Pet Vet

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - STYLE - JEFF KAHLER Jeff Kahler is a vet­eri­nar­ian in Modesto, Calif. Ques­tions can be sub­mit­ted to Your Pet in care of LifeStyles,The Modesto Bee, P.O. Box 5256, Modesto, Calif. 95352.

think a lot of peo­ple re­al­ize that ve­teri­nary medicine can present chal­lenges dif­fer­ent from those in hu­man medicine. Cer­tainly, our com­pan­ions have some sim­i­lar phys­i­ol­ogy and struc­tures to our own. But the main chal­lenge is that ve­teri­nary medicine pa­tients are not as com­mu­nica­tive as hu­mans are with their physi­cians. I have sel­dom had a pa­tient “tell me where it hurts.”

This chal­lenge is one of the rea­sons, and there are many, why ve­teri­nary medicine is so fas­ci­nat­ing. It also is the main rea­son di­ag­nos­tics can be so im­por­tant. This is es­pe­cially im­por­tant with some of the less main­stream species that some peo­ple choose as com­pan­ions. Lou is one of those species — a bearded dragon lizard.

Lou lives in a large cage and is well taken care of by Bran­don. Lou is 5 years old and has been with Bran­don for most of his life with no health prob­lems. That no longer ap­pears to be the case. Lou has de­cided he does not want to eat. For Lou this is highly un­usual as, ac­cord­ing to Bran­don, he usu­ally eats ev­ery chance he gets. For the last 10 days or so, he has not touched any­thing Bran­don has of­fered.

That is all the in­for­ma­tion I have to go on so it ap­pears I am go­ing to have to use one of my more prim­i­tive di­ag­nos­tic tools, my crys­tal ball. To be fair to Bran­don, this is the sin­gle most com­mon pre­sen­ta­tion for a rep­tile pa­tient. When they are hav­ing health prob­lems, they gen­er­ally do not eat. This could be the re­sult of a sim­ple prob­lem such as a sore mouth or as com­pli­cated and se­vere as ter­mi­nal can­cer. The com­mon symp­tom is they do not eat. There­fore, in Lou’s case and frankly in many cases of rep­tile ill­ness, we start with the symp­tom of anorexia and look to a vir­tu­ally un­lim­ited list of dis­ease pos­si­bil­i­ties.

Bran­don ob­vi­ously will need to take Lou to his vet­eri­nar­ian for eval­u­a­tion. I will share what I gen­er­ally do when pre­sented with an anorexic rep­tile pa­tient, us­ing Lou as an ex­am­ple. But ev­ery case has sub­tle and some­times not-so-sub­tle dif­fer­ences so the thoughts I share may not trans­late to other lizard cases with the same symp­tom of anorexia. (The dis­claimer!)

Phys­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tion is al­ways an im­por­tant di­ag­nos­tic step, and Lou is no ex­cep­tion. Through this process, we can some­times fine tune our ap­proach to the nec­es­sary di­ag­nos­tic steps to­ward un­cov­er­ing Lou’s prob­lem. Again with no clues in this par­tic­u­lar case, I will be a bit more gen­er­al­ized.

I rec­om­mend Lou have some ra­dio­graphs taken to “look in­side” his lit­tle body and a blood panel drawn to check or­gan sys­tem func­tions. A fe­cal ex­am­i­na­tion for par­a­sites also is war­ranted.

Th­ese steps will pro­vide a good over­view of what might be go­ing on with Lou and hope­fully direct us to the next step, be it fur­ther di­ag­nos­tics or treat­ment based on an ill­ness dis­cov­ered from the tests.

As stated, the best ad­vice is to take Lou to his vet­eri­nar­ian.

Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette/DUSTY HIG­GINS

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