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Bearded Dragon impaction: SIGNS, SYMPTOMS AND TREATMENT

Bearded Dragon impaction is something you do need to worry about when you’re a beginner. Most beginner bearded dragon owners simply don’t know what they don’t know

Use this guide if you’re completely new to bearded dragons

Impaction is something that can happen to any bearded dragon under the right circumstances and i want to teach you what those circumstances are

Impaction can be fatal if left without treatment so its vital you know this at the same time though don’t be too scared you just need to know what NOT to do

This post will cover exactly what to do in order to prevent anything bad happening to your bearded dragon

What is Bearded Dragon impaction

Bearded Dragon impaction is when something in their digestive system is blocked or stuck. Usually you can see it under X-RAY if you bring your bearded dragon to the vet

If you leave this untreated it can be fatal. Imagine having something blocked in your digestive system. It happens to people and you will need to go to the hospital

Causes of Bearded Dragon impaction

The first main cause of impaction in bearded dragons is the substrate

Certain substrates just don’t work with bearded dragons

this is the most common reason of Bearded Dragon impaction and is so easy to prevent

You want to stay away from substrates that are really loose and easy to ingest like sand

Owners have reached out to me asking what causes it and the first question i always ask is “what kind of substrate do you use?”

The reason why this happens is because bearded dragons will literally eat anything thats put in front of them sometimes no matter what it is

They simply don’t know any better so they just eat it

Don’t bother trying to train them to stop

just simply change the environment

The best substrate needs to be solid and not easy to consume (not an affilate link)

I like this stuff because it can’t mess with your bearded dragons health in any way and its the stuff i use at home

just make sure you use the right size as the one i gave you the link to has 10, 20 and 40 gallon tank options

The other options besides reptile carpet are

  • ceramic tile
  • rubber shelf liner
  • paper towel
  • newspaper

2nd Cause of Bearded Dragon Impaction – POOR DIET

A poor diet can lead to impaction easily if you’re not careful with their diet choices

i do have a post about what to feed your bearded dragon

There is a golden rule with feeding your bearded dragon and that is the size!

try not to feed them anything that is too big for them to eat because they will try to eat it

the space between their eyes is the rule

Keep it smaller than that and you’ll be alright

The protein they will be consuming is the hardest thing for them to digest usually

  • crickets
  • mealworms
  • superworms

they are all big and can take time to digest. These can get stick inside you beardie digestive tract

I personally feed my Bearded Dragon a lot of Dubia Roaches

3rd cause of Bearded Dragon impaction – Habitat Temperature

Bearded Dragons cannot properly digest food without the help of heat. They use heat from the sun to help them digest

The basking light is super important to their digestive needs (affiliate link)

The basking temperature needs to be between 95 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit

Heat will help move their digestion along

in the wild bearded dragons will most likely eat whenever they can but noon is the best time because they will digest it better and more efficiently

How to know when your bearded dragon has impaction

Your Bearded Dragon is going to act quite a bit differently when they’re dealing with impaction

First thing you will notice is they might not be pooping

Now i made an entire article on their poop lol and you can check it out here

This one is pretty simple to understand because they have a blockage

I pay very close attention to everything my beardie does and i know when he is supposed to poop (my beardie is an adult so he poops every week or so)

baby bearded dragons will poop about once a day because they are growing so fast

now if you’ve noticed they haven’t been pooping that’s your first sign

Impaction can actually be so severe that it presses against your bearded dragons spine and nerve endings

This will stop your bearded dragon from being able to move properly. They might not have the ability to move their back legs or maybe just one leg is affected

Sometimes you’ll be able to see the actually impaction itself which will appear as a bulge or bump

A few more things to note

Bearded Dragon impaction can also cause a loss of appetite

They won’t want to take any food in because they’re not eliminating it

Nature will take over here and they just wont feel good enough

They will also reject food. Again this is nature here.

Eventually they will become really tired and lethargic. imagine having a big rock sitting in your intestines somewhere. That is sort of the equivalent of what it feels like for them

How to treat Bearded Dragon impaction

The first thing you should do is give them a bath

The warm water inside the bath will help them pass the stuck stuff move

This just helps stimulate their digestion and might help them move whatever is stuck

food will be easier to move than loose substrate would be so just make note of that

Let them sit in the warm water for 30 minutes at 100 degrees Fahrenheit. This should be warm to the touch.

While inside the bath give them a belly massage

This will also help with digestion stimulation. Rub very gently since they are fragile little reptiles

You can also rub their back from heat to tail. This can help as well.

Don’t be surprised if they poop out a whole lot of junk because its happened to a friend of mine before.

she was afraid that her bearded dragon had impaction issues so she gave him a warm bath and gentle rubbed his belly and he pooped everywhere

Reduce the amount of live protein they’re getting until impaction has cleared

What you should do during this period is make sure you get rid of the hard foods that might be causing the impaction if your beardie is still taking food

make sure the food they are taking in is soft and watery

This will help push their food through much easier. Sort of like how fiber works on humans it will work the same on bearded dragon impaction

The one thing that will work like magic is watermelon

Watermelon carries a lot of water and its easy for your bearded dragon to eat

Berries are good too because they do carry a lot of water and fiber in them

There is a little trick my vet told me about which was putting a little OLIVE OIL on their nose

They will lick it off and it works like a laxative

A Bearded dragon suffering from impaction is going to hesitate to eat so little tricks like that are important to know

Taking your bearded dragon to the vet

This is hopefully the last option you need to take but it might be completely necessary for your bearded dragon to get the right help

Go down this route if there is nothing else working and you see the above symptoms like dragging lets, or extremely lethargic behavior. Its important for you to take your beardie to the vet

The vet can take X-rays and see exactly where the impaction is located and how severe it is

They will provide you with laxatives to give to your bearded dragon and if that doesn’t work than an enema will be performed

This is forcibly clear the bearded dragon impaction out and help move things along

The absolute last thing your vet will do is surgery but sometimes in rare cases it will be necessary to save your bearded dragon’s impaction issue

Constipation Vs Impaction

Impaction is the inability to be able to pass a poop

Constipation is when things aren’t moving a long like they should

Certain foods will help you pass along a poop a lot better, like fruits

Fruits have a lot of fiber and water in them which drastically help your bearded dragon poop

De-hydration is also a major thing that can cause constipation in your beadie so make sure they have lots of water available.

A bath will help with hydration if they are constipated

impaction is much more serious as normally its not something that can be digested like a bad substrate (rock, sand , wood chips)

However it can happen when eating too much food that is difficult to digest so make sure you mix up the types of foods you’re giving your bearded dragon

Summary, FAQ’s and Things you might not know

Bearded Dragon impaction is something that can happen and its best to not freak out and worry. Just make sure you do the proper research so you know what is safe for bearded dragons and what isn’t

The best thing you can do is ASK. Ask your vet, look online (like you are now) to see what others think. There is no shame in asking questions. especially if you value animal life.

There are plenty of things you can do to help your bearded dragon impaction just know you do have the vet there incase something does go wrong.

A lot of vets offer payment plans. Mine does which helps with the money side of it all.