Metabolic Bone Disease in Bearded Dragons: Treatment and Prevention
Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD) is a serious health issue in Bearded Dragons and can range from mild to life-threatening. Achieving and maintaining good calcium levels is key in preventing and successfully treating metabolic bone disease.
What is Metabolic Bone Disease?
MBD is caused by a lack of calcium or an inability of the body to absorb or retain calcium and is often associated with deficiencies in Vitamin D or phosphorus. Without sufficient levels of these minerals, bones become weak and can easily break, result in organ and soft tissue damage, painful muscle spasms, and even death.
Signs of MBD in Bearded Dragons
It is essential to recognize the signs of MBD in your Bearded Dragon. If left untreated, MBD can cause severe health problems, so it is important to look for the following signs:
- Bowed legs – Legs may be curved or bent
- Lack of appetite – A decrease in appetite or refusal to eat
- Softshell – Softening of the carapace, which is a sign that the bones are not receiving enough calcium
- Decreased activity – Lack of energy and a general sluggishness
- Twitching/Drooping – Twitching of muscles and drooping of the head can be a sign of nerve damage or calcium deficiency.
Treating Metabolic Bone Disease
The primary goal of treatment is to correct the nutritional imbalance and increase calcium levels. This can be accomplished in several ways:
- Dietary changes – Increase the amount of calcium-rich vegetables, such as collard greens, other leafy greens, squash, and sweet potato in your dragon’s diet. Additionally, it is important to offer your dragon a balanced diet of vitamins and minerals, such as those found in high-quality reptile food.
- Supplementing with calcium powder – This is especially important for juvenile dragons, as they have higher metabolic needs than adults. Calcium powder should be dusted onto your dragon’s food, ensuring that it is consumed.
- UVB Lighting – Ensure that your dragon is exposed to UVB lighting for 12-14 hours per day, as this is necessary for the absorption of calcium.
Preventing Metabolic Bone Disease
The best way to prevent MBD is to ensure that your Bearded Dragon is receiving proper nutrition, including adequate calcium, phosphorus, and Vitamin D. Maintain proper lighting, temperature, and humidity levels and offer a varied diet with plenty of dark leafy greens, vegetables, and insects.
By following the steps outlined here, you can help prevent the onset of Metabolic Bone Disease in your Bearded Dragon and ensure that it remains healthy and happy.
Metabolic Bone Disease is a serious illness that can have devastating effects if not treated. With proper nutrition, supplementation, and lighting, it is possible to prevent MBD and ensure your Bearded Dragon remains healthy.