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Bearded dragon right arm and elbow swelling
Bearded dragon right a  
Front view
Front view  
QUESTION: y bearded dragon is about 2 and he's in a 20 or 30 galon tank. We have a basking, seperate uv, and then a red nightlight. His right elbow is swollen and his skin is very tight like its stretchef on his elbow like the scales are growing but not touching. He's arm in the photo will b on the left side since the camera takes the photo as u see it when you face face the dragon. It's his left in the photi but his right on his body. His right swollen arm is sticking more straight out whet whet his left arm is bent under his body holding him up. His fingernails on his swollen and his hand / fingers also look like they are pointing straight instead of curling under because of how swollen it is. The top of his hand is also swollen but the big ball is on his elbow. He has to be in pain. His arm is also swollen. Looks like a ball on his elbow and he's been sitting like how a cat tucks there arms under but only with that arm so I would aemsssume it's comforting for him to sit like that. I just noticed this today Dec 12th saturday 2015. I was wondering if you had any advice, a way to help reduce the swelling, or might know what it is. I looked online and it seems like a common problem but There's no answer for it anywhere. I'm very concerned about my baby. I almost positive he's a boy but he's never been to the vet, I've had him since he was taken from the pet store. I have 6 cats, and Charlie my bearded dragon. I want advice before I make a vet appointment because I dont have a lot if money right now and and I have veen mislead in the past by vets and and I just want opinions of experts, vets, or other bearded dragon owners to be more educated before I make an appointment. Please email your responses to me at . the very tip of his tounge is also slightly Tanisha brown. I noticed that about Akira month or 2 ago and and tried looking online 4 answers but nothing Even came came up for that symptom symptom on a bearded dragon so I need advice on thst too. I have fed him crickets or superwoman in about 2 or 3 months and he usually gets them 3 or 4 tomes times week.

ANSWER: Hello Racheal,

Just based on the pictures, I am thinking it is possible gout or septic arthritis caused by an injury which went into an infection of some sort into the bone.  If he hasn't had any injury that you know of it is probably going to be gout.  Of course, to get a diagnosis, you would need to get a blood test done on him to be sure.  Though, if you wait too long when they are developing gout, it will only get worse & harder to treat.
If you want to be proactive, you can get some Black cherry juice extract & begin giving him .5ml to 1ml of that daily, to help break up uric acid crystallization in & around his joints.  You could also consider getting some Allopurinol to treat gout too.  I can send a link where you can purchase it online, without a prescription.  I would increase his oral fluids daily to 4-6mls to help his kidneys, in the case it is gout developing.  As an adult, keep his insects to around 30 or so right now of mixed variety & try to get more greens & vegetation in his diet.  That will start to help his kidneys, to have a little lower protein diet for awhile.   
Are there any other areas namely fingers, or toes, which have any swelling?

Please review your tank set up with me also, such as the type & brand of UVB light, the supplementation & frequency of it, the feeding schedule & types of foods as well as the temperatures in his tank.  The tank is a little small for an adult dragon.  It is normally recommended to have at least a 75 gallon for comfort, turn around space & to help maintain a proper temperature gradient, too.
Do you have any pictures of his tank setup too?

Let me know how he is doing.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

