Bearded dragons are one of the best pet lizards. While bearded dragons are naturally pretty hardy, it means that they are resistant to diseases but it doesn’t mean that they have no diseases at all. There are many diseases present in breaded dragons. The diseases in them are either caused by pathogens which include bacteria, fungi, and viruses, or some nutritional deficiencies.
Bearded dragons are cold-blooded animals, So they are more prone to environmental conditions like heat or cold. Some diseases are also caused by poor immunity in them. New owners of bearded dragons are more worried about the disease of their pets. Some of the most common diseases of bearded dragons include
- The metabolic bone disease.
- Infectious stomatitis (‘mouth rot’).
- Respiratory infections.
- Adenovirus infection.
Metabolic bone disease
Metabolic bone disease in bearded dragons is most common and it is linked with the diet of dragons. This disease is the result of low calcium levels in the body and in it, the bones of the dragon become fragile and easily breakable.
The main causes of MBD in bearded dragons are
- Low calcium level in the body.
- Deficiency of Vitamin D3.
- Less level of calcitonin.
- Poor UVB lighting.
Calcium is the main component of bones and its deficiency causes the bones to become weak. Vitamin D3 and calcitonin are also involved in the regulation of calcium levels in the body.
The following common symptoms are shown by dragons
- · Lethargy.
- · Depression.
- · Swelling on joints.
- · Swelling of face and mouth
- · Swelling of the back leg
- · Trembling limbs
- · Muscle twitching
- · Soft jaws
- · Dropping lips
- · Stunted growth
- · The dragon is unable to lift its weight
- · Bowed limbs
- · Fractured and broken bones
If the dragon is showing the above-mentioned symptoms for a long time then he could be suffering from MBD and call the vet for a confirmatory diagnosis.
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The main focus of the treatment of MBD is to uplift the level of calcium in the body. It can be done by
- · Calcium supplements orally
- · Intravenous calcium injection
- · Calcitonin injection
- · Vitamin D3 injection
- · UVB Lighting
- · Hydration
Proper care and provision of a calcium-rich diet are best to prevent this disease. Provide a calcium-rich diet that includes
- · Papaya
- · Mustard greens
- · Endive
- · Squash
- · Cactus leaves
- · Escarole
- · Figs
Observe the dragon and note any change in its behavior for early diagnosis of diseases. Provide them with a nutritionally balanced diet.
MBD is an illness linked to improper nutrition. If diagnosed in the early stages can be cured easily but in later stages, it could be fatal. With proper management and by providing a nutritionally balanced diet, this disease can be avoided.
Infectious stomatitis (‘mouth rot’)
Infections stomatitis is a disease in which there is inflammation of the oral cavity. This may be caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. The appetite of the dragon decreases and the dragon becomes depressed and lethargic. If it is diagnosed at the early stages, then it can be cured at home by simply application of antibiotics. It happens due to low immunity.
Mouth rot in the dragons is caused by
- · Bacteria
- · Virus
- · Fungi
All these organisms are normally present in the oral cavity but when the immunity of the dragon suppress then they get a chance and cause disease. Low immunity is due to stress and stress is the result of environmental factors. These factors include
- · Too low or too high temperature.
- · Improper & poor diet.
- · Unhygienic cage.
When the dragon is suffering from mouth rot, it shows the following symptoms
- · Patches on the oral cavity.
- · Loss of appetite.
- · Broken teeth.
- · Bleeding of gums.
- · Bloating.
These patches may be of white-grey or white-yellow colors.
If the dragon is eating far less than the normal routine and if there are any broken teeth or bleeding from the gums then check the oral cavity. All these symptoms are indications of mouth rot.
Mouth rot can be easily treated with broad-spectrum antibiotics after cleaning the oral cavity with an antiseptic solution. These antiseptics include · Betadine (povidone-iodine)
· Hydrogen peroxide
These broad-spectrum antibiotics could be either applied directly to the oral cavity or by pouring in the form of drops. A commonly used broad-spectrum antibiotic is
· Silver-based cream (silver sulfadiazine)
At the beginning of the illness, it can be easily cured at home by applying an antiseptic solution and by offering a soft diet to the dragon.
Observe the dragon and note its behavior, if its behavior changes mean its eating habits change and if puss is present in its mouth then it may be suffering from mouth rot. Call your vet if the condition becomes devastating.
Infectious stomatitis or mouth rot is information about the oral cavity. It may be caused by bacteria, fungi, or viruses. The appetite of the dragon decreases and there may be pus in its mouth. It can be easily treated by using antibiotics.
Parasites are common in bearded dragons. They are mostly present in the intestinal tract of the dragons. Parasite infestation remains mostly neglected. The owner of the dragon should be vigilant and should concern the parasites as a major problem. Parasites can be easily controlled by using anti-parasitic drugs.
Parasites are normally present in the gastrointestinal tract of the dragons. But when their population exceeds the normal range then they may be dangerous. Following are the causes of parasitic infestation
- · Poor diet
- · Unhygienic environment
- · Poor immunity
- . The most commonly found parasite is
- · Pinworm
These parasites can be transmitted from one dragon to another and cause illness there.
