Help with future care recommendations/knowing where I messed

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Help with future care recommendations/knowing where I messed

Postby Jessieamandabhb » Mon Dec 16, 2019 12:43 pm

Hi everyone. This is hard for me to talk about, but I need answers and I trust this forum as this is where I did a lot of my research before I got my baby...

On Friday, I took my sweet girl Louise (estimated by me to be approx 3 m.o. due to her length when I got her 10/29 from PetSmart) to the vet for an emergency appointment. She was quite skinny for her length and not gaining weight, not her normal feisty explorer self, not pooping as much as she normally does and she was limping and had two feet that she was favoring that appeared over night (1 front, 1 back). I originally thought that she was impacted and gave her multiple baths or I thought that she may have broken or sprained her legs by jumping off her rock. I gave her a few days to see if maybe that was the case. I noticed she was still babying those legs and they seemed a little swollen, so I got her an emergency vet appointment.

Unfortunately, nothing was broken but she did have a soft tissue injury and muscle weakness and upon further tests, the vet discovered that she had gout and that her kidneys were failing so badly that they weren’t even attempting to filter anything. He said that her phosphorus levels were so high that the machine couldn’t read it and that her uric acid levels were extremely high. Her x-rays showed possible mbd as he said that her bones did not look as thick and strong as he would want them to, but he thought I was giving her enough calcium otherwise. She also had coccida and trichomonas... He said that he could give her medicine and do a bunch of things to try to help her get better but due to the fact that she was so very young and that her kidneys were so far gone and she was very skinny, he couldn’t paint a pretty picture of recovery and that sometimes, something occurs in the kidneys (can’t remember the name) where you can do all of this and still not heal it. He said that he regrettably recommended putting her down as that would be the nonselfish thing and he would do it if it was his pet. It sounds blunt the way I put it, but he was very kind about it and not at all pushy. You could tell that he was deeply saddened for how her tests transpired. My husband and I agreed as she was so young and her quality of life was so bad, and this vet is the only well respected avian and exotic vet in our area. However, I regret it. It’s only been 4 days today, and I have regretted it every single day and I miss her......

I kept asking him if her severe gout was due to bad husbandry on my part as I only had her about a month and a half, and he simply said that he thinks it was a combination of dehydration as baby bearded dragons have a hard time being convinced to drink water and that them having heat lamps dehydrated them with every breath and some other things I did not understand but the dehydration was his main point...

I am going to talk about my set up and supplies used and would like feedback on if what I was doing was correct or if I was in the wrong just for peace of mind and possible future reference. I have wanted a bearded dragon for 4 years and I’m so deeply saddened that my first one got so sick that I had to put her to sleep. I am so tempted to sell all of the supplies to get it out of my house, but my husband keeps telling me that I can get another bearded dragon but I’m so scared to...


Cage: 40g with screen top and front doors

Temperature measurements w/ 2 digital thermometers with probes

Heat: Lamp over a hammock with 100w bulb that normally stayed between 105-111F. I noticed it would fluctuate a little with the temperature of my house as it would sometimes go up to 115F and I would drop her hammock lower in those incidents.

UV: Reptisun 10.0 T8 bulb with fixture from Home Depot

Calcium: about 4 days a week with Fluker’s Repta calcium

Vitamins: about 2 days a week with Rep-Cal Herptivte

Greens: hand fed about 2-3x a week

Cleaning: Lysol wipes (more for my piece of mind) and Wipe Out spray

Temperature on cold side: stayed between 74-79F

Water source: via gutloading crickets, and once I realized she would rarely drink in the bath, for the last few weeks, I had begun gently shaking a 2 oz cup full of water in front of her to make the water ripple and would let her gulp it until she finished and would get annoyed with me still pushing it towards her. I would do this about every two days or so as she got really annoyed with me trying every day.

