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|Common Nutritional Disease Can Be Recognized Early in Pet Reptiles|
Your pet reptile may have a nutritional disease that is commonly referred to as metabolic bone disease. Reptile pets in captivity typically show signs and symptoms of the nutritional deficiency early in the disease. Owners can look for:
Your veterinarian will check your pet's behavior, observe signs and symptoms and guide you with supportive nutritional decisions.
Pet owners keeping reptiles in captivity as household pets may sometimes find that their pets have a nutritional deficiency. Metabolic bone disease is "the most common nutritional deficiency affecting captive reptiles," advises veterinarian Fredrick L. Frye in Reptile Care: An Atlas of Diseases and Treatments. Dr. Frye suggests that the disease is a result of dietary intake creating an excessive amount of phosphorus in the animal's body.
Metabolic bone disease (MBD) in reptiles can often be overlooked until the pet seems to have broken toes or a leg that presents as impaired. Bone produced by the animal's body is brittle, fragile and can be spongy in texture. When your pet lizard or iguana jumps from one hard surface to another the bone can easily fracture. Normal movements your pet makes can be painful with the disease. Your pet reptile may experience discomfort when walking or moving around a cage, terrarium or your home.
Young lizards with metabolic bone disease may have skulls that fail to grow larger and become longer. They can retain the rounder shape seen at birth.
Early signs of metabolic bone disease in reptiles can be recognized when watching your pet closely. If you see that your iguana or lizard is using its front legs to move and the back legs are dragging you'll want to contact your veterinarian for an immediate appointment.
Lizards and iguanas, for example, use all four legs to move around. Their tails do not remain limp behind them with normal movement. There is a natural lift to many reptile tails that supports their forward motion. An iguana may be able to lift the front of its body, yet the torso and tail will be dragged due to the disease.
Watching your pet you'll be able to see if it looks jerky while it walks. Its limbs or muscles may show twitches and tremors. You may experience your pet's shakiness when holding it.
When handling your pet, you may also find that it has knobs or bumpy places along the bone ends and between the bones of its back or tail. Your vet will always check for knobs and bumps during an office exam. Eating may become decreased and weight loss may occur if your pet's jaw is affected by the disease.
Advanced cases of metabolic bone disease may also include anorexia and fractured bones. Dr. Frye advises that "severely deficient reptiles tend to be lethargic and may only be able to drag themselves along the ground. A reptile lacking the ability to lift it's body from the ground when sitting or walking often suffers from a moderate to severe case of MBD."
When a diagnosis is made for metabolic bone disease, your veterinarian will guide you with treatment recommendations and nutritional guidelines for your pet.
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The first vet: I spent more time ponying up the $175 for the visit than the Dr. spent actually looking at my dog. He performed a woods lamp exam for ringworm. Even without Google or a veterinary degree, I could tell it wasn't ringworm. Thanks for taking my money.
Second vet: "Here's some spray, now here's your bill. Bring her back in two weeks so I can charge you another visit." No tests, nothing.
Between the two, I felt like I got nowhere. No definitive answer on why this affected my dog and the medication given wasn't even for a diagnosed condition. Just some general topical spray. I could have bought it at Petsmart and saved myself the time and money.
Recently, on a visit to Idaho, I planned ahead to bring my dog to the Rupert Animal Clinic. I asked the same questions, had the same concerns and now have different results. Dr. Hines gave me options on what route to take, ran appropriate tests and communicated with me every step of the way (even calling me personally when test results came in). My primary concern was cancer. Our dog is like our child- we'll pay the money if we can keep her healthy and safe. In the future, I've resolved to bring my dog to Rupert Animal Clinic on our annual trip for all of her exams. I know she won't be treated as a little cash cow to exploit an owner's love for pets.