METABOLIC BONE DISEASE ~ MBD
LINDSEY PORTER AKA ToxicSiren
What is MBD?
First of all MBD stands for Metabolic Bone Disease. It is a very common and well recognized syndrome found in reptiles as well as other animals and people. Other names MBD can go by are fibrous osteodystrophy, osteomalacia, secondary nutritional hyperparathyroidism, osteoporosis, and rickets.But these are more genetic terms and most people will only see MBD from lack of calcium in diets. Many people believe MBD is caused by a calcium deficiency but it has more under laying causes and is more complex.
What causes MBD?
The primary cause for MBD is a lack of calcium in the reptiles diet. Although reptiles can also be born with MBD if the mother has not received enough calcium whilst being gravid.
Other causes include
- Too littler calcium and too much phosphorus, ratio should be 2:1 and lack of d3 and other nutrients can prevent the absorbtion of calcium
. D3 can come in forms of UVA/UVB light or in powders such as nutrobal
- Inadequate protein
- Cool temperatures as they impair digestion and therefore calcium absorption.
MBD is a result from improper calcium to phrosphrus levels. When the calcium levels are pretty low the body has to try take calcium from somewhere else to compensate for example the bones. This makes them softer making them easier to break and fracture. Calcium also impacts a number of other physiological systems including muscle contraction and blood clotting. The ratio 2:1 ( calcium:phrosphrus) is ideal for controling this. Although calcium metabolism is not that simple, as vitamin D (D3) also plays a vital role. Because reptiles dont absorb vitamin D that well they need ultraviolet light exposure to manufacture their own vitamin D.
A nice simple way to look at this is UVB exposure = D3 production = successful calcium uptake
Signs and symptoms.
Symptoms can be different as it depends on how long the reptile has had the disease etc. But typical symptoms to look out for are:
- Bowed or bent/twisted legs/limbs
- Receded lower jaw line
- Softening and swelling of the jaw which almost looks like rubber
- In severe cases arching in the back and tail
- Going off food due to not being able to eat because of rubber jaw or cannot hunt
- Muscle twitches and in worse cases seizures due to lack of calcium in diet. As calcium not only affects bones but causes impaired nerve function, major organ damage and even damage at a cellular level
- Constipation and/or prolapse
- Fractures of the bones due to bone weakness
- Muscle weakness and partial paralysis
Depending on how advance the disease treatment can be costly, and if the disease has been caught in time. All cases should be seen by a proper herp vet as x-rays and blood tests will need to be carried out to check for bone density and calcium levels. Once MBD has been confirmed treatment can begin. First of all though MBD cannot be cured but can be halted.The damage already done to organs and bones cannot be undone, but MBD as an active progressing disease can be cured/stopped.
For mild cases MBD is treated with a change in diet e.g. more calcium added and make sure proper husbandry is of the reptile is carried out. For more severe cases the reptile normally need more treatments like calcium injections and vitamin supplementation, and possibly therapeutic use of a higher than normal level of UVB to aid recovery and utilisation of supplimentary calciumwhich will probably be carried out by your herp vet. They may also need help with eating again if they have stopped eating. This again is best carried out under supervise of your herp vet, so you can give the best help to your reptile.
The best way to prevent MBD is by proper husbandry. Make sure you research any reptile/pet you buy first and problems like this may be avoided in the future.
Best prevention tips are as followed:
- A varied balanced diet with a high calcium:phosphorus ratio
- Provide UVA and UVB for your reptiles