5YO Beardie w/RI Not Improving on Antibiotics

jac

Member
Beardie name(s)
Onyx
Hi everyone!

I am posting here on behalf of my lovely guy Onyx. I am looking for advice with his RI and the medicine prescribed.

On January 17th, I took him to one of two exotic vet clinics in my small Midwestern town, for what I suspected was a respiratory infection. The vet checked inside his mouth and listened to his breathing with a stethoscope. He said his breathing was a little irregular and agreed with me that it was a RI. He did not take any cultures or do any blood work.

He prescribed Sulfatrim 0.5ml 2x a day. Onyx did not do well the first two days and black bearded while sleeping the entire day. After doing research here, I found that Sulfatrim is prescribed for parasites and has unfortunately killed some beardies. I cut his dose down to once a day to see how he fared. I know I should have called my vet but I am not confident in them and I was scared for Onyx's health.

I was syringe feeding him a mix of baby squash and Flukers Reptaboost for a few days prior to the appt and a few days afterwards. He is now eating a small amount of the squash (w/o Reptaboost) on his own almost every day.

His right eye started producing mucus the other night, as well as mucus bubbles from his nose, which I had not seen him do until now. He has also had two gasping fits the day before yesterday and some of today. I am worried he is not getting better. But he doesn't seem worse either.

As a sidenote, on October 25th, I took him into the same vet for an eye infection in both eyes; wet discharge that became crusty and both eyes were often shut. He checked them both and prescribed me eye drops; Neomycin and Polymyxin B Sulfate, Dexamethasone 5ml.
The infection seemed to go away but returned after a couple weeks and I'm concerned it was actually the start of his RI then.
I do not think this is a result of his lighting as he has this lighting setup since I acquired him without any issues. Turning the coloured bulb off for a couple weeks did not help and he had issues with not being able to poop afterwards.

He sleeps most of the day now but occasionally comes off his hammock to sit on his hide or hang out near his branches and rocks on the cool side.
He is alert for the most part.

He snuggles up to me and holds onto my hands/fingers when being taken care of.
I just want to make sure I'm doing everything I can for him.
 
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Claudiusx

BD.org Sicko
Staff member
Moderator
I do not think this is a result of his lighting as he has this lighting setup since I acquired him without any issues.
That's not how the body works. The body fights and tries to adapt for as long as it can under less than ideal conditions until it can't fight it anymore. Think of just about any health issue us humans get. It's almost always traced back to years of improper diet or living. Just because your lights/husbandry have been OK up until now does not mean that they are not contributing to your dragons health issues.

Nothing in your husbandry is more important for your dragons health than proper temperatures, and proper lighting. Can you post a picture of your setup, and give details on your lighting setup, including temperatures inside your tank.

URI's are caused by either a bacterial infection, or a viral infection. Antibiotics will only work for a URI if the cause of the URI is bacterial; your vet didn't do any tests, he/she guessed. Otherwise, the body needs to fight off the virus. To give the body it's best chance to fight off the virus, your husbandry needs to be up to par.

Once you go over your husbandry with us, we can start making suggestions on how to move forward.

Something you can do right now is keep the tank a bit warmer overnight. Aim for 75-80. And you accomplish this with a CHE. Do not use lights or colored lights.

-Brandon
 

jac

Member
Original Poster
Beardie name(s)
Onyx
That's not how the body works. The body fights and tries to adapt for as long as it can under less than ideal conditions until it can't fight it anymore. Think of just about any health issue us humans get. It's almost always traced back to years of improper diet or living. Just because your lights/husbandry have been OK up until now does not mean that they are not contributing to your dragons health issues.

Nothing in your husbandry is more important for your dragons health than proper temperatures, and proper lighting. Can you post a picture of your setup, and give details on your lighting setup, including temperatures inside your tank.

URI's are caused by either a bacterial infection, or a viral infection. Antibiotics will only work for a URI if the cause of the URI is bacterial; your vet didn't do any tests, he/she guessed. Otherwise, the body needs to fight off the virus. To give the body it's best chance to fight off the virus, your husbandry needs to be up to par.

Once you go over your husbandry with us, we can start making suggestions on how to move forward.

Something you can do right now is keep the tank a bit warmer overnight. Aim for 75-80. And you accomplish this with a CHE. Do not use lights or colored lights.

-
 

jac

Member
Original Poster
Beardie name(s)
Onyx
I have listed all his information as well as pictures of his setup on my profile information as prompted when I joined.

