Are you worried your chameleon may have mouth rot?
Mouth rot is a fairly common disorder found in pet lizards and other reptiles, and while it is serious and potentially life-threatening, if left untreated, it is easily cured with the right ointments and care.
Below we share with you the best ointment for mouth rot in chameleons to get your reptile health back!
What is Mouth Rot
First, it is important to understand what mouth rot is.
Formally known as infectious stomatitis or ulcerative stomatitis, mouth rot is an infection of your chameleon’s gums, mouth, and oral cavity.
Symptoms include red and swollen lips, dark “plaque” on its teeth, and sticky mucus or discharge on its lips.
If left untreated it can lead to osteomyelitis, panophthalmitis, dacryocystitis, pneumonia, and other health issues.
What Causes Mouth Rot
Chameleons develop mouth rot from a variety of causes.
Improper diet, dehydration, poor husbandry, lack of UVB, inadequate terrarium temperature, and vitamin deficiencies are all potential causes of mouth rot.
Oral injuries caused by restraining live prey, a foreign object (like food) caught in its gums or teeth, chewing on its bedding material, and rubbing against its cage walls can play a role in causing mouth rot.
Another main cause of mouth rot in chameleons is stress.
While normal bacteria is always present in a chameleon’s mouth in non-harmful quantities, when a chameleon is under stress, its immune system is weakened, making it unable to keep this bacteria in check.
This can lead to oral infection with mouth rot quickly following behind.
How to Check for Mouth Rot
Check to see if your chameleon has any cuts in his mouth tissue or any small lesions around his lips, nose, and chin.
These are the beginning signs of mouth rot, but unfortunately, most pet owners fail to see the signs and are unable to catch the infection before it turns into a serious case of mouth rot.
Other symptoms of mouth rot to look out for in your chameleon include a decreased interest in food, drinking less water, thickening and increase of saliva, yellow pus in and around its mouth, swollen gums, yellow plaque in its oral tissue, and swelling of the face and head (although this typically only happens in severe cases).
If you see any of these signs in your chameleon and are worried he may be developing mouth rot, please do not hesitate to call your veterinarian immediately.
Mouth rot, though easily prevented and treated, can turn into a deadly infection when left unaddressed.
Best Ointment for Mouth Rot
In severe cases of mouth rot bacterial infections, your veterinary will likely give it antibiotics and may even have to perform surgery to remove the dead oral tissues.
However, if the case is detected early enough and is still considered mild, your veterinary may simply prescribe a topical antibiotic or over the counter antifungal treatment to apply at home.
Here’s a list of our favorite ointments for treating mild mouth rot in chameleons.
Please check with your veterinary first before using any of these to determine if the treatment is safe for your chameleon’s case and to find out how much and how often your chameleon needs to be treated with ointment.
Betadine helps prevent infections, meaning it’s great to use when you first notice a minor cut in or around your pet’s mouth.
You may need to dilute the betadine solution with water, so it doesn’t burn your chameleon’s mouth as hydrogen peroxide would.
Apply with a cotton swab once a day or as directed by your vet.
Although any betadine should work, we like this one from Amazon.
Belonging to a group of medicines called antiseptic, antibacterial agents, chlorhexidine is used to clean skin after injuries, before injection, and even before surgery.
It works to prevent and kill the growth of bacteria on the skin, making it an excellent choice for treating early cuts or lesions in chameleon’s mouths.
However, it is important to dilute chlorhexidine before applying it to your chameleon’s mouth.
Apply diluted chlorhexidine (here’s a link to some online, don’t forget to dilute it!) once a day with a cotton swab.
- Each of these 3 refills will produce 32 ounces of working strength chlorhexidine; just fill sprayer 75% full with distilled...
- This is the best cleaner for your reptiles habitat; used and recommended by exotic animal vets for cleaning your cages and...
- Great for daily maintenance cleaning as well as monthly cleaning from top to bottom.
Terramycin & Nature Zone Rot Guard
Though you have to do a little home-mixing to create this tincture, some chameleon keepers swear by the stuff.
Simply mix the two ingredients into a thick clay-like paste and apply liberally every 2 -3 days.
The treatment should cause the chameleon’s mouth sores to turn black and scab up, eventually healing completely.
Vetericyn Plus Reptile Wound and Skin Care
Touted as the “must-have” product for your reptile’s abrasions, superficial cuts, or skin irritations, this spray-on solution not only cleanses wounds, it also boosts the healing process so your chameleon’s oral injuries can start healing right away.
Vetericyn Plus is sprayed directly on the abrasion or applied with a cotton swab or dressing 3 to 4 times daily.
- REPTILE WOUND AND SKIN CARE. As the first line of defense for your reptile, this solution cleanses wounds and other ailments...
- PAIN-FREE SOLUTION. Clean wounds without the burn or sting. First spray on the area to flush away debris, then saturate and...
- RECOMMENDED BY VETERINARIANS. Save yourself the expense of a trip to vet with solutions your animal care provider would...
Silver Sulfadiazine Cream
Ointments with silver sulfadiazine are used to heal minor cuts, burns, skin irritations, and abrasions.
It not only keeps the wound moist for a conducive healing atmosphere, but it also prevents bacteria cells from forming.
Although harder to get without a prescription, this Silver-Sept Silver Antimicrobial Skin, and Wound Gel and Be Smart Get Prepared Silvex Wound Gel are both great options.
Although topical treatments are important when treating your chameleon for mouth rot, it’s also just as important to try to get to the source of the problem.
In many cases, this is as simple as adjusting your chameleon’s humidity levels, changing its UVB bulbs, correcting its supplements, or providing it with more water.
Inadequate misting, lack of water, or a shortage of vitamin A are common culprits causing mouth rot in chameleons, so it is essential to figure out how your chameleon ended up with mouth rot to prevent it from happening again.
Once again, a simple visit to the vet could make all the difference in the world for your chameleon’s health!
Other medicine options:
Mouth rot does not have to be (nor should it ever be!) a death sentence for your pet, and now since you’re armed and ready with the best ointment for mouth rot in chameleons, you never have to be afraid of this common oral malady again!