Sudden decline in appetite

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Sudden decline in appetite

Postby sanglunaria » Thu Feb 22, 2018 12:26 pm

I'll preface this with: hello, new member to this forum, also a new bearded dragon owner here.

My beardie, Pitaya, is female and almost 5 months old (so a juvenile). I bought her from a breeder around the end of January. It's been a lot of trial and error in figuring out the ideal setup for her enclosure and what she will/won't eat, but we had a pretty good routine figured out by the end of the first week of February. She was consistently eating a few bites of collard greens and about 15 to 20 dubias per day. I also introduced her to superworms about two weeks ago. She doesn't seem to like them as much as dubias, so I've only been offering them occasionally. I've been bathing her almost daily (at least 5 times a week) and she has been pooping regularly too (at least once every 2 to 3 days).

However, in the past week, her appetite has decreased a lot (see log below). I can't figure out why and it's worrying me quite a bit. :( Given her age, I don't think she's trying to brumate, nor do I think she's gravid. I don't think it's shedding moodiness either because her scale colors are currently all normal and vivid. (Speaking of colors, I haven't really observed consistent stress marks on her belly either. They come up very occasionally, but fade very quickly.) The only other thing I can think of is maybe she's got a case of impaction, but despite her decreased appetite, she's still been pooping regularly and I don't think I'm feeling any lumps or bulges in her stomach. Other than not eating, her behavior seems pretty normal? She's awake and alert during the day and into the early evening, spends most of her time in the warm side of her enclosure and watching me work at my desk. She likes to walk around and explore the room when we take her out.

I've been keeping a log since I got her, and this is what she's eaten (and when she's pooped) the past week:
2/15: 7 dubias, no poop
2/16: 5 dubias, pooped during her bath
2/17: 16 dubias, pooped during her bath
2/18: 4 superworms, 1 dubia, No poop
2/19: Ate a little bit of collard greens, didn't eat anything else, pooped during her bath
2/20: 5 dubias, no poop
2/21: Did not eat anything, pooped when I took her outside (we're in winter, but the weather was freakishly warm that day)
2/22: Hasn't eaten anything or pooped yet so far

And as for enclosure set-up and other care notes:
-50 gallon exo terra glass vivarium (screen top removed to allow all light and heat in)
-34" Reptisun 10.0 UVB
-Zoomed 100 W basking spot lamp (tried a 150 W lamp to begin with, but it was making the whole enclosure WAY too hot)
-Paper towels for substrate
-Cool side between 80 and 83 degrees
-Warm side between 91 and 97 degrees
-Basking spot between 101 and 102 degrees
-Nighttime temperature is about 72 degrees
-Lights are on from 8:30 AM to 8:30 PM (on a timer)
-Feeders are dusted with Calcium+D3 6 days of the week, and with multivitamins 1 day a week
-Tried feeding her phoenix worms when I first got her, but there was zero interest in them (I think they didn't move enough to attract her attention)

Anyway, what are your thoughts on her change in appetite? Should I be concerned and how long can I allow this to go on?
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Re: Sudden decline in appetite

Postby CooperDragon » Fri Feb 23, 2018 2:20 pm

Your setup sounds good. That ReptiSun is about 12'' above the main basking area? Sometimes they go through phases in which they aren't as hungry and that's OK. It sounds like everything else is normal so that's a good sign. She might have hit a lull in her growth or maybe she is about to shed which can have them moody or losing their appetite for brief periods. Since it hasn't been too long and everything else is OK I'd just keep an eye on her for now. It might be a good idea to weigh her and keep a log so you can track her growth progress as well. Weight trends are usually a good indicator of overall health.
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Re: Sudden decline in appetite

Postby sanglunaria » Tue Feb 27, 2018 9:41 am

CooperDragon wrote:Your setup sounds good. That ReptiSun is about 12'' above the main basking area? Sometimes they go through phases in which they aren't as hungry and that's OK. It sounds like everything else is normal so that's a good sign. She might have hit a lull in her growth or maybe she is about to shed which can have them moody or losing their appetite for brief periods. Since it hasn't been too long and everything else is OK I'd just keep an eye on her for now. It might be a good idea to weigh her and keep a log so you can track her growth progress as well. Weight trends are usually a good indicator of overall health.


