Ailing Bearded Dragon

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Ailing Bearded Dragon

Postby leifthorrsman » Mon Jan 22, 2018 5:25 pm

My girlfriend has had a bearded dragon for 4 years. About two months ago he stopped pooping on his own, and was not eating much. We took him to the vet, who determined he needed more calcium in his diet. So we started giving him more calcium.

Two weeks after that, he started open mouth breathing, still was not eating much, and only pooping when we put him in the bath. Took him to the vet again, who suspected he had a viral infection, so he prescribed him antibiotics. He also took an xray, and found the bearded dragon had sciolosis, an old break in his tail, and also a black circular mass that he didnt seem overly concerned about. He prescribed pain med, critical care food, and liquid calcium.

Since then, he doesnt move much. We found him flipped twice on his back, and he was unable to flip back on his own. He only eats when we syringe feed him. and also drinks that way too. He is still open mouth breathing. He seems to have lost his equilibrium and has a hard time gripping onto things. He has bowel movements occassionally. The vet suggesting switching the antibiotic, which we did last week, but he still seems listless and weak.

Any suggestions on what we should do? We dont want to give up on him and just are lost on what else to do
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Re: Ailing Bearded Dragon

Postby AHBD » Mon Jan 22, 2018 5:29 pm

Hi there, sorry to hear about the poor guy. What's his name ? Lighting is very important so list your exact brand of lights and how old the uvb bulb is. Can you post pics of him [ full boy ] and his entire tank set up, including lights ?
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Re: Ailing Bearded Dragon

Postby leifthorrsman » Mon Jan 22, 2018 5:41 pm

[Click image to enlarge]


This is a recent picture of him

His name is Spike. He has a new Zilla 10.0 UVB bulb that we recently replaced...I think the bulb was two years old before that. He has a Zilla basking/UVA bulb 100 watt
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Re: Ailing Bearded Dragon

Postby leifthorrsman » Mon Jan 22, 2018 5:52 pm

[Click image to enlarge]


[Click image to enlarge]


Another pic of Spike and his current setup
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Re: Ailing Bearded Dragon

Postby AHBD » Mon Jan 22, 2018 5:55 pm

The Zilla bulbs are questionable, the uvb output is not the best but another thing is that it would produce very little uvb after 6-8 months [ even though they still produce light ] so Spike has not had uvb for over a year. And was there by chance a plastic cover over the bulb on the fixture ? With the uvb on the screen he won't get much either from a weak uvb bulb to begin with. Is there sand or a towel in his tank ?

So he probably has severe calcium deficiency now which can cause these sad neurological symptoms. Poor guy looks pretty rough, a handsome boy though. :) Is he eating the critical care ? Add an extra pinch of calcium to it. If it's warm where you live, get him out in the sun. Not in extreme heat though, 80-82 sitting in the grass would be great. He'll need a better uvb bulb ASAP. Look for the Reptisun 10.0 t5 or the Arcadia D3 12%. Hopefully some adjustments can help him regain his health.
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Re: Ailing Bearded Dragon

Postby leifthorrsman » Mon Jan 22, 2018 6:10 pm

He always had towels in his cage, easier to clean up. The UVB does not have a plastic cover on it. We are already giving him liquid calcium, would we still need to add calcium to his food?

Right now, it is not the warmest to take him outside. He does eat the critical care though we have to syringe feed him that as that is the only way he will eat it.

So Zilla is really that inadequete compared to reptisun? Huh, I never would have suspected that. We can try switching the UVB bulb to see if it helps.

Due to winter weather, would taking him out of his cage, and letting him lay on a blanket with a heating pad suffice?
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Re: Ailing Bearded Dragon

Postby leifthorrsman » Mon Jan 22, 2018 6:15 pm

Would the calcium defiency cause his breathing issues?
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Re: Ailing Bearded Dragon

Postby AHBD » Mon Jan 22, 2018 7:03 pm

O.K, he's getting plenty of calcium. And his breathing problem might be [ most likely ] a U.R.I But once the immune system is down multiple things can happen in a weakened state. I'd stop the baths, he may have aspirated water at some point or gotten chilled after. Do you know the temps. in the tank , from the hottest to the coldest ? And what + where was the mass on the Xray ? Can you post the Xray here ?
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Re: Ailing Bearded Dragon

