Have you noticed blood in your bearded dragon’s stool or around its vent?
Are your beardie’s bowel movements different than usual?
Anal bleeding is a sign of several possible health issues that must be urgently addressed.
A bearded dragon bleeding from the anus may be a severe cause for concern.
Bearded dragons with anal bleeding either have pinworms, an internal injury, or a digestive blockage. Other rarer conditions could occur, but these are the most typical possibilities.
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Possible Reasons A Bearded Dragon Bleeding From Anus
If you notice bleeding around your bearded dragon’s cloacal or vent area, or if your pet has a bloody stool, it may be experiencing one of these health conditions.
- Parasites: most commonly pinworms
- Internal injuries: bleeding in the intestines or stomach
- Constipation: difficulty digesting food
- Impaction: ingesting something its body is unable to digest
And, more rarely:
- Seminal plugs: built-up semen in males which can lead to an infection
- Prolapses: internal tissues slip out through the vent
Read on to learn about each of these health conditions in bearded dragons.
Pinworms In Bearded Dragons
Pinworms are the most common parasitic infection bearded dragons experience.
A veterinarian can detect them by testing a fecal sample from your beardie.
If your dragon has pinworms, your vet will likely prescribe a deworming medication.
Along with medical treatment, it is important to thoroughly sanitize your beardie’s entire habitat and maintain good cleanliness, so the parasites don’t return.
Can Pinworms Kill Bearded Dragons?
Sometimes, pinworms are commensal.
This means the parasites benefit from the dragon, but the dragon is neither harmed nor helped by the parasites.
A bearded dragon may have pinworms for a long time without showing any symptoms.
Other times, pinworms can turn deadly.
Because they feed off the nutrition your bearded dragon ingests, pinworms can cause malnutrition, rapid weight loss, and even death.
Along with anal bleeding or blood in your dragon’s stool, look for these other symptoms caused by parasites:
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
If you notice any of these symptoms in your dragon, it is vital to visit the veterinarian.
How To Prevent Pinworms In Bearded Dragons
Maintaining a clean habitat and healthy food habits is best to prevent parasites like pinworms from plaguing your beardie.
- Clean your bearded dragon’s cage regularly
- Clean out poop every day
- Change substrate every two or three weeks
- Clean food and water dishes with warm, soapy water every day
- Remove any leftover food each day
- Wash your hands after handling your dragon
- Wash your hands between each animal when handling multiple dragons.
Taking your bearded dragon to its annual checkup will also help keep it healthy.
A veterinarian can test a fecal sample once a year to ensure your beardie is parasite-free.
Internal Injuries In Bearded Dragons
Another potentially severe health concern, internal injuries, can cause bleeding in the stomach or intestines.
Ingesting Unsafe Substrate
Internal bleeding is commonly caused by a bearded dragon ingesting unsafe substrate.
Materials like wood chips, rocks, or loose house carpeting can cause serious problems in beardies.
It is easy to prevent this.
Only use appropriate substrate for bearded dragons, like this reptile terrarium carpet.
Bearded dragons love to climb, which puts them in danger of falling.
If your beardie ever falls and you later notice anal bleeding, it may have an internal fracture or organ rupture.
Monitor your pet for other symptoms like:
- Abdominal swelling
- Laborious breathing
- Bleeding from the mouth
If anal bleeding doesn’t subside, or your dragon continues to behave uncharacteristically, make a vet appointment as soon as possible.
While constipation and impaction are digestive concerns, impaction is a more serious health problem requiring immediate attention.
Constipation in Bearded Dragons
Constipation occurs when an animal has trouble digesting food, resulting in difficult bowel movements.
It may be caused by dehydration or an unbalanced diet.
Symptoms of constipation include:
- Difficulty performing bowel movements
- Loss of appetite
Impaction in Bearded Dragons
Impaction occurs when an indigestible mass is in the animal’s stomach (such as unsafe substrate, like rocks) or when the digestive system stops functioning correctly (frequently caused by unbalanced diets or incorrect habitat temperatures).
This results in literal blockage of the dietary tract, which can have dangerous or deadly consequences if untreated.
In addition to the symptoms of constipation, warning signs of impaction include:
- Not pooping for a long time
- Swollen belly
- Pale skin
- Rapid weight loss
Impaction is an urgent health concern.
If a warm bath and belly massage doesn’t fix the problem, take your beardie to the vet as soon as possible.
Less Common Reasons for Anal Bleeding
A few other conditions may result in anal bleeding.
However, they typically have more obvious symptoms.
Retained Seminal Plugs
Reasonably common in male bearded dragons, retained plugs are waxy columns of sperm buildup around the vent.
Usually, they are expelled when the dragon poops, but they can occasionally get stuck.
When seminal plugs get stuck and not manually removed, they may block bowel movements, causing infections and discomfort.
While anal bleeding may be a prolapse symptom, it is usually obvious when a bearded dragon is experiencing this condition.
Generally caused by excessive straining, a prolapse occurs when internal tissue slips outside of the body through the vent.
You will see raw pink or purple skin protruding from the anal area.
A prolapse is considered an emergency health situation.
Keep the exposed tissue lubricated and clean, and get your beardie to a veterinarian as quickly as possible.
Check out our prolapse prevention for bearded dragons post for a great dedicated guide on the topic.
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Many health conditions can lead to a bearded dragon bleeding from the anus.
Most typically, parasitic infections or internal injuries are to blame.
Take your bearded dragon in for annual checkups, and don’t delay when vet visits become necessary.
Maintaining a hygienic and safe habitat will keep your beardie comfortable and prevent avoidable health problems from ever developing in the first place.