Our Experience with Adenovirus Diagnosis

ofcourseilikepasta

Hatchling Member
Hello all 💚 sorry for this gigantic post I’m making right now LOL

I’m coming on here to share my experience with my boy, Roger, getting diagnosed recently with the dreaded adenovirus. I saw another post that did this (thank you @Selkie1993!) that was really helpful for me when I was suspicious of this being the case. So I wanted to also share how I got there, since there is still so little really known about it. This is going to be a long one so I’m sorry for that and I don’t blame you if you skim through! But I hope this can help someone notice things I might’ve not before.

Some background…

Roger was purchased from my hometown Petco in July 2016. We were looking at some of the sweet babies in that tiny 5 gallon square they keep the poor things in for our next family member. We already had Gary, about 1 year old at home, from the same Petco. The employee said they had more in the back that they just got in, and wheeled out a 40 gallon breeder full of probably 8-10 baby bearded dragons. We saw Roger, and knew he was the one. He appeared to be a leatherback, and was “on sale” for $30. We wouldn’t buy animals from a pet store anymore, but this was long ago and I don’t regret it necessarily because he’s my child. 💚

Roger was so, so tiny. I don’t know if he was just really young or stunted somehow. But he was such a hyper little guy. He was strong and brave, with a huge personality. He’d see his brother from across room in his tank and still have the courage to head bob at him with his little tiny size. They were always kept separate and have never gotten close enough to each other to probably even know the other exists at this point lol…

Fast forward over the years and Roger grew up, but never as big as Gary. They ate the same foods, same bugs, same supplements, but Roger just never got as big. This is another thing we don’t know if is just genetic or if he had always had the virus and it stopped him growing as much. But boy was he healthy. His shed was always normal, he ate like a champ, almost never showed a single sign of being sick. He went to the vet only once (other than check ups) because he wasn’t eating, and it turned out he was just a little dehydrated.

Now we are to about the last year, maybe 2. Roger has become quite a cranky lizard. We had felt guilty thinking that getting too busy working, getting a dog through quarantine, just not spending enough time with him, and that he’d grown to not understanding being handled anymore. He blackbearded frequently, especially if we tried to hold him. He wouldn’t eat as much as he used to, but I had thought it was because he doesn’t notice his salad since it doesn’t move. He started not shedding very well. Then, he got a sudden respiratory infection. He was coughing, mucus-y, liquid was coming out of his nose and he was plugged up; it was hard for him to breathe. We got him on antibiotics right away but he really had trouble getting rid of the infection. He was just not himself anymore. He didn’t want to be touched at all, it was so difficult to get him to drink or eat (unless it was banana, lol), and he barely moved…

After some time on the antibiotics, he started showing slight improvement. He was still just so so cranky all the time, I would say he just hated me now and it broke my heart. He just wanted to be left alone. But he was eating more again, and the URI symptoms were gone. But some new ones had developed…

The tremors. That was the first sign that told me something was really wrong. Is it calcium? Are we not giving him enough, too much? Is his UVB light no good? we thought. We have worked so hard to do everything right, but devastated at the thought we were wrong and hurting him. His fat pads sunk in because he wouldn’t eat much, and the tremors made it hard for him to aim and grab food. He’d close his eyes every time we got near him. He would just lay on the bottom of his tank, not wanting to bask. We ordered some critical/carnivore care and booked him a vet appointment for our exotics we drive to over an hour away. The appointment isn’t for about 2 weeks but his symptoms still feel manageable. I’m convinced at this point it’s either calcium deficiency or adenovirus.

Two days before the appointment, I wake up from a nap and go into his room. He’s on his basking spot, completely slumped over. I go to wake him up and he doesn’t respond. I pick him up, and instead of being resistant, he’s fully limp. I gently tilt him back and he doesn’t respond. His eyebrows are completely flat and his beard is darker than I’ve ever seen. I go into absolute panic as we gather our stuff to rush to an emergency vet that sees exotics about 40 minutes away. As I’m sobbing over his nearly lifeless body, begging him to open his eyes, showing him his favorite window to look out of, he finally responds. I breathe a sigh of relief that he’s alive because I honestly wasn’t sure at this point.

We get in the car and he slowly starts to come back. He loves riding in the car, so so much. All he wants to do is stare out the window. We walk into the emergency vet, and come to find the exotics doctor is already leaving as the hours are switching over to emergency rather than urgent care. I think the front desk person sees how much I’ve been crying and how desperate I am for help. Thankfully, *somebody* is able to see him. After several hours at the clinic, they give him back to us, unsure of what they can do. He’s perked back up and although he’s black bearding, he doesn’t look like he’s dying anymore. They just gave him a bit of fluids and, thank whoever is up there, didn’t charge us anything. I’ll pay anything to get my babies help but it was a relief to not have to pay for an emergency bill.

