• Bearded Dragon Atadenovirus: Learn about this viral infection that may affect your Bearded Dragon

    Atadenovirus is a contagious disease that can cause serious illness in bearded dragons. Older literature refers to it as “adenovirus”. It may also be known as “wasting disease” and “star-gazing disease” among other terms.

    Infected baby bearded dragons are often unthrifty. They may not grow as fast as healthy dragons, may lose weight, may spend a lot of time hiding, and often may die without any other signs. If an infected baby dragon lives long enough to become an adult, it may have trouble fighting other infections. Atadenovirus infected dragons may become seriously ill from intestinal parasites such as coccidia, flagellated protozoa, amoebas, and worms. Others go on to develop bacterial infections. Some dragons end up with damaged livers and intestines and never seem to gain weight and sleep a lot. In some dragons the virus spreads to the brain and spinal column and causes as twitching of the toes and tail tip, arching of the head and tail (sometimes known as stargazing), seizures, uncontrolled rolling, and death. Dragons that become infected as adults may suddenly die from neurological problems but more often they go on to develop liver disease and other health problems. Some adult dragons appear to be resistant to infection.

    An ill baby bearded dragon infected with atadenovirus. It spends a lot of time sleeping, is weak, and doesn’t eat.

    This bearded dragon demonstrates “star gazing”, a serious neurological problem caused by the atadenovirus infecting the brain and spinal cord.

    Atadenovirus spreads easily from dragon to dragon by direct contact. Some dragons may become infected just from being exposed to tools that were used on infected dragons and not properly disinfected. Many breeding colonies of bearded dragons are infected with atadenovirus. It can be passed from mothers to babies. Some infected dragons live normal lives and do not need any extra medical care. Others may have flare-ups where they lose their appetite, sleep a lot, have diarrhea or constipation, and may even develop swellings of their belly or beneath their chin. Some dragons develop even more serious signs from the infection spreading to the nervous system. There is no way to predict which dragons can do well with atadenovirus infection and which ones are going to become so sick that they die or need to be put to sleep (euthanized).

    Atadenovirus inclusion (large white circle inside the red blood cell on the left) from a heavily infected bearded dragon that was severely ill.

    Unfortunately there is no known drug that eliminates atadenovirus. Medical care usually includes antibiotics, assist-feeding, calcium supplementation, milk thistle and other nutriceuticals, anti-inflammatories, and other drugs depending on the bearded dragon’s clinical signs. As stated above, many dragons go on to become so sick they die or need to be euthanized.

    Every dragon that has atadenovirus should be considered a threat to other dragons that are free of the infection. It is important to keep the atadenovirus-positive dragons by away from healthy dragons. If you want to adopt or keep an atadenovirus-infected dragon, you are responsible for keeping it away from other dragons so it doesn’t spread the disease and make these other pets ill. You must be willing to seek help for it if it develops health problems. You need to be willing to euthanize your dragon when it is no longer humane to keep it alive.

    It is possible to screen breeding colonies to produce healthy uninfected babies. Unfortunately, many breeders do not test their dragons and some even knowingly sell babies from infected parents so it can be difficult to find clean babies. If you already have bearded dragons, get them tested for atadenovirus. A simple DNA test can identify an infected dragon from a swab of its cloaca. If you have a large collection, you can group together swabs from all the dragons in a single cage rather than individually test them. It takes anywhere from 7 to 14 days to learn the results. When you get a new dragon you should keep it in quarantine in a separate room for at least 60 days before introducing it to the same room (or same cage) your other dragons. Get your dragon tested for atadenovirus within the first week of bringing it home. If you discover that a dragon is infected, talk to your veterinarian and develop a lifelong preventive medicine plan.

    copyright 2010

    Kevin Wright DVM

    Arizona Exotic Animal Hospital

  • Giardia-Intestinal Parasites

    General Information

    Giardia is a protozoan intestinal parasite that may infect birds and mammals including humans. It is worldwide in distribution and is very prevalent in this area. Transmission occurs by a fecal-oral route either directly or indirectly via contaminated food or water sources. Streams, ponds and well water frequently serve as sources of infection. Wild and domestic animals as well as humans may serve as reservoirs. Cross-infection has been shown to occur between animals and humans.