Sleeping u can see the elbow and arm size
Sleeping u can see the  
Side view
Side view  
QUESTION: He is still doing about the same. I went back and looked at some photos of him that I took in October and you can see the swelling slightly thete so I'd say he has had it for atleast a month and a half or 2. He's 14 to 15 inches long and and he was bought around June or July of 2013. He was only a baby at the pet store so he's a little over 2 years old. His tank measures width 12.5 inches, length 30 inches, and height of 12.5 inches. I've noticed he has not been eating as much as usual the past week or 2. I have 3 light I use, one of which is broken so I haven't been using the day light 75 watt 120 volts made by zilla. I have a basking light also by zilla and and a night time red light. I beleive they are all the same wattage and I bought a double dome light which I've replaced 3 or 4 tomes from then breaking but they are the only ones that work good. His right elbow, arm, and hand are swollen. He's still moving around the cage but you can tell he us not really putting any pressure or trying to use that leg. I feed him usually once or 2 times a day about a cup of lettuce with carrots and some of the pink nature zone her product bites. He gets fed either in the morning around 730 or at night at 5 or 6 when i get home from work but i try my best to feed him both times. I have not given him any supplement powder on his food since he was about a year old and i wpuld like a brand recommendation. I feed the crickets flukers calcium. I beleive it's like a yellow gel. I also wanted to know if I coukd have your email address or ask that you personally email me as this website only let's you upload 2 photos at a time and I'd like to send u more photos than that at once and possibly a video of his movement. When he went to eat he got a peice of lettuce in his mouth and then started backing up and moving Around his head, I thought thought he was choking, and and his stomach suckef in, I've never seen him for this but my fiance said he did it before. I was trying to video him walking to his dish and he stated doing that so it was on video. I was not sure if it was just a thing he did trying to get his food down or if it can be caused by his issue. I also wanted to ask what causes gout in bearded dragons, and how it can be prevented in the future? I am not sure where I can buy the cherry extract and I wanted to ask how much it typically costs to get a blood test? I only have cat and dog vets around here in Monroeville pa so I'd have to take him down to pittsburgh to a specialist and I'm afraid it's going to be too epensive, but it do not want to treat him 4 anything til I know what it is. His humidity tank level is between 50 and 60 rated at semi tropical according to the zilla humidity and temperature gage. It's usually around 20 or 30  which is more like desert in there and and I'm not don't anything different so I'm not sure why it's so low and his actual cage temp is reading 75 to 80 degrees. The tip of his tounge is also slightly brownish tan is that also a sign of gout, I just noticed that within the last 2 to 3 months as well.

ANSWER: Hello Racheal,

How is he doing today?  Sure, you can email more pictures & or a video, etc, over to me at:

The tongue normally has a slightly grayish tip but if it kind of looks like a patch or appears coated that can be a sign of dehydration.  
The humidity should be lower than 40% really, to avoid any respiratory infections & or fungal problems.  So the 20-30 range for humidity is pretty good, but you could increase it a bit.
The overall ambient temperature of the tank is 75-80, correct?  Is his basking area/spot in a range of 95-105 for him?
What type of lettuce are you feeding, mustard or collard greens, dandelion greens, or something else?  Are the pieces small & chopped up for him? That is odd, I don't know why he would choke on his greens, how long has he been doing that?
The flukers calcium gel is good, but it still may not be quite enough on the calcium supplementation.  I would recommend trying to dust his feeder insects, or you could try using some liquid calcium instead to be sure he is receiving enough.
Which brand of UVB are you using, is it a long tube bulb or a compact/coil light?  I couldn't quite tell from the picture.  :-)
You can check your local health food store & they should have the black cherry extract/concentrate or juice to give to him in case it is gout.  
The blood tests normally run $125 to $150 roughly.  Sometimes x-rays can help to diagnose but the uric acid levels are usually the best way to determine what is going on.  
Gout is a condition many times caused by chronic or persistent dehydration status, poor nutrition, too low of basking temperatures, genetics, supplementation, etc.
They can have a pseudo gout which is fixable usually with just short term medication to lower the uric acid levels & is caused by diet & supplementation imbalances.  
Full blown or visceral gout is caused by all of those factors but has gotten to the point to where it has caused substantial damage & they will need medication, for life to manage the kidney condition.  

Let's review your UVB lighting & temperatures, supplementation, etc to see what we can do to tweak anything to try & help first.  I am thinking that he may have a nutritional issue causing it but not sure.

Let me know how he is doing.


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: the thermometer for temps is located by his bowls, you can see it in the photo. so yes 75-80 is the ambient tank temp. I do not have a temp under his basking light, but I could move the thermometer over there to get a reading if you would like.

