Many reptile owners are surprised to learn that all pets, including reptiles, need at least annual checkups. A number of reptile veterinarians actually recommend checkups at least twice a year. Depending upon the species of reptile, the testing performed, and the temperament of your pet, some of these tests may require short-acting sedatives or gas anesthesia to minimize an animal’s stress level. Every visit starts with a thorough physical examination, during which your veterinarian will record your pet's weight, general appearance, and activity level. Your veterinarian will also ask you about your pet’s recent history and evaluate its diet. Just as your own regular medical visit includes blood testing, so does a checkup for a reptile. Microscopic examination of the feces allows detection of internal parasites. Using X-rays, your veterinarian can examine your pet's body for abnormalities in the size, shape, and position of body organs, screen for masses such as tumors, look for abnormal fluid accumulation, and check the bones and joints.
The bearded dragon is a well-known lizard currently considered one of the best pet lizards. If they are well looked after, with a good diet and proper environment, bearded dragons are reasonably hardy animals. Common health conditions of pet bearded dragons include metabolic bone disease, infectious stomatitis (mouth rot), parasites, respiratory infections, and adenovirus infection.
Bearded dragons are omnivorous, meaning they eat both plant- and animal-based foods, including insects. Generally speaking, bearded dragon's diet should be about 50% plant-based material and 50% animal-based material.
Bearded dragons are popular, well-known lizards currently considered one of the best pet lizards. The minimum cage size for a juvenile lizard is a 20-gallon aquarium, depending on the size of the bearded dragon. Substrate, or bedding material, should be easy to clean out and non-toxic to lizards if they accidentally eat it. Large rocks, easy enough to climb on or around, in the cage also allow for basking and provide a more interesting, natural environment.
Bearded dragons are popular, well-known lizards, currently considered one of the best pet lizards. This lizard is omnivorous, eating both plant- and animal- based foods. They are highly social, friendly, animated, curious, docile and gentle animals that are easy to tame and are very responsive to their owners. Within 48 hours of your purchase, your bearded dragon should be examined by a veterinarian familiar with reptiles.
Bearded dragons have several unique problems; understanding these problems will allow you to better care for your pet and minimize future health care problems. These problems include Salmonella, avascular necrosis, abscesses, and dystocia.
Before acquiring a reptile, thoroughly research all aspects of reptile ownership including not only which reptile is appropriate for your lifestyle, but also how to provide it with proper diet, suitable housing, and a healthy, stimulating environment. As a rule, if you want a pet to snuggle with, a reptile is not for you! If, on the other hand, you want an animal you can display in a well-designed, natural habitat, marvel in its natural behaviors, and enjoy learning about it, owning a reptile might be for you. Most reptiles must be fed and watered daily, and often their cages need to be cleaned daily as well. All reptiles need to be examined by a reptile-savvy veterinarian immediately after purchase or adoption (within 48 hours), and then at least annually after that. Since many exotic animals are prey species that hide illness to avoid being captured by predators, these pets usually do not act sick (or show any indication of illness) until they are very sick and need immediate veterinary attention. Regular veterinary care, plus an informed, knowledgeable pet owner, greatly reduces the likelihood of illness and death in these pets.
Common conditions of pet snakes include infectious stomatitis, parasites, skin infections, inclusion body disease, respiratory disease, and septicemia. Infectious stomatitis may not be a primary disease but may be secondary to an injury to the mouth or to husbandry issues such as poor nutrition, improper environmental temperature or humidity, or overcrowding. Both internal parasites and external parasites may cause diarrhea, breathing difficulties, regurgitation, swelling of internal organs, itching, skin irritation, anemia, mouth infection, and weight loss. Cryptosporidiosis can cause thickening of the stomach muscles, impaired digestion, vomiting, and weight loss. Dermatitis is often seen in snakes kept in environments that are too moist and/or dirty. Inclusion body disease is a serious viral disease in which affected snakes cannot right themselves when placed on their backs, may appear to be star gazing, and may be paralyzed. Most respiratory infections in snakes are caused by bacteria but may also be caused by viruses, fungi, and parasites. Septicemia in snakes occurs when bacteria and their toxins proliferate in the blood stream causing lethargy, lack of appetite, open-mouth breathing, red discoloration to the scales, and death.
Cytology is the microscopic examination of cell samples. Cytology can be used to diagnose growths or masses found on the surface of the body, and also to assess bodily fluids, internal organs, and abnormal fluids that may accumulate, especially in the chest and abdomen. Cells can be collected using various methods including fine needle aspiration, skin scraping, impression smear, cotton-tipped swabs, or lavage. A biopsy is the surgical removal of a representative sample of tissue from a suspicious lesion. The most common biopsy techniques are punch biopsy, wedge biopsy, and excision biopsy. The tissue is then processed and is examined under a microscope via histopathology. Histopathology allows the veterinary pathologist to make a diagnosis, classify the tumor, and predict the course of the disease.
Doxycycline is an antibiotic given by mouth in the form of a tablet, capsule, or liquid, used off label to treat certain infections. Common side effects include stomach upset, sun sensitivity, and increases in liver enzymes. Serious side effects include liver failure, seizures, and trouble swallowing. Do not use in pregnant pets, and use cautiously in pets with liver disease or in young pets. If a negative reaction occurs, please call your veterinary office.