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A bearded dragon may need care to handle different challenges throughout its lifetime. Impaction is one of the major health issues a bearded dragon may have to deal with. As owners of these adorable pets, we want to know how to treat bearded dragon impaction: is it even possible?
Yes, it is possible to treat bearded dragon impaction; however, you will need the help of an experienced vet. A vet will provide the required care to treat bearded dragon impaction and keep your pets free from constipation.
You’ll need to know a lot more than just how to treat bearded dragon impaction to keep your reptile healthy. That’s why this guide provides details on the causes, signs, and prevention on bearded dragon impaction.
What is Impaction?
Impaction is an acute case of constipation common in reptiles. The condition causes fecal matter to clog around a reptile’s lower colon. Impaction affects a bearded dragon’s digestive system and requires urgent attention.
8 Signs of Impaction in Bearded Dragons
Monitor your reptile closely for the following bearded dragon impaction signs. It may be easier to treat your bearded dragon when you notice symptoms early on. That’s why it’s vital to know these eight (8) major signs an impacted bearded dragon may show:
1. Loss of mobility
An impacted bearded dragon usually has its cloaca clogged with hard ingested matter. Such blockage makes it difficult for these pet reptiles to move. Lack of mobility might become evident at the later stages, as an early impaction might show other symptoms instead.
Whenever a bearded dragon finds it hard to move, consider checking if an impaction is the problem.
2. Bloated Appearance
Bearded dragons will appear swollen when they suffer from an impaction, especially when they still have an appetite. Swollen bearded dragons could lose normal mobility, have a tough stomach, or lumps in its stomach area.
3. Digestive Problems/Regurgitation
Digesting insect and plant-based foods will be difficult for an impacted bearded dragon. And in most cases, indigestion in a bearded dragon could lead to regurgitation and vomiting. Inability to pass out feces stunts a bearded dragon’s digestive process, forcing out food through the wrong end.
4. Loss of Appetite/Weight Loss
A bearded dragon suffering from impaction may exhibit significant loss of appetite. In such an episode, the pet reptile will reject anything it’s offered as a meal or snack. Such refusals could cause a nasty case of weight loss over time and cause a bearded dragon to become unhealthy.
5. Feet Dragging/Rear-leg Paralysis
Rear-leg paralysis could become obvious when a bearded dragon suffers from severe impaction. In such cases, bearded dragons will usually drag their rear feet during a walk. Urgent medical attention may be required to manage such symptoms.
6. Slight Spinal Area Bump
An impacted bearded dragon might develop several lumps or bulges between their spinal sections. You’ll be able to see this as a swollen back area on your bearded dragon.
Spinal area bumps are a regular symptom of moderate impaction, and the bearded dragon could appear bloated too.
7. Dry Feces/Difficulty to Poop
Fecal matter from an impacted bearded dragon could come out after much difficulty and may appear dry. Impaction-hit bearded dragons will naturally find it hard to poop too, especially when they don’t have appetite for food.
Scarce or painful pooping could be a result of low nutrition or lack of moisture in the bearded dragons’ diet.
Impacted bearded dragons will usually become lethargic with time and show very low levels of energy. A lethargic bearded dragon could find mobility, appetite, and other necessary functions hard to complete.
8 Causes of Impaction in a Bearded Dragon
Several issues could cause bearded dragon impaction, making it difficult for them to pass out fecal matter. Here’s a look at eight (8) main causes of bearded dragon impaction you need to know about:
1. Wrong Substrate
Bearded dragons could consume part of their tank’s bedding without knowing. Some substrates could be dangerous to bearded dragons, as these reptiles eat anything they find appealing.
Substrates made into pellets or from dried plants could pose an impaction risk to your reptiles. Calci-sand is another substrate that poses a constipation hazard in your bearded dragons’ tank.
Several substrate manufacturers claim to sell 100% digestible products. However, there’s usually little truth to such statements in the end.