I feed him Romaine lettuce, and some kale occasionally. They told us at the pet store that Romaine lettuce would be the best thing for him. I do chop up the pieces very small. He has never chocked on his food before this. I think it could possibly be because the swelling on that side, he might have a hard time swallowing maybe? that is the only thing I can think of.

Is the liquid calcium something they would carry at like a Petco or Petsmart. I definitely want to try the liquid because Ive read it is easier for them to break down than the powder. Since he is 2, I would image that is adult age. Should I get the liquid calcium and give it to him 2 or 3 times a week and what is the dosage?  
do you have a brand suggestion for either the liquid or powered calcium?

I am not sure how tall the fixture is for the dome lights, but I can find out.
I know it is a reptile day and night lighting dome since the fixture is 2 sided and it has 2 chords with a switch like an extension chord for each light.

I have never had a coil or long tube light. I would assume this is the UVB specific light. When I went to the pet store, I asked them what I needed and they said I only needed 2 lights and I do not think they sell the UVB bulbs that fit into my fixture.

This is what I have: The Zoo Med Basking Bulb Combo Pack Day and Night 75 Watts
When they go out, if there is not another combo pack to buy, I get the Zoo Med Repti Basking Spot lamp  (I put the website bellow so you can see the specific
and I get the Zilla red night light (75 watt)

Then the light that I photographed in my previous response is the light that is currently burnt out that we have not been using.
It is the Zilla Day light soft white (I would assume this is the same thing as a basking light but would like clarification - website bellow)

I think after reviewing all of this that what I need is 3 lights all together, a basking, a night light, and a UVB specific light.

I currently Turn the night light on around 10pm and leave it on until 8am, then I turn on his day basking light. and then switch back at 10pm to night light.

*Please specify how his lighting schedule should be so I can help regulate or know when to switch the bulbs since I only have a fixture for 2 lights.

I am going to go to a local candy store today to see if I can find the Dark or Black Cherry Extract. I checked at local food stores like Shop and Save and Giant Eagle but they did not have it and I also checked Riteaid. CVS had the extracts but I could only find regular Cherry, will this be okay to give him? and should I water it down, and how much, how often?   I bought a dropper with ml on it.

He drank tons of water from the dropper yesterday and this morning, I was giving him as much as he would drink (assuming that if he is still taking it that he is thirsty). I fed him when I got home from Work yesterday at 6pm, and then again around 930pm. I gave him fresh food this morning before I went to work and I was monitoring him while he ate and gave him some water when he walked away from his bowl. He still seems to be moving fast. He will be purched on his bridge and when I put the food in he gets down and runs over to his bowl. He is managing using it still  but when he sits, its like he puts his arm to the side to try not to put pressure on.

I called a vet yesterday, I have never taken my animals to this vet before (I have a dog, 6 cats and my beardie). I told the secretary his arm was swollen and that I talked with you and we thought it was gout. I explained his symptoms and asked the cost for the follwing: exam, blood test, and x rays if needed. She said the Exam is 60 + meds, x rays are $100 and then there are 2 types of blood work one that is $90 and one that is $190 but did not explain what each one tested. The secretary talked to the vet when I asked about the blood test and she said that the she does not want to do the blood test, but will be able to tell by looking at him / symptoms if he has gout.

Do you believe this is true? She said the exam would be $60 + meds. I want to take him as soon as possible as it looks like the swelling is moving down his arm a little further. My brother has gout and he says when it flares up that it is very painful so I want him to be looked at but I want to make sure he is getting the propper attention and meds from the vet. I am concerned that if they do not do a blood test that they will rule it as an infection and will want to give him antibiotics which will not help with the gout. I have read other forums of yours from previous people with this issue and I read that you suggesting the Alloproial ? and the med that starts with a C?
but I cannot remember what it is called or how much you suggested to give.
I went on the website you gave me, it brought up one of the meds, but I am not sure how to "add it to my cart" or purchase it if I need to and there was no price. I wanted to get your opinion and brands on the meds and I was going to go to the vet and get her opinion, that way I can talk to her about the meds you suggested to see what the best option is.

