My Bearded Dragon is Sick…What Should I Do?
What to do if a bearded dragon gets sick? With more common pets like dogs and cats, you probably know how to spot the signs such as lethargy and poor appetite. But, how do you even know if a beardie is sick? By nature, they move slowly and are not as energetic as dogs.
There are several ways to know if your beardie is suffering from any health issues.
From the Start Take Precautions
However, the first step owners should bear in mind is to buy a healthy beardie from the beginning. This is half the battle won. If you buy a sickly bearded dragon then many potential health issues and very high vet bills are possible.
When choosing your bearded dragon, make sure he has no injuries. Normally, a healthy beardie is alert with his head up. He takes notice of you the moment you approach him. So watch how the beardie behaves – is he alert, active, and perky?
However, keep in mind that he may have already been active and is now in a rest mode. Observe his limbs, nails, tail, and toes. Are they all intact? Look for any puss or fluid around the bearded dragon’s mouth. Ensure that his eyes do not seem droopy and that his mouth and jaw are not swollen.
If you checked most or all, then you picked one you just can’t live without.
Pointers To Help with Health Issues
Some of the symptoms your bearded dragon goes through are natural and have no cause for alarm. Other symptoms are not naturally part of good health. Take care of these issues immediately. The following covers the good and the bad.
Nature’s Stamp – The Good
The first point to note is that a bearded dragon goes through different cycles throughout the year. There are times when you think the dragon is ill but he is actually just fine.
Shedding is another natural occurrence. Do not be alarmed. An adult beardie sheds his skin once or twice a year. A baby dragon sheds more often since he is still growing. Let him shed naturally. Do not help by pulling off the skin. By doing so you cause damage to the scales.
Bearded dragons go through brumation. This is a naturally occurring cycle and is similar to hibernation. During this period, the beardie sleeps longer than usual or sleeps without waking for a long time. He may not eat or may eat much less than usual. This cycle lasts from a week to a few months depending on the beardie. So, just check on him periodically to make sure he is breathing and looks content.
NOTE: The beardie is fine during the brumation cycle even if he is less active and eats less. Don’t panic. Do NOT try to wake him or force-feed him.
If a beardie has diarrhea, the causes can be:
- bad food,
- too much food with high water content,
- or stress.
Avoid feeding him vegetables that have high water content. Never feed him iceberg (head) lettuce. Decrease the amount of fruit given at one time. If the condition persists after having adjusted his diet, immediately take your beardie to the vet. Some causes are worms or parasites. Additional problems might be present.
If your pet has not defecated for a few days but is still eating daily, there is a problem. This problem may be easily solved. First, give your beardie a warm bath in water that is at a temperature of about 95 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. While bathing the beardie, gently massage his belly while he is in the water. This should loosen up any impaction and he should defecate in a few hours. If the beardie is still constipated, take him to a vet NOW.
Make sure he drinks enough water regularly. A properly hydrated beardie has firm skin. You want your beardie to have supple, loose skin…think Sharpei (you know, the dog that looks like grandpa – all wrinkled and soft but with a scaly exterior).
The best way to check if a beardie is healthy is to look at his eyes. If his eyes are puffy, swollen or droopy, he has health issues and must go to a vet NOW.
Other Serious Health Problems
Other than these common health issues, beardies may face paralysis, bone diseases, parasites, malnutrition, and more. If your companion is not behaving like his usual, alert, happy self, and you are not certain he is showing signs of the “good” symptoms, follow this rule – seek a veterinarian’s advice immediately. The cost of a vet visit is worth your bearded dragon’s life!
As a beardie owner, you need reference guides. Learn as much as you can to successfully keep your beardie around for an optimal time. It is such a rewarding experience! Responsibility and knowledge are key to successful Bearded Dragon management.
There are several excellent guides available. The list to the left provides you with several choices. They are a great investment for both you and your pet, taking the guess-work out of the equation.
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