Two days later at his actual vet, he’s still just not doing great. She looks him over and says,”Well, he is getting older.”, which I had no idea of, honestly. I thought 8 years old wasn’t very old for a dragon. It seems that they just aren’t living as long as they used to anymore, and she said we clearly took extremely good care of him to get him this far. I ask for full bloodwork to be done, a fecal (negative), and the adenovirus testing. She also puts him on a round of antibiotics in case there’s an infection he’s trying to fight off. She also gives us some critical/carnivore care as ours still hadn’t come in, and also recommends we give him Repta Boost. We buy a brand new UVB bulb. I skip a concert that weekend, unable to bring myself to leave him alone or enjoy anything like that anyways. I hold him every night, putting him in his little cozy bed (a little dog bed from his grandma), with a heater gently keeping him warm…

In the next several days, he starts to recover. His eyes go back to normal. He gets excited for the critical care. He starts attacking his salad like I’ve never seen before. He’s basking again, pancaking in front of his bulb and the sun when we take him outside. He starts giving us his little kisses again, he’s drinking water, he’s swimming in the bath again, he’s coming back to the Roger we’ve been so worried we were about to lose. I can’t even begin to tell you the relief I felt. I had prepared myself at this point to lose one of my babies and he was coming back to me like a warm hug.

His bloodwork came back completely normal, still waiting on the adenovirus testing. We tell the vet how much better he’s doing now and she’s so happy for us because she could tell how much I was hurting at his visit.

So we get the call just yesterday that confirms it, he does indeed have adenovirus. And really, that makes it all make sense. Maybe he had some sort of infection again and his body was just struggling with it, his immune system working over time or not enough. The crankiness, the shakes, not being able to aim for food, always being a smaller dragon. I never wanted it to be this, but I’m at least grateful there’s an answer for this complete rollercoaster ride of his health.

She assured us that he very likely can live a happy and healthy rest of his life as long as we are always keeping on top of any illness he might show. I feel like our fast action saved his life. The antibiotics, the syringe feeding, checking on him in the middle of the night to see if he’s still breathing, taking him outside for sun, patiently dripping water for him to drink, not hesitating at any moment to get him seen by a professional, and just never giving up on him.

We think that after all these years, it’s very likely that Gary probably has it too. I want to believe we’ve done our best to avoid cross contamination, but unfortunately it’s hard with such a contagious disease. Thankfully, he’s in fantastic health. We are just going to keep doing our absolute best for both of them and be thankful for every day we have them.

What this experience has shown me is how proud I actually am for the care my husband and I have done for them. I’m proud of us for all the times we took them to the vet even when we weren’t sure. But this is also a cautionary tale to any prospective adopter, of any animals: when you buy or adopt an animal, you need to be prepared to do whatever you can for them. They *need* us. They are relying on whatever human got them to provide them with the best life possible. It breaks my heart for people who buy a bearded dragon for $30, don’t do any research, and just let them die out of ignorance or not wanting to pay for vet bills.

This is not any of you here in this forum, and I am so happy every day to see people passionately caring for their animals whether it’s a dog, a horse, or a special creature from our beardie family. Thank you all for being a wonderful community of caring lizard parents, and I wish nothing but health and happiness for all members of your families to infinity and beyond.

Gary and Roger send their love!!! I’ll attach some photos :)
(Photo order: baby Roger, Roger now, Roger tattoo, Gary now, Gary tattoo)
 

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xp29

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Zen , Ruby ,Snicker Doodles, Sweet Pea, Sinatra
I'm sorry that your boy is positive for adv, but your story is heart warming abd brought a few tears to.
It is realistically likely Gary has it also, it's damned contagious. But it sounds like your noys couldn't be in a better home!!! And think you for sharing thier story.
 

Selkie1993

Juvie Member
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Beardie name(s)
Drogon <3 RIP 2019- March 11, 2024 Lily: new girl in the house
Hi there!
Thank you for tagging me in your post :) While Drogon's results came out negative 3x, the vet was certain he had ADV. Unfortunately he passed away in March from stomach cancer. We are still uncertain if he had ADV to begin with :/ I'm really glad my post helped you though. We used to think Drogon was big until I saw other dragons!
 

ofcourseilikepasta

Hatchling Member
Original Poster
Hi there!
Thank you for tagging me in your post :) While Drogon's results came out negative 3x, the vet was certain he had ADV. Unfortunately he passed away in March from stomach cancer. We are still uncertain if he had ADV to begin with :/ I'm really glad my post helped you though. We used to think Drogon was big until I saw other dragons!
I’m so sorry you lost him. It’s hard with how much can go wrong with these guys and how little can be done to help :(
 

Selkie1993

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Beardie name(s)
Drogon <3 RIP 2019- March 11, 2024 Lily: new girl in the house
Yes seriously! He had a seizure one day and when we rushed him to the vet, his glucose levels were off the chart, and when the doctor did a CT, they found a mass taking up half his stomach. This is becoming a big issue among household beardies so please, to anyone reading this, keep an eye out for lack of appetite and ask your vet to do blood work that checks for glucose levels:
 

Drache613

BD.org Sicko
Staff member
Moderator
Hello,

Very helpful post for people, absolutely! I agree with GNT being more common now. My
opinion is that a lot of the commercialized feeds are genetically modified which is made
with soy or corn. Those products are harmful to health & can cause organ dysfunction in
both human & animals.

