End of life issues?

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ender929

Member
I have a ten year old female and a ten year old male bearded dragons. Contrary to everything I've read here (and I'm no way disputing the validity of the reports and the dangers associated with this practice), they have always been raised together. My wife and I bought them from someone when they were almost two years old, and we were told they were both female. When we found them mating, we realized there had been an error. Any attempts to keep them apart lead to them rubbing their faces on the glass constantly try to see each other. So we put them back together. Our vet, who is also the reptile vet for the local zoo, agreed with us to let them live in the same aquarium together. And they have cohabitated together all of these years, except for when I had Ursula's tubes tied. Now, Ursula has rather significant arthritis and has been having trouble walking easily. Several months ago our vet prescribed pain medication for her and its done well. But now it doesn't seem to be as effective and I had promised I would not have her live with such pain. I have an appointment for Saturday to see the vet. I'm afraid there's nothing else we can do. So I have a few questions.
1. Does anyone here have any experience or advice?
2. I have included the slight narration because George is very attached to her and we're worried about how this will effect him. He is far healthier than Ursula, but as I stated earlier very attached to her.
As you might imagine, this is very difficult for my wife and I. But more so for me, as I am her favorite person and I am already heartbroken over her impending demise. I can't imagine too many people have had a pair of dragons who cohabitated for such a lengthy period, but I thought if anyone ever had, they probably be on this site. I would truly grateful to hear from anyone with a similar experience. Thank you for reading this long post.
 

FranktheTank

Gray-bearded Member
I'm afraid I can't offer any advice, however I read your post and wanted to let you know my thoughts are with you and your wife. This is an extremely difficult time for you, but you've definitely come to the right place. I know someone will be able to offer you support and advice on this forum. Again my thoughts are with you, and I'm so sorry for your situation.

-Kaleen
 

Drache613

BD.org Sicko
Staff member
Moderator
Hello,

You have a unique situation, as that does not happen all that often. That is great they have been able to live together easily for all of these years.
Has a blood test been done yet to determine if arthritis is the only ailment? I am sorry that she has arthritis, that is too bad. The age of 10 is a great age though so nothing wrong with that life span as the average is 8-12 or 15 years on average.
I have an older dragon (not completely sure of age since he was from a petstore) but at least 8-10m, who has gout & has some arthritis too.
Does she eat well? You can try giving nice warm baths, daily to help with mobility also. It might help her joints feel better. Which medication did he place her on?

Do you have any pictures of them both?

Tracie
 

NeosMom

Juvie Member
I'm so sorry for what you are going through with Ursula. Your family is in my prayers. I know it's not the same, but I had two dogs who were extremely attached to each other and when the older one had to be put down, we had similar concerns to what you have now. The younger dog had been with the older since it was only a few weeks old and we were very concerned about what reaction he would have to losing his best friend. Our solution was to give him every bit of extra attention we could muster for the first few days. He was the center of our world because both we had just lost our other dog, and also in hopes of lessening the pain for him. Naturally, he was depressed for a few weeks. He didn't eat well and he wandered the house constantly looking for his friend. In time he came to accept it and eventually was just like his old self.

I hope this helps and I wish you the best.
 

ender929

Member
Original Poster
I use the warm baths and they both really enjoy it. Ursula hasn't eaten on her own in many months, she was having trouble biting her food. It was as if she was unable to target the salad or insects. At first we held the food for her so she could easily eat without becoming frustrated, but she eventually did this less and less. So at my vet's suggestion, I've been using baby food in a large blunt tipped syringe. This has worked quite well, and we even give George some of it if he's interested. I must confess I've spoiled her some, as the thought of losing her has been ever present in my mind. As a result, she will only occasionally eat when my wife feeds her but generally holds out until I do it. And she has gotten to the point where she won't eat even then until I've been holding her a while. I have always given her a lot of attention, and as a result whenever she sees me, she initiates her "Jedi mind trick" so that I'll get her out. (I'm sure all beardie owners know this look, if not the phrase itself.)

She was actually quite a bit like her old self today, I was off and spent a most of the day with them. Our appointment with our vet had to be bumped a to the end of the month as our vet is out on maternity leave. I have agreed to postpone the appointment because our vet really knows both of our beardies. We haven't ever hesitated to make an appointment or call when anything arises, and she has treated them since the first week we owned them (we both insisted on a full check up at the vet after we bought them).
 

sweetiepie9

BD.org Sicko
Retired Moderator
I know what it's like to have to decide on what best to do for Ursula. I have an almost 9 yr old beardie who is starting to show his age. I also give him babyfood as he sometimes misses his bugs, guess his eyes aren't working as well either. It's a tough decision to make. A previous poster mentioned Serrapeptase. It's an enzyme from silk worms that seems to work well as an anti-inflammatory, so you should ask your vet about it. You can buy it in capsule form at a health food store, just open the capsule & mix it into the babyfood. The one I used is 60,000 U and it worked well when my female Sweetie broke her upper arms. So that might be a something you can give Ursula that might help. It's always sad to know that a beloved beardie is getting old. I have arthritis myself & I've found only exercise seems to help it alot. So do warm baths.

