Old beardie with tummy lumps, anemic

This forum is for urgent health concerns, where your beardie seems very ill and you need immediate help!

Old beardie with tummy lumps, anemic

Postby Requiemk626 » Wed May 16, 2018 10:34 pm

Hi everyone,

I have an old beardie, Osiris, and he's not been doing too well. I've been meeting regularly with a new vet about his issues, and I think the vet is really good, but I wanted to post on here and see if anyone had been through the same issues. At the very least, if this is really the end for Osiris maybe there will be some useful information in here for others.

Let me just get out of the way, I'm good on the tank setup/ feeding front. Used the care sheets years ago when I set up and have monitored regularly since, and vet agrees that care is all good.

Osiris is about 10 years old now. I've had him since he was roughly the size of my pinkie finger, and he's always been a very sturdy, healthy lizard, up until two weeks ago. It was then that I noticed he had lost a little bit of volume on the fat pads on the back of his head. I lost my other beardie two years ago, when she was also 10. Her illness started with some dramatic weight loss that also could be seen in the same loss of fat pads on her head. So I took Osiris in to the vet two weeks ago, trying to get ahead of what ever might be brewing.

We did a stool sample, blood sample, and x-ray. Stool sample came back positive for pin worms, so we put him on panacure. Blood sample came back as very anemic, but no other stand outs in data. His liver and kidney function are good, white urates.

On the x-ray we found two disturbing things. The x-ray showed that he had two mineral dense small objects in his stomach. This came as a huge surprise to me because he has never been on any granular substrate (we do paper towels), and he does not run around unsupervised, and he is not the sort to try to eat anything that is not actively wiggling. I noticed later that the clay hide I bought him from the pet store years ago (which he loves...sigh) had some texture that might have flaked off, and it's conceivable that it flaked into his food dish, maybe. The other concerning thing is that we could feel two quarter size lumps in his abdomen. I had felt them about two months ago when giving him a tummy massage in the bath when he was a little constipated, but I thought they were just parts of the digestive tract! The doc said that they are firmer and less movable than he would expect any waste to be. So, with the combined lumps and anemia, we're suspecting cancer. We scheduled an ultrasound for two weeks out, with possible fine needle aspiration/biopsy to figure out whether those lumps really are cancer, and if so what type, and if it's operable. The vet wanted to address the anemia immediately, but he also wanted to look into research concerning erythropoetic stimulating agents (red blood cell forming agents) that might work on reptiles, which we could use instead of a blood transfusion.(Update: no, they do not work well enough that he'd want to use it on Osiris. From what I read, Epoetin alfa/beta and darbapoetin also carry the risk of seizure in dogs, and in other studies can aggravate certain cancers).

So far, the tests and vet visit cost $400 (I'm not complaining, just putting that in for reference in case anyone's curious. Visit itself was cheaper than tests, only $61).

A week later, we've started him on panacure, and then he completely stops eating. We start doing soaks in the tub every evening, but he's not interested in drinking. I start to see him really losing weight, so I buy the Fluker's carnivore boost and some Critical care herbivore boost. Based on the instructions with the Fluker's powder, I mix the powers half and half with enough water to make it into a paste and try to feed him 6 ml. In retrospect, I think I overloaded his stomach. He puked, but luckily did not aspirate. He looked a little rough, so I cleaned him up and snuggled him for a little while. He bounced back in about 30 minutes.

The next day I decreased the volume I syringe fed him to 2 ml. He seemed fine with that. After a few hours I gave him a bath, and he drank the water like he was suuuuper thirsty. And then he puked it all back up-- I think in his thirstiness, he overloaded his own stomach. The next day we tried the 2 ml again, bathed him, but took him out as soon as he tried to drink. Still, he puked, and there was blood in the vomit this time. Called the vet, told him all this.

The next day I took him back in to the vet, updated him, and the vet gave him fluids to try to stabilize Osiris until the ultrasound, which at that time was the day after tomorrow. We agreed to discontinue panacure for now. The vet said that the blood was from an ulcer he probably developed in his stomach, probably not from lacerations from the mineralized things that showed up on the x-ray.

Osiris is generally a very, very chilled out boy. But I think the injection of fluids into what is basically the back leg crotch really upset him. He was tolerating riding in his crate in the car well, but on the way home after getting fluids, for the first time he did not seem himself. He just seemed kind of crazed. I snuggled him for a few minutes, and he calmed down a little, but for the entire rest of that day he was jet-black-bearding, which I have very, very rarely seen him do. His skin is also bright, like when he goes into fight or flight mode. He's been that way all day today too, though a slightly less black bearded. I've not handled him at all today in an effort to not stress him, and to not make him puke again.

I'm really trying to walk a fine line between pushing fluids and food and still not stressing him, because I know that can be bad for their health too, especially as they get old or are dealing with compromised systems.

So tomorrow I'm taking him in for the ultrasound. At this point, my goal is to do everything I can that will improve his quality of life, but do nothing that makes him needlessly suffer. I'm just curious about surgery. I've never had a lizard go through that, nonetheless a 10 year old lizard that has lost a lot of weight.

Basically, if we biopsy the lumps tomorrow and they are 1) removable abcess, 2) removable benign cancerous growths, I would be open to paying for surgery if I thought he had a prayer of recovery. I might even pay for it just to get those stones out of his stomach so what time he has left isn't painful from that junk in there. But I don't want to put him through the scariness of surgery if he's just going to die on the table or shortly thereafter while in pain from healing from an operation. If anyone has had any experience with getting their lizards through surgery and recovery, please let me know! I'd love to hear your stories!

