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Bearded Dragon Enema

Have you heard about bearded dragon enemas, but you’re a little freaked out?

Are you worried about a possible impaction in your bearded dragon and aren’t sure how to address it? 

While using an enema may not sound ideal, it is sometimes the best option to help a bearded dragon impaction.

This article will discuss this topic in detail. 

bearded dragon enema

Bearded Dragon Enema

Enemas are necessary when a bearded dragon has a severe impaction in its GI tract. The vet will insert either a feeding syringe or a lubricated catheter into your beardie’s cloacal opening and then use a warm water flush. 

Unfortunately, if left untreated, impaction issues can cause death in bearded dragons. 

While it is possible to treat the ailment at home, it’s important to seek a reptile veterinarian’s professional advice. 

Symptoms of Impaction

At the first sign of impaction, you should begin treating your bearded dragon. 

The location of impaction can affect the symptoms you see. 

The legs of your beardie become paralyzed when the impaction is in the upper part of their body. 

The major red flag to look for is if they have stopped having bowel movements.  

A baby bearded dragon should be going to the bathroom daily, but an adult bearded dragon can go over a week without going. 

If you are not finding feces in their tank, there likely is a problem going on. 

Other signs of impaction to look for are slight leg trembling, not walking like normal, unable to excrete when going to the bathroom, dragging of the back legs, lack of appetite, twitching of its tail, and regurgitation. 

And for those experiencing issues with the back legs we have a post on the topic covering why your bearded dragon isn’t using its back legs that will provide insight.

A bump might appear on your beardie’s back or a bulge may appear on their belly. 

It’s essential to understand the symptoms of impaction and metabolic bone disease (MBD) are very similar.

MBD is when beardies do not get an adequate amount of calcium and can cause their bones to brittle. 

This is why it’s imperative to seek the help of a veterinarian to diagnose the ailment properly. 

Beardies who have been diagnosed with MBD are more susceptible to having a fecal impaction. 

What Can Cause Impaction?

As a bearded dragon owner, you need to make sure your pet has the proper diet. 

Any foods too large to be digested can lead to impaction in a dragon’s intestines.

These foods include superworms, large crickets, and mealworms. 

Be sure you are providing a daily high-fiber diet rich in vegetables and leafy greens. 

Infections also can cause impaction in bearded dragon.

Also, there are specific substrates capable of causing impaction in your bearded dragon.

Unfortunately, bearded dragons enjoy eating whatever they find in their cage, including their bedding. 

Avoid using gravel, calcium sand, or wood chips. 

Beardies who are not properly hydrated are more at risk for impaction. 

Their colon is unable to absorb the water it requires to help eliminate waste efficiently. 

Your vet may inject a fluid, called subcutaneous fluid, to rehydrate them. 

You need to make sure their environment is safe for them. 

It’s best to avoid any small gravel substrate or loose particles which your lizard easily consumes. 

Even if a product states it’s digestible, make sure you do some research before adding it to your tank. 

Your lizard will likely attempt to eat any small materials in their cage. 

Lastly, when the enclosure has inadequate temperatures, it causes beardies not to digest their food correctly. 

Ensure your pet always has access to their basking spot. 

When to Seek Medical Attention

If the impaction is severe, it’s best to immediately go to your reptile veterinarian to receive a proper diagnosis. 

It’s essential to see an exotic animal vet who has experience with bearded dragons. 

You don’t want to take a chance and have your pet suffer because of it. 

Your vet will be able to administer an enema to relieve the impaction properly.  

If soaking does not help rehydrate your lizard, your vet may have to inject fluids into their bone canals. 

The veterinarian will be able to perform x-rays to see what is causing the impaction. 

If the vet cannot resolve the problem with an enema, surgery may be the only option. 

Bearded Dragon Enema And At-Home Treatments For Impaction

If you are able to catch the problem when it is still mild, you don’t necessarily need to visit the veterinarian. 

There are several at-home treatment options. 

  • Change up their current diet and avoid feeder insects for the time being. Offer foods like canned pumpkin, warm applesauce, or no-sugar-added juices. Stick to softer foods to help with digestion and avoid anything with artificial ingredients. 
  • Apply a few drops of olive oil to their nose so they can lick it off. The oil will act as a laxative. Do not use vegetable oil. 
  • Create a warm water bath for your bearded dragon. In a shallow water bowl, allow them to soak for 30 minutes to 2 hours. Dragons often prefer to have a bowel movement in warm water. Warm baths should be between 85 and 100° degrees Fahrenheit (38° C). 
  • While your beardie is in the bath, gently massage them around their cloaca and stomach to help facilitate a bowel movement.

How to Prevent Impaction In Bearded Dragons

As with any illness, prevention is key in avoiding a problem. 

It’s essential always to feed bearded dragons the appropriately sized food. 

An easy reminder is only to serve beardies food the size of the space in between their eyes. 

Also, it’s crucial to maintain a proper temperature inside their enclosure. 

The ambient temperature inside their tank should be between 80 and 85° degrees Fahrenheit (29° C). 

The basking spot should be between 95 and 110° degrees Fahrenheit (43° C).

Beardies cannot regulate their body heat. 

I recommend investing in a temperature gun to help monitor the temperatures inside their enclosure. 

It will be more accurate than a regular thermometer. 

Finally, make sure you have appropriate bedding in their enclosure. 

Ideal substrate choices are reptile carpet, newspaper, ceramic tile, or paper towels. 

They all conveniently lay flat on the bottom of the enclosure, ensuring beardies don’t take a bite out of them. 

Impaction Vs. Constipation

Both impaction and constipation and have similar symptoms, but impaction is a more severe condition. 

Constipation is when your beardie is having difficulty defecating due to digestion, which causes their stools to back up. 

Some lizards will require being fed by a tube if their constipation persists. 

On the other hand, impaction means an indigestible mass in your beardie, obstructing its colon. 

The majority of colon obstructions will continue to grow over time if left untreated.  

Final Thoughts

Having a bearded dragon with impaction is less an ideal situation, but there are several ways to treat it. 

An enema is an undesirable method of treatment, but sometimes it is the most effective. 

Ensure you are providing a balanced diet and proper care for your beardie to avoid any health problems in the future. 

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