Yeah, her basking log is about 13" below the reptisun. It's been a few days since my original post, so I thought I'd post an update. She still has not eaten anything (no greens, no feeders). :( Everything else still seems normal; she's pooped three times since my original post, but at this point, it's mostly just urates and clear goo since she's not eating anything.
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Re: Sudden decline in appetite

Postby CooperDragon » Wed Feb 28, 2018 1:05 pm

What is her current weight? If she is still alert and active that is a good sign.
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Re: Sudden decline in appetite

Postby sanglunaria » Wed Feb 28, 2018 1:38 pm

I started weighing her on Friday. Here's what I have so far:

Friday: 96 grams
Sunday: 94 grams
Tuesday: 94 grams
Today: 92 grams

So she's losing weight, but not all that surprising given that she hasn't eaten anything. :\ I talked to the breeder I got her from and she recommended making a vet appointment. I've got an appointment set up for tomorrow, also managed to collect a poop sample this morning (honestly surprised she's even got any poop at this point, but I'm not complaining).
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Re: Sudden decline in appetite

Postby CooperDragon » Wed Feb 28, 2018 3:32 pm

That weight loss isn't bad but she is still quite small so it's more significant. A vet visit isn't a bad idea. Keep the fecal sample cool until the appointment unless you can get a fresher one to test. Hopefully an exam can help determine more info about what is going on.
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Re: Sudden decline in appetite

Postby sanglunaria » Fri Mar 02, 2018 9:51 am

We had our vet appointment and he really couldn't find anything wrong with her, said she seems healthy other than the fact that she's not eating. I did leave the fecal sample with them so they can have it sent to the lab for testing (just to be safe), but we probably won't get results until Monday.

Anywayt, he thinks she's just being super picky about eating the same thing for too long. He suggested trying mealworms, crickets, and kale (he did acknowledge that mealworms aren't a staple feeder, just something to get her to eat again). He also told us to start syringe-feeding her water (she might not be eating because she's not hydrated enough) and baby food (chicken, beef, and sweet potato). Does that information match up with what you've experienced?
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Re: Sudden decline in appetite

Postby CooperDragon » Sat Mar 03, 2018 9:45 am

I'm glad her exam went well. That advice sounds good too. Offering a variety can sometimes help get them out of a funk. If you can find silkworms and black soldier fly larvae those are good to offer as well. For extra hydration using a syringe is helpful but don't be forceful with it. Just drip some water on her nose and she'll lick it up if she wants it. Kale, collard greens, turnip greens, bok choy, squash, green beans, bell pepper are all good options for salad but if she's being picky she may prefer bugs which is fine. Baby food is a good way to offer hydration and nutrients but I reserve it for dragons who are ill as a way to help them bounce back. I wouldn't do that in this case since she is otherwise healthy and is capable of eating if she wants to. I've had good luck with green bean, squash, and sweet potato baby food in the past.
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Re: Sudden decline in appetite

Postby sanglunaria » Mon Mar 05, 2018 8:19 am

I just got a call from the vet and it looks like the fecal test came back positive for pinworms, so she's going to get medication to take care of that. I'm glad we at least know what the problem is now!

The vet told us to thoroughly clean out her enclosure and feeding bowls, but is there anything else that we should take care of? Like should we throw out her current feeders and buy new ones? Also wondering if we need to clean basically everything she's come into contact with (e.g., the clothes I was wearing when I let her perch one me)? Anything helpful/that I should know is appreciated as I'm new to all of this.
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Re: Sudden decline in appetite

Postby CooperDragon » Mon Mar 05, 2018 12:49 pm

That's good to know. Pinworms are pretty common and relatively easy to knock out. They are often not treated unless the count is particularly high. Panacur (Fenbendazole) does a nice job of wiping them out in most cases. Just keep everything that comes in to contact with poop clean and sanitized. Wash your hands well before and after handling. Sometimes it's a good idea to put down disposable substrate during treatment. You can keep the feeders you have. Just do a thorough job of cleaning and that should be fine.
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Re: Sudden decline in appetite

Postby sanglunaria » Thu Mar 08, 2018 8:11 am

I'm not sure if the medicine I got is the same as the one you mentioned, the one I got is called "pyrantel pamoate." I gave her her first dose yesterday, and I'm supposed to give her one more dose in two weeks, and one more in four weeks. The vet also said that two weeks after her last dose, I can submit another fecal sample to make sure she's healthy again.

I guess at this point, my question is, what should I expect while she's on this medicine? (Vague question, I know. Sorry. :( ) Like should I expect her appetite and energy level to bounce back pretty quickly? I've been feeding her small amounts of baby food the past few days, and today was first time I offered her some normal food (greens and a few butterworms). She wasn't interested, to say the least. She's also definitely been a lot more lethargic the past few days. Not much seems to catch her attention and she keeps trying to go back into her hide to sleep.
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Re: Sudden decline in appetite

Postby CooperDragon » Fri Mar 09, 2018 4:22 pm

I think I've seen that as Strongid Paste. That should take care of it when dosed appropriately. They all respond a little differently but it wouldn't be unusual to see lack of appetite or a bit of lethargic behavior during treatment. I would offer plenty of water by dripping it on her nose to lick up so she stays well hydrated.
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