Thanks for listening

- Requiemk626
Punctus Contra Punctum. 3642571.
Requiemk626
Newbie Poster
 
Posts: 37
Joined: Thu Jun 07, 2007 7:19 pm

Re: Old beardie with tummy lumps, anemic

Postby CooperDragon » Thu May 17, 2018 2:29 pm

10 years is a great run, you must be taking very good care of him. It sounds to me like your vet knows what they're doing too which is great. I'm surprised that if the issue is a tumor that it didn't affect the blood rest results anywhere. Hopefully the ultrasound brings good news. It's tough to say if surgery is the right choice or not. As you said it's a fine line between trying to help and making him comfortable. Extra stress can be tough on them so I'm glad you're giving him some time to relax from the visit. I don't have anything to add from my own experiences on this one but there are a lot of folks on here who do have experience with major surgical procedures (often related to egg binding) and might be able to give some further thoughts.
Image
User avatar
CooperDragon
BD.org Sicko
 
Posts: 20593
Joined: Thu Mar 27, 2014 8:41 am
Location: Iowa City, IA

Re: Old beardie with tummy lumps, anemic

Postby Drache613 » Thu May 17, 2018 8:31 pm

Hello,

Poor Isiris, he has been through it! I hope it isn't cancer but hopefully the ultrasound will give
more answers. Biopsying could help determine what it is also. If he is strong enough, he should
be able to make it through surgery if they feel that the areas can be removed. They do heal
a little slowly but as long as no infection sets in the healing should go smoothly.
It sounds like a hard call since he has lost weight. Your vet seems to be knowledgeable & caring
so he should be able to make good judgement calls with you.
We have a female rescue dragon that we took in several years ago. She came to us with a few
issues. The primary issue was an abscess/growth on her upper side to scapula area. I thought I
would be able to treat it & that it would eventually dry up & heal. Nope, not at all. So by the
time we got her to the vet, it was rather large & had compartmentalized which complicated the
surgery. The vet was excellent & did a great job in removing the abscess in which she had to
go about removing it in a few ways because she started bleeding so badly. I was worried about
her because she was anemic but with supplementation & rest she recovered.
If this isn't cancer then, I say he stands an excellent chance at recovery. If it is cancer, but can
be removed & hasn't spread then he still has a great chance at recovery.
Let us know how things go!

Tracie
User avatar
Drache613
Moderator
Moderator
 
Posts: 35646
Joined: Fri Feb 10, 2006 9:33 pm
Location: May, Texas

Re: Old beardie with tummy lumps, anemic

Postby Requiemk626 » Fri May 18, 2018 12:52 am

Hi guys,

Thank you so much for writing back! Sometimes it's just good to know you're not alone in this. Two years ago when I lost my other beardie, Aten, you guys were there for me too. Thanks so much!

I'm sorry to say that Osiris passed away this afternoon, about 2 hours after the vet visit. I was there for the entire ultrasound to comfort him, and they were very gentle. He slept in the car on the way home and for a while after we got home. Then he started gasping for air, so I picked him up and snuggled him while keeping the heat lamp on him. It took about an hour for him to go entirely, gasping every few minutes, and he seemed to be mentally checked out for the last 4 or 5 gasps.

Has anyone else had a dragon that passed away and noticed this periodic gasping? It reminds me of a death rattle, or a spasm. My other dragon did that two years ago, but she has respiratory complications. Osiris didn't, so I was surprised to see this happening. But like I said, it seemed more like a spasm, like the body trying intermittently to shock itself back into working right, almost like a defibrillator shock.

I'm sad that he's gone, but at the same time, I'm so grateful that I got to be there every step of the way and that he didn't die alone.

The vet also took fine needle aspirations of the lumps today, and we're sending those away to the lab along with the ultrasounds to get a second opinion on them. Hopefully we'll get some answers from those results. I know he was old, but I just want to know exactly what took him down in the end, if possible. All of that today cost around $500. The vet and I did discuss doing a necropsy, since we both really want to know what's going on, but the nurse said it would cost around $300. So I might pass on that.

We held a little lizard wake for him this evening, and we're taking him back to the vet for cremation in the morning.

Again, thanks so much for listening, and for your stories!! It's so great to have a community like this to reach out to!
Punctus Contra Punctum. 3642571.
Requiemk626
Newbie Poster
 
Posts: 37
Joined: Thu Jun 07, 2007 7:19 pm

Re: Old beardie with tummy lumps, anemic

Postby CooperDragon » Fri May 18, 2018 10:20 am

I'm sorry to hear he's gone. It sounds like something fairly serious in the end and I'm glad he didn't suffer long. It's also comforting to know you were there with him at the end. I'm not exactly sure about the gasps but it's probably related to his systems shutting down. My Dundee did similar when he was dying. Hopefully the tests will provide some answers and closure for you. I'm glad you gave him a loving home and a long happy life!
Image
User avatar
CooperDragon
BD.org Sicko
 
Posts: 20593
Joined: Thu Mar 27, 2014 8:41 am
Location: Iowa City, IA

Re: Old beardie with tummy lumps, anemic

Postby Drache613 » Fri May 18, 2018 8:35 pm

Hello,

Oh no, I am sorry Osiris passed away suddenly & after coming home from the vets. :cry: It is
so painful to lose them. You are right, he was not alone & he knew you were there for him.
Those gasps are agonal breaths where the body breaths shallow when the systems are shutting
down. It is the body's last attempts. It just sucks, basically. It is a normal part of that phase.
I am so sorry. I hope that the tests will bring some answers.

Tracie
User avatar
Drache613
Moderator
Moderator
 
Posts: 35646
Joined: Fri Feb 10, 2006 9:33 pm
Location: May, Texas


Return to Beardie ER

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: DobbysMomma, Google Adsense [Bot], Lorilyn