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Bearded Dragon Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD)

 

Bearded Dragon Metabolic Bone Disease

Metabolic bone disease in Bearded dragons (MBD) is the most frequently seen nutritional disorder in this species. It has become a very important condition in South Africa and probably in other countries too. Bearded dragon metabolic bone disease is defined as a syndrome including a range of bone diseases associated with metabolic diseases, e.g. secondary hyperparathyroidism. It is generally a chronic, or long-term result, or combination of a dietary deficiency of Bearded dragon calcium supplementation, a negative dietary calcium to phosphorus ratio (Ca:P) or the lack of exposure to proper Bearded dragon ultra violet lighting.

Bearded Dragon MBD Signs

Bearded dragon metabolic bone disease is a condition most commonly seen in young growing dragons without adequate Bearded dragon calcium supplementation and / or inadequate exposure to Bearded dragon ultra violet lighting. Gravid adult females are also at risk. Common clinical signs include:

  • Softening of the legs / bones
  • Bone fractures
  • Scoliosis
  • Kyphosis
  • Hyperreflexia of the extremities
  • Tetanic spasms
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Anorexia
  • Constipation with subsequent impaction

Bearded Dragon MBD Diagnosis

Any one or a combination of the first seven signs are very indicative of Bearded dragon metabolic bone disease. A thorough history is most often enough to diagnose the condition. Additional tests include radiography and blood calcium level determination.

Bearded Dragon Metabolic Bone Disease Treatment

After a diagnoses of metabolic bone disease is made or even upon a high suspicion, it is recommended that these animals are started on treatment as soon as possible. Although there are more experimental treatment on the horizon, the current treatment of choice resolves around parenteral calcium injections. Serious cases might need hospitalization. Additional symptomatic treatment might include parenteral fluids (drips), enemas and tube feeding. The treatment will be continue at home after most clinical signs have subsided. The animal can then be discharged with proper oral Bearded dragon calcium supplementation for further treatment or future prevention. Cure would be impossible without the correction of the Bearded dragon ultraviolet lighting. Bearded dragon metabolic bone disease should always be diagnosed and treated by or under the supervision of an experienced reptile veterinarian.

 
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