Bearded dragons are hardy creatures that can live 10 years or more, but are susceptible to disease. Common diseases of the bearded dragon include metabolic diseases of the bones, stomata, respiratory infections, mites, and tail rot. Adenovirus and impact are also common diseases of the bearded dragon. Bearded dragons are also susceptible to certain bacterial and fungal diseases associated with a warm, humid environment. In most cases, many of the common diseases of the bearded dragon can be prevented and treated.
Metabolic bone disease, one of the most common diseases of the bearded dragon, is caused by a deficiency or imbalance of vitamin D3, calcium, and phosphorus. Lack of calcium in the dragon’s body can be the result of insufficient exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays or eating foods rich in phosphorus and oxalates. The animal’s body will try to compensate for the calcium deficiency by extracting it from the bones. Then the bones become weak and brittle, causing fractures. Symptoms of metabolic bone disease include softening of the lower jaw and lumps along the legs, tail, and back.
The stomata, also known as mouth rot, is an infection that is usually caused by poor nutrition and the presence of parasites. Its symptoms include loss of appetite and a whitish substance that covers the soft tissues of the mouth. If left untreated, the disease can cause gum bleeding and tooth loss.
A respiratory infection is characterized by wheezing, loss of appetite, difficulty breathing, swelling of the throat, and excretion of mucus in the nose and mouth. Respiratory infections often occur in bearded dragons that are kept in poor cage conditions. Prolonged exposure to low temperatures and high humidity can also cause respiratory infections.
There are internal parasites that live inside the body and external parasites that live in the body, and both types can wreak havoc on the health of the bearded dragon. The presence of parasites may indicate poor nutrition. Internal parasites can drain nutrients from the body, causing weight loss, diarrhea and poor appetite. External parasites such as ticks and mites can transmit diseases and weaken the immune system. They can also cause itching and skin irritation.
Bearded dragons can be impacted when they consume food or non-digestible material and the digestive tract becomes blocked. The condition is similar to constipation, but worse. In severe cases, it can be fatal if surgery is not performed to remove the material.
Adenovirus is a viral inflammation of the digestive tract. Its symptoms are usually vague, but a bearded dragon with adenovirus usually shows loss of appetite. Bearded dragons one to three months old are more likely to be affected.
Although the mechanics of the yellow fungus are still uncertain, the disease is believed to be caused by a yeast infection that develops after a bearded dragon has been treated with antibiotics. The disease is characterized by spots of yellow fungus on the skin. Yellow fungus is deadly if left untreated.
Tail rot is characterized by tail blackening, lack of appetite, and lethargy. It is usually caused by a tail injury. Tail rot can also occur when skin loss does not come off, as the skin can build up and restrict blood flow. A pet owner can prevent this condition by simply removing the skin from the shed and anything that could cause potential injury.