‘Mouth rot’ in Bearded dragons
Mouth rot, also called infectious stomatitis, necrotic stomatitis or oral inflammation, is caused by micro-organism infections in the mouths of reptiles. It is a fairly common medical condition seen in reptile pets, including Bearded dragons.
Signs of mouth rot in Bearded dragons
A broad diagnosis of mouth rot is made visually by proper inspection of the oral cavity / mouth. This disease can be classified as early stage mouth rot and late stage mouth rot. Early stage mouth rot is evident when there is significant swelling, redness and bleeding spots around the teeth line. During the later stages the mouth edges are lined with mucous, puss/dead tissue and even blood. In severe cases excretions can be seen coming from the nostrils and eyes and the skin of the lips starts to peel.
Treatment of mouth rot in Bearded dragons
Before treatment for mouth rot is started, the type of micro-organism needs to be establish. Very often the underlying cause (see below) will also have to be rectified. In the majority of cases mouth rot will be caused by bacteria, but fungal infections are also known to appear from time to time. These infections are treated with appropriate anti-microbial medicine in the form of injections, rinses and/or ointments.
Mouth rot in Bearded dragons is very often as a result of stress. Sick, injured and incorrectly kept Bearded dragons are mostly at risk for this disease. A major factor contrributing to mouth rot in Bearded dragons is incorrect husbandry, e.g. incorrect humidity/temperatures, overcrowding, etc. Bite injuries on the lips can also spread to the inside of the mouth. For successful treatment of mouth rot, these factors also needs to be addressed.
Apart from treating the the disease and the environmental factors, Bearded dragons with mouth rot might also need ‘supportive treatment’. Many of these reptiles will be dehydrated and anorexic (not eating). In severe cases the mouth rot organism might also have spread to other parts – such as the lungs or intestinal track. Because of its potential life threatening consequences, guidence from an experienced reptile friendly veterinarian comes highly recommended.
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