Flooring: originally carpet but we switched to ceramic tile a few weeks back

Food: Fed about 2-3x a day with as many crickets as she could eat. Occasional Dubai roaches and a mealworm or two. When I first got her, she would chase every cricket down and devour them. Recently, she would chase a couple and then stop and we would have to watch for awhile to make sure they wouldn’t bug her because she would eat them over the course of a few hours... Her tile had a small gap next to the wall so they would hide from her there a lot of the time and she would get annoyed. I was really worried about her eating habits, but on the 9th, she ate like 20 crickets in one feeding and we gave her a mealworm because we were running out of crickets. The next morning was when the limping and infrequent pooping began.

Baths: about once a week or so, except she got 3 within 24hrs where I was trying to get her to poop

I am going to try to post pictures of my set up.

Before tests were ran at the vet, I showed the vet her set up and he said that he was pleased with it and it seemed like I had done my research.

He also recommended to gently mist a baby bearded dragon’s head until they stopped drinking, twice a day.

After he did all tests and before the decision was made to put her to sleep, he recommended switching to Zoo med’s reptivite? He also said he would not give it as often maybe 2-3 times a week and would cut back on feeding as often if I was using that to dust? Does that make sense to anyone??

Does it seem like a mistake on my part or genetic issues?

I’m sorry this was so long and not grammatically correct. I’m trying to spill out as much information as possible; it’s overwhelming.

**note: the stick on thermometer/hygrometers were stuck on but were not used to access temperature
Last edited by Jessieamandabhb on Mon Dec 16, 2019 12:50 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Help with future care recommendations/knowing where I me

Postby Jessieamandabhb » Mon Dec 16, 2019 12:46 pm

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Re: Help with future care recommendations/knowing where I me

Postby CooperDragon » Mon Dec 16, 2019 12:59 pm

It sounds like almost certainly she was very sick when you got her. Likely due to sloppy breeding/poor genetics unfortunately. I don't think there is anything else you could have done to help her. The second guessing and regret is common and I feel it myself over the guys I've lost. Your setup is very good and is not likely to have caused any problems for her, especially in such a short time. I would probably upgrade your UVB light to a 22'' T5 with a good fixture, but your T8 is set up close enough that it was probably providing adequate UVB (and UVB issues would not cause gout or such severe systems failures so quickly anyway). Your setup is good, try not to be too hard on yourself. It sounds like you found a good, caring vet that you can trust as well which is also good.
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Re: Help with future care recommendations/knowing where I me

Postby Claudiusx » Mon Dec 16, 2019 1:01 pm

Hi there,

I'm so sorry you are having to go through this. I know how hard it can be but try not to second guess yourself.
It would be helpful if you could post up the actual blood test results so we can see everything that was tested. Sometimes vets miss something or dont make a connection, or consider something high that really isnt that high.
Seeing the results would be good.

It is true that being dehydrated does stress the kidneys quite a bit. That's why I hate the whole notion of "babies dont need to eat their greens, all they really need is bugs" that's bologna and your case shows two examples of it.

Firstly, high protein diets (high of anything tbh) stress the system. And not eating salads makes them really miss out on a lot of potential dietary hydration. And that could have helped the kidneys too. It's good that yours did eat salad occasionally, I am just making a more general point.

As I was reading your post, honestly the first thought that came to mind was that you were feeding dubia roaches. I was a bit surprised to see that crickets were actually the bulk of the diet.
What were you feeding the crickets?

Your setup seems fine. The only thing I think you could have benefited from was having a reflector on your reptisun, or using the HO reptisun ontop of the screen. But that wouldnt have caused these issues.

How did the urates look? And the poo?

Truth be told, it very well likely was nothing you did at all. Based on what you've described I'm almost positive of it.

A lot of times the reasons we suggest against petstore dragons is the genetic makeup and health is unknown. A lot of times they have some serious health problems that are just simply rooted in their genetics. Nothing else really explains organ failure at such a young age besides horrible genetics.

