think a lot of people realize that veterinary medicine
can present challenges different from those in human
medicine. Certainly, our companions have some similar
physiology and structures to our own, however the main
challenge is that veterinary medicine patients are not
as communicative as humans are with their physicians. I
have seldom had a patient "tell me where it
challenge is one of the reasons, and there are many, why
veterinary medicine is so fascinating. It is also the
main reason diagnostics can be so important. This is
especially important with some of the less mainstream
species that some people choose as companions. Lou is
one of those species, a bearded dragon lizard.
lives in a large cage and is well taken care of by
Brandon. Lou is 5 years old and has been with Brandon
for most of his life with no health issues. That no
longer appears to be the case. Lou has decided he does
not want to eat. For Lou this is highly unusual as,
according to Brandon, he usually eats every chance he
gets. For the last 10 days or so, he has not touched
anything Brandon has offered.
is all the information I have to go on so it appears I
am going to have to use one of my more primitive
diagnostic tools, my crystal ball. To be fair to
Brandon, this is the single most common presentation for
a reptile patient. When they are having health issues,
they generally do not eat. This could be the result of a
simple problem such as a sore mouth or as complicated
and severe as terminal cancer, the common symptom is
they do not eat. Therefore, in Louís case and frankly
in many cases of reptile illness, we start with the
symptom of anorexia and look to a virtually unlimited
list of disease possibilities.
obviously will need to take Lou to his veterinarian for
evaluation. I will share what I generally do when
presented with an anorexic reptile patient, using Lou as
an example. But every case has subtle and sometimes
not-so-subtle differences so the thoughts I share may
not translate to other lizard cases with the same
symptom of anorexia. (The disclaimer!)
examination is always an important diagnostic step and
Lou is no exception. Through this process, we can
sometimes fine tune our approach to the necessary
diagnostic steps toward uncovering Louís problem.
Again with no clues in this particular case, I will be a
bit more generalized.
recommend Lou have some radiographs taken to "look
inside" his little body and a blood panel drawn to
check organ system functions. A fecal examination for
parasites is also warranted.
steps will provide a good overview of what might be
going on with Lou and hopefully direct us to the next
step be it further diagnostics or treatment based on an
illness discovered from the tests.
stated, the best advice is to take Lou to his