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Bearded dragon cysts and tumors are among the leading causes of concern among beardie keepers. The problem with cysts and tumors is that they are not easy to detect.
In most cases, pet parents notice the signs when it is already too late. Cysts and tumors are often an indication of a serious underlying health condition in bearded dragons.
The earlier they are detected, the better since this will increase the lizard’s chances of survival.
As such, you should familiarize yourself with some of the common symptoms of health problems that can trigger the formation of cysts and tumors.
Unfortunately, not all lizard keepers are qualified to perform diagnostic procedures on their lizards.
If you notice that your beardie has an unusual swelling on their body, you should take the little guy to the vet.
But most importantly, ensure that you take good care of your pet lizard as this can prevent most health complications.
With proper care and the right nutrition, bearded dragons can live for 10-15 years. If you want your pet lizard to live this long, you also need to have good observation skills.
This will enable you to identify any sudden behavioral changes that may suggest your bearded dragon is not well.
Best Products for Treating Bearded Dragon Cysts, Tumors, and Increasing Immunity to Diseases:
Bearded Dragon Cysts: Causes and Treatment
In a nutshell, cysts can be defined as abnormal sac-like swellings that develop in the affected tissue. Nonetheless, you have to keep in mind that not all swellings are cysts.
Cysts often contain fluids, gas, semisolid tissue material, and are also quite painful. In bearded dragons, cysts can come about due to several reasons.
The good news is that not all cysts are life-threatening. With that being said, the fact that your bearded dragon has one does not automatically mean they will die.
This may, however, vary depending on what is causing the cyst. Therefore, you should see to it that you get a detailed prognosis from your vet.
Cysts can form in any part of the lizard’s body. Most cysts affect the skin, but some affect the internal body organs. The latter can be dangerous since they are not easy to detect.
With that being said, you should always be on the lookout for signs of sickness in your bearded dragon.
Here are some of the common causes of cysts in bearded dragons:
Like most reptiles, bearded dragons have a strong humoral immune system. However, that does not mean they are immune to infections.
Certain types of infections can cause excessive fluid build-up in body tissues. As a result, the affected tissue will form a capsule in which the excess fluid is collected, thus forming a cyst.
Cysts can also be caused by trauma or damage to body tissue. Bearded dragons that are in captivity mostly get injuries from fights.
This particularly applies when two or more males are housed in the same vivarium. The lizards may bite each other, thereby inflicting painful wounds that lead to the formation of cysts.
Bearded dragons can also get cysts as a result of parasite infestation. If left untreated, pathogenic parasites can cause serious health complications.
In addition to this, some parasites may cause infections in the intestinal tract and other parts of the dragon’s body.
Bearded Dragon Cyst Removal Treatment
Treatment options for cysts in bearded dragons may vary depending on several factors. For starters, you need to identify what is causing the cyst.
Additionally, you should consider the level of discomfort that the cyst is causing to your beardie.
As stated earlier, most cysts are benign, so you won’t have to worry about anything provided that you take the lizard to the vets.
Plus, if the cyst is not cancerous, it will go away on its own. In most scenarios, your vet will recommend the most appropriate treatment option for your bearded friend.
However, surgical excision is one of the commonly used techniques when it comes to treating cysts in beardies and other reptiles. Through lancing, the fluid-filled sac can be cleared and disinfected.
Bearded Dragon Tumor: How Can I Differentiate A Cyst from A Tumor in Bearded Dragons?
Besides cysts, bearded dragons can also get tumors. The main difference between a tumor and a cyst is that the latter is a fluid-filled capsule while the former is a solid mass of tissue.
Likes cysts, tumors can come about due to several reasons. The bad news is that most tumors in bearded dragons are cancerous.
Besides, recent studies have shown that bearded dragons are susceptible to certain types of cancers. As such, you need to ensure that your bearded dragon gets the right medical care in good time.