Besides the coloured bulb, I know ideally his UVB should be mounted inside. I am currently trying to find someone to help me with that.

I have a space heater going overnight. Do you have a recommendation for a CHE?
 

Claudiusx

BD.org Sicko
Staff member
Moderator
I know ideally his UVB should be mounted inside.
It doesn't need to be. It only needs to be mounted on the inside if it can't get within the recommended distance to your dragon. I see your pictures now. You mentioned it's 7 inches. That distance would be ideal for your setup, but based on your pictures, it looks further than that. Is 7 inches the distance from the bulb to where your dragon is basking in the picture?

It also looks like your basking bulb/fixture might be too small for him, or positioned wrong. In your pictures it appears that the bulb is towards the back of the tank where in the pictures he's only able to get his lower body directly under the bulb. If he's not able to get his internal temperature high enough, he's not going to be able to fight off a virus or a bacterial infection. That's why the extra heat at night is important, but it's even more important that his basking spot be adequate during the day. You might consider trying a different basking item such as some brick or a large rock. The stonework will heat up and retain heat much better than the hammock, and hopefully allow him to heat up better.

Any CHE on Amazon will work. Just make sure your dome fixture uses a ceramic socket, not a plastic socket. I'd replace the purple light with the CHE and use it inplace instead.

Ideally, you'd be better off moving your lights around so that the UVB bulb is directly over the basking spot, along with the basking bulb. You can move your fixture with the CHE in it next to it, more towards the middle of the tank if need be.

In regards to colored lights, dragons have an extra cone in their eyes when compared to humans. This means they see much more of the lighting spectrum than we do. This also means they see colors much more vividly than we do. If you can see the purple light, your dragon can see it, and in a much more vivid and pronounced manner. CHE is the only acceptable option for night time heat for this reason. No visible light, only heat produced.

Is it very humid in your house this time of year, or is the winter and heating making the house extra dry?

Can you post a current picture of Onyx so we can see the eye infection and his general state?

-Brandon
 
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jac

Member
Original Poster
Beardie name(s)
Onyx
I remeasured and it is closer to eight inches away above him.

Okay, I will buy him a CHE today and change the lights around as recommended now. So it should be the basking bulb over his hammock then the UVB in the middle and then the CHE? Just want to make sure I get it right.

The winter & heating is making it extra dry. The vet I went to said he had seen 2 beardies and 3 snakes with RIs so far this year.
 

Claudiusx

BD.org Sicko
Staff member
Moderator
Ideally you want this:
1706138501588.jpg


Ignore the cool side lamp. But note how the UVB is pushed all the way to the side where the basking is. This is so that the basking site has the strongest levels of UV in the tank, which is what would be true for the natural world too.

I was looking again at your UV fixture. It does not have a reflector in it does it? IF not, it would be a worthwhile investment to upgrade to one that does have a reflector, such as the sunblaster, arcadia, or reptisun brand fixtures. It won't make a huge impact on your dragons health right now, but it will in the long run. So worthwhile upgrade once you can.

You mentioned in your first post you were hand feeding. Was this because he wasn't eating on his own, or because you wanted to make sure he was getting in enough food. Hopefully he is able to eat on his own right now, but if not, keep up with the hand feeding.

Is he still blackbearding?

-Brandon
 

jac

Member
Original Poster
Beardie name(s)
Onyx
Okay, I have switched around the fixtures and included a picture. I turned off the coloured bulb. His CHE should be here Friday.

As of a couple of hours ago, his left eye looks weird to me. I included a picture of of that and his beard. It is lighter now but goes pitch black following the antibiotic.

He wasn't eating on his own, he will eat maybe a leaf of his salad now, no bugs. He will eat a small amount of squash from his dish.

ETA: His UVB fixture does not have a reflector. I will invest in a different one in the future!!
 

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jac

Member
Original Poster
Beardie name(s)
Onyx
It also looks like your basking bulb/fixture might be too small for him, or positioned wrong. In your pictures it appears that the bulb is towards the back of the tank where in the pictures he's only able to get his lower body directly under the bulb. If he's not able to get his internal temperature high enough, he's not going to be able to fight off a virus or a bacterial infection. That's why the extra heat at night is important, but it's even more important that his basking spot be adequate during the day. You might consider trying a different basking item such as some brick or a large rock. The stonework will heat up and retain heat much better than the hammock, and hopefully allow him to heat up better.



