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Reptiles/Infection Chinese Water Dragon


I have a chinese water dragon (1 and a half years old) who has an infection on his jaw from hitting his face against the glass. He has puss on the inside of hs mouth and also presents a mild infection on one of his eyes. I have been giving him antibiotics for almost 20 days now and trying to force feed him since he is not eating. He has not improved. This was advised by a vet here in Argentina, where there are no specific antibiotics for reptiles. I needed a second opinion! Thank you!

Hi Camila,

I can't give you a second medical opinion as I am not a vet but I can give you some  information that may help.

I'm not familiar with the drug approval process used in Argentina but in North America there are no antibiotics actually approved for use in reptiles. Instead, drugs approved for use in other species (including humans) are used. This is termed "off-label" use and is completely legal and standard practice for vets. So don't feel bad that you are missing out on any specific reptile antibiotics. They don't exist.

Do you know if your vet has run a culture and susceptibility test on the pus from the wound? Identifying the bacteria (there may be several types) and testing it to determine which antibiotic it responds to are critical to choosing an effective treatment.

Many of these mouth/snout wounds have the bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa which is commonly found in water. It is also very resistant to many antibiotics and can produce very stubborn infections.

Which antibiotic has your vet prescribed for your dragon? Most vets prescribe Baytril (enrofloxacin) which has a broad spectrum, that is, it kills many types of bacteria.
It is widely used which unfortunately means that many bacteria (including Pseudomonas) are developing resistance to it. Another possible treatment option is called ceftazidime.

I am hoping that your vet allowed you to use injectable antibiotics which are far more likely to be effective then oral medication. Try to keep your dragon well hydrated during treatment to prevent kidney damage from the antibiotics and make sure his basking temperature is in the proper range ( around 95F). That will boost his natural immune system.

I am including a couple links from an excellent site on Water Dragons. The first link discusses  topical treatment for mouth infections and has some recipes for hand feeding.
The next discusses ways to avoid snout rubbing which is a common and frustrating problem with this species.

Best of luck with his treatment.  


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I can answer questions on the proper husbandry and diet of Iguanas, bearded dragons, geckoes, skinks, chameleons, tortoises, box turtles, treefrogs, non-venomous snakes and tarantulas. Also the breeding of some species of feeder insects. I have no experience with venonmous snakes and only limited experience with aquatic turtles.


I have been keeping and breeding reptiles for over 30 years. In addition to my regular job in the medical field I also worked for several years in a pet store that specialized only in exotics. The job entailed both caring for and answering questions on innumerable species. It required constant, extensive research into a wide range of reptiles. I have been called to appear on televised national media (CBC, CTV and Life Channel) as well as CBC radio to discuss the proper care of reptiles and other exotics in captivity. I currently own one or more species of those listed under my expertise with the exception of chameleons. I owned chameleons for years but keep none currently. I keep over 20 snakes comprising 5 species, both Colubridae and Boidae. I bred corn snakes for several years. I have a particular interest in treefrogs and currently have 5 different species. I've raised redfoot tortoises for 10 years and have two iguanas, one for 12 years.

A small and now defunct local magazine called "Pet Vue"

Diagnostic medical microbiology with some parasitology experience.

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