Moreover, most tumors are malignant, meaning they can spread to other organs through a process called metastasis. Cancerous tumors are just as deadly to bearded dragons as they are to humans.
On the other hand, non-cancerous tumors will have minimal or no impact on the health of your bearded dragon.
However, the tumor should still be treated since it can cause discomfort to the lizard. Most tumors can be removed through surgery. Nevertheless, it will depend on the type of tumor that you are dealing with.
Also, your vet can help you choose the right treatment procedure for your pet lizard.
Do Bearded Dragons Get Cancer?
As mentioned above, bearded dragons are likely to get certain types of cancers. If you spot an unusual swelling on your bearded dragon, you need to take the lizard to the vet as soon as possible.
Cancers can affect bearded dragons of all ages, but they most affect fully grown beardies. Research has shown that young bearded dragons can also get cancer.
There are different types of cancers in bearded dragons, so every lizard keeper should familiarize themselves with some of the symptoms.
Most of these cancers can be found in captive bearded dragons, giving you even more reasons to be concerned.
If the cancer is detected early enough, your vet may or may not perform surgery to remove the tumor.
Unfortunately, there are a few cancer treatment options for bearded dragons. If the cancer has spread to critical organs in the lizard’s body, the vet may suggest euthanasia.
This can help you save your bearded dragon from pain and misery. Besides, euthanasia is a painless procedure, so the beardie won’t suffer in any way.
Types of Cancers in Bearded Dragons
Cancer can affect any part of a bearded dragon’s body. Malignant cells can easily proliferate into large or small tumors that can cause discomfort. These cells mainly spread through the lymphatic system and bloodstream.
Below are the common types of cancers in bearded dragons:
Gastric Neuroendocrine Carcinomas
This is one of the newly recognized cancers in bearded dragons. Also known as GNT, Gastric Neuroendocrine Carcinomas is highly malignant.
It can easily spread from one area to another, thereby affecting healthy organs.
Gastric Neuroendocrine Carcinomas mainly affects the stomach and the gastrointestinal tract but it can also spread to the liver.
Other adjacent organs like the pancreas may also be affected, causing even more damage to the bearded dragon’s body.
This type of cancer can also affect the heart of bearded dragons, resulting in serious health complications.
Diagnosing GNT is somewhat difficult since it presents general symptoms. As such, you can easily mistake it for other health complications.
Since GNT mostly attacks the internal organs, it is hard to detect. Plus, there is still no definitive treatment for GNT, so all you can do is hope that your lizard doesn’t get it.
Your bearded dragon should be given proper care and a balanced diet to prevent other health complications that may worsen the problem.
Sarcomas mostly affect soft tissues in bearded dragons. Myxosarcoma is quite rare, but it is one of the cancers that can hurt the health of your bearded dragon.
This type of cancer mainly affects the connective tissues in the lizard’s body. Like most cancers, myxosarcoma is metastatic and is known to spread rapidly.
Like GNT, sarcomas are not easy to diagnose since they exhibit general symptoms. However, there is a likelihood that the affected area will swell.
Moreover, sarcoma tumors can grow just about anywhere in the beardie’s body. The tumors often start as small painless lumps but later grow into larger tumors.
Veterinary doctors can treat sarcomas in bearded dragons by removing the tumors. Nonetheless, there is no assurance that cancer will go away for good.
The common symptoms of sarcoma in beardies include sudden weight loss, lack of appetite, visible lumps on different parts of the body, etc.
Bearded Dragon Skin Cancer—Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC)
According to a study published in the Journal of Herpetological Medicine and Surgery, bearded dragons and other members of the Agamidae are likely get Squamous cell carcinoma.
SCC is known to cause tumors in the subcutaneous tissues on bearded dragon skin. This type of cancer can also affect soft body tissue like those found around the eyes.
Squamous cell carcinoma can greatly impact the health of your bearded dragon and may also cause death.
