Not eating after aspiration pneumonia

Rhea’s mum

Established Member
Hi all

I'm after some advise. For anyone who hasn't read my previous thread about the vet trip I will give a quick overview.

Rhea became gravid with no sign of laying after a month+ she stopped eating then started shutting her eyes during the day so I took her to the vet. They diagnosed Follicular stasis and hypocalcaemia (they thought likely due to not eating for 2 weeks). So they gave her a shot of calcium and arranged for surgery 2 days later where she was spayed.

She was sent home with liquid food to be given daily in order to try and get her strength up. This is what she was given https://emeraid.com/vet/emeraid-carnivore/
So I followed all the instructions and made sure to put the syringe to the back of the mouth to try and avoid aspiration. Unfortunately the worst happened and she aspirated. I took her straight back to the vets as an emergency appointment.

The vets took multiple x-rays and said that her lungs were pretty bad and she had developed aspiration pneumonia. They kept me updated daily and ended up keeping her in for 9 nights. They tube fed her directly into her stomach and she managed to gain 10g in that time. She still hasn't eaten by herself. So they said to pick her up last night and see if being in a normal environment would trigger her to feed again. With her not eating herself for so long they are very worried about tongue atrophy. The vet has been giving her Ceftazadine injections every 48 hours, which she has also been sent home with.

When we picked her up last night I was shocked at the state of her. She is very round in her body now but it was her face that shocked me. The pictures below are from an hour ago so you can see what I mean.

My main concern is I don't want her to be suffering and I just worried that we are prolonging that.
See isn't looking where she is going at all. Her eyes aren't active like normal (when they are open, which isn't a lot).
The vets that we took her to are the exotic specialists within the area and are very knowledgable.

Does anyone have any opinions on what we should do next? They said if she hasn't eaten by herself on monday to take her back for tube feedings again. To be honest I'm not sure we could afford another long stay again as the surgery and that stay has cost us £1500 and I do want the best for her but I'm concerned its now doing her more harm than good.
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MissSkittles

Chameleon Enthusiast
Poor sweet lady. :( I have no experience with anything like this, so hopefully someone with knowledge can advise you.
I would give her at least a couple of days to see if she improves being at home. Try to get her back to her previous schedule, but with maybe some additional hydration opportunities (she looks quite dehydrated). All that she’s gone thru has been very stressful and it’s just my opinion that she needs to have her usual security back. I really hope she’s able to recover fully from all of this. 💗
 

janjan20

Chameleon Enthusiast
I am not a vet either but just my opinion and my thinking also aligns with @MissSkittles above. Gaining 10g in 9 days seems to be a lot and abnormal for them (since it’s being forced). She looks quite distended and since she just had surgery that can’t be comfortable for her insides. I can imagine the amount of stress she is in at the moment. I have been in the situation of leaving a chameleon at the vet to be force fed for three days and it did not end well. He came back in a worst state than I left him. I would try really hard to do the care at home where she is more comfortable and secure. Hopefully she will be able to have some bowel movements to help.
 

Rhea’s mum

Established Member
Thanks both for the input.
She did have a small poop earlier.
The vet told me that they were keeping her hydrated which was part of the reason I was shocked when I saw her eyes. I have made sure her dripper is on all day and we are trying to drip water onto the end of her nose for her to drink. We are trying to do this every couple of hours at least. It’s just breaking my hearting seeing her so poorly
 

Beman

Chameleon Enthusiast
OMG this poor girl. I do not like the look of her gums.. Or her gular area. Looks like they were pulling it to hold her mouth open for force feeding. She really does not look good at all. Her eyes being the tell tell of her stress load.

I know that being spayed is hard on them. But have no first hand experience.


If she were mine I would keep her at home. I would not force feed. Looking at her she is not in any condition to handle that kind of stress. Keep dripper running and continue to drip on her mouth to try to trigger just remember slowly do this 1 drop per 5 seconds no faster... and only if it triggers a drinking response. You do not want her to aspirate again.

Are you fogging at night? This is honestly what I would do fog on high at the coldest part of the night to help with hydration.

Since she has been force fed she could go 2 weeks easily without eating. So until she is able to recover a bit I would not worry about this.

Right now she needs time to heal and recover. Low low stress. No handling her. Make sure she is gripping branches and not falling. If she is not gripping than a hospital bin is in order and we can give you info on how to set that up.
 

Rhea’s mum

Established Member
Thanks @Beman her grip has never gone. All through this she has had good grip and not falling. That's the only good thing I think through all of this.
Unfortunately we don't have a fogger. Being in the Uk the humidity is higher anyway and I always make sure at night she has a real drop in order to get cool humidity. Foggers are very controversial over here in the UK. People don't even like using them for Montane species as 'they cause RIs' (Don't worry I know its poor air circulation along with hot humidity that causes them).
I will look into getting one though and trying to get it delivered tomorrow through amazon. Light schedule is UVB 7-7 and heat 7.30-6. When would you recommend fogging(nighttime obviously) 12-4am?
 