When a dragon is affected by parasites, then it shows the following symptoms
- · Poor appetite
- · Weight loss
- · Rough skin
- · Dehydration
- · Diarrhoea
Mostly it is very difficult to diagnose the parasite infestation because in many cases parasites don’t have any clinical picture but sometimes cause diarrhea. If the above-mentioned symptoms are present then observe the fecal material of the dragon and get it checked in the laboratory.
Many anti-parasitic drugs are available on the market. There are different drugs for different parasites. Commonly used drugs are
- · Fenbendazole
- · Iodoquinol
- · Ivermectin
If your bearded dragon is suffering from parasitic infestation then contact your vet immediately and follow his advice and keep its environment stress-free.
The best to protect your beloved bearded dragon from parasites is deworming. Do deworming of your pets regularly and provide them with good nutritional food and keep their environment clean.
Parasitic infestation is common. It is not a fatal illness. Observe your dragon closely and if it shows any symptoms of parasites then contact your vet. To avoid this illness deworm your pet regularly and provide him clean environment.
Bearded dragons are more prone to respiratory tract infections. These infections are either caused by bacteria or viruses. poor hygienic conditions make the dragon more likely to be affected by diseases. Pneumonia is the most common respiratory tract disease. These diseases could be fatal if ignored for a long time but in the early stages can be treated with antibiotics.
Respiratory tract infections are mostly caused by
- · Viruses
- · Bacteria
- · Fungi
- · Parasites
If the dragon is stressed, it is at risk of getting an infection. These infections can occur in bearded dragons that are
- · Stressed
- · improperly fed
- · Kept in poor, cold, or dirty conditions
· Affected dragons may show the following symptoms
· Have to discharge from their eyes or nose
· Bubbles from the mouth or nose
· Unnaturally rapid or shallow breathing
· Open-mouthed breathing
· Decreased appetite
If the dragon is showing the above-mentioned symptoms then it may be suffering from respiratory tract infections. Call the veterinarian immediately and get it checked
Respiratory infections can be treated with antibiotics. At the early stages of the disease, recovery is imminent. A commonly used antibiotic for respiratory tract infections is
Medicines to boost immunity are also given to the affected animal. But if the disease is kept at later stages, it may be fatal.
If your bearded dragon is suffering from respiratory tract infections then provide him with a comfortable environment and give him a nutritionally rich diet and immune boosters.
If there are any symptoms of the respiratory tract infections in your bearded dragon then never ignore them and call the veterinarian immediately. To avoid these infections provide the dragon immune boosters and a stress-free environment.
Respiratory tract infections are caused by viruses, bacteria, parasites or fungi. These infections could be fatal if neglected but can be contained easily by using antibiotics if diagnosed at early stages.
Adenovirus infection is very common in young bearded dragons but may affect dragons of any age. Viral infections are often fatal and cause acute death of the animal without any prior signs. In the case of viral infections only care and immune boosters are a line of treatment.
If the immunity of the dragon is low, it may get the infection from other affected animals or the environment.
Adenovirus infection causes
- · Fatal hepatitis
- · Gastrointestinal infection
- . Affected animals are
- · Weak
- · Do not eat
- · Often die acutely.
- Others show a more chronic infection in which they fail to thrive
- · Weak
- · May become paralyzed
- · Periodically do not eat
Diagnosis is usually made based on symptoms shown by the dragon. If the dragon is showing the above-mentioned symptoms then it may be suffering from an adenovirus infection. For confirmatory diagnosis, a PCR test is used.
As it is a viral infection, there is no specific treatment is available on the market. This illness has to be tackled by the immune system of the dragon. For this purpose immune boosters are given to the dragon. To protect the dragon from secondary bacterial infection, broad-spectrum antibiotics are given.
There is no home remedy except by providing the dragon with a calm and stress-free environment.
If you observe any symptoms of adenovirus then separate the suspected dragon and call the veterinarian in no time.
Adenovirus is more common in young bearded dragons. It can even cause death without showing any prominent signs. The owner must be vigilant and must call the veterinarian immediately if any symptoms are noticed.
Other diseases of bearded dragon
Other diseases which are common in bearded dragons include · Yellow Fungus · Upper Respiratory Infection · Cancer · Paralysis · Diarrhea · Throwing Up · Sunken Eyes · Wrinkly Skin · Lethargy · Lack of Appetite · Sunken Fat Pads
These diseases are not common but most of them are caused due to poor nutrition and low immunity. Observe your dragon regularly and note any change in its behavior. If home remedies are not working then call your veterinarian and follow his instructions.
Q):- How do I know if my bearded dragon has a disease?
A):- If your bearded dragon is showing abnormal behavior and show any sign of weakness and depression then it may be suffering from a disease.
Q):- Can bearded dragons pass diseases?
A):- Yes, bearded dragons can pass many diseases not only to other dragons but also to humans. They can transmit many viral and bacterial diseases like salmonella, adenovirus e.c.t.
Q):- How do I know if my bearded dragon has a respiratory infection?
A):- Affected dragon shows different symptoms. Affected dragons may sneeze, or have discharge from their eyes or nose and bubbles from the mouth or nose.
Q):- Can bearded dragons get Covid?
A):- No, Reptiles and birds have not been affected by this virus.
Muhammad Nouman Nazir DVM(UVAS), M.A political science(UOS). I am always trying my best to share my knowledge to the audience all over the world to help them.