1. Causes of impaction
If a bearded dragon eat get food items that are too large to properly move through their digestive tract. The best prevention for this is to remember that any item fed should be smaller in size than the space between bearded dragon's eyes.
Some food items may not be easily digestible. Large crickets, mealworms, or superworms increase the risk of developing impaction (especially to younger bearded dragons).
Not Proper Temperatures
Bearded dragons need appropriate temperatures so that the food will be digested peoperly. Keep in mind that the surface on which a bearded dragon basks, (after eating), should be maintained at a temperature between 100 to 115 degrees, in order for them to digest their food properly. If a bearded dragon is fed a food item difficult to digest, and is not provided with the proper temperatures in order for him to digest that food, this can also create impaction.
Dangerous Substrates for Bearded Dragons
Bearde Dragons like to eat anything they find in the cage. Many substrates can pose a risk. Some materials have been reported to have caused impaction. Some of them are Calci-Sand , any type of pellets, several dried plant-based substrates are also known to present a high risk. Many substrates producesrs claim theire products are completely digestible. However, before trusting a substrate, do some research to discover what those with lots of personal experience think about it.
2. Detecting Impaction
There are a few signs that you may notice. One of the first indications is that your Beardie will stop going to the bathroom regularly. You will notice the inability to excrete regularly or straining when they do. Or maybe slight leg trembles, regurgitation, dragging one of both the back legs, not walking properly and you may also see a slight bump along the spinal area.
These signs are not necessary a problem, because every animal is different, but if you see them and the pet is not acting like his normal self, be sure to pay attention. This may be an indication that something is serious going on.
An indicator of a more serious problem is the partial leg paralysis. The hind legs will have less mobility or the dragon will drag his legs. Of course it could be not from impaction, but definitely it's a problem and it needs your immediate attention.
The paralysis you are seeing is because the stomach empties out into the intestines lying right along the mid/upper spine. It puts pressure on the spine, as they do not have disc between the vertebras that protect the spine like other animals. Lower impactions will usually display a slight raised area along the mid to lower back or you can feel it in the abdomen area. Do not push along the spine right now or force them move their legs, let them do it in their own time, forcing them can cause permanent damage.
3. Treating Impaction
What is generally suggested is that with the earlier stages of a mild impaction, you may be able to offer your bearded dragon some relief by giving him a warm bath and gently massaging his abdomen. Massaging gently down towards the vent may assist your bearded dragon in moving an impaction down through his digestive tract, so that he can pass it.
It is also strongly recommended that you go with your pet immediately to a vet. If you cannot locate an experienced reptile vet in your area, you may be able to get some assistance by logging onto specialized sites (more to come).
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