    Dogs and cats may be infected without showing symptoms. Clinical signs when present include weight loss and chronic diarrhea, which can be continuous or intermittent. Feces are usually soft and may contain mucus. Giardiasis must be differentiated from the many causes of diarrhea and diagnosis requires laboratory analysis of a fresh fecal sample. Giardia cysts are shed in feces intermittently and therefore repeated fecal examinations may be necessary to reveal the organism.

    Treatment involves oral medication not always effective at eliminating this hardy and resistant parasite. Successful treatment does require avoidance or elimination of sources of re-infection.

    Prevention involves disposal of feces from the immediate environment and preventing pets from drinking potential contaminated water sources.

    ​Request an appointment for our Annual Care Checkup and help your pet fight parasites and other diseases. Call today 408-996-1411.

  • ECLAMPSIA – Milk Fever (Milk Fever, Puerperal Tetany)

    Eclampsia or milk fever is found in all breeds of dogs, but most often in the smaller breeds. Females with a heavy supply of milk and actively nursing puppies are especially predisposed to it. Signs include generalized muscle tremors (uncontrollable shivering) and seizures. The condition is due to low calcium in the blood because of the demand for calcium in the milk of nursing dams. Calcium supplementation during pregnancy may be a predisposing cause.

    Treatment includes emergency administration of intravenous calcium and supportive care. Eclampsia can be fatal if left untreated. It is important to note that eclampsia may recur with subsequent pregnancies. prevention includes feeding a high quality puppy diet to the dam during nursing.

    Home care after hospitalization for eclampsia:

    1. Supplement puppies with commercial dog milk replacer.

    2. Do no allow the puppies to nurse for a minimum of 24 hours after discharge from the hospital. If the puppies are old enough (at least 4 weeks old) wean them to solid canned puppy diet.

    3. After the 24 hour period try adding one puppy with each feeding to nurse from the bitch until all are back nursing. Always watch for any signs of eclampsia and take all the pups off the bitch and call your veterinarian if signs recur.

    4. Use all prescribed medication as directed.

    5. Be aware that eclampsia can recur.

    Request an appointment for our Annual Care Checkup and help your pet fight parasites and other diseases. Call today 408-996-1411.


    General Information

    Diabetes mellitus is a disease caused by a deficiency of insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas, and is necessary for body tissues to use blood sugar. Without insulin, sugar remains in the blood and eventually passes into the urine. This causes increased urine production and thirst. Hunger increases because the body cannot use the sugar in the bloodstream. As the disease progresses chemicals called ketones accumulate, resulting in vomiting and dehydration. Coma and death ensue in untreated animals. Diabetes is not a curable disease, but with proper insulin administration, the disease can be controlled.

    The amount of insulin required each day may be subject to change depending on various factors such as changes in diet, exercise, other medical problems and environmental stresses. Therefore consistency in these factors minimizes the need for frequent changes in insulin dosage.

    Hospitalization is very important for initial insulin regulation. This allows for determination of insulin dosage and frequency of administration. Hospitalization is often recommended every 3 to 6 months for re-evaluation of insulin dosage and frequency because insulin requirements change for many reasons and proper dose and frequency is important for the long term health of your pet.

    Insulin should be refrigerated at all times and the bottle should be swirled gently before removal of insulin with the syringe. The injection must be given subcutaneously (under the skin).


    1. Feed 50% of the total daily intake of ____diet only.

    2. Administer__________units of insulin subcutaneously.


    1. Feed 50% of the total daily intake of same diet only.

    2. Administer the evening dose of insulin of _____units

    (if twice daily injections are needed)​

    • If your pet will not eat or has vomited, you can try baby food. If the vomiting or lack of appetite persists don’t give any insulin and call our office.
    • If you attempt to give the morning injection and your pet gets only part of its dose due to sudden movement, do not attempt to deliver the lost amount by giving another injection. Simply wait until the next scheduled injection and give the standard dose.
    • If you have a female pet, we highly recommend she be spayed prior to her next heat, since loss of diabetic control frequently occur during the heat period.
    • Again, consistency of diet, exercise and insulin treatment is important for the long term health of your pet.

