Most Bearded Dragon owners are not prepared for seizures occurring in their lizards. This condition, followed by horrifying trembling and muscular twitching, is not so common but can be highly stressful to see. Therefore, you should know what to expect and how to react when facing it.
Bearded Dragon seizures are an unpleasant and potentially dangerous health condition. The cause can vary, but it is often a calcium-insufficient diet, particularly during pregnancy, vitamin D deficiency, trauma, infection, or tumor. Once seizures occur, protecting your pet and calling the vet is vital.
This article explains what seizures in Bearded Dragons are and what symptoms to expect. Let’s learn what to do when they appear and how to prevent them.
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Seizures in Bearded Dragons
Seizures result from abnormal electrical activity in the Bearded Dragon’s brain. Physiologically, electrical impulses follow established pathways, but they start going randomly in this case.
Consequently, the brain sends atypical signals to muscles, causing involuntary limb twitching, slow breathing, and consciousness loss. You can recognize two seizure types:
- Grand mal (tonic-clonic) seizures – Electrical activity is abnormal throughout the brain, so all body muscles contract and relax alternately.
- Focal seizures – Electrical activity is abnormal in a localized brain area, so only specific muscles twitch.
The list of seizure causes is long, but their occurrence is the top of the iceberg in most cases. The crucial thing is to do the tests and precisely determine the primary reason.
Even though it is often a calcium deficit, you should never offer supplements to your Bearded Dragon without consultations.
For instance, injectable calcium is helpful in the case of hypocalcemia resulting from an improper diet. However, such treatment will worsen the lizard’s condition when it suffers from renal failure.
Seizures In Bearded Dragon Hatchlings
Bearded Dragon hatchlings grow fast and can quickly run out of calcium when their diet and environmental conditions are inadequate.
For instance, your baby lizard may start twitching involuntarily when the installed UVB light is ineffective, causing calcium metabolism disorder. An additional problem is vitamin D deficiency, leading to the same result.
Additionally, Bearded Dragons hatchlings suffering from adenovirus may experience neurological symptoms, including seizures.
These babies have a weakened immune system and never survive over three months due to the inability to grow and gain weight.
Finally, young Bearded Dragons may show behavioral issues and twitch their heads or tails when communicating with their owner.
If the stress is a reason, this reaction will pass when the lizard gets used to the environment and human presence.
Causes of Seizures in Bearded Dragons
A few things cause seizures in Bearded Dragons, but the most common is an inadequate, calcium-insufficient diet. Both genders can suffer from this issue, but pregnant females are particularly vulnerable. Let’s take a look.
Lack of calcium in the blood
Low calcium levels and vitamin D deficiency in Bearded Dragon’s diet often cause Metabolic bone disease and possible seizures.
Research confirmed that 63.98% of captive Bearded Dragons suffer from hypocalcemia, while the calcium-phosphorus ratio is inadequate in 57.14% of these lizards.
Besides insufficient intake of this mineral, the problem is often a low temperature inside the tank. A cold environment prevents proper calcium absorption.
Other causes of seizures in Bearded Dragons
Even though there are no good causes of seizures in Bearded Dragons, some are more treatable. There are a few besides lack of calcium and vitamin D, including:
Imbalance of other electrolytes
Lack of sodium and potassium may potentially result in seizures. A blood test can quickly confirm this reason.
Bearded Dragon females require many proteins and calcium to lay eggs. When the food lacks this mineral, they start suffering from hypocalcemia, often followed by seizures.
The vet should do a blood test, use X-rays to check whether your lizard is pregnant, and make a differential diagnosis on MBD.
Never exclude pregnancy, even if you believe your Beardy is a male! Mistakes happen, so always check everything.
Any hitting in the head can cause seizures in Bearded Dragons, but it is not so often unless the trauma has caused internal bleeding. Anyway, visiting a vet is recommended when something like this happens.
A stroke occurs when one of the blood vessels bursts and leaves a specific brain area without oxygen. Another option is a clot that blocks normal blood flow after entering one of the brain vessels.
Whatever the cause, you can spot seizures in your lizard followed by limb weakness, typically on one body side.
Liver or kidney disease
Liver and kidney diseases cause toxin accumulation in a Bearded Dragon’s blood, possibly causing seizures. A blood test can confirm or reject the suspicion of such a condition.
Seizures can result from poisoning when a Bearded Dragon consumes contaminated food. Unfortunately, offering activated charcoal is useless once seizures occur.
