We have a new page on this serious problem in reptiles. Click on our friend below to learn more.
Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD), also know as Nutritional Secondary HyperParathyroidism (NSHP), occurs in many reptiles that are non-carnivorous. This page talks about MBD in chameleons, although it is most common in the green Iguana.
There are differences in why chameleons get this problem as opposed to MBD in the green iguana, but the main problem of inadequate husbandry stays consistent. You should visit our Iguana page on MBD for much more information regarding cause and treatment of this terrible disease.
Veiled chameleons are highly susceptible to stress, and usually do not do well in captivity. Therefore it is important to pay as much attention to proper husbandry as possible. Veiled chameleons do not drink from a water bowl, and need to be misted. They need a basking spot with a heat bulb that gives them a heat range of 72-80 degrees F. They should have exposure to direct sunlight, or else a full spectrum UVB (ultraviolet B) light. Adult chameleons should be fed gut-loaded crickets (feeding the crickets collard greens, mustard greens, and squash), dusted with calcium and vitamin powder.
This is what we prefer to see, a normal veiled chameleon with an attitude!
This female veiled chameleon came to us with a problem. She was unable to eat or walk well. Any time we have an ill chameleon we handle them gently because they are fragile.
Notice anything wrong?
Maybe this picture will help in your diagnosis
Her MBD problem is so severe that her tongue just hangs out
She was dehydrated, so we rehydrated her medically with fluid injections We were worried her tongue would dry out, so we dripped water on her on tongue.
We kept her surrounded by warm blankets and soaked paper towels
She was able to pull her tongue into her mouth once she was better after our rehydration and medical treatment
We applied a temporary porous tape bandage to keep the tongue inside when we were not feeding her
In addition to the tongue problem, she is filled with eggs and has fractures of her bones. This chameleon is seriously ill, and if we can get the bone problem solved we would think about spaying it to remove the eggs.
The splint we put on her fractured leg
Their eyes are amazing!
This is another chameleon with MBD, although the tongue is not affected on this one.
This chameleon is weak and cannot walk
It has a spine curvature, along with fractures in all four legs.
This is the radiograph of this chameleon, see if you can see the fractures on all 4 legs. The bones lack density, and do not show up well on this radiograph, further evidence of the severity of this chameleon’s MBD. Compare it to the normal uromastyx below.
The straight spine, and increased bone density, is apparent
Before we can correct the husbandry and nutritional problems that caused this, we need to stabilize these fractures. It will be done with custom splints that will stay on at least one month.
Talia, our ace RVT (Registered Veterinary Technician) went to work, and made custom splints
It is important to put lots of padding under the splints
The left front leg is getting its first layer of gauze wrap
Half way there, both front legs are done
Our finished product, a four banger splint
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Lets hope nobody encounters this when flying in the United States. I am not sure the pilots here are as used to this as the bush pilots in Africa. They have seen this before, and make sure the coast is clear (and they do the clearing) before unloading passengers.
We neuter (castration or orchiectomy) Guinea Pigs in a manner similar to other animals. We always use the laser for its major advantages of minimal to no bleeding during surgery, and minimal to no pain, swelling, and inflammation after surgery. Those of us that have had surgery are aware of how much pain there is after surgery, and we do anything we can minimize that pain for our patients.
Our laser is warmed up and calibrated for the specific surgery we are doing before we start the procedure
The laser is so important for our patients we use it on all of our neuters. Here is a short video of how we use it on a dog. Notice the lack of bleeding.
Sometimes people get a jaded mindset when it comes to routine surgeries like neuters, that are performed by the thousands, especially at low cost spay and neuter clinics. It is a major surgery, and we treat it as such at the Long Beach Animal Hospital, which you will learn about in this page when we neuter a cutie named Felix.
Several days prior to any surgery one of our doctors will perform a physical exam to confirm your pet is ready for anesthesia. At that time we will go over any questions you have.
On the day of surgery we need your Guinea Pig in the hospital between 7:30 AM and 8 AM. Feed your Guinea Pig the morning of surgery, and we will feed it also when it is here. We don’t fast them like we do with some other animals.
Our surgeon will call you after the surgery is complete and your Guinea Pig is awake. It can go home in the late afternoon the day of surgery unless instructed otherwise. Please call our office at 4 PM for pickup time, you will be given written post operative instructions then. We are open until midnight if you need to pick up later.
This is a sterile surgery, and our surgeon starts the pre-surgical process by using special soap to clean his/her hands
We scrub all the way to the elbow to minimize any chance of spreading an infection during surgery
While our patient is being anesthetized our surgeon is already in our surgical suite setting up instruments. Our surgeon is ready to start before our patient is at a proper plane of anesthesia. Once the anesthetist gives the green light the surgery starts immediately. We want our surgeon waiting for his patient, not the other way around. All of this is to minimize anesthetic time.
We keep a close tab on important physiologic parameters for all of our surgeries to minimize the risk of anesthesia. Minimizing the anesthetic risk also allows our patient to recover from anesthesia faster and recover from surgery faster.
Brianna is listening to the heart rate of Felix during the surgery
Monitors give us an early warning of an impending problem. Instruments like this give us a big safety margin since we can anticipate problems before they cause any trouble.
This machine monitors:
Carbon dioxide level
Important anesthetic data is recorded for this surgery
Most Guinea Pigs have both testes in the scrotum, making them readily accessible by a scrotal incision. On rare occasion they might be undescended and in the abdomen, although this is more of problem in dogs and cats.
Brianna, our anesthetist, is keeping Felix cozy and warm as she brings him into our surgical suite
Felix is put on a warm water blanket and Dr. Wood performs an exam on him to make sure he is ready for anesthesia. When the OK for anesthesia is given Felix gets a pain injection.
After the pain injection he is placed in a chamber with 100% oxygen along with an anesthetic
When Felix is relaxed his oxygen and anesthesia are administered by a special mask that fits over his face
Felix is given fluids under the skin (SQ or subcutaneous) to help support important internal organs like liver and kidney
Felix’s boy parts are cleansed carefully prior to surgery
Extra attention is paid to keep Felix warm due to his small size. Starting at the bottom, you can see three things in this photo to accomplish this:
Warm water blanket on the bottom
Fluids that have been warmed up above the blanket
Warm blankets that surround Felix on top
The lack of bleeding on this highly vascular and sensitive organ is because of the laser, as opposed to a scalpel blade. In the above photo the scrotum has been incised with the laser and what you are seeing is a strong tissue covering the teste called the tunic.
Notice in this video how there is no bleeding as the testicle is brought out of the incision with the tunic still covering it. The laser will now cut through the tunic to expose the testicle.
Guinea Pig testes have substantial fat around them
The fat is ligated first. This fast has minimal blood supply so one suture suffices.
The teste has a much greater blood supply than the fat. It is double ligated as an extra safety margin to prevent any bleeding after surgery
A close up of the teste after it has been removed. On the right is the epididymis, on the left is the teste.
The scrotum is closed with surgical tissue glue, which is much more comfortable than sutures
Our surgical patients are given cold laser (we call it Companion Laser) treatment to aid in healing and minimize post operative swelling and discomfort. You get to wear cool glasses when using this type of laser!
Dr. Wood is making sure our patient is doing OK before bringing him to recovery.
Felix recovered without any problems, and was soon munching away at his favorite food. The pain inject he was given prior to surgery is in full effect when he wakes up from surgery. If he needs more he will be given another one, although that is rare when we use the laser. He was a great patient, and will be back to doing his Guinea Pig thing in no time.
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