How to Give Medicine to Your Reptile With the Least Pain (for Both of You!)

by Paul Kramer - Date: 2008-10-19 - Word Count: 501 Share This!

Giving medication to reptiles can be "pretty slippery". With their varied physiological and anatomical make-ups, choosing 'routes of drug administration' is fairly complicated. Having to deal with scales, teeth, and a cranky attitude makes reptile medication a daunting task for a newbie.

There are specific techniques that may be used in treating a sick reptile with drugs. Each form of reptile medication has pros and cons that should be painstakingly considered as not to give the reptile more pain.

Administering fluids or any reptile medication through the mouth is tricky since you'll have to deal with the sharp teeth, possibly venom, and the highly sensitive glottis. Also, any reptile (even any human!) does not appreciate having some foreign object shoved up its throat and thus may be quite uncooperative. They tend to acquire a more crabby temper when sick, too. Usually, a catheter or feeding tube attached to a syringe with prepared slurry or fluid medication is inserted into the throat up to the stomach to avoid flooding into the glottis and causing the fluid to back up into the mouth.

If delivering drugs orally is too difficult and risky, an alternative reptile medication would be by injection. There are various types of injection: intraocoelomic/intraperitoneal (IC/IP), subcutaneous (SQ), and intramuscular (IM). These involve body cavities, loose skin, and muscles, respectively. When fluids are injected directly into the body cavity, they are more quickly absorbed and more can be administered at one time than when giving fluids orally or by SC. The catch is one needs to be extremely cautious since when done incorrectly, an organ can be damaged.

The sites on which to inject must be chosen carefully even for SQ and IM injections to prevent hurting the reptile unnecessarily. For SQ in particular, having to inject just under the skin would often require injecting repeatedly in different parts of the reptile's body to administer the sufficient dosage. After suffering a shot once, the reptile most likely will try to repel any more so it has to be quick.

When handling injections for reptile medication, one should at least have experience in handling needles so as to avoid getting a taste of his own medicine-- literally!

Reptile keepers should be meticulous in choosing the most (or the only) appropriate type of reptile medication. For instance, IM is not suited to chameleons' very thin, poorly muscled legs. It is less tedious to inject the drug in a venomous snake's body than venture into its mouth. As for a 2000-pound crocodile with an ornery disposition, it's wiser to conceal the medication in a chunk of food.

Wrapping the oral medicine in an inconspicuous, delectable package is more effective with less amount of food used. Food is said to interfere with the uptake of the reptile medication, so this method should be considered a last recourse. All things considered, it's vital to have proper background and know-how in treating reptiles. The end goal in reptile medication is not to bring more stress but relief.

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