Months of health issue and vet doesn't see anything obvious?

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Erica582

Hatchling Member
Hi everyone,

I have been struggling with my beardie for months and I feel like I've tried everything. I'll try and give a very brief rundown

Peachy is a year old now. I have had her since September. I went away for two weeks in January and left her with my roommate, when I came back her appetite greatly decreased, I assumed it would pass. I went away for a week in February and left her with my roommate again, when I came back she was eating about 4 crickets every couple days, and stopped eating salad. During this time, I was using a coil uvb bulb which I asked a local 'expert' here about, he said he participated in a study on it and they are not harmful to beardie. I think she was not absorbing enough calcium due to this bulb, as she developed mild mbd. In April, I bought her a tube bulb and she began to eat more, between 70-100 crickets a week! Looking more alert and was even chasing her own food.

It is now July and her appetite has again decreased, she isn't eating crickets, in fact all she wants to (eagerly) eat is blueberries. She will eat the occasional cricket if I put it in her mouth. Last week she began to spend a lot of time with her mouth open, slightly gaped, and puffing out her beard and opening and closing her mouth. She spent a night sleeping with her mouth open in a sighing fashion, so I assumed she had a respiratory infection.

I took her to the vet today, and the vet says she does not have a respiratory infection, and did a stool sample and sees no parasites or anything abnormal. In fact, she says shes very healthy except for being tiny. She weighs 190g and is 13.5"! I asked for an appetite stimulant, and the vet gave Peachy a shot of B12. She also gave me a 'general antibiotic' called Novo-Trimel (I think?). Lastly, she told me to buy chicken & Veggie baby food and syringe feed her 5ml a day.

I would love any input on similar experience! Thank you for reading:)
 

Buggsy

Gray-bearded Member
They do go through natural slumps in appitie. My female Gizmo has spent the last 3 months of sometimes eating, sometimes not, i know her tank is spot on and like yours is very healthy (vet told me she was by far the best example he has seen). All i can tell you is what i do, make sure the UVB is changed every 5-6 months, and keep offering food daily, at least she is eating something!

It could just mean she is very boared of crix, try some locusts, roaches, butterworms or phoenix worms, one will catch her attention!
 

Erica582

Hatchling Member
Original Poster
Thanks for the reply! Well she went through her 'slump' at 6 months old and basically stopped growing. There really are no other bug options where I live (Calgary, Canada), except for superworms which she loooves but cant poop easily. I am also wondering if it is too hot for her? Her basking side of the tank is always around 100, but her cool side of the tank is 80 during the day, and 75 at night because those are the wonderful temperatures of my apartment... She never goes over there anyways. What about that?
 

kariann

Hatchling Member
Following your instincts and taking her to the vet was the right decision, but I would question a clean bill of health when no blood work (or x-rays) were done. Physical examination/fecal is only part of the big picture. Since your dragon currently has decreased appetite, may be small for her age, and has a history of MBD, diagnostics are warranted. I would suggest finding another veterinarian that specializes in herps and take your dragon in ASAP since early detection of illness makes so much of a difference in the dragon's ability to recover with proper treatment.

The open mouth behavior you described does sound like a respiratory infection and physical exam alone cannot rule this out. If the infection is in the lower airways, then there may be no ocular, nasal or oral discharge. Bearded dragons are so small that listening to their lungs with a stethoscope may not detect lower airway disease especially in the early stages. Even radiographs are poorly sensitive for mild respiratory disease in bearded dragons as well. Blood work (complete blood count) to assess for signs of inflammation/infecdtion and/or a pulmonary wash with cytology and culture are the most useful tests for RI. Occasionally a vet will prescribe antibiotics based on clincial signs especially when running the aforementioned tests is cost prohibitive.

Please also consider posting the details of your uv bulb type/age, temps & type of thermometer, substrate, humidity, diet, etc. since most health issues in bearded dragons can be in part resolved with improved husbandry.

Hope this helps!
 

Jasper's Mom

BD.org Addict
Hey Erica,

I'm in Calgary as well. May I ask which vet you took her to? There are, unfortunately, vets in this city who claim to be exotics experts when in reality they know next to nothing. Also, you can now get hornworms from J&J Reptiles down on 17 Ave SE. Yay!
 

Erica582

Hatchling Member
Original Poster
It really did help! The vet did say it may be a lower respiratory infection, and Peachy has not been discharging any mucus, or making clicking sounds. She said it if is lower, the antibiotic I have for her should help.

As far as husbandry, it has changed over the last 6 months. She was in a 20 gallon on reptile carpet with 2 heat bulbs and a coil uvb bulb, in February I bought her a 40 gallon (at the same time her appetite seriously decreased), and used the same bulbs but had her on cardboard. In April I bought a tube bulb, it's an exoterra I think. I'm at work if the exact make is important I'll post when I get home. It was brand new when I bought it and after I began using it her alertness, activity, and appetite increased. I use calcium with d3 and a multi vitamin daily. I will post a picture of her enclosure after work too if that helps

As for substrate, a month ago I took her off the cardboard and put 'calcium sand' on half, and brick on the other half. She really likes the sand so I hope I dont have to remove it. I feed her on the brick half, I put in a piece of plexi glass to prevent crickets from escaping and to encourage her to 'hunt' for her own food, as opposed to me putting it in her mouth as I have been doing for months.

Temperatures are 95-110 on basking side, and 80 during the day and 75 at night on the 'cool' side. She never goes over there ever. The cool side is the exact same temperature as my apartment, and my apartment does not cool at night.

Anything else? Thank you so much for the help!
 

Erica582

Hatchling Member
Original Poster
Hi Jasper's Mom,

Yes you have answered many of my Calgary related questions! I took her here: http://www.calgarypetvet.com/
I am afraid to feed her horn worms. I used to feed them to my fully grown male and he'd poop them out whole! (Can you imagine that?!), even when I cut them in half he'd still do it. My other issue is that I live SW By Mt Royal University and have no vehicle, so getting to J&J's is very difficult and rare for me.

I intend to do blood testing but really don't have much money for that so I may have to wait for now. That vet visit yesterday cost me almost $200! (I'm a University student and only work four months a year)
 

GlueStick

Sub-Adult Member
I am experiencing the same problem. Aussie hasn't eaten regularly over 3 months, will open his mouth while sleeping, and yet when taken to the vet, said there was no resp infection. He gave me an appetite stiumlant which has seized to work.
 

Jasper's Mom

BD.org Addict
Avian & Exotic are pretty good. They actually know what they're talking about. You could also try Dr. Weger at Calgary North, although I know that's not as close for you. He knows tons about beardies. There's a good reptile shop on the corner of Elbow and (I think) Heritage. It's in the basement of the PAWS pet food store. They might carry hornworms or silkworms, or at least be able to order them for you. I believe they're called Tanks a Lot, although I'm not 100% sure on that. I don't know if that's any easier to get to for you, but it's on the #3 bus route and that's a pretty good frequent bus.
 

Erica582

Hatchling Member
Original Poster
Thanks, that's fairly close so I'm sure I can get someone to drive me there.

Does anyone know of an appetite stimulants? The shot of b12 doesn't seem to make her hungry, and she is really not enjoying me force feeding her baby food. She turns black whenever I pick her up now! She's going to hate me after this, and I think it's stressing her a lot. Any feeding ideas? The only thing she seems to actually WANT to eat is blueberries.
 
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