Carry out enough research to find out what other reptile owners think of a substrate before purchasing. It’s the smartest way to know how safe a particular substrate is in your reptile’s tank.
2. Inadequate Basking Temperature
Bearded dragons are ectotherms, meaning their body temperature is usually different from that of their surrounding environment. Proper basking will be impossible for a bearded dragon without correct thermoregulation.
Bearded dragons need the right amount of heat to encourage easy digestion and stress-free excretion. Without the right supply of heat, a bearded dragon could struggle to bask and find digestion very difficult.
Beardies need basking lamps to encourage straightforward digestion and prevent impaction. You need to set your dragon’s basking temperature within 95 – 100°F.
3. Wrong Live Feed Template
Serving the wrong feed could cause bearded dragon impaction. Poop from a bearded dragon’s digestive process might get clogged by tough insect matter in some species.
For example, some insects possess a tough exoskeleton and other parts young beardies might find hard to digest. Feeding such insects to your bearded dragon could cause an unhealthy accumulation over time. If such accumulations are not addressed, a nasty impaction could be the end result.
Source the right diet for your bearded dragon at all times to make sure it avoids feeding on extra-tough insects. The live feed template of younger bearded dragon should receive extra attention. Most young bearded dragons will come out worse off after a sustained impaction episode.
4. Ingestion of Unknown Solids
Bearded dragons out of captivity tend to consume different fruits and insects. In the course of such meals, these reptiles may unknowingly swallow some solids that may cause impaction. Swallowing small rocks or dirt could happen to bearded dragons living in captivity too.
Such solids may form a blockage at the lower end of your reptile’s digestive system. Blockages from solids tend to go unnoticed at first but end up causing some of the longest impaction episodes possible.
If you suspect your pet reptile has swallowed any unknown solid item, consult a vet immediately.
5. Oversized Live Feed
Feeding large insects to your bearded dragon could seem a bright idea; but it’s not. Large insects can easily form a blockage in your bearded dragon’s bowels. The solid mass formed by large insect remains may make your beardie uncomfortable and result in impaction.
You mustn’t feed your bearded dragons any insect larger than the spaces between their eyes. As your bearded dragons get older, follow this measurement to maintain their diet while helping them avoid impaction. It’s easy to get feeder insects from stores or you can breed them yourself to suit your reptiles’ diet.
Proper dehydration is a must for all bearded dragons to live healthy outdoors or in their tanks. A dehydrated bearded dragon will find it difficult to draw enough moisture to digest foods properly. Apart from digestion, a dehydrated bearded dragon will experienced immense pain when trying to pass out fecal matter.
Bearded dragons don’t drink much water, but get enough moisture from their environment and their diet. Providing the right misting systems in your beardie’s tank is essential to guarantee it enough moisture supply.
7. Malnutrition/incomplete Diet
A poor diet lacking the necessary nutrients could contribute to impaction in bearded dragons. Bearded dragons need enough moisture in their diet too to foster easy digestion and excretion.
Poop from malnourished bearded dragons could accumulate over time and cause a blockage. The blockage will quickly degenerate into an advance case of impaction if urgent care isn’t offered to such reptiles.
Offering nutrient and moisture-rich foods to a bearded dragon helps them avoid suffering from nasty impaction.
Living parasites in the digestive system of a bearded dragon could cause significant chemical changes that might lead to impaction. Some parasites could make digestion much slower than normal, causing lots of hard substances to form in a beardie’s stomach.
Continuous accumulation of such tough particles in a bearded dragon’s stomach could cause impaction if not handled immediately.
How to Treat Bearded Dragon Impaction: 6 Effective Tips to Consider
Knowing how to treat bearded dragon impaction from home makes it easy to solve your pet reptile’s digestive problems. Take cues from the seven methods below to treat bearded dragon impaction without hassle:
1. Warm Baths
Soaking your bearded dragon in a warm bath could be all that’s needed to free its colon obstructions. A warm bath will help rehydrate your bearded dragon and supply it much needed moisture to poop easily.