Can you post a current picture of Onyx so we can see the eye infection and his general state?

-Brandon
I missed this on the first go around. I included more pictures. I am using a 50W bulb right now because that's all this fixture can handle. I will buy a different bulb and fixture if needed.

I gave him his antibiotic dose early today. I don't know now if I should I give him a second or skip them all together?

I can handle him if you need specific pictures but trying not to disturb him too much.

ETA: I have not been using the eye drops as I didn't want to over medicate him. The post above is the first time I've seen his eye like this.
 

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Claudiusx

BD.org Sicko
Staff member
Moderator
Thanks for the updated pictures.

I see in your profile his typical diet. Has he actually been eating like that recently? If not, what has his typical diet been like the past month.

His fat stores in his head and base of tail are basically non-existent. That is typically caused by one of two things. The dragon hasn't been eating for months, or the dragon is suffering from organ failure. He also appears to have some curvature of his spine, but that could be just the angle he is sitting in the picture.

Can you recheck your basking surface temperature and place the probe directly where Onyx is lying. Let the probe sit for 5 minutes or so to get an accurate temperature. It's hard to believe that the temp is really 108 with that wattage bulb and that tight of a beam. Although if the beam is that tight, it could be that temperature directly in the beam, but it would be significantly colder even an inch or two away; not ideal. You want to be able to provide a basking area that is about the size of your dragon.

At this point, I think if you were able to fix the few husbandry issues (which are pretty cheap issues to fix when compared to vet bills and prescription costs), and you are able to get him to start eating an adequate and healthy diet, he should be able to fight through his issue.

-Brandon
 

jac

Member
Original Poster
Beardie name(s)
Onyx
The temps I took before were with both bulbs but I see now what you mean about the beam. The beam was about 113 but next to Onyx is only 86. Will he stay warm enough for the next two days? I can bump up the heating in my house and keep the space heater on when I am home.

The curvature is just the angle of the picture.
I have attached some pictures of him from September and October, unfortunately none have his tail or the best view of his fat pads.

His diet for the last month has been baby food squash and a leaf or two of his salad. He has not been eating great ever since the eye infection started. He also started to get very picky about his salads and refused to eat them (mostly collard and mustard greens, although I tried every kind suitable I could find.)

He's always been a very active guy but pretty slim no matter what I feed him. He was checked and treated for parasites in 2022.
 

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Claudiusx

BD.org Sicko
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He does look better in those older pictures.

You can go to any home improvement store or feed store and you will be able to find aluminum domed heat lamps; if you don't want to buy petstore ones which are more expensive. Pick one up capable of handling 100-150w+ (maybe get two, one for your heat bulb one for your CHE). From there if you can find incandescent bulbs in your area, you can try a few different wattages to see what works for you. Incandescents are hard to find now though, so you are probably better off buying basking bulbs from the petstore.

Ideally, I'd like if you could change the basking surface too. pick up a few bricks from the home improvement store so that he has a nice flat surface his whole body can rest on. Use other bricks to prop the surface up higher if need be.

Once we make sure his basking situation is all situated, we can start working on the next steps which would be slowly working food back into him so he has the energy to fight off whatever infection is bothering him. But food will do nothing at this point for him if he's not able to properly digest it.

I'd stop the meds completely at this point, especially since they are causing such a negative reaction with him and he is already at the point where his body is likely extremely fatigued. Not to mention we aren't even sure he has a bacterial infection.

TLDR: Get new basking bulb fixtures and bulbs, fix the basking surface, get a basking surface temp of 100-105 over a large area so he can bask properly. We will work on getting him eating next.

-Brandon
 

jac

Member
Original Poster
Beardie name(s)
Onyx
Here are the replacements for his light I had picked out for now, I was going to try to pick them up tomorrow. I am planning on using the fixture I had from the night time bulb for the CHE.

I will see about picking up some bricks for a basking spot. Is there a specific kind? How many do you think?

He is able to poop and passes urates frequently. His poop is not what I'd call normal but he goes every 2-3 days right now.

Thank you for all your help. I will keep you updated.
 

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Claudiusx

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Those items will work.

Last I checked, bricks were less than a dollar per, so I'd get 4-6. Two bricks wide should be enough surface area for him to bask flat and easy, the other two or 4 would be just to add some height to the basking site to get him closer to the bulb and help you manage the temperature.

You don't need to use bricks, you can use a nice rock you find outside (clean it first), but just find something that can accommodate him a bit better.

-Brandon
 

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