Blood Chemistry...

Gizmo

New Member
Got blood chemistry results back from the lab today and I'm beside myself...

My tale...
Had a case of writer's block, went to the pet store for dog food, came home with a Jackson's, made every mistake imaginable. Turns out I live within range of one of the best herp vets there is, and with his help, was able to bring little guy back from death's door. Connected to some successful jackson's keepers, tested their patience with lots of questions, feel confident I did it all "by the book" (if only there was a more extensive book!!) Missed all of my own contract deadlines but got him tuned up and healthy as could be, or so I thought. He spent the summer basking on the back patio, under his drip, with recommended-brand CA/D3 dusted, gutloaded insects every couple days and repitvitamins every other week. After six months, something was "off", took him to the vet, but vet said he looked great, well hydrated, strong grip. Next day, siezures, and blood labs told the story: 1:2 CA/Phs ratios and uric acid off the charts. Started liquid calcium supplements and phsophorous binders, but seizures intensified, esp in response to bright light (uric acid crystals in option nerves?) and two days later he died. Vet said given my supplementation schedule, it probably wasn't my doing, but organ damage caused during capture/transport/residence in pet store when he was young, and kidneys just couldn't keep up as he matured. Perhaps he was being kind. Fas forward... In the interim I acquired two juvenile (6 mo)panthers from a terrific breeder. Have been following his practices: CA/D3 crix every day, reptivitamins every other week. Gut load with collard, carrot, sweet potato, orange. One is growing like a horse, cup trained, tries anything I offer (loves steamed broccoli). Other is growing slowly, goes on and off food but drinks well. When he refuses crix or when they've been in his cage long enough to doff the dust, I give him pheonix worms, which he loves, to keep the calcium intake up. Use MV bulb plus basking lamp, temp gradient 75-95. He's 55 grams, drinks about 1.5-2 ccs/day from syringe plus whatever he laps when I'm not looking (he's shy). Just before New Year's he fell off a branch. Also hadn't eaten much at all for three days. Thought it might be accident, might be start of whatever claimed my Jax. Also noticed one himpene not prolapsed but not fully retracting either. Had bloods drawn, got them back today-- again, CA is 10 and Phos is 20 (uric acid normal, thank heavens). How can this be? He gets CA/D3 every single day!! His MV lamp is 12 inches above the highest limb in the cage; its 93-95 under his basking light. Can't blame this one on import suppliers -- I'm obviously doing something wrong. Can anyone with experience help me here? I know blood values can change in a day -- is it possible the lab results were skewed by the fact that he hadn't eaten anything but a couple of mealworms the few days before they were drawn? (Its now a week later and he's eating well again.. which will last a few days until...). Is it possible for a 6 month old MV bulb to decline in low wavelength output (they're supposed to last a year)? Other thoughts??
P.S. I understand from reading threads here that it may not be appropriate to use D3 enhanced calcium every day; that's different than I was told but I am not a biochemist and will defer to whatever is consensus among successful keepers.
Apologies for the long post but... wanted to be complete.
 

Heika

New Member
Hi.. it sounds like you are a very attentive keeper, and I am sorry that you are having problems. I have read a few times that oversupplementing can cause the symptoms that you are describing. I wish I could find those sources right now. Your dusting schedule seems a bit intense for a chameleon that is kept under a MV bulb. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing, and I believe your chameleon is probably suffering from that. Hopefully someone who has experienced this problem will chime in and tell you how you can fix it...

Heika
 

Chris Anderson

Dr. House of Chameleons
Staff member
Gizmo,

The first thing that struck me reading your post was that you kept your jacksonii outside and supplemented with D3 every couple days. When keeping chams outside, you shouldn't be using D3 supplements. Similarly, using D3 every day on your panthers seems like too much as well. Vitamin D is used in the regulation of calcium and phosphorus in the body. In natural sunlight conditions, UVB stimulates its production in the skin but this needs to be supplemented under artificial lights. Toxic overdose of D3 can occur and based on your description, I think has a lot to do with your problems.

