need water just like we do. Proper hydration is very important in the
health of a beardie and is even more important to a sick beardie. When
a beardie becomes ill they are often too weak to drink fluids on their
own, and if they are not drinking or eating they become even more lethargic
and weak. Severe dehydration may lead to shock and even death.
A beardie that is dehydrated will often perk up after given fluids. If the beardie does perk up some, you will often have a better chance of curing the health problem. Of course, if a beardie acts ill, it's often very ill and should be taken to a reptile vet immediately. Also, most medications can be damaging to the kidneys and should be given with plenty of water. Ask your vet to make sure that the fluids will not interfere with the medicine.
Symptoms of dehydration are sunken eyes, wrinkled skin, lack of appetite, and lethargy. A good way of checking to see if your beardie is dehydrated is to gently pinch the skin on the side of their back between your fingers. If the skin rolls back into place almost immediately then the beardie is likely well hydrated. In a dehydrated beardie the skin may stay in a pinched, or tented position. Depending upon the cause of the beardie's illness, fluid should be offered by mouth, or by subcutaneous injection. Ask your vet for details. Remember, dehydration is nothing to mess around with. It can quickly cause an already ill beardie to become much sicker.
Force feeding a severely dehydrated beardie may result in shock and
possibly death. The digestive tract requires fluids to process foods,
if there are not enough fluids available they will be taken from other
critical systems. When dehydrated, having a loss of appetite may be
one way the beardie's body tries to protect itself. However, when the
beardie has been properly rehydrated, it may still fail to eat on its
own. Force feeding may be necessary, but only after rehydrated. The
bottom line is that a beardie must be rehydrated before started on solid
The best fluid to give in my opinion is Pedialyte. If you don't have Pedialyte on hand, don't wait to get some, offer water right away. And bottled water would be best because of all the added chemicals that they treat our tap water with. If you have to, sports drinks like Gatoraid will work, but must be diluted 1:1 with water. Pedialyte is the better choice as it is metabolized quicker and contains less sugar.
Before forcing your beardie to drink, try to coax him to drink from a needleless syringe or eye dropper. I discovered that my beardies will eagerly drink a mixture of 25% all natural juice with no additives, sugar, or preservatives (apple, grape, cranberry, etc) with 75% water. See photos below of my beardies drinking from a syringe...
The photo on the left is Lizzy eagerly drinking a mix of 25% apple juice with 75% water. He's not my best eater and when he goes off food for a few days I make sure that he drinks some fluids so he won't get dehydrated and constipated. Lizzy is a big boy and will usually drink 4 or 5 cc's at one time.
The photo on the right is Ojay. When I took this photo he was brumating. It's not a bad idea to offer your beardies fluids while they are in brumation. Ojay can drink up to 5cc's on some days. Thirsty beardies!
The benefits of having a beardie that will drink from a syringe or eye dropper are endless. I can give meds and probiotics now with ease. I hated to have to force my beardie's mouth open and shove the meds in. Most meds don't taste that bad, like Albon. My beardies will lick Albon from a syringe.
If you've tried to get them to drink on their own but were unsuccessful, you may have to try forcing them to drink, especially if they are on meds that require the beardie to be kept well hydrated like Albon. Before you can force fluids into your beardie's mouth, you will need a syringe (without the needle), or an eyedropper. If you are offering liquids with a syringe, it should be easy to tell how much you are giving as syringes have the amount of cc's or ml listed right on them (note: cc's and ml's are the same). I use a needleless 1 cc syringe with a rubble nursing nipple. (See photo on the left.)
I simply cut the very tip of the nipple off so that the beardie can chew on the nipple without causing any damage to his mouth, teeth, or gums from the hard plastic needle. The nipples fit perfectly over the tip of the 1cc small syringes. These nipples can usually be found at Petsmart in the kitten or small animal section. Sometimes the nipples can come off, and care must be taken to secure the nipple.
generally calculated based on 1 - 2% of bodyweight during a 24 hour
period. Please note that too much fluid at one time may be just as lethal
as severe dehydration because the kidneys and circulatory system can
only handle a certain amount of fluid. A Veterinarian should be involved
to determine the proper amount of fluid, based upon the severity of
the dehydration. See the table below for proper fluid amounts.
This table shows the amount of fluid to give a beardie in a 24 hour period based on 1% - 2% of the beardie's body weight. The recommended column is based on 1% of the body weight and the maximum column is based on 2% of the body weight. Hopefully this table will give you an idea of how much fluid to give your beardie. But if your beardie is severely dehydrated you should get him to the vet as soon as possible to prevent further problems. This chart is just to give you an idea, do not use it in place of vet assistance.
|This information should be used only as a reference tool and should not be used in place of vet assistance. My views and opinions are the result of hours of dedicated research. But remember, I am not a professional. If you have a sick beardie and don't know what to do, don't play God, take him to the vet immediately.|
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