Take your time to heal. And then perhaps consider buying from a reputable breeder. Even if that means ordering online or going to a reptile convention. dragons are wonderful creatures and I'm sorry that it didn't work out how you had planned, but you've learned, and you know what to look out for in the future.

-Brandon
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Re: Help with future care recommendations/knowing where I me

Postby Birdy » Mon Dec 16, 2019 1:12 pm

Hi,
Honestly is sounds like you're doing an excellent job. The only things I'm not entirely sure about are the supplements, the mealworms and your UVB.
I would recommend going to https://bug-de-lite.com/Home to get all your supplements.
The mealworms can be tricky for their digestive systems to handle, so that might explain why she had less bowel movements.
I am sorry this all happened to you and Louise!
It doesn't make sense she would get so sick because of something you did.
How long is your UVB? And the bulb is new? I think it is the same one I have, though the one you have is shorter I'm pretty sure.
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Re: Help with future care recommendations/knowing where I me

Postby Jessieamandabhb » Mon Dec 16, 2019 2:43 pm

Her poop looked well formed and moist and the urates were white formed usually like a small ball or cylindrical. I’m sorry my descriptions are weird; I’m new to describing such things.

We were feeding the crickets fresh cut fruit or vegetables but then a few weeks ago switched to Fluker’s orange cube.

I just went by the vet and got her results. They don’t seem as high as he made it sound... However, her weight seemed extremely low to be almost 4 months old. I will post what they gave me below.

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Re: Help with future care recommendations/knowing where I me

Postby Claudiusx » Mon Dec 16, 2019 5:14 pm

Ok so they just checked UA levels, didn't do other kidney markers or enzymes. Or liver function tests.

It would have been nice to see a better test on the UA. Greater than 20 could mean 21, or it could be much higher. I'm not sure why their test didn't read higher.

We had a dragon on here recently with a very high UA level, but was put on a medication which dropped the UA levels, and as far as I'm aware, is on the mend but we haven't got a real recent update on it.
It's UA levels pre medication were 36.7 mg/dl and I believe after a week of the medication, a slight change in diet, and more fluids, the levels were down to 7, which is on the high end up normal, but still within range.

I'm not sure about the high Phosphorus levels. I'll let Tracie discuss that with you. She should be on later tonight.

That being said, it's possible it could have been treated, but really it's too hard to say one way or another. I hesitate to even mention that because I know what you're going through and I know how hard it can be, but I figure you'd also appreciate the truth. That being said, what we all have said about bad genetics really is true, we see it all the time. Realy, it's almost the only explanation for how organs can deteriorate so quickly.

I truly believe that when you love an animal, you form a connection with that animal. And there is something special inside you, call it intuition, your gut, or them speaking to you, that tells you what the right move is to make. If you felt the right move at the time was to do what you did, then rest assured that was the right move. She knew you were trying and you gave her love, which is more than some animals ever get a chance at in this life.

-Brandon
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Re: Help with future care recommendations/knowing where I me

Postby AHBD » Mon Dec 16, 2019 7:13 pm

Hi Jessie, I'm really sorry to hear what happened to your baby Louise, you really tried to provide a good home and there's no way to say exactly what happened + what caused it for sure. I just want to add that as I raised babies for some years, well over a 1,000, I sprayed every single clutch from about 2 days after hatching and every one , without exception, drank so I agree with your vet. I see some people getting away from spraying, some do soak them but once they are no longer being given oral hydration as babies it can affect some more than others in a negative way or may be that some dragons are predisposed to gout or kidney problems. I had never even heard of a dragon with gout in the late 90's-early 2000's . All dragons can be trained to drink and should be, for those that are not used to it it can take a minute or 2 for water to be dripped on their snout before they begin to lick it up. And as Cooper + Brandon said, veggies are important as well + my babies were trained to eat those before they were 3 weeks old. So offer drips o the mouth, small amounts of leafy greens and hopefully you won't have any problem with your next baby. :)
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