Postby Drache613 » Mon Jan 22, 2018 7:59 pm

Hello,

I agree, it is most likely going to be metabolic bone disease. The Zilla UVB lights really do
not emit adquate UVB levels at all. They develop bone disease which will affect their
neurological system terribly. He hasn't been able to absorb his calcium properly without a
good UVB light.
The Reptisun 10 T5 or the Arcadia D3 12% or 14% T5 are both tons better than the Zilla. I
would highly recommend switching to one of those bulbs. I feel it would help him a lot.
I was wondering what the mass on the x-ray as well, the vet wasn't concerned with it?

Tracie
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Re: Ailing Bearded Dragon

Postby EllenD » Tue Jan 23, 2018 11:38 am

I totally agree with Tracie, he is suffering from a severe Calcium Deficiency and MBD. What this vet didn't explain to you is that it doesn't matter how much Calcium you give to him, if he is not getting at least 13-14 hours of strong, adequate UVB and UVA light every single day, he cannot absorb ANY of the Calcium you've been giving him, nor can he process or use it. He's just excreting it all out. So because he's not ever really had an adequate UVB light that has been mounted correctly, he has just been excreting all of the extra Calcium you've been giving him out in his bowel movement. So his body has leeched all of the Calcium out of his bones...Poor boy, this is the difference between a Reptile Specialist Vet, who asks about their husbandry, specifically the UVB light you use and how you have it mounted, as opposed to an "exotics" or general vet, who knows that the poor thing is suffering from a Calcium Deficiency, but only prescribes more and more calcium, and doesn't know enough to make sure that he's able to absorb any of this extra calcium. So no, you don't need to keep upping the calcium you're giving him, you need to buy him a strong, adequate, high-quality UVB tube and tube fixture for it immediately, and make sure that it's on every day, along with his bright white colored Basking Bulb, for at least 13-14 hours.

Crash-Course in UVB tubes:

First of all, avoid all compact or coil UVB bulbs, meaning the ones that look like regular light bulbs and fit into regular lightbulb sockets. They are far too weak for any desert reptile, a Bearded Dragon must have a long, fluorescent UVB tube.

***There are 2 different strengths of UVb tubes: The much weaker T8 tubes, which is what the Zilla Desert 50 tube you have is, and then the much stronger and more appropriate T5 UVb tube. You need to order him a long (at least 22" or longer) T5 strength UVb tube and a T5-rated tube fixture the same length, that has a built-in reflectore behind the UVB tube immediately. The cheapest place is on Amazon.com.

There are 2 brands that are not only the strongest (their UVB tubes emit more UVB and UVA light than all others, meaning they are a higher wattage and percentage of UVB and UVA light than the other, weaker, inappropriate brands such as Zilla, All Living Things, Reptile One, Trixie, etc.) These 2 brands are Reptisun 10.0 and Arcadia. The Reptisun 10.0 is the cheaper of the 2 brands, and the Reptisun 10.0 T5HO UVB tubes are very excellent UVb tubes for Beardies. The Arcadia 12% T5 UVB tubes are even stronger, but more expensive.

You can buy a 22" Reptisun 10.0 T5HO UVB tube on Amazon.com for around $24, and they also sell a 24" T5-rated tube fixture (rated for up to 24 watts) that comes with a reflector inside it for around $28. So for around $50 shipped you can order him one of the best UVb tubes available. I suggest you do this immediately and get it over him.

The break-down on the weaker T8 UVB tubes like the Zilla tube you've been using are this (and this also includes the much higher-quality Reptisun 10.0 T8 UVB tubes and the Arcadia 10% T8 UVB tubes, they are better quality and stronger, but they are still only the weaker T8 UVB tubes):

-T8 UVB tubes cannot be obstructed by anything, like the mesh lid to the tank, as the mesh lids block about 40% of the UVB light emitted by the tube, and the T8 tubes are far too weak to begin with to have any UVB or UVA light blocked. No adequate UVB light can reach your dragon on the other side of the mesh (and as AHBD already asked you, most all of the Zilla Slimline fixtures like you have also have a clear, plastic safety cover on their bottoms that covers the UVB tube inside, and no UVb light can penetrate glass or clear plastic, so these damn safety covers block 100% of the UVB light emitted by the tubes, and Zilla doesn't care, they've been asked about this hundreds of times and they don't care). The T5 strength UVB tubes are strong enough that they can sit on top of the mesh lid and still emit adequate UVB and UVA light to your dragon on the other side.

