Infectious Stomatitis in Lizards

Infectious Stomatitis in Lizards - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost
Infectious Stomatitis in Lizards - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

What are Infectious Stomatitis?

Infection stomatitis is better known as mouth rot and is very common in pet lizards. A lizard that is under stress has a weakened immune system. When their immune system is weakened, they are unable to keep bacteria that are normally present within their mouth from overproducing. The overproduction of bacteria will cause an infection and that infection can lead to infectious stomatitis. The stress of captivity can cause mouth rot.

This condition can be very painful for your lizard and can cause other serious health complications, even death. If you notice any lesions in or near your lizard’s mouth, you need to make an appointment with your veterinarian to have it checked out.

Symptoms of Infectious Stomatitis in Lizards

As a responsible lizard owner, you should be checking your lizard’s mouth, inside and out, regularly. If you notice that there is any change to your lizard’s mouth, you should consult your veterinarian. Quickly treating infectious stomatitis is important to keeping your lizard healthy. If mouth rot is left untreated, the infection can spread from your lizard’s mouth into the rest of the digestive tract or into the respiratory tract. 

  • Reddened tissues within the mouth
  • Loss of appetite
  • Thick pus and/or dead tissue within the mouth
  • Drainage from the mouth and nose
  • Lesions present inside the mouth
  • Swelling near the mouth and nose
  • Pneumonia


Causes of Infectious Stomatitis in Lizards

Pet lizards are highly susceptible to infectious stomatitis due to improper temperature humidity levels or gradients within their terrarium. An improper diet can also lead to mouth rot. It is important to research how to properly care for your lizard to ensure that they stay healthy. 

Other possible causes of infectious stomatitis include oral injuries from restraining live prey, rubbing against the cage walls or chewing on bedding materials. Improper cleaning of your lizard’s terrarium will also contribute to an infectious stomatitis. It is important to keep its environment clean and at the proper temperature.



Diagnosis of Infectious Stomatitis in Lizards

Your veterinarian will properly diagnose infectious stomatitis by observing your lizard’s clinical symptoms and performing a thorough physical examination. Your veterinarian will ask you questions regarding the care that you are giving you lizard and the type of environment that it is being kept in. 

A complete blood count, or CBC, will also be done to verify the extent of the infection. Your veterinarian may also opt to do a culture of any mucus or discharge from the nose and mouth. In severe cases of mouth rot where your lizard does not respond to treatments, a biopsy may be taken to look for cancer cells or other diseases that could be causing the problem.



Treatment of Infectious Stomatitis in Lizards

This is a condition that can quickly become serious if not properly treated. You should not attempt to treat your lizard for infectious stomatitis without first consulting your veterinarian. 

Once infectious stomatitis has been diagnosed, your veterinarian will clean your lizard’s mouth with an antiseptic and begin antibiotics. Antibiotics will be either oral or injectable. Be sure to follow all instructions given for the medications for your lizard and direct any questions regarding dosage and side effects to your veterinarian.

In some instances, where the mouth rot has advanced, surgery may be necessary. Your veterinarian will remove any mouth tissue that is badly damaged. Your veterinarian will put your lizard under general anesthetic in order to perform the surgery.

Supportive therapy may be needed if your lizard is unable to eat or drink from the trauma sustained to its mouth. In this case, intravenous fluid therapy and nutritional support will be advised. 

Your veterinarian will discuss with you the environment that your lizard resides in. Any changes that need to be made to its environment should be done as soon as possible to ensure that there is not a relapse of infectious stomatitis. 



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Recovery of Infectious Stomatitis in Lizards

When infectious stomatitis is diagnosed in its early stages, it is easily treated. As the disease progresses, it becomes more difficult to treat and the possibility of long-term damage to your lizard’s mouth is more likely. Weekly physical examinations of your lizard’s mouth are essential in detecting infectious stomatitis early. 

Preventing infectious stomatitis is a simple matter of learning the proper care of your lizard. This will include a healthy diet, clean environment and keeping your lizard’s terrarium at the proper gradient and humidity levels. Also, do not feed live bait to your lizard. It is best to feed frozen bait instead so your lizard is not at risk of being attacked by its own food.



Infectious Stomatitis Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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