I will wait to hear back from you to schedule the appt. I am not sure if they vet has an appts open this evening as I get off work at 5 and the vet is open til 8pm. So more than likely I will schedule the appointment for tomorrow after work.

He seems more active today and hes moving around more. Is giving him a warm bath okay with his arm like that?
I have not picked him up since I 1st messaged you because I do not want to hurt him.

Also when I take him to the vet, what should I take him in?
he was a baby when I brought him home so he was in one of those pet boxes, but I was not sure if a box would be okay with the lid off, or maybe bring his cage lid to set on top of it. I just do not want to freak him out.

Hello Racheal,

Just to verify, if he has not had any UVB lighting for his entire life, then that will definitely need to be purchased.  He may have an injury on the elbow, possibly from softened bones perhaps but not sure.  At least it sounds like you haven't had a UVB light for him.
You will need to get a T8 light fixture which you can get at Home Depot or at  Be sure it has reflective backing on it, but most tend to if made for UVB bulbs.  You can get either a Reptisun 10 tube bulb or an Arcadia D3 12% tube bulb.  Please steer clear of any UVB light from Zilla, All Living Things or any other off brand.  All UVB lights are not created equal.  Also, do not purchase any compact or coil type of UVB either, they have too much of a UVB spike & the UVB isn't distributed well & can be hazardous.  There are T5 High output UVB lights but the fixtures are pretty expensive.  He will make improvements with the T8 placed at a 6-8 inch distance from him.
You don't have to use a red heat bulb at night.  Sometimes the red color can disturb their sleep.  If you need any nighttime heating, you can simply use a ceramic heat emitter or a heating pad set on low with a towel in between him & the heating pad.
I could not tell from the pictures what type your thermometer is.  You will need a digital probe or a temp gun for best results on measuring the temperatures.
He just needs a basic bright white basking light, it doesn't matter the brand.  Just make sure that the bulb is not coated with Neodymium, but just a plain white or clear basking bulb either one.  The Zilla daylight bulb should be ok as long as it isn't coated with neodymium.

If you want to order online, you can order the lights at either one of these places:

Here is a link for light fixtures:  

Here is the actual tube bulb:

You can get a small cat or dog carrier & put a blankie in there for him to transport him & he should be fine.
That is ok to bathe him with his arm being swollen, maybe it will help out with any discomfort for him.  
They probably were quoting you a price for a regular blood test & an ionized calcium test which is a little different.  It measures the 25 Hydroxy test which determines how much vitamin D is being stored.  I am not sure she will automatically be able to tell if it's gout just by looking at him or solely by an x-ray.  A blood test would measure uric acid levels which are directly correlated to kidney function.  That does worry me too, because if she just gives an antibiotic without determining gout or an infection, it will make gout worse.

If you do want to go ahead & try the Allopurinol, I can help with that.  You can purchase it online without a prescription & I can help with compounding & dosing.  The best results with gout is to treat it early so it doesn't get to bad.  Were you able to get some black cherry juice?  You can give him the juice daily, up to 1ml for him.  
As far as the lighting schedule, he just needs a 10 hour daytime & a 14 hour nighttime schedule since it is wintertime.

The better greens to feed would be mustard or collard greens, dandelion greens, turnip greens, arugula, escarole & small amounts of kale or romaine.  Kale is high in oxalates & can bind calcium absorption if given too much.

It wont let you add anything to your cart?  Were you trying to purchase on a phone or a computer?  There should be an Add to cart right to the side of the calcium & it should take you to the cart from there.  You can sometimes find a Zilla brand of liquid calcium in stores, too.  

Let me know how it goes at the vets.



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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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