Bearded Dragon Cancer Symptoms
Identifying cancer symptoms in bearded dragons can be a bit challenging because most of the signs are general.
The best way to diagnose cancer in beardies is by getting a prognosis from a certified veterinary doctor.
You should never make assumptions in case your pet lizard gets sick. To help you out, here are some of the common symptoms of cancer in bearded dragons.
Formation of Lumps in the Body
Cancer can cause tumors to form in various parts of the bearded dragon’s body. Tumors can be painful or painless, so you should be worried in both scenarios.
You should, however, not confuse cysts with tumors since they are somewhat alike when viewed from the surface.
Vomiting is a common sign for most bearded dragon diseases, and cancer is not an exception. GNT in particular, can cause your beardie to vomit even when they have not eaten.
Loss of Appetite
Beardies who have Gastric Neuroendocrine Carcinomas will eat less or no food at all. This may cause nutritional problems.
Bearded dragons that are lethargic tend to be apathetic or sluggish. Lethargy can result from general weakness or discomfort.
As the cancer tumors grow bigger, they are likely to press against critical nerves, thereby causing serious pain to your bearded dragon. This will, in turn, prevent them from moving around as they should.
Weight loss can occur if the lizard does not eat enough food. It could be that they are too weak to eat or don’t have an appetite.
Some types of cancer can cause internal bleeding, so the lizard may bleed from its vent/cloaca.
Cancer cells can alter how the body functions. This may lower energy levels or affect the lizard in other ways. Consequently, your bearded dragon will appear weak all the time.
Note: If your pet lizard exhibits any of the above symptoms, it does not necessarily mean they have cancer. With additional tests, your vet can provide you with the right diagnosis.
Can You Prevent Cancer In Bearded Dragons?
Currently, there are no preventive measures against bearded dragon cancers. Also, little research has been done on the common types of cancers that affect bearded dragons.
As such, there are comprehensive scientific references that lizard keepers can use when it comes to preventing cancers in lizards.
The only thing that you can do is to provide your bearded friend with proper husbandry. This may include providing the lizard with a varied diet, the right temperature condition, and correct humidity levels.
In addition to this, the bearded dragon enclosure should be large enough as this will allow the lizard to exercise.
If notice that something is off with your bearded dragon, ensure that you rush them to the vet before it is too late.
Besides, most bearded dragon cancers can be treated through the removal of tumors. Surgery can only help your bearded dragon if the malignant cells have not spread to critical organs.
Are Lumps A Common Sign Of Cancer In Bearded Dragons?
Some bearded dragons have lumps on their bodies from time to time. And this can cause some pet parents to worry about their lizards. One thing that you should remember is that not all lumps are cancerous.
Bearded Dragon Lump on Side? Does it Mean My Lizard Has Cancer?
If your bearded dragon lumps one or both of its sides, it would be wise to see the vet for a clear diagnosis.
Besides, most lumps are caused by abscesses, which force the skin to swell. Abscesses contain pus and often come about due to bacterial infections.
Moreover, if the abscess is small, it can go unnoticed. This can vary depending on the level of infection and the type of tissue affected.
If the abscess causes discomfort to your bearded dragon, the vet may decide to drain it. After the wound is disinfected, the lizard will heal in a matter of weeks.
You can protect your beardie from bacterial infections by keeping them in a hygienic environment at all times. The enclosure should be clean and must also have the right moisture level.
Bearded Dragon Lump on Back, What Does It Mean?
In addition to having lumps on their sides, bearded dragons can develop lumps on their backs.
The back area is mostly associated with the spine, so it could mean that your lizard has a metabolic bone disease.
This health complication is caused by calcium deficiency, which can occur due to poor diet or lack of UV radiation.
A visit to your veterinary doctor can help with the prognosis. If the lizard is suffering from metabolic bone disease, the vet will provide your pet with appropriate supplements.
Lumps can as well result from impaction, a condition in which fecal matter hardens in the intestines and other parts of the digestive system.
