had about 0.4cc water.

Until this afternoon his urates looked fine -- pure white, wet/sticky. However, he just passed one (urate only, minimal or no stool) which was not well-formed and had some light pink discoloration. I'm not sure if it's blood or perhaps from the calcium supplementation. (The vet told us that we should give the 0.04cc calcium gluconate daily AND dust every feeder insect with calcium every feeding.)

We're going to see if he's hungry again in another hour or so. Perhaps the meds will have helped with his pain somewhat. I think he doesn't like the taste of the painkiller because he refused BSFL after he ate the one with his meds in it...
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Re: Baby BD just diagnosed with MBD

Postby claudiusx » Wed Oct 09, 2019 1:58 pm

The discoloration is most likely from the calcium. Thats why I was asking, as I'd expect them to be a bit discolored with all the supplements hes getting.

It's always good when they eat.

How many hours would you say hes been basking for?
What is the temp where hes been at?

Are your cool end temps still around 85?

Just another thought, it might be a worthwhile investment to get a CHE for nighttime to keep night temps around 80 or so. That helps keep the immune system and metabolism active.

-Brandon
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Re: Baby BD just diagnosed with MBD

Postby skyfishcafe » Thu Oct 10, 2019 3:28 am

It's morning here now and he is still sleeping (lights on in another hour). He spent pretty much all of yesterday directly under the heat and UVB lamps at ~100°F, only moving away to get a few insects and to defecate. He had a much harder time moving around yesterday, and I'm concerned that maybe he wasn't able or willing to move himself to more optimal conditions. I tried moving his hides slightly to make them more accessible but as far as I can tell he never used them.

I'm glad to report that he did eat about 12 more BSFL and 8 dubias yesterday evening! He retired early again, though this time we pre-empted his evening dance routine and he fell asleep on the couch with us around 6pm. I hope his lengthy light exposure throughout the day makes up for the fact that he is going to bed early (and only getting overall about 11 hours of exposure).

The cool end of the tank is closer to 80-82°F during the day and about 75-77°F at night -- though that's mostly a function of our overall apartment temperature (75 at night). We'll have to see if we can get our hands on a CHE or, at the very least, bump up the nighttime temperature and just use a fan to stay cool ourselves.

We did get the xrays from the vet yesterday evening. The resolution is quite small but here is the one the vet found concerning:

[Click image to enlarge]
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Re: Baby BD just diagnosed with MBD

Postby CooperDragon » Thu Oct 10, 2019 7:49 am

Your temps sound pretty good. I probably wouldn't bump it much higher than that. My tank is currently around 79 on the cool end during the day and 70-73 overnight.

What about the x-ray did the vet find to be concerning? The skeleton looks fairly bright and well defined (to my very much untrained eye).
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Re: Baby BD just diagnosed with MBD

Postby skyfishcafe » Thu Oct 10, 2019 11:17 am

So far today Alduîn has not moved a whole lot. He did crawl from his sleeping space to his basking area, then onto one of his hides to pass a normal-looking stool, then back to basking. He has mostly crammed himself into the corner between the heat lamp and UVB; I'm not sure if that means he wants more heat/light, or less, or is just comfortable because of the angle. If only I could understand what he wants!

He drank about 1.2cc of water but didn't want any food until about 1pm. He did take his meds, though he only ate 4 BSFL, 4 dubias, and a fingertip full of butternut squash. I think the painkiller throws off his appetite because he seems to stop eating shortly after we give it to him. He had difficulty getting food because when he tries to turn to the side or otherwise move, his limbs begin shaking. I'm not sure if it's due to weakness, pain, both, or other...

CooperDragon, thanks for the feedback on temps. We're trying to keep him comfortable. As for the xrays, the vet said that while his skull and spine look fine at the moment, her main concern is with his extremities. She pointed out areas of low bone density in his long bones (for example, the "upper" end of his right humerus, and both ends of each femur). She also pointed to the toes and how dark/faint they are. I'm also not trained in reading xrays, and since Alduîn is our first bearded dragon I don't really have any point of reference for comparison.
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Re: Baby BD just diagnosed with MBD

Postby skyfishcafe » Fri Oct 11, 2019 11:13 am

Very rough day for Alduîn today. His front legs are too weak to use and his rear legs can only barely push him around on his belly. Defecated as usual and drank 1cc of water but refused food all morning, and this afternoon he has only eaten 1 BSF, 2 BSFL and 1 dubia roach (and only about half of his 0.01cc anti-inflammatory dosage, though he did get all 0.04cc of his calcium gluconate). His tail is also tending to curl up and to the left, and his body curls to the left. He has a lot of loose skin since he hasn't eaten much. I'm sure it doesn't help that his tail is bright white and ready to shed.

Feels like a turn for the worse, but we're continuing to do what we can to try and make him comfortable.
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