Bearded Dragon Metabolic Bone Disease

Bearded Dragon MBD is one of the saddest diseases that is so unnecessary because the cause of it, is almost always due to a lack of proper care. When your bearded dragon does not get enough Calcium, Vitamin D3, or Phosphorus they will get Metabolic Bone Disease. It will vary from serious to mild depending on how long it was left to progress. MBD causes the bones to weaken, this will lead to bones breaking, bending, or becoming “sponge” like.

Bearded dragon metabolic bone disease


What are the Signs of Metabolic Bone Disease?


  • Jerky movements of the head, tail, and other limbs.
  • Bumps on the legs that you can feel or see.
  • A swollen jaw or underbite.
  • Bumps on the back and tail.
  • Deformed limbs or mouth.
  • Lack of appetite or difficulty eating.
  • Bent limbs or spine.
  • The curving of the spine and in severe cases paralyzed the lower body.
  • Floating ribs.

Bearded dragon metabolic bone disease


How Can Bearded Dragon MBD be Treated or Prevented?


A PROPER UVB SOURCE! - I cannot state this enough, a lack of a good UVB light is almost always the early cause of MBD. Without a UVB light, your bearded dragon will get metabolic bone disease at some point and it is a cruel disease that can easily be prevented with proper care. I need to be blunt, if you cannot afford the proper light and heat setup, then you should not have a bearded dragon, since this is their number one requirement! 

See Bearded Dragon Lighting and Heating


Bearded dragon metabolic bone disease


Calcium - To prevent MBD, live food should be dusted with calcium powder 1-2 times a week. If your dragon has a mild case of MBD, liquid calcium should be given more often until it is cured. 2 Days of liquid calcium and 2 days of calcium powder. For a serious case of MBD, you will have to consult with your vet to determine the correct dosages. Repti-Cal or ExoTerra Reptile calcium powder is most recommended for Beardies with MBD. 

Bearded dragon metabolic bone disease

Proper diet - Greens that contains calcium should be given on a daily basis. AVOID types of food that fall under the “occasionally” recommendation since some of it deters the absorption of calcium and will worsen the MBD. Make sure that your dragon has a balanced diet and make sure the food that is given, is used properly as some types are staples, others are occasional or treat with some that should be given rarely or not at all. 

See Bearded Dragon Diet


Metabolic bone disease in bearded dragons

Natural sunlight - The natural rays of the sun is still the best cure and prevention for MBD. An hour outside each day will make a huge difference as one hour outside is equal to 3-4 hours in their cages, not to mention it makes them extremely happy.


Vet care – MBD can turn serious very fast. It is recommended to seek veterinary care no matter how far the disease has progressed. Only an x-ray can determine how much bone deterioration has taken place and your vet will use that information to recommend the best treatment and dosages that will be required to cure it. Unfortunately, if it is severe, it cannot be cured, but only stopped from progressing.


Immune System - Severe MBD, furthermore, lowers their immune system, so they will need a weekly dose of pro-biotics, preferably an immune booster to help keep them healthy. A single dose once a week on a day that they are not receiving calcium, vitamins or anything else will do the trick.


Stress - Avoiding stress in dragons with MBD is also very important as stress can lower their already weakened immune system, making it easier for them to pick up illnesses and diseases which can turn fatal.


When it Went too Far, What Should I Do?

Personally, I do not like it much when my animals suffer too much and all has been done without success. It is cruel to carry on and euthanasia should be considered if the dragon;

Can no longer eat due to a rubber jaw that is too severe. 

If pain is constantly present. (black beard and clear signs of discomfort)

No movement at all, meaning, he/she will simply just lay still for days on end and make no attempt to crawl or walk. 

Struggling to breathe properly. In severe cases, the ribcage will deform so badly that it makes breathing a struggle. 

Please consult with your vet to discuss the quality of life for your pet when he/she has severe MBD and he/she will give you the best options.  Horrible illness that can be treated most of the time, other times, it just went too far and nothing can be done. 


Metabolic bone disease in bearded dragons


Metabolic bone disease in bearded dragons

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