Good luck with your girl & I'm so glad that she & George have been able to live together happily all these years.
Deb
 

valcash

Sub-Adult Member
I am sorry Ursula is having issues. I have a senior bearded dragon who also went through stages, was eating fine on his own, then was moving slow so had to make the bugs slow and in one place, then wasn't eating on his own and needed to be fed bugs exclusively hand fed, and now does not eat on his own even handed bugs and has to be syringe fed.
 

ender929

Member
Original Poster
My wife got Ursula to eat a three superworms which were dusted with cosequin and calcium. She held them for her of course, but it was the first food we've gotten her to eat that wasn't in a syringe. She actually has seemed better this week than she has in a few weeks. I appreciate everyone's sympathy and suggestions. My wife is going to try to upload some pictures of them, as I'm not very computer savvy.

You will see that George has had part of his tail amputated. My wife had noticed that the tip of his tail had become discolored and took him to the vet. She said there was condition in iguanas where they had some type of tail rot, and it rarely had a good outcome. We brought him home and began to try nurse him. Two days later George had caught his tail on the logs he climbs on and it was broken and broken open. I freaked and took him to the vet. She said we had to amputate immediately and didn't know whether he would survive. She sent the tail off for examination and it was discovered that he had a blood clot and the tissue below it had died. She (the vet) was as happy as we were that it was a relatively benign event, and instructed my wife to "take that dragon home and spoil him". I'm including this story so no one will think it was a result of Ursula injuring him. In fact they rarely stay out of contact with each other, our vet says their in love (she's a sweet romantic). As you may realize by now, our pets have a better health care than most people. And our vet (whom we can't say enough good things about) knows that we don't panic easily and will see either at the drop of a hat.
 

sweetiepie9

BD.org Sicko
Retired Moderator
When I adopted Lonzo, he had about 2 1/2" of black shrivelled up tail, so took him to the vet as soon as we could. He had part of his tail amputated, too, we were lucky that the tail rot (which it was) hadn't made it's way to his body. There was a story about a beardie on this forum that wasn't taken to the vet early enough & the infection killed him, so I was so glad I'd taken him to the vet so quickly. That was in 2008 & he's still running around, he'll be 9 in April. Some things have to be seen to right away.

Pics would be lovely, it's so rare that a male & female live together well & don't get violent with each other. They must care about each other so much, to stay so healthy while living together. It'll be great to see some pics, I'm repeating myself, but I love beardie pics.

Here's a pic of my youngest Rubio, he has the best smile (and yes, he's really big)
2010003-1.jpg

A big smile for you all!
Deb
 

ender929

Member
Original Poster
We've taken Ursula to our vet and she suspects , as had we, that perhaps she's over medicated. We felt horrible that we could not distinguish pain from over medicated, but our vet said that the experts have the same trouble. We've switched to tramadol in an effort to eliminate this possibility. I appreciate all of the advice and concerns that were posted. If someone would tell me how (actually it'll be my wife who follows whatever instructions are forthcoming) to post pictures, then we'll post some. After this many years, we have plenty and generally they are together in everyone. I would like to offer advice for anyone having beardie health issues. Document what and when you do anything for your beardies. Our vet was very happy when we were able to show med delivery, food (and the amount if possible) and any other relevant information.
 

ender929

Member
Original Poster
She seems to be doing better and our vet feels like we may have found the problem. My wife has been increasing the frequency of warm baths. I use a fingernail cleaning brush to stroke her while bathing (George enjoys this too) and it seems to relax her further. We were really worried about what would happen to George if we had to put her down. The only times they have been separated have been for rare overnight vet stays, and whomever was left at home alone frantically searched for the other.
 

ShannyBeard

Extreme Poster
Hi, ender929. Your beardies remind me of my grandparents. They are 79 and 85 and have been together since they were kids. They have never argued and are the perfect example of two people who were meant to be together. If anything happens to one of them, the other would die of a broken heart. I don't think any of us grandkids, or anyone in my family, would be able to lessen the pain. Heartbreak is a part of life. :( (Man, oh man, now I just started crying).

Anyhow I just wanted to share that, because I don't think you can do anything but give George extra love if she passes, and support him. That's what we'll be doing for my grandparents.

I'm glad to hear she is a bit better. You and your wife sound like wonderful people.
 

sweetiepie9

BD.org Sicko
Retired Moderator
How's Ursula today, it sounds as if you've found a way to get her better. Please let me know, I've been worrying about her & George.
Deb
 
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