Tracie
 

Selkie1993

Juvie Member
Photo Comp Winner
Beardie name(s)
Drogon <3 RIP 2019- March 11, 2024 Lily: new girl in the house
Hello,

Very helpful post for people, absolutely! I agree with GNT being more common now. My
opinion is that a lot of the commercialized feeds are genetically modified which is made
with soy or corn. Those products are harmful to health & can cause organ dysfunction in
both human & animals.

Tracie
Ugh so gross. So you think it's the food that we feed our feeder insects? I guess that would make sense! That's why I try to provide veg with my worms and repashy bug burger for roaches. I also wonder if it's just a genetic issue we are seeing in new morphs
 

ChileanTaco

Juvie Member
Beardie name(s)
Taco
Also what I do for the feeders: Things like veggies (just raw kitchen scraps, I always have plenty as we cook all our meals at home and all those carrot ends, kale leaf that's too much... always something from that ends up in the bug boxes), oats (plain oats, not "breakfast cereals" or such).
(Some special organic bug food might also be okay, but I can't get it here, so going the "simple stuff" way and that's fine.)

For my beardie also, obviously, no pellets or such.
Pet hissing cockroaches: Same food as the feeders; fresh food of the day was an apple scrap/ apple slug (had to look up that word, don't know if it's correct... the hard inner part where the seeds are ;))

My approach: As I don't want to have "processed food" on my table, it's also not going into the food of pets.
 

Selkie1993

Juvie Member
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Beardie name(s)
Drogon <3 RIP 2019- March 11, 2024 Lily: new girl in the house
Also what I do for the feeders: Things like veggies (just raw kitchen scraps, I always have plenty as we cook all our meals at home and all those carrot ends, kale leaf that's too much... always something from that ends up in the bug boxes), oats (plain oats, not "breakfast cereals" or such).
(Some special organic bug food might also be okay, but I can't get it here, so going the "simple stuff" way and that's fine.)

For my beardie also, obviously, no pellets or such.
Pet hissing cockroaches: Same food as the feeders; fresh food of the day was an apple scrap/ apple slug (had to look up that word, don't know if it's correct... the hard inner part where the seeds are ;))

My approach: As I don't want to have "processed food" on my table, it's also not going into the food of pets.
Yes I agree! The only "processed" stuff I give my new dragon is Repashy beardie buffet or their seasonal squash formula but she's mostly on bugs and greens, that's it! They shouldn't even give beardies pellets X_X
 

ChileanTaco

Juvie Member
Beardie name(s)
Taco
Repashy beardie buffet or their seasonal squash formula
What is that?
I'm not asking to criticize you, but I'm just interested. From the website it looks like supplements?

Regarding pellets: My Taco for sure won't eat them, as he's into "either it's a fresh crunchy vegetable, or it wiggles, or it runs". He won't even eat a bug that's not moving much.

(What my dragon gets of course is Calcium and vitamins. That's of course processed in some way, but necessary and thus I'm fine with that. If needed, I would also give "critical care" and I've even looked up whether it's available here in Chile - it is! - just to know in case I might need it at some time.
But I'm not feeding any pellets, dried insects, and also my feeders no pellets, breakfast cereals or such.
Also, when buying feeders, I buy them in advance to feed them on my own for at minimum a week. Might not work for such as hornworms or BSFL, though, but I wouldn't be able to get them, nevertheless. I feed dubias, mealworms, superworms.)
 

Selkie1993

Juvie Member
Photo Comp Winner
Beardie name(s)
Drogon <3 RIP 2019- March 11, 2024 Lily: new girl in the house
It's kind
What is that?
I'm not asking to criticize you, but I'm just interested. From the website it looks like supplements?

Regarding pellets: My Taco for sure won't eat them, as he's into "either it's a fresh crunchy vegetable, or it wiggles, or it runs". He won't even eat a bug that's not moving much.

(What my dragon gets of course is Calcium and vitamins. That's of course processed in some way, but necessary and thus I'm fine with that. If needed, I would also give "critical care" and I've even looked up whether it's available here in Chile - it is! - just to know in case I might need it at some time.
But I'm not feeding any pellets, dried insects, and also my feeders no pellets, breakfast cereals or such.
Also, when buying feeders, I buy them in advance to feed them on my own for at minimum a week. Might not work for such as hornworms or BSFL, though, but I wouldn't be able to get them, nevertheless. I feed dubias, mealworms, superworms.)
It's kind of like a treat for them and I just like to give her a little bit of everything :) it does have a lot of vitamins and minerals in it!
 

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