Chris
 

kinyonga

Chameleon Enthusiast
I have to agree with Chris. The first thing that came into my mind when I read your post was that you were giving the chameleon D3 even though its getting sunlight.

Also, what is in the vitamin powder that you use in the way of vitamin A? Is it preformed or beta carotene?

What do you gutload your insects with?

Phosphorous, calcium, vitamin D3 and vitamin A are the main players in bone health and they need to be in balance.

The following is what I do for my panther and veiled chameleons. Other methods work for other people too...but all I can tell you is my chameleons seem to do well so I haven't changed anything...
Because insects have a poor ratio of calcium to phos. I dust them with a phos.-free calcium powder at almost every feeding. I dust with vitamins twice a month making sure that I use one with a beta carotene source of vitamin A. Preformed vitamin A can build up in the system, but beta carotene doesn't. There is some controversy over vitamin A use in chameleons though concerning whether beta carotene can be converted properly. I only dust the insects twice a month with a calcium/D3 powder because my chameleons don't get direct sunlight.

You said you have two panthers but one is growing faster....are they both the same sex? Are they both in the same cage?
 

Gizmo

New Member
. I dust with vitamins twice a month making sure that I use one with a beta carotene source of vitamin A. Preformed vitamin A can build up in the system, but beta carotene doesn't. There is some controversy over vitamin A use in chameleons though concerning whether beta carotene can be converted properly. I only dust the insects twice a month with a calcium/D3 powder because my chameleons don't get direct sunlight.

You said you have two panthers but one is growing faster....are they both the same sex? Are they both in the same cage?

My vet actually strongly recommends reptivite recisely because it does have have preformed vitamin A; says 2x/month light dusting should pose no problem. What is preferred alternative brand? I gut load with collard greens, sweet potato, a little bit of shaved carrot, and an orange slice for moisture (as per the breeder). The panthers are two males in separate but identical cage set ups. As soon as I can figure out how to post a pic on here I will.

I hear you about the D3; note however that my panthers do not get direct sunlight, except what comes through a window and that doesn't count toward metabolism as I understand it.

Would like to hear more on lighting -- specifically adjustments that people make to "standard" supplementation when using the MV bulbs as opposed to the ReptiSun tubes. I know there is ongoing debate about the potential and still undetermined long term health impact from the MV bulbs because they are so strong; at the same time, many report that their animals do much better with them than with the weaker tubes. My own worry is that the MV bulb may have degraded in someway that is contributing.

Lastly, if there is a D3 overload, what can I do about it? Is there a D3 "chelator"? Also, can you help me understand how that might correlate with LOW calcium/HIGH phos levels in his blood?
 

DrewNYC

New Member
as far as the lighting i use the reptisun 10.0 supposed to be stronger than the 5.0 (or reach further) i never used the MVbulbs and have heard both sides to the story but think i would rather not deal with them.
as far as the calcuim to phos. ratio and the D3, from what i understand chams cannot process calcuim without vit D3 so too little (or too much, i would think) would stop processing the calcuim thus low levels. you can pump all the calcuim supplement into a cham but without the right vit D3 and uvb lighting they can do nothing with it. when you said sunlight thru the window you meant thru a closed window(thru the glass)?
sorry about your issues but you and your vet should be able to tweak it to a satisfactory result.
drew
 

Chris Anderson

Dr. House of Chameleons
Staff member
Hypervitaminosis-D causes renal damage and calcification of soft tissue. Among other vital components, the kidneys produce hormones involved in managing calcium metabolism by controlling blood calcium levels. Renal failure can thus lead to hypocalcemia. Hypervitaminosis-D is also said to elevate P levels.

A couple quotes of interest from "Reptile Medicine and Surgery" by D. Mader:

"Two frequent causes of hypocalcemia are worth mentioning....The second is RENAL FAILURE. A common cause, hypervitaminosis D, is thought to arise from over dosages of multivitamins and fortified mammalian rations, such as dog, cat or primate chow. In such cases, uric acid is often not elevated but P levels are."

"Hypocalcemic metabolic bone disease: Symptoms: intermittent fine muscle tremors, often first apparent in the digits, large muscles of the limbs and tail base, the tremors become increasingly more severe and frequent, especially with activity. If not corrected the fasciculations can progress to seizures and or tetany. ..."