-T8 UVB tubes must be at least within 6" of your dragon's basking spot/platform in order for adequate UVB and UVA light to reach your dragon. T5 UVB tubes must only be within at least 10-11" of the basking spot/platform, so the T5 tubes give you a little more room to work with if your tank is higher than it is long/wide.

-T8 tubes must be replaced once every 6 months on the dot, as they have a very fast UVB decay rate and at 6 months old they are no longer emitting any UVB light at all, and very little UVA light. T5 UVB tubes only need to be replaced once every 10-12 months, as their UVB decay rate is much slower.

So even if your Zilla Slimline fixture does not have the usual clear, plastic safety cover on it's bottom covering the UVB tube, you still had it sitting on top of the mesh lid, and it also looks to be further than 6" away from his basking spot/platform, so he's essentially gotten very little to no UVB or UVA light at all, and if it was older than 6 months then it wasn't emitting any UVB light anyway. So all of the calcium you've been giving him was simply excreted, he could not absorb it. So this is what has caused the severe MBD and the weakness, lethargy, no appetite, not being able to poop unless in warm water (their back ends in general become very, very weak and often they become partially paralyzed in their back legs).

Some of these symptoms are reversible, some will get a bit better but never fully go away. The flipping onto his back should resolve itself or at least lessen to almost never happening, but he probably will not be able to climb very much again. He should get a lot of the strength back into his back legs and will be able to walk and catch bugs, but he may always be unsteady on his feet. The first things that will change once he's under the T5 UVb tube for 14 hours every day is that his appetite will come back and he will start moving and having energy again.

I also suggest that you switch to or at least add Phoenix Worms/BSFL/Nutrigrubs/Reptiworms/Calciworms (all the same thing) to his diet, either as his main live insect or at the very least add them to his diet. Not only do they contain the highest natural Calcium content of any live staple insect for Beardies, but they are also loaded with water and will keep him well hydrated. I have been feeding them for years and years as my main staple feeder insect with excellent results, and I too have an adult beardie with MBD that I adopted when he was between 8-9 months old, he looked very much like your guy does now, and he was suffering from horrible bowel impactions because he couldn't properly digest the superworms that he was being fed. I immediately put him on BSFL for the calcium content and the fluid content, and it has worked like a charm for keeping his bowel movements regular and helping with the MBD. He is now a year and 5 months old, and is 500% better than when I adopted him.

I order my live BSFL/Phoenix Worms from www.dubiaroaches.com You can buy 1,000 of them for $23 shipped. Keep them in a cool place, but not in the fridge, they'll die. They last for about a month and a half if I keep them in my basement at around 55-60 degrees. You still must dust the BSFL in both calcium and a multivitamin even if the vendor says you don't, especially in your guy's condition.

Once you order the Reptisun 10.0 T5HO UVB tube and the T5-rated Tube Fixture with a reflector for him, and you get him under it for 14 hours every day, you should first see his energy levels pick-up along with his appetite within the first week. It will take time, and you'll probably still need to be force-feeding him the Critical Care for a few weeks (do add a pinch of calcium powder to the Critical Car, along with a Multivitamin as well), but he should start wanting to eat on his own within a month or less of being under the T5 UVB tube. I'd be giving him the liquid Calcium daily once he's under the T5 UVB tube and is finally able to absorb it, then when he starts eating on his own again you can dust his live insects, such as the BSFL, in Calcium every day, and in a multivitamin 4-5 days a week.
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Re: Ailing Bearded Dragon

Postby Drache613 » Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:37 pm

Hello,

How is your dragon doing today? Please let us know his condition. I really think he can get
better, but it will take some changes for him. :D

Tracie
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