Treating MBD In Lizards

One of the most common reptile medical issues is MBD or metabolic bone disease. The condition results from a dietary issue where the bearded dragon, iguana or lizard is not getting the correct amount of certain vitamins and minerals. It is also called Nutritional Secondary Hyperparathyroidism or HSHP. Specific nutritional inadequacies discovered in metabolic bone disorder patients include dietary calcium, the proportion of phosphorus to calcium and Vitamin D insufficiency. Vitamin D is required for the proper calcium absorption through the intestines into the blood stream and bones. A lizard could receive satisfactory amounts of calcium in the diet and not aborb the substance due to the lack of vitamin D.

Indications of MBD

There are two groupings of Nutritional Secondary Hyperparathyroidism symptoms with the first representing acute symptoms and the second chronic symptoms. A patient can show any of the signs listed below from any of the groups.

  1. In this group, called acute Hypocalcemic Tetany, the lizard will present with convulsions, tremors or bodily spasms. The pet owner will thinkrubbery lookingarms and legs. Symptoms come on quickly and are often found in females after delivering eggs. Symptoms spring from the body compensating for a dietary calcium inadequacy by pulling the substance out of the bones.
  2. The second group of symptoms are also distinguished by changes in the bones. Here the reptile compensates for calcium deficiency in the legs, spine, ribs and lower jaw. It can also be due to an unsatisfactory diet and husbandry problems. Other causes include a scarcity of vitamin and mineral supplements or a lack of exposure to UVB light Symptoms take hold when the body pulls calcium from the bones and replaces it with a softer substance. The bones become pliable and can change shape.


MBD can be life threatening. After the condition is diagnosed, a vet will address any life threatening issues first. This includes addressing any bone fractures that stem from the absence of calcium and the correction of any diet or vitamin and mineral imbalances. The Veterinarian will use a combination of injectable or oral calcium and vitamin D additions to treat the patient.

Once the lizard recovers, the veterinarian will evaluate current care practices and recommend needed corrections. With treatment the prognosis ifor MBD.

The author, Cathy Doggins, has researched and written about a comprehensive number of the problems having an effect on lizards such as reptile MBD. When not lecturing or writing about lizards for, she cares for a collection of different lizard breeds as well as other pets pets. Cathy is a fvolunteer at local shelters and is an active supporter of animal rights.

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