Tumors typically grow in the lizard head undetected for a long. The first symptoms appear when they grow enough to pressure vital brain areas, causing seizures. In most cases, X-rays and CT scans are necessary to confirm a diagnosis.
Possible Treatment of Seizures in Bearded Dragons
Once seizures start, it is crucial not to panic since they self-resolve within several minutes.
Besides giving your Bearded Dragon an injection of calcium glubionate, you can’t help it much. However, it is possible to protect it from additional injuries.
- Gently move your lizard to a safe place to prevent it from falling
- Put its head slightly down to help it breathe and reduce the risk of aspiration
- Make sure its head is not placed too low to avoid making the muscle tremors worse
- Keep your pet lying on its stomach (it can’t correctly breathe when placed on the back because this species lacks a diaphragm)
Be careful while helping your Beardy, and keep your fingers away from its mouth to avoid accidental biting.
Note when the seizure began and stopped since this information can help your vet in diagnostics and therapy.
The treatment will depend on the seizure cause, but you should also provide the necessary lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of their reappearance.
You can buy a DMG (dimethylglycine) if your lizard suffers from repeated seizures. This nutritional supplement may increase the brain tolerance threshold.
Seizure Prevention in Bearded Dragons
Hypocalcemia and vitamin D deficiency are typical reasons for seizure occurrence, so you should find a way to prevent this horrible condition.
Bearded Dragon’s diet should include calcium-rich ingredients with low levels of oxalates and phosphorus and a proper calcium-to-phosphorus ratio.
A too-high phosphorus percentage depletes necessary calcium content in the blood and causes health issues, including seizures.
The best food you can provide includes:
- Dubia roaches
- Leafy greens, like escarole, dandelion leaves, mustard greens, collard greens, grape leaves, and turnip greens
- Veggies, like squash, kale, sweet potatoes, and endive
- Cactus pads or prickly pear
- Fruits, like figs, blackberries, and papaya
Proper UVB lighting
Since Bearded Dragons are diurnal lizards, they require at least twelve hours of UVB exposure daily. Therefore, picking out a quality UV lamp and changing the bulb once or twice a year is crucial.
Otherwise, your pet will suffer from lethargy and face trouble walking, swollen limbs, and possible seizures.
Tip: We show you the best UVB lamps for bearded dragons here!
Provide sun exposure
Besides providing vitamin D through UVB lighting installed in their tanks, you should expose your lizard to natural sunlight.
The best you can do is to let it spend some time outside. Nothing, including the most quality UVB lamps, can provide conditions similar to the dry woodlands in Australia.
Many owners believe an adequate diet and UVB lighting are enough for their Bearded Dragons, making supplementation unnecessary.
As I have already mentioned, it is impossible to achieve exact conditions, the exposure level of natural sunlight, and food diversity from the lizard’s natural habitat.
Therefore, you should include supplements in your pet’s regular diet.
You can effortlessly add calcium to your Bearded Dragon’s meal, but it can be challenging to calculate the correct amount to offer. The problem is that these lizards are picky eaters.
You can expect your pet to refuse to consume some ingredients, making it tricky to determine how much calcium it has taken per meal.
Sprinkling powdered calcium over food helps you to have control over an ingested mineral amount.
Vitamin D3 supplementation
You can prevent seizures by offering this vitamin to your Beardy two to three times a week. Remember that lizards already suffering from a Metabolic bone disease require more frequent supplementation.
Nowadays, you can find quality products that include both calcium and vitamin D (like this one). Offering them to your Beardy three times a week will ensure enough necessary ingredients for a healthy life.
Some owners add other vitamins to their Bearded Dragons, but you should be careful.
For instance, additional vitamin A quickly reaches toxic levels, resulting in energy loss, vomiting, and weight loss. It is better to replace it with easier-to-absorb b-carotene.
Recognize signs of MBD
There is a list of signs that can warn you your Beardy suffers from Metabolic bone disease. It is necessary to visit the vet immediately as soon as you notice them.
- Lack of appetite and constipation
- Lethargy and weakness
- Soft facial bones and receded lower jaw
- Swollen limbs and jaw
- Bent and bumpy bones
- Difficulty moving or paralysis
Can Bearded Dragons Die From Seizures?
Several reasons may cause the sudden Bearded Dragon death, sometimes without previous warning signs or obvious symptoms.
Unfortunately, one of them can be untreated Metabolic bone disease caused by calcium deficiency. Therefore, it is crucial to consult your vet when suspecting this health condition.
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