Even animals in the desert can have parasites living in their bodies. The most common parasites found in reptiles are known as the Nematodes, which is more commonly known as ringworms. The most common of these nematodes found in lizards are “Kalicephalus, Parapharyngodon, Physaloptera, Physalopteroides venancioi, Rhabdias, Spauligodon oxkutzcabiensis, Dracunculus, and Strongyluris.” These nematodes have been found in about 500 types of reptiles. These parasitic organisms can infect a reptile’s bloodstream. It can be found in the lungs, liver, and other parts of the body. They can just lay their eggs and both the larvae and the mother Nematode will feed on wherever they are in your body. Once a large infestation happens and is not treated right way, it could be fatal to your pet.
Signs that a reptile, like your bearded dragon, is infected with nematodes
A reptile may display different symptoms depending on the type of nematode as well as the place of infestation. Here are some of the symptoms that accompany particular nematode types.
1. Kalicephalus, Parapharyngodon, Physaloptera, Physalopteroides venancioi, Rhabdias, Spauligodon oxkutzcabiensis
- Vomiting or regurgitating food
- Infective lesions
- Skin lesions anywhere on the body
- Loss of appetite
- Sudden death
3. Strongylus vulgaris in horses
- Abnormal Breathing
What may cause a parasitic infection like that of a nematode?
Nematode infestation in lizards is usually caused by one or more of these reasons:
- Eating food matters that are already infested with nematodes
- Co-habitation or a large group of lizards co-existing in the same enclosure
- Lesion in the skin
- Passage through the vent
- Unsanitary health and enclosure
How are lizards with Nematodes diagnosed?
To determine the severity of the infestation, a vet will diagnose your lizard. The diagnosis will include a complete physical examination and will check vital signs, body condition, as well as the overall health of your pet.
The veterinarian may also require radiographs (x-rays) or an ultrasound to identify where the infestation occurred as well as the severity of the suspected infestation. Laboratory testing will also be required. Blood count and chemistry panel, urinalysis, and even a liver enzyme culture may likewise be required. A stool sample will also be made to check fecal floatation (eggs of the nematodes do not float), sedimentation culture, and also a microscopic analysis of its fecal smear. The vet will also determine if it is necessary to have a lung, cloacal, or gastric wash to identify the type of nematode that is infesting the reptile’s body.
Treating nematode infestation is crucial. If a reptile is left untreated the reptile’s health may be compromised. It may also lead to the lizard’s death. Because of this parasite’s pervasive nature, various drugs have been formulated to treat an infestation.
Fenbendazole: A Common Nematode Infestation Treatment
Fenbendazole is a drug usually prescribed by veterinarians as a cure for nematode infestation. It is a broad spectrum benzimidazole anthelmintic that is orally administered to reptiles and other mammals that get infected with worms. It’s used for the removal and control of worms like roundworms, hookworms, pinworms, aelurostrongylus, paragonimiasis, whipworms, tapeworms, strongyles and strongyloides.
This anthelmintic formula is widely used in veterinary medicine as it has been observed to be effective not only on fully grown worms but also on larval and even those that are in the encysted stages. It also has an effective ovicidal effect and decreases egg production by sterilizing the worm.
Fenbendazole is considered the safest dewormer that can be used not only for reptiles like the bearded dragon. It can also effectively eradicate worm infestation in other animals like dogs, cats, and even to larger animals like lambs, cow, and horses. The drug is available in both liquid and paste form. This drug is known by its generic name Panacur.
Panacur is considered to be quite mild. Side effects are rarely heard of. Overdosing is quite impossible as it has been reported that even dosages more than 10 times the prescription can easily be tolerated by the reptile and other animal being treated with the drug.
Dosing instructions are indicated in the drug’s packaging. It should be stored in a tightly sealed container at room temperature.
In combination with the treatment, you must clean the cage, gutter, food tray. Choose the best food for Bearded Dragon, full of nutrients for them to grow and you have to control the diet, avoid the unbalanced diet that causes disease to grow.
How It Fenbendazole Works
Once administered to the reptile, the drug interrupts the parasites’ cellular transport and metabolism. It also lessens the parasites’ energy reserves as well as limit their ability to eliminate waste. It also provides a protective effect from the parasites’ cells.
If your reptile is showing signs of infestation, you need to bring your pet to a veterinarian right away for proper diagnosis and administration of the right treatment as well.