Captive Reptiles May Have Nutritional Deficiency

Image of a lizard in a tank.

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.

Location

Find us on the map

Monday:

8:30 am-8:00 pm

Tuesday:

8:30 am-5:00 pm

Wednesday:

8:30 am-5:00 pm

Thursday:

8:30 am-5:00 pm

Friday:

8:30 am-5:00 pm

Saturday:

8:45 am-2:00 pm

Sunday:

Closed

Testimonials

Feedback from our clients

  • "Words can not begin to express our gratitude for the care you had given Hunter over the years. When his time came, he watched for you to come through the door and his tail showed his affection towards you. That was most comforting having you there. Thank you.""
    ~R.H
  • ""Thank you so much for taking care of Maggie over the years. Y'all are the best and Dr. Johnson, you are the best vet in the world! God bless you all.""
    ~ J.D.
  • ""Your care for my beloved Mattie these last 10n years made her life, and mine much better….God bless each of you for all you did for us and I'm sure for all your other two and four legged patients.""
    ~E.D.
  • ""Thank you for saving my life." ~T.C."
    ~T.C.
  • ""I can not express how grateful I am for you and your staff… I appreciate everything you did in Beckham's treatment. He was so lucky to have such a wonderful doctor on his side. Thank you for all you do for the benefit of all our beloved pets.""
    ~L.B.
  • ""Dr. Johnson - There are no words that can truly capture your kindness.""
    ~G.B.
  • ""Thank you for the great care you took of Taco and the rest of our family. He is doing great now! He is enjoying running and playing with all four legs again.""
    ~W.C
  • ""People who avail themselves of your services at the clinic certainly are blessed to have such a caring staff....bless you and your devoted staff.""
    ~E.D.
  • ""A sincere thank you for taking such good care of Dulce. We are so thrilled that she is back to her normal self. You gave her the support and care she needed in her darkest hours and kept us confident in her recovery.""
  • ""Just to say how much we appreciate all of you. You all are wonderful people. We feel blessed to have our beloved furry children in your care when they need it. Your professional knowledge and your acts of kindness have a beautiful act all it's own. You are a great vet, compassionate and everything good all in one. You are in our daily prayers.""
    ~T.F.
  • ""Thank you and all of your staff for the excellent care you gave to my wonderful Abbey, who was so much a part of the family. Thank you for all the advice and support you gave to me these last few months. I don't know how I would have gotten through this without your constant support. I will, and I have highly recommended you to family and friends, as I feel you are the best!""
    ~P.B.
  • ""Thank you for taking care of my kitty, Slingshot. He is feeling better and better. My Paw-Paw said that you took extra special care of him and I really appreciate it. So, thank you again for taking care of my cat.""
    ~T.B. (age 6)
  • ""Dr. Johnson, I don't know why you decided to move here from your home in New Jersey, but I absolutely believe it was so you could help me and Mickey. I know coming to someone's home is not what a typical veterinarian would do, but you are obviously an extraordinary man in a world filled with ordinary men….On top of that, your sensitive and wonderful handwritten note arrived and touched my heart…You are one of those quiet, unheralded champions who make life easier for everyone you touch.""
    ~C.W.
  • ""Thank you so much for taking care of Lola when she had her reaction, and your office was already closed. I know you took time away from yourself and your family and I really appreciate it.""
    ~R.M.
  • ""Thank you for giving me more time with my best friend. We are all so grateful.""
    ~A.M.
  • ""Thank you for all of your support for Maxine during her illness. All was very much appreciated and will always be remembered. I have related to all my friends of what a great doctor and staff at Birdneck Animal Hospital.""
    ~O.B.
  • ""Thank you for taking such good care of me over the last 4 years. I am doing well and both legs and feet feel great. You sis an awesome job on me Dr. Johnson, and I'm gonna have a great year this year and I hope to see you only for my check up. You guys are the best!""
    ~Budkus
  • "We can't thank you enough for the wonderful and loving care you gave to"Budkus" while he was in your care. He was so little and so sick and we were so scared for him. Each and every one of the staff members made us feel like we had the only dog in the world. Like nothing else mattered except getting "Budkus" well again. Our deepest gratitude to all of you for the excellent care and attention we received, for your encouragement, comfort, and understanding, and most importantly for saving his life! Thank you so much.""
    ~ J.,B.,C.