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Peri-Articular Pseudogout in Reptiles

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Various Causes of Gout

     Philippe de Vosjoli, in his book "The general care and maintenance of Green water dragons, Sailfin lizards and basilisks", describes a condition known as peri-articular pseudogout. Unfortunately there is little detail in the book about this condition.

     The symptoms are a stiffening of, and loss of use of a limb or limbs, particularly at the joints, similar to the effects of gout in other animals.

     The symptoms as described above could be caused by a number of disorders. The lizard could have a calcium deposit in those areas (often seen in real gout, and renal diseases), or a build up of urate deposits.

     Kidney damage in the past could contribute to the symptoms the lizard may exhibit. When the kidneys aren't functioning well urate and nitrate levels can rise in the blood, if levels exceed a certain amount re-crystallization can occur, producing localized accumulations of uric acid known as gout-tophi.

     Gout is mainly caused by nephritis; dehydration is a minor causative factor. Too much protein in the food has never been found to correlate with gout despite often being incriminated. Gentamicin is highly nephrotoxic and daily doses of 5mg/kg of body weight over a period of 4 weeks may lead to gout.

Clinical signs of gout:

     Clinical cases may be difficult to diagnose. In snakes clinical signs are also generally unspecific. The animals are less active, or even lethargic, and may occasionally bite themselves at the site of the most severe urate deposits. Lizards with gout may also be lethargic.


      Diagnosis may be verified by determining the uric acid levels in the blood. Blood concentrations between 720 and 4,840 umol/l were determined in animals which died from gout.

Differential diagnosis:

     Pseudogout, renal hyperparathyroidism, arthritis and tuberculosis of muscles of the extremities should be considered.

     In pseudogout swellings around joints are caused by calcium deposits. A diagnosis can be made Radiographically.

     In renal hyperparathyroidism due to severe nephritis the calcium metabolism may be severely disturbed. Calcium deposits can be observed in muscles, and can be differentiated from urated deposits by their elongated appearance, coinciding with bundles of muscles.

     Arthritis is seen as a localised swelling, occasionally with radiodense exostoses or deformities. Tuberculosis of the muscles leads to circumscribed proliferative inflammatory processes which resemble profane abscesses.


      In cases of gout there is no therapy and the outcome is always fatal. Some veterinarians consider that allopurinol is useful. :(

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Water Dragon Books

Green Water Dragons, Sailfin Lizards and Basilisks (General Care and Maintenance of Series) by Philippe De Vosjoli

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      Basic but detailed information about the care, diet, and health of green water dragons, sailfin lizards and basilisks.

Anoles, Basilisks, and Water Dragons Anoles, Basilisks and Water Dragons : A Complete Pet Care Manual (More Complete Pet Owner's Manuals) by Richard D. Bartlett, Patricia P. Bartlett (Contributor)

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     Discussion of the general care of many species of anole, basilisks and water dragons. Excellent information regarding enclosures, cage building, and insect care and breeding.

Eat this Bug Eat This Bug : A Guide to Invertebrate Live Foods for Reptiles and Amphibians by Lynn Davis

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      This book is a guide for owners of reptiles and amphibians who feed insects and other live foods to their pets. Advice is offered for selecting , ordering and raising your own supply of live invertebrate foods. More than a dozen species of live foods are discussed. The book includes instructions on keeping cultures of insects, and recipes & diets for insects.

Last updated
April, 10, 2012

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