Soak your bearded dragon in lukewarm and shallow water for about 30 minutes – 2 hours. After the warm bath, your bearded dragon might have a much-needed bowel movement.
Different foods could act as laxatives if bearded dragons find it difficult to poop.
2 – 3 drops of olive oil in a bearded dragon’s nose could be enough to help it pass out droppings. You can also mix olive oil with some other laxatives to encourage your pet reptile to poop.
Apart from drops of olive oil, you can use at least six natural laxatives to urge bearded dragons to poop. Pureed pumpkin, applesauce, baby formula, blueberries, watermelon, or prunes could do the trick.
Just make sure to offer safe fruits to your bearded dragons to avoid complicating its situation. And it’s not a great idea to offer man-made laxatives to a bearded dragon without guidance from a vet. Natural laxatives keep your pet reptile safe while encouraging it to clear out its blockage.
3. Different Diet
Diet changes may be all that’s needed to get bearded dragons the bowel movement they need to feel better. Offering foods rich in the right nutrients and in correct portions could encourage your bearded dragon to poop.
Considering the insect and fruit ratio of a bearded dragon might be what’s needed to help it digest and excrete.
A good massage could be what your bearded dragon needs to overcome impaction. Follow these steps to help your bearded dragon poop without hassle:
How to Massage a Bearded Dragon to Poop in Easy Steps
Step 1: Soak your bearded dragon
Place your bearded dragon in shallow, lukewarm water for at least 30 minutes and less than two hours. Your bearded dragon will absorb enough moisture from this exercise if it has a dehydration problem.
Soaking your bearded dragon also makes it easy to complete the massage without breaking your reptile’s skin. The dehydrated skin of a bearded dragon could grow tough and may tear during a massage.
Step 2: Keep the bearded dragon upright
Your bearded dragon should be in an almost vertical position to increase chances of a successful massage. If the massage goes as planned, your bearded dragon may poop easier in a slanted position.
Step 3: Massage your beardie
First, gently rub the area below where your bearded dragon suffers an impaction. If you don’t know where that is, try to massage the area directly below your reptile’s cloaca region.
Next, place both of your thumbs on your reptile’s back and your other fingers under its belly. Proceed to rub your reptile with a circular pattern for few minutes. If everything goes right, your bearded dragon could poop during this belly and back massage.
Step 4: Dry your bearded dragon
Clean up any water on your bearded dragon with a dry towel. You can keep your bearded dragon at a warm, well-lit area if you plan to change its substrate too.
Using massages to treat bearded dragon impaction is a smart way to make these reptiles poop without stress.
After learning how to massage a bearded dragon to poop, you must take certain steps to take towards preventing impaction. You can get necessary advice and other helpful tips from an experienced vet if the massage doesn’t seem to work.
5. Help From a Vet
Contact your vet immediately if you’ve taken some steps above and still notice constipation in your pet. Vets will be in the best position to treat bearded dragon impaction with great results.
Most vets combine soaking with injections and other care methods to get your beardies pooping again. Vets might use laxatives, enemas, rehydration by subcutaneous or intraosseous fluids to solve the ingestion problem.
Also, consulting a vet gives you access to a wealth of useful tips to prevent impactions in the future.
Taking bearded dragons to surgery is usually a last resort to solve impaction problems. A bearded dragon impaction surgery cost could range between $300 – $1500. Factors like the bearded dragon’s age, health status, diet, etc. usually determines how much this surgery would cost.
An expert vet surgeon will be able to penetrate a bearded dragon’s skin and digestive system to remove such blockages. After such a surgery, it may take several weeks before a bearded dragon gets back to normal.
Bearded dragons just out of surgery could also require special care during recovery. You might have to leave them with the vet in some cases.
How to Prevent Impaction in a Bearded Dragon?
