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  • Author or Editor: Danielle Tarbert x
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Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To evaluate neurological tests and expected results in inland bearded dragons (Pogona vitticeps) and generate recommendations for bearded dragon–specific neurological examination.

ANIMALS

26 healthy adult inland bearded dragons.

PROCEDURES

A complete neurological examination utilizing tests described in both mammals and reptiles was performed on each lizard, and test feasibility and outcome were recorded.

RESULTS

Tests with poor feasibility included oculocardiac reflex (successfully completed in 62% [16/26] of animals) and voluntary ambulation and swallowing by use of a food item (0% [0/26] of animals). Tests with outcomes considered abnormal in mammals but attributable to normal bearded dragon behavior included head position (head tilt present in 12% [3/26]) and head movement (head bob present in 4% [1/26]). Many tests had absent or inconsistent outcomes, including menace response (present in 19% [5/26]), proprioceptive positioning (present in 4% [1/26] in the thoracic limbs and 0% [0/26] in the pelvic limbs), vent reflex (present in 27% [7/26]), and myotatic reflexes (biceps present in 8% [2/26]; patellar, gastrocnemius, and triceps present in 0% [0/26]). Extensor postural thrust was absent in all successfully tested animals, but a novel reflex termed the caudal thoracic extensor reflex was noted instead in all observed animals (100% [21/21]).

CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Tests with poor feasibility or inconsistent outcomes should have low priority or be excluded from neurological examinations of inland bearded dragons. Normal behaviors should be considered for head position and movement. A bearded dragon–specific neurological examination protocol derived from these findings is described and recommended in order to decrease stress and improve neurolocalization.

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To investigate associations between hepatic fat accumulation, fibrosis, and plasma values of primary metabolites, biochemical measurands, insulin, and lipoproteins in bearded dragons.

ANIMALS

48 adult central bearded dragons (Pogona vitticeps).

METHODS

Dragons were sedated with alfaxalone, and a blood sample was collected. Plasma was submitted for untargeted primary metabolomics using gas chromatography time-of-flight mass spectrometry, a biochemistry panel, and a lipoprotein panel determined by PAGE. Hepatic lipid content was quantified by liver attenuation measurements from CT images and digital image analysis of standardized histologic sections of the liver. Fibrosis was quantified by digital image analysis on Masson’s trichrome–stained histologic sections. Severity was determined from pathologic review of liver sections according to a standardized grading system. Statistical associations were investigated using serial linear models adjusted for false discovery rate and multivariate statistics.

RESULTS

Both hepatic fat and fibrosis had a significant effect on CT liver attenuation values. Several oligosaccharides (maltotriose, maltose, ribose, trehalose) and alkaline phosphatase were significantly and linearly increased with hepatic lipid content (all q < .05). On partial least square–discriminant analysis, β-hydroxybutyric acid was the most important discriminatory variable between fatty liver severity grades on histology. No significant associations were found with insulin, lipoproteins, and succinic acid.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Bearded dragons with hepatic lipid accumulation experienced multiple metabolic pathway disruptions, some being compatible with mitochondrial dysfunction. No evidence of insulin resistance or dyslipidemia was found. Hepatic biopsy and histopathology remain recommended for reliably diagnosing and staging fatty liver disease in bearded dragons.

Open access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research

Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To describe the clinical features, histopathologic lesions, and outcome of cardiovascular disease in central bearded dragons.

ANIMALS

54 bearded dragons.

METHODS

Retrospective evaluation of captive bearded dragons with antemortem imaging or postmortem diagnosis of cardiovascular disease from 2007 to 2022 from 6 hospitals.

RESULTS

The total prevalence of cardiovascular disease was 3.3% (54/1,655). Physical examination findings were available in 46 cases with change in mentation being the most common finding (n = 28/46 [60.9%]), followed by dehydration (17/46 [37%]), palpable coelomic mass (13/46 [28.3%]), dyspnea (10/46 [21.7%]), and sunken eyes (10/46 [21.7%)]. Doppler auscultation revealed an arrhythmia in 5/34 (14.7%) animals. Diagnostic imaging was only performed on 21 animals, and 10 (47.6%) had cardiovascular abnormalities described. In total, 84 cardiovascular diagnoses were found in 54 animals. The most common diagnosis was myocarditis (n = 14) followed by aneurysms (11), pericardial effusion (9), atherosclerosis (7), epicarditis (7), and myocardial degeneration/necrosis (7). Overall, 62 causes of death were identified in 52 cases, with cardiovascular disease being the most common (n = 18/52 [34.5%]). Only 3/54 animals were diagnosed with congestive heart failure. Animals with aneurysms were more likely to die to due cardiovascular disease compared to other types of cardiovascular diagnoses (OR, 43.75; 95% CI, 4.88 to 392.65; P < .001).

CLINICAL RELEVANCE

Diagnosis of cardiovascular disease in bearded dragons is challenging given the inconsistent clinical presentation; however, it should remain a differential in animals with nonspecific signs of illness. Antemortem diagnostics are recommended in suspected cases, including diagnostic imaging. Of the cardiovascular diseases described, aneurysms most often contributed to clinical demise.

Open access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research