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Metabolic Bone Disease in Reptiles

By: Dr. Jenni Bass

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Reptiles affected by MBD should be handled as little as possible, and only when they need treatment. Their bones are often fragile and easily broken, and their immune systems are weakened by the stress of disease. Branches should be removed from the enclosures of animals that climb, and the enclosure should be in a low traffic area, to minimize the risk of startling the animal. Muscle weakness may increase their chances of falling.

Be sure that water and food are easily accessible. These animals are often weak or in pain. When possible, that is when temperatures are warm enough, provide access to natural sunlight.

Medications and supplements should be given following your veterinarian's recommendations. Supplements are usually a form of calcium, without vitamin D. The frequency and quantity with which these are given usually need to be modified with time so be sure to regularly consult with your reptile veterinarian.

MBD is a disease of husbandry, so close attention must be paid to your pet's environmental requirements, with particular attention to ultraviolet lighting requirements, temperature and diet. Many reptiles, particularly those affected by MBD have poor eating habits. These can take a long time to modify. Be patient and persistent. Many reptiles with MBD are not eating at all, and in such cases your veterinarian will be able to advise you as to assisted or force feeding techniques.

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