Educational Articles

Reptiles + Medical Conditions

  • 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 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.

  • 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.

  • When well looked after, and given a good diet and environment, iguanas are reasonably hardy animals. Common conditions of pet iguanas include metabolic bone disease, infectious stomatitis (mouth rot), parasites, respiratory disease, and hypervitaminosis D.

  • Iguanas have several unique disease problems; understanding these problems will allow you to better care for your pet and minimize future health care problems.

  • Telemedicine is the act of practicing medicine from a distance and your appointment will be conducted by a licensed veterinarian. Before your appointment, gather information on your pet’s history and your current concern. Look at a calendar and write down a timeline of your pet’s problems. Be prepared to answer questions that you would normally be asked at an in-person appointment. Write notes to help you remember everything. Most telemedicine appointments involve the use of some type of video chat. Conduct your visit in a quiet area with good lighting and have your pet with you before the call starts. Not all concerns can be addressed through telemedicine. If your veterinarian is unable to arrive at a diagnosis via telemedicine, he or she can help you determine the next step for your pet to ensure that he or she receives optimal care.

  • Gout is a disease in which the metabolism of uric acid is defective. Uric acid is a breakdown product of nitrogen, formed when protein is metabolized in the body. Uric acid is the form in which reptiles excrete their nitrogen wastes.

  • Dystocia (difficult birth or egg binding) happens when the female reptile is unable to pass her eggs or fetus. It is a reasonably common problem in reptiles and can be life threatening. It is a problem seen with snakes, turtles and lizards. It is caused by a variety of factors.

  • Snakes have several unique problems and understanding these problems will allow you to better care for your pet and minimize future health care problems.

  • Telemedicine is defined as the act of practicing medicine at a distance. Telemedicine can be offered in a number of different ways: telephone calls, text messaging, online chat, email consultations, and visits conducted through videoconferencing programs. Telemedicine is not appropriate for every concern, such as a pet hit by a car; however, a number of common veterinary complaints can be addressed via telemedicine (e.g., flea allergies, minor limping, mild diarrhea). While it is impossible to perform a complete, comprehensive exam during a telemedicine appointment, in many cases your veterinarian can gather enough information to arrive at a reasonable diagnosis and start treatment. If your veterinarian determines that your pet requires in-person care, your veterinarian can help you determine when and where your pet should be seen and may be able to give you an idea of what to expect during the in-person veterinary visit.

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