If you’re a pet owner and don’t want to know how to treat bearded dragon impaction, take correct preventive steps. Here’s how to prevent impaction in bearded dragons currently under your care:
1. Diet Changes
Including foods with the required amount of nutrients and moisture helps you prevent or treat bearded dragon impaction. Seek guidance from qualified vets on the best food to feed your bearded dragon as it keeps growing.
2. Regular Check-ups
Periodic checks with a qualified vet will help you identify any chances of impaction or other health challenges beforehand. That way, you can guarantee the best health status for your bearded dragon at all times.
3. Proper Heat Support/correct Substrate
Provide basking lights in your pet reptile’s tank to provide enough heat to support thermoregulation. Also place the right substrate in your beardie’s tank to avoid accidental ingestion and support basking.
4. Adequate Hydration
Add misting aids in the beardie’s tank to support the right humidity and supply correct hydration.
Can a bearded dragon be impacted and still poop?
An impacted bearded dragon will not be able to poop comfortably. In some cases, signs of an impacted bearded dragon could show hard or dry fecal matter. If the beardie’s owner fails to find a solution with such signs, full-blown impaction could happen.
How can I make my bearded dragon poop?
You can offer warm baths, natural laxatives or heating support to make your bearded dragon poop normally. Using olive oils, ½ – 1 teaspoon of infant formula or select crushed fruits could do the trick.
Owners can also encourage their bearded dragons to poop with a massage and properly-placed basking lights in their reptiles’ tank
Do Superworms cause impaction in bearded dragons?
Superworms usually have a developed exoskeleton and other sections that can cause bearded dragon impaction. Bearded dragons can usually pass out the exoskeleton of Superworms without stress, but not without proper hydration and other factors.
Whenever the tough parts of Superworms gather in the digestive system of a bearded dragon, impaction could occur.
Why does my bearded dragon feel bloated?
Bearded dragons will look bloated whenever they get backed up and are unable to pass out fecal matter. Serious constipation and impaction could lead to significant discomfort for bearded dragons. Some bearded dragons will look bloated, have swollen feet, and vomit any ingested substances until the impaction is resolved.
Is it possible to clear a baby bearded dragon impaction?
Baby bearded dragons have a delicate structure, making it quite difficult to clear their impaction without help. If you suspect your infant bearded dragon is suffering from impaction, consult your vet for professional support.
An experienced vet has all the skills to help clear your baby bearded dragon impaction without any issues.
Can you give a bearded dragon a laxative?
Yes, you can give your bearded dragon a laxative to help it pass out hard fecal matter or ingested solids. Natural laxatives are recommended for your bearded dragons, as they contain no chemicals or additives.
Offering man-made laxatives could cause some significant health issues to your bearded dragon.
What are the natural options for bearded dragon impaction laxative?
Many pet owners rely on few drops of olive oil as a natural laxative for bearded dragons. 2 – 3 drops could be enough to help your bearded dragon avoid impaction and all its symptoms. Other natural laxatives for bearded dragons include watermelon, blueberries, prunes, or pureed pumpkin.
Ensure any laxative meant for your bearded dragon has high calcium to phosphorus ratio. Offering laxatives with high phosphorus content could do more harm than good to your bearded dragon over time.
How many days can a bearded dragon go without pooping?
A healthy bearded dragon out of its brumal sleep cycle should not go over one week without pooping. Healthy, young beardies should poop every 2 – 3 days while some healthy adults could poop once every week. Whenever a bearded dragon goes for 4 days or more without pooping, there may be a cause for concern.
Bearded dragons that go without pooping will usually experience discomfort and suffer different challenges.
Bearded Dragon Impaction: What to Do
Know that it’s always smart to consult your vet when you notice any signs that point to an impacted pet. You don’t have to try different methods to take care of your bearded dragons’ impaction without help. Seek the guidance of an experienced vet to get your pet free from health challenges.
Impaction could lead to fatality if not properly handled. So, if you’re not a vet and lack information on how to treat bearded dragon impaction, call your vet. An expert vet will be able to guide you and prevent your beardies’ sudden death from impaction