Tuesday, November 29, 2011

When to bring an iguana to the vet

My iguana Zorro had some troubles recently. Caused by me. Not on purpose, it was an accident. I wanted to help him shed his horn in his nose, but somehow it went wrong. He's not in mating season anymore, which makes him less lethal, but he's still aggressive and doesn't like to be handled, or better: he decides when it's time for a good head rub.
So while I tried to desinfect his bleeding horn with Savlon spray ( I didn't have anything else in the house at that point) he moved, and I assume, got a bit of spray in his nose. As a result, his nasal passage swell and he had quite a bit of clear fluid coming out of it, in addition to a lot of sneezing. But that only started the next day. I wasn't sure if there was an upcoming respiratory infection on its way and was a bit concerned. They can vary from harmless to severe, ending in death. Iguanas are robust, but if the temperature or humidity is permanently low, it can affect them. In my sixteen years of keeping iguanas, I never had a case of an iguana having a cold or pneumonia.

Though iguanas do snalt to get rid of the salt in their system, if they sneeze more frequently, watch them closely and call a herb vet if unsure.

I didn't find any proper answers to my questions regarding respiratory infections and have called my vet today, not only to cancel my appointment, but to ask if there are any early signs. It seems there are not. Like humans who have a cold, iguanas can go about their daily routine of eating, dozing and being active like everything's normal. Some might sleep a bit more, others become grumpy. Their nasal passages can swell (sometimes only one of them), which makes breathing more difficult for them.

Here are some clear indicators that it's better to take the iguana to a herb vet:
- troubles breething, meaning they wheeze or don't sleep well at night
- coloured mucus in mouth or coming from the nose, or foamy bubbles coming from the nose
- loss of appetite when stress, low temperature, relocating or mating season can be excluded
- constant sneezing
- gargling noises when breathing (red alert! See vet immediately)
- mouth open for a long period (red alert! Your iguana needs immediate treatment.)
- apathy, not taking part in what's going on around it (red alert!)
- coughing (red alert! See vet immediately)  

Note: Those symptoms vary. Like us, iguana can get something in the wrong pipe and will cough. That should be over with a few coughs. If an iguana coughs up mucus, see the vet immediately. 
Iguanas are curious and observational animals and will follow you with their eyes everywhere. If they lie around apathically, have a darker skin and don't even take their favourite treats, see a vet. There's some serious underlying illness.

Of course you don't need to run to the vet at the second your iguana sneezes. It depends on your experience and how well you know your animal. In any case, monitor closesly. My boy acted absolutely normal, ate normal and slept soundly. He only sneezed when he head bobbed, but not during the night. The swelling in his nasal passage has disappeared and he doesn't sneeze anymore. 

I love happy endings. 

And I will never again use Savlon spray on injuries at the head. Only for toes or tail.

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