Unfortunately, once the damage is done, I don't know that it can be reversed. Hydration will be key and the syringe method you mentioned is not going to cut it.

Chris
 

kinyonga

Chameleon Enthusiast
You said.."I hear you about the D3; note however that my panthers do not get direct sunlight, except what comes through a window and that doesn't count toward metabolism as I understand it"....sorry about thinking that your chameleons got direct sunlight. I should quit posting so late at night when my concentration level is down! You are right about it not counting when it passes through glass.

Here are some articles you might like to read...
http://www.chameleonnews.com/interviewfer.html
"Chameleons, like most vertebrates, including us, can obtain their vitamin D3 either from their diet or from UVB or a combination of the two. I prefer to keep the dietary vitamin D low and give them a gradient of UVB that is coordinated with a gradient of visible light. This is because my research over the last decade has shown that, if the UVB and visible gradients are correlated, panther chameleons have the ability to assess their own vitamin D-condition, see and respond to UVB radiation, and adjust their exposure to optimize their vitamin D condition. My currernt research focus is to demonstrate that this is something that many, if not most, diurnal basking lizards can do. There is no doubt that a "keeper" can decide that he/she will only use dietary vitamin D (dusting and/or gut-loading) and not UVB and can provide sufficient vitamin D from this source to maintain his animal in good vitamin D condition. However, there are two drawbacks to this approach. First, the decision for balancing the vitamin D provisioning shifts from the lizard to the keeper. Second, that person better know how much to provide because a dietary vitamin D overdose can cause vitamin D-intoxification that can disable or kill the animal. Alternatively, too much UVB can NOT cause vitamin D intoxification because the skin has mechanisms to shift to the production of biologically inert vitamin D-photoproducts, when necessary. Continuous strong UVB irradiance, that a lizard cannot escape, can cause skin damage and eventually malignant tumors, so that is why a gradient is important. The lizard must be allowed the opportunity to regulate its exposure."

http://www.uvguide.co.uk/skintests.htm
Concerning panther chameleons and oustaleti chameleons....
"Their environment is bright with high levels of UV, however neither species basks to the extent that a bearded dragon does. In addition they are arboreal, and as vegetation absorbs UVB, parts of their day are spent within trees and bushes in sheltered UV areas."

Concerning MV lighting....I can't tell you what adjustments people make to "standard" supplementation when using the MV bulbs as opposed to the ReptiSun tubes because I never use MV bulbs.

You said..."I know there is ongoing debate about the potential and still undetermined long term health impact from the MV bulbs because they are so strong; at the same time, many report that their animals do much better with them than with the weaker tubes. My own worry is that the MV bulb may have degraded in someway that is contributing"...the following site has this to say about MV bulbs..."Unsuitable?
Mercury vapour lamps are not suitable for reptiles with low UVB requirements, such as those which rarely bask, or live in shady environments in the wild. They are also unsuitable for most small enclosures; and not just because of the problems with unwanted heat. The intensity of ultraviolet light, like visible light, falls off rapidly with distance. Hence, since mercury vapour lamps are designed to produce high UVB at a distance, they emit higher levels still, at close range."

You said..."My vet actually strongly recommends reptivite recisely because it does have have preformed vitamin A; says 2x/month light dusting should pose no problem"...all I can tell you is that I have NOT used preformed vitamin A in years and when I did I had more problems with MBD in my chameleons. I have had autopsies done on my chameleons for many years now and only one ever showed results that indicated a lack of vitamin A....and that was in the days when I used preformed vitamin A. It was a C. chamaeleon that never grew properly from the day it was born. It still lived a year in spite of whatever was wrong with it...and aside from its lack of growth, seemed quite healthy. Not one of its brothers or sisters had a problem with vitamin A....so I expect that there might have been some odd reason for it.

D3 and vitamin A are antagonistic to each other. Excess vitamin A supplementation may interfere with the metabolism of vitamin D3, and lead to metabolic bone disease. It may also lead to organ toxicity (renal, hepatic).

