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Reptiles/Hypovitaminosis A


QUESTION: I need help! I have a bearded dragon about 8-9 years old. His eye is swollen up just out of the blue. He had no symptoms and then last night his eye was swollen. I gave him a war bath, and he feed and was happy jumping in and out of the bath. But his one eye is swollen and weapy. I have given him carrots and sweet potatoes, but I am having difficulty finding a vet that carries vitamin a injections. Any help?

ANSWER: Hello Annette,

At his age, it could also be a renal or liver issue, or possibly heart trouble too.  Those conditions can cause swelling of the eyes.
Which UVB are you using?
How often do you give calcium & which vitamins do you give?
You can try to find the herptivite vitamins which have beta carotene in them which is safer than direct vitamin A injections also.
Do you have any pictures of him & his eye?
What foods have you been feeding him recently?


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QUESTION: I have been feeding him dried crickets that are powdered with a dragon dust. Vitamin powder. Recently we just gave him 30 small live crickets and instead of hand feeding him we let him chase them around. He seemed to love it. We did not dust the live crickets, and that was the last thing he ate. We usually give him spinach, apples occasionally, berries in season occasionally, meal worms tend to make him have large smelly poops so we avoid them, also sweet potatoes, and carrots and bell peppers.  The main staple is dried crickets and spinach.  And we powder everything except the dried crickets which is already gut loaded and covered.

We have exo terra lights for him, a sun light and a red heat light. The red one is on pretty much all the time, the white one we turn off at night.

The crickets are flukers and the powder is also flukers.

I will upload a picture of him when I get home of his eye, for now here is one I took 4 weeks ago in his cage

ANSWER: Hello Annette,

The Exoterra lights, are you using a Reptiglo 10 tube bulb with a basking light?
He needs a Reptisun 10 tube bulb or an Arcadia D3 12% tube bulb, either one.  They emit much higher quality of UVB than the Reptiglo does.
What are the temperatures in his tank, do you use a digital probe or temp gun to measure the temperatures?
The spinach is high in oxalates & will bind calcium absorption, too which can leach his bones of calcium, over time.
The better choices are endive, escarole, mustard & collard greens or dandelion greens also.  I think that the live insects would do him good.  They are more nutritious when fed properly & more interesting than freeze dried crickets.
The calcium supplementation should be given 3 or so times per week for his bone health.  The vitamins only really need to be given once a week or so.
The mealworms are normally not a good staple anyway as they are too fatty & have too much shell.
Crickets, superworms, phoenix or butterworms, silkworms or hornworms, are the better feeders to try for him.  A lot of people use dubia roaches, too.

Let me know how he is doing.

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QUESTION: I will get him a better light right away thanks for the tips. I am also going to add to his diet your suggestions. I ended up taking Rex in to the vet today. He had an abscess maybe due to the bark getting under his eyelid and festering. The vet lanced his swelling and drained liquid. He was able to see on the way out. The vet also prescribed Ciproflaxicin and I am waiting for that to come in, it wasn't something they have on hand. I also need to bath him 2-3 times a day and keep his eye cleaned up. I am hoping it didn't go to the bone, it will mean 6 months on the Ciproflaxicin as opposed to only 3 weeks.  Poor guy, I am hoping he makes it through all this

Hello Annette,

I was wondering if something was going on with his eye, other than nutritional issues.  
Loose substrate can cause some issues sometimes.  That couldn't have felt very good, having his eye area lanced!  I hope he is ok.
The Cipro is a broad spectrum antibiotic so that should hopefully clear that up.  You can also get some sterile saline solution to help inside of his eye, too.  Be sure to give some probiotics such as non dairy soy yogurt or acidophiliz to help offset the negative effects of the meds for him.
Did they give you any eye ointment?
Wow that is a long time on the meds.  He should take a few breaks in there so his system doesn't get innundated with the meds too badly.  The meds are hard on them for prolonged periods of time.
I would change his susbstrate out to tiles, paper towels or non adhesive shelf liner.

Let me know how he is doing.  I think he will like a new light, too!



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Tracie Kretzschmar


I can answer questions pertaining to health, UVB specifics, overall husbandry care & supplementation, analysis of blood test results, and behavioral problems & handling. I can answer questions pertaining to bearded dragons, leopard geckos, iguanas, uromastyx & ball pythons. I can answer adeno virus related questions in bearded dragons, & then specifically about the testing methods as well. I am beginning an Pogona Adeno Testing Society in 2008 which will help to begin to start some standardization within the bearded dragon colonies of the breeders who choose to test.


I have been working with bearded dragons for over 5 years now, as well as leopard geckos, too. I am currently doing rescues, as well. I hope to be able to educate people prior to them purchasing an exotic pet in order to avoid any health crisis with them.

I have a master's degree in sports medicine & physiology, & 1 year of vet tech schooling, & am currently working on a reptile certification through the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council.

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