Beman

Chameleon Enthusiast
Thanks @Beman her grip has never gone. All through this she has had good grip and not falling. That's the only good thing I think through all of this.
Unfortunately we don't have a fogger. Being in the Uk the humidity is higher anyway and I always make sure at night she has a real drop in order to get cool humidity. Foggers are very controversial over here in the UK. People don't even like using them for Montane species as 'they cause RIs' (Don't worry I know its poor air circulation along with hot humidity that causes them).
I will look into getting one though and trying to get it delivered tomorrow through amazon. Light schedule is UVB 7-7 and heat 7.30-6. When would you recommend fogging(nighttime obviously) 12-4am?
Yeah honestly I think this would make a difference.. Being able to push that night time humidity up 80% or more through the coldest part of the night. It will allow for natural hydration through her healing process. I have used them and they are safe when you have airflow and when your temps are well below 68 degrees at night. I get my temps down to 60-65 and then fog from about midnight until 4am. This is the coolest part of the night for me.

See if you can get this type. It is a top fill and easier. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07V39ZYJB/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_vplXDb9GMSZDZ
 

Rhea’s mum

Established Member
Just ordered one that will be delivered tomorrow. I'll have a look back at some of the fogger threads because I know I saw about PVC piping being used as I know the bendy collapsible pipes they come with harbour bacteria in the folds.

I do appreciate the help :)
 

Beman

Chameleon Enthusiast
Just ordered one that will be delivered tomorrow. I'll have a look back at some of the fogger threads because I know I saw about PVC piping being used as I know the bendy collapsible pipes they come with harbour bacteria in the folds.

I do appreciate the help :)
Yep... Take the top piece in to the hardware store with you to fit piping to it. You may need to use an adapter piece to get a perfect fit from the fogger to the pipe.
mine retrofitted using 3/4 inch pipe...
Using T and elbows across the top for multiple drop in spots. and I have them raised about a half inch off the top of the screen so that water does not build up and block the flow.

IMG_5900.jpgfogger3.jpg
 

jannb

Chameleon Enthusiast
She is not looking good. I would get her back to to vets ASAP. When my girls come home from this surgery, that bounce right by to normal. Just a few hours after surgery they are eating and drinking and come home that afternoon. I would like to add that there’s not many vets in the US that can successfully do this surgery.

Where do you live and what’s the name of your vet?
 

Beman

Chameleon Enthusiast
She is not looking good. I would get her back to to vets ASAP. When my girls come home from this surgery, that bounce right by to normal. Just a few hours after surgery they are eating and drinking and come home that afternoon. I would like to add that there’s not many vets in the US that can successfully do this surgery.
They spayed her January 28th. The vet had her for over a week and were force feeding her. Putting on 10 grams in that time. This is what she looks like after being at the vet... Would you still recommend that they return her to the vet?
 

jannb

Chameleon Enthusiast
They spayed her January 28th. The vet had her for over a week and were force feeding her. Putting on 10 grams in that time. This is what she looks like after being at the vet... Would you still recommend that they return her to the vet?
She doesn’t look in good shape to me. What do you think about her looks?
 

Beman

Chameleon Enthusiast
She doesn’t look in good shape to me. What do you think about her looks?
Personally I think she looks awful and extremely stressed. You can tell she is declining. But this is how the cham was returned to the OP from the Vet... I feel if it has a chance being at home with care and limiting stress would be the best. I would be concerned about the vet continuing to force feed as they have been if this is the condition that she was returned in. But I have no experience with spayed females or the recovery. I would think 2 weeks later she would be well on her way to recovery and not looking like this. What was your experience with it?
 

jannb

Chameleon Enthusiast
Personally I think she looks awful and extremely stressed. You can tell she is declining. But this is how the cham was returned to the OP from the Vet... I feel if it has a chance being at home with care and limiting stress would be the best. I would be concerned about the vet continuing to force feed as they have been if this is the condition that she was returned in. But I have no experience with spayed females or the recovery. I would think 2 weeks later she would be well on her way to recovery and not looking like this. What was your experience with it?
I think the vet might not have been experienced with doing this surgery successfully. In my situation, I would have has my girl back to my vet right away, because my vets has allot of experience with this surgery and chameleons.
 

Rhea’s mum

Established Member
@jannb I’m in the uk. The surgery seemed to go ok and she was recovering ok, just not eating. She then aspirated on the criticalaid food we were given to syringe feed her. Took her straight back to the vets and then 10 days later she came back to me like this from the vets. The vets told me they were tube feeding her directly into the stomach so she wouldn’t aspirate again.
 

redhorse

Avid Member
Hi there! Any updates? JMO your experience is very important to other members that might experience the same thing. I am always learning about different procedures and how reptiles react to them.
Thank you
 
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