You can prevent impaction in bearded dragons by giving the lizard regular baths with lukewarm water.
Bearded dragons can also have lumps on their backs and other parts of the body if they have broken a bone.
If you suspect your lizard has hurt itself, ensure that you take them to the vet before they get an infection from the injury.
Lump On Bearded Dragon Tail: Is My Bearded Dragons Tail Broken?
It is not uncommon for bearded dragons to have lumps on their tails. Besides, bearded dragon tails are prone to breakage due to their fragile nature.
The tail can easily heal on its own after a few weeks. You just need to ensure that the lizard is not engaging in strenuous activities.
Additionally, some beardie keepers report that their lizards develop abscesses on their tails occasionally.
That being said, some lumps may occur due to infections, and that is exactly why you should visit your veterinary doctor.
As you have seen, lumps can form on a bearded dragon’s body due to several reasons. The cause may also vary from one lizard to another depending on underlying health conditions and the type of care that the lizard is getting.
Bearded Dragon Aneurysms
Aneurysms occur when a weak blood vessel bulges due to too much pressure. In beardies, aneurysms can affect any part of the body.
In worst-case scenarios, aneurysms can burst, thereby causing excessive bleeding. This can cause death and other serious health problems.
Bearded Dragon Skin Conditions
As a bearded dragon keeper, it is your responsibility to ensure that your lizard is healthy. You can only achieve this if you are familiar with some of the common health complications, including those that affect the skin.
Bearded dragons can be affected by various skin conditions. These conditions may affect various parts of the lizard’s body and can also cause discomfort.
Yellow Fungus Disease
As the name suggests, yellow fungus disease causes bearded dragon skin to turn yellow. It is a type of fungus disease and can cause internal infections if left untreated.
This skin condition may cause your lizard to lose weight. Aside from that, beardies with yellow fungus disease often appear weak because they don’t eat as much.
Yellow fungus disease mostly affects young bearded dragons, so you should give your hatchlings and juveniles proper care.
Plus, YFD is contagious, meaning it can easily spread from one bearded dragon to another through direct contact. As such you should consider separating the infected lizards from those that are healthy.
This may not be a disease, but it can still affect the health of your bearded dragon.
A bearded dragon skin can get wrinkly when the lizard is dehydrated, so ensure that you give your pet enough water.
The humidity levels inside the enclosure should also be kept at a favorable level.
This is a common condition that occurs when the skin around the lizard’s tail discolors over time. Tail rot can cause death in bearded dragons, so it should be treated in good time.
Bearded Dragon Bacterial Infection
Like most members of the reptile family, bearded dragons are highly susceptible to bacterial infections.
Infections can affect both young and adult lizards depending on the environment that they are in and their overall health condition.
Nonetheless, bacterial infections are common in immunosuppressed bearded dragons since they are less resilient to pathogens.
Bacterial infections can damage internal organs and may also affect other large organs like the skin.
Bearded dragons that live in unhygienic conditions are more likely to get bacterial infections compared to those that are kept in clean enclosures.
Common Bacterial Infections in Bearded Dragons
Pneumonia is a type of bacterial infection that mostly affects the respiratory system in bearded dragons. This disease can be fatal if left untreated.
This is a bacterial disease that affects the intestinal tract in beardies. Bearded dragons can be carriers of salmonella even when they look healthy, so you should be cautious when handling pet lizards since the disease is contagious.
Bearded Dragon Cysts and Tumor Treatment
Tumors and cysts can occur in bearded dragons due to several reasons. When it comes to cysts, not all are dangerous and can easily go away with minimal or no treatment.
Tumors, on the other hand, can be life-threatening, especially if you are dealing with the cancerous type.
Aside from cysts and tumors, bearded dragons can also get bacterial infections. If you notice that something is not right with your pet lizard, you should take the bearded dragon to a veterinary doctor to get a diagnosis.