    Infrequently your pet may experience an insulin reaction due to marked decrease in its blood sugar. This reaction can occur anytime from 3 to 18 hours following insulin injection depending on the type of insulin being used and your pets individual metabolism of insulin. The signs accompanying such a reaction will mimic a drunken state: your pet will be weak and walk with a wobbly, uncoordinated gait. Should this occur, administer Karo Syrup orally (approximately 2 tablespoons for a 20 pound animal). If no improvement is seen after 15 minutes or if the signs worsen, come to the hospital immediately for emergency treatment.

    Should your pet become ill or show signs such as increased thirst and urination, lethargy, weakness, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss or gain, etc. Please call our office.

    Request an appointment for our Annual Care Checkup and help your pet fight parasites and other diseases. Call today 408-996-1411.

  • Cushings Syndrome

    General Information

    Your dog has a condition known as Cushing’s syndrome which is due to an overproduction of the hormone, cortisol, by over active adrenal glands. In most cases the adrenal gland overactivity is due to primary stimulation arising from the “master gland” (pituitary) that is located at the base of the brain. In the remaining cases, the cause might be due to a primary adrenal gland tumor. in order to clarify the cause of your pet’s disorder, we must perform special laboratory test which will subsequently allow us to make the best therapeutic recommendations. In most situations we will prescribe a specific drug known as Lysodren (o.p’DDD).

    Lysodren acts on specific zones on the adrenal gland which produce cortisol. The treatment protocol which will be prescribed for your dog is as follows:

    Loading Period:

    1. Lsodren (500mg tablet); Give _________tablet(s) once daily for ______ days.
    2. Prednisone (5mg tablet); Give_________tablet(s) __________daily for days.

    Maintenance Period:

    Lysodren: Give__________tablet(s) orally once every ___________days.

    In most situations we will want to repeat the adrenal gland stimulation test within a week following the loading period. This will allow more accurate assessment of the effects of the Lysodren. An adequate response characterizes as:

    1. Cessation of increased thirst, urination, and appetite. (Usually occurs within the first 2 weeks of treatment).
    2. Reduction of pot-belly appearance usually occurs after 1-2 months.
    3. Regrowth of hair coat; highly variable and ranges form 2-24 months.

    An inadequate response to treatment is characterized by persistence of the abnormal signs. Once this is verified with the adrenal stimulation test, a reloading period accompanied by an adjusted maintenance dose will be necessary.

    Often dogs with pituitary-induced Cushing’s syndrome will show a relapse of clinical signs following several months of remission. This necessitates repeat loading followed by an adjusted maintenance dosage schedule. In order to monitor your dog’s progress we will suggest periodic rechecks and repeat adrenal gland stimulation tests which are done on an out-patient basis. It is important to note that relapses occur because we are only treating the secondary site (adrenal glands), rather than the primary pituitary source of the syndrome.

    Lysodren Toxicity:

    Toxic signs are due to a depletion of adrenal gland hormones (primarily cortisol). They usually occur during the first 2 weeks of treatment. The signs include loss of appetite, weakness, depression, vomiting and /or diarrhea.

    If any combination of these signs occur, you should do the following:

    1. Stop the Lysodren
    2. Give (1) 5mg prednisone tablet per 10 pounds body weight orally.
    3. Call our office for further instructions .

    It is important that we work closely together in order to obtain optimum results for your pet.

    Request an appointment for our Annual Care Checkup and help your pet fight parasites and other diseases. Call today 408-996-1411.

  • Hypothyrodism

    General Information

    Hypothyroidism is a condition resulting from a deficiency of thyroid hormone which is produced in the thyroid gland. The thyroid is located in the neck near the larynx (voice box).