You asked..."What is preferred alternative brand?"...The vitamin brand I use is herptivite.

You said..."I gut load with collard greens, sweet potato, a little bit of shaved carrot, and an orange slice for moisture (as per the breeder)"....I gutload with dandelion greens, kale, collards, endive, ROMAINE lettuce (for moisture...although it has quite a bit of calcium too), sweet potato, white potato, squash, celery, sweet red pepper, zucchini, etc.

You said..."The panthers are two males in separate but identical cage set ups"...good to hear that.
 

Dave Weldon

Avid Member
Howdy Leslie,

I get nervous about the use of MV lamps with panthers. One would think that trying to approach matching the UVB levels in direct sunlight would be the goal. But studies indicate that only 5-15uW/cm2 for 12 hours a day will produce healthy results in panthers. Direct sunlight contains over 300uW/cm2 of useable UVB but also lots of other spectral content that makes a big difference when combined. There have been many keepers with lots of years of successful chameleon keeping with the Reptisun 5.0 tubes. One of my concerns with some MV lamps is their spread pattern. Without a UVB meter you are shooting in the dark as far as how much your critter is getting and whether or not it is way too much or even too little. I use the Solarmeter 6.2 bought through http://www.beardeddragons.biz/solarmeter_6.2.htm for $160 shipped. That price is good and don't bother looking for any other brand! See the Figure 3: http://www.uvguide.co.uk/mercvapournarrowfloods.htm and notice the narrow 6" width of the beam along with the UVB "hot spots" within the beam. A Reptisun 5.0 UVB fluorescent tube has a much more uniformly spread out pattern. There's no way to tell if the UVB levels are high or low without a meter. There is lots of data that shows a Reptisun 5.0 tube positioned 6"-12" from the basking spot will provide sufficient UVB without the worries of cooking your critter.

I'm also up and down about what to do about vitamin A.

As far as 1:2 calcium/phosphorus issues being upside down, my panther had that problem a year or two ago and the vet recommended 0.1cc of Mylanta a day for two weeks. We did a second blood test and things went to 2:1 and the gular edema went away. It acts as a phosphorus binder and pulls-out the excess. If you try it, just add some water with it to make it easier to swallow.

I use Miner-All w/D3 and Miner-All no/D3 and Herptivite. I dust with Miner-All D3 about once a week (every other week when weekends have outside time available) and Miner-All no/D3 once a week. Herptivite gets used about once a month. Miner-All D3 has a lower (safer) D3 content than many (all) other Ca/D3 dusts.
 

Gizmo

New Member
Dave,
Thanks very much for your reply -- the best part of which is that your panther apparently pulled through. Mylanta, huh? Vet put my little guy on
.05 cc Alternagel, which also is some sort of antacid -- same principle. If ever a lizard's face could say, "this stuff if FOUL!". Poor guy.

I ditched the MV lamps and bought the reptisun 5.0 tubes this weekend. Since I have these guys in my office, I figure we should all be safer. But reading the packaging raised another Q: specifically, the packaging on the 10.0 says, essentially, use this bulb if you're placing the light fixture above screen or mesh (rather than inside the enclosure), because screen/mesh dissipates up to 50% of the UV light. Plus, the 10.0 can reach 20 inches or so versus the 5.0's 12 inch max distance. Now, I'm not about to quibble with accumulated data that the 5.0 is the optmum bulb for panthers, and mine are burning as I type, feeling grateful that at least on the issue of lighting there IS some data on what's optimum. Just trying to develop an understanding. Again, thanks for the thoughtful reply.
 

Dave Weldon

Avid Member
HOwdy,

Quickie note-- If you are using a Reptarium type enclosure with the non-aluminum screen then you might be blocking as much as 50% (tighter weave). If it is the typical aluminum screen enclosure then you are loosing something closer to only 25%. Jackson's don't need a ton of UVB so a Reptisun 5.0 on top of aluminum screen is fine. As far as the 10.0 reaching deeper... Remember that the goal isn't "more" otherwise we'd all have 4 tubes :). Don't forget that there can't be any plastic or glass in front of the UVB source either.
 
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