    Thyroid hormone is involved with cellular metabolism. Its deficiency may result in hair loss especially on the trunk except in large breeds where it may begin on the legs. This is due to atrophy of the hair follicle and cessation of hair production. The hairs are dry and brittle. Other sign of hypothyroidism may include increased pigmentation and thickness of the skin, mental dullness, intolerance to cold, lethargy, infertility, and weight gain.

    A secondary complication of hypothyroidism may be seborrhea which is a dry scaling (dandruff) or greasy crusting skin disorder that may or may not be itchy. Recurrent skin and external ear infections may also occur.

    Hypothyroidism occurs most frequently in middle-aged or older dogs although it can appear at a much younger age in larger breeds.


    Diagnosis involves obtaining a small blood sample for thyroid hormone level evaluation. When circulating levels of the hormone are low a diagnosis is made.

    Equivocal test results sometimes warrants TSH response test. This test evaluates thyroid function by its response to Thyroid Stimulating Hormone.

    Response to thyroid hormone supplementation supports the diagnosis.


    A thyroid hormone product is used to treat hypothyroidism. Because of the higher metabolic turn-over, dogs often require medication twice daily as compared to the once a day requirement in people. The dosage for dogs is much higher than humans.

    Post Pill Test: We would like to see your dog_________weeks after initiation of treatment to assure that he/she is on the proper dosage. On that day your dog should receive his/her morning medication ________ yours prior to your scheduled appointment.

    Treatment is lifelong with possible dosage adjustments with increasing age. Therefore, a post-pill test is recommended yearly with the routine annual physical exam. An appointment should be made for __________ hours after the morning medication is given.

    Hypothyroidism is very amenable to treatment though a visible response takes time. YOu should expect to see changes in activity within 1-2 weeks. The hair should start to regrow in 4-6 weeks.

    Thyroid hormone alone will not completely correct associated skin conditions therefore medicated shampoos and antibiotics are prescribed when indicated.

    Request an appointment for our Annual Care Checkup and help your pet fight parasites and other diseases. Call today 408-996-1411.

  • Cataracts and your Pets

    Cataract means opacification (whitening) of the lens of the eye. The lens is normally clear and lies just behind the iris, which is the colored part of the eye. The pupil is the hole in the iris that allows light into the back of the eye. The lens takes the light coming in and focuses it on the retina. The retina is like the film in a camera: it makes the picture that we see.

    Cataracts in dogs and cats usually begin as small, white opacities in the lens. Because most of the lens is clear in the early stages, the patient will be able to see around these opacities. However, if the opacity becomes large enough to involve the entire lens, vision may be reduced or lost. Cataracts in dogs and cats can occur at any age. There are many causes of cataracts: heredity, toxic substances, trauma, and diabetes mellitus, to name a few. There is no way of preventing most cataracts and medical preventative therapy is still not available.

    If cataracts are present in both eyes of a patient and are causing blindness. There are two possibilities for treatment. Medication can be used to dilate the pupils as widely as possible to allow more light into the eye. This sometimes provides enough stimulation to the retina that the patient can avoid obstacles. The alternative is surgical removal of the cataractous lens. Before surgery can be considered, the retina must be shown to be normal. This can be determined by direct observation if the cataracts are not dense. If observation is not possible then an electroretinogram (ERG) should be done. The ERG tests the electrical function of the retina as the electrocardiogram (EKG) tests the heart. If the retina is not normal, cataract removal would be pointless because the patient would still not be able to see.

    If the retina is normal, surgery can be done. Although this works well in people, it is sometimes unsuccessful in other animals, particularly dogs and horses. Part of the reason for the lower success rate in dogs and horses is the tremendous inflammation caused by the surgery. The post-operative inflammation sometimes may lead to closure of the pupil, corneal scarring, or glaucoma, all of which can cause loss of vision. Medication is routinely given after surgery to decrease inflammation and prevent these problems from occurring. Despite potential post-operative complications, many animals do very well after surgery. Vision returns soon after surgery without the need of lens implantation as is necessary in people.

    Most dogs and cats are able to get around fairly well with cataracts if their environment is not constantly changing. If this is not the case and you are considering cataract removal for your pet, we can recommend a veterinary ophthalmologist for consultation and surgery.

    Request an appointment for our Annual Care Checkup and help your pet fight parasites and other diseases.

  • Atopy – Allergies and your Pets

    We can help relieve allergies in dogs and cats. Allergy testing for animals is a safe and effective way to diagnose allergies and start an effective allergy treatmentWhat’s causing your dog to itch? It’s probably dog allergies. But is it food, dust mites … or you? There are hundreds of possibilities.

    Here’s how to rule out some of them, and get down to the likeliest ones. Once you know what’s causing the itch, you can take action to provide your dog with some much-needed relief.

    Let’s get down to business. Does your dog itch all year-round, or just in certain seasons?

    We can help relieve allergies in dogs and cats. Allergy testing for animals is a safe and effective way to diagnose allergies and start an effective allergy treatment.

    There are only a few causes of year-round canine allergies:

    Food. This is the first thing many people think of as causing canine allergies. It’s actually one of the least likely. True food allergies are uncommon in dogs.

    A dog may be sensitive to a protein source in his food , or to the protein part of grains such as wheat, soy or corn. Wheat gluten is another one which frequently causes some dog itching and scratching problems. If you have an itchy dog, avoid foods with soy.

    Try switching to a food with a different protein source, or with a different grain content than you’ve been feeding. Test this food for 6 weeks and see if there’s any difference. If food does seem to be the problem, rotate different foods through your dog’s diet. Canine allergies develop after exposure to an ingredient, and the more exposure, the more likely an allergy will develop.

    If your dog is itching, another food-related cause may be mold . Molds grow on wheat, corn, and peanut hulls used in pet food. These produce toxic by-products called mycotoxins, which can suppress the immune system, leading to dog itching problems.

    Atopy is the term used in veterinary medicine for the itchy condition caused by allergies to inhaled substances. These substances, called “allergens” may be pollens, plant or animal fibers, house dust, or molds. Animals with atopy (called “atopics”) often show symptoms such as scratching, licking their paws, and rubbing their face

    The only precise way of diagnosing allergies is the intra-dermal skin test. The dog or cat is clipped on one side of the chest, and very small amounts of the suspected allergens are injected into the skin. This is slightly uncomfortable but most pets tolerate the procedure quite well. (Occasionally, a tranquilizer is necessary to quiet the anxious patient). Currently 40 different antigens are used for complete skin testing. The reactivity of the various allergens is evaluated by the veterinarian within a half-hour following the injections. The entire procedure generally takes about one hour.

    If a pet is diagnosed as being allergic, there are three methods of therapy.

    • The first is to remove the offending allergens from the animal’s environment. This is not possible in many cases, but should be considered when wool, kapok (a furniture stuffing), or similar allergens are implicated in the skin test.
    • The second means of therapy is hyposensitization, or “allergy shots”. These are a series of injections of diluted allergens that are given to render the pet less sensitive to its allergies. The mechanism by which the injections work is not well understood. Usually the owner can be trained to give the injections at home. Approximately 20% of all animals given the injections fail to improve; 60% are controlled with hyposensitization injections alone while 20% are not completely controlled and may need other medication. The response to hyposensitization is slow and gradual. Most pets do not respond until they have been on 3 to 6 months of treatment. For a fair trial you must continue shots for 6 months. Once they have responded, treatment must be continued at least a full year and in most cases will be needed for life. Hyposensitization has not been effective for control of flea allergic dermatitis with antigens (flea extract) presently available, therefore atopic animals with concurrent flea allergies still require consistent and ongoing flea control (environment and pets).
    • The third type of therapy involves the use of anti-itch medication. Antihistamines generally are not very effective in animals. Some pets (approximately 30%) will respond, however, and thus a trial course of antihistamine may be tried. The most frequent anti-itch drug used in veterinary medicine is a cortisone-like medication. In order to minimize potential side effects, animals are usually placed on the lowest, every-other-day morning dose of oral prednisone that is still effective in controlling their symptoms.

    Call 408-996-1411 today.