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Fire Bellied Toads - Dropsy

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by , May 20th, 2012 at 01:59 PM (27767 Views)
Hello, this is probably the only post Iím going to write but hopefully someone will find it helpful as when I was researching the topic there was very limited information in regards to Fire bellied toads and dropsy. I myself am an owner of 2 Fire bellies whom Iíve had for almost two years. One of them has a poorly developed front foot and at first had trouble feeding so he readily took feed of tweezers as it must have been easier for him, but eventually he learned to hunt for himself; the other one was left unhandled except for cleaning and was completely independent. It was the unhandled one that got sick. Within a week he swelled substantially to the size of a ping-pong ball with legs. He didnít seem uncomfortable at first so I thought he was just getting fat but the speed of the swelling was pretty alarming. Before this Iíve never heard of dropsy so I researched the symptoms (which at this point was just swelling) and asked the pet shop from here he was purchased but either source came back with very little. I eventually found some treatment options but they were for different frogs and I as apprehensive to try them. I found a less severe treatment (a salt soak) and tried it for a few days whilst I researched more but eventually I came across some information that suggested my chosen treatment was harmful (it was suggested it upset the frogs osmotic balance). By this point he had stopped eating and was just sitting there looking very dark (literally, instead of his usual bright green). By this point I had isolated him and put him in mostly watery terrain to make it easier for him to get around. I tried contacting some vets but none of them could offer a solution other than putting him down. Some days later I found a website that described the lancing of a frog with dropsy (granted it was a different type of frog). I decided as a last ditch attempt to try it. I couldnít get hold of any adequate needs so we ended up sing an Animas 2 ml Cartridge by Johnson&Johnson (itís a syringe and a thin needle used to refill diabetes pumps). The site said to lance the thigh and drain the fluid through there but when I tried the frog looked extremely uncomfortable and distressed. So I decided to go in through the stomach, aiming away from the tiny blood vessels and internal organs (but he was so swollen there was a slim chance of hitting anything). On the first go I drained 4ml and then got 2ml out every few days for about 2 weeks. By the last few draining session I had to squeeze him ever so slightly on one side to get all the fluid to gather on the side I was lancing but he seemed to be relatively ok with the procedure and didnít seem to be in distress (even though he most probably was). After a few weeks he returned to normal size, though a lot smaller as he hadnít eaten for some weeks, with a lot of loose skin around his middle. Soon after he started eating and excreting as normal. A few months after though his back legs became paralyzed and he stopped eating again and I canít help but think it was the initial thigh lancing that had damaged the nerves. Anyhow, a few weeks after that he learned to take food from tweezers. It took a while as unlike the other frog he was never hand fed. Three months on heís now eating three crickets a day by hand and gaining weight slowly. His legs are still out of action but they have been twitching more and more over the months and hopefully with regain some function eventually. Collectively Iíve managed to keep him alive for 6 months after severe dropsy and am still hopeful heíll make a full (or almost full) recovery. Hope someone found this at least a little helpful!
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  1. mshine1217's Avatar
    Perserverance sure paid off for you and your toad. Thank you for sharing the information, I'm sure that it will come in handy for someone down the road.
  2. Shacklebolt's Avatar
    Thank you so much for sharing this. I don't know if my nine year old fire-belly has dropsy or not. He is very dark and seems to be little bit swollen around the belly and legs, but its not to a ping pong size yet. His eyes are cloudy, and he has some dry skin on his back. He moves around a bit, but usually ends up settling in a dry corner. I'm really worried for him. I think I am going to try and give him baths in a tetracycline solution as it helps with bacterial infections, but I'm not sure. He hasn't eaten in a while, and his breathing is irregular. Also, he stretches his legs out in a really odd shape. As a side note, he recently has been shedding. Do you think the solution baths are a good idea, I've read people doing that? And while I hope it doesn't get to that point, how exactly did you do the lancing? And what do you feed yours? Thanks!
  3. jen0311's Avatar
    I've read of people doing that too but I couldn't get hold of anything to soak him in. The vet said the best he can do is put him down and the pet shop had no clue, so I decided not to experiment. I read somewhere that a salt soak helped but then read in a book that salt upsets their osmotic balance, so I honestly think you have to play it by ear with soaks as no one seems to definately know what works and what doesn't. Though on the subject of your chosen soak I read somewhere that dropsy can either be bacterial or metabolic (I believe the kidneys give out and disintegrate, thats why they get big as the fluid isnt getting sorted out by the idneys) so if its metabolic I doubt the soak will help, but again this source isn't accredited and I dont know how accurate the info is.
    My toad literally had no other symptoms other than he was getting huge! That's why I left it for a few weeks as I thought he was just getting fat and was otherise healthy. Once mine got fat he got quite immobile and stopped eating, it was a good month overall that I coud not get him to eat anything!
    By the time we decided to lane him he was pretty big and could easily be held on his back. So I got someone else to hold him in their palm tummy up, so their fingers covered half the toad and held him down, while his other side was exposed. Because he was so bloated and because I was so worried about hitting organs I got the person holding him to squeeze him a tiny bit to push all the fluid to tone side. Then I just piced a spot without any visible blood vessels and pierced his tummy a few mm in angling outwards away from his abdomen (he was so fat there was plenty of room to manouver the needle) and then just drained and drained untill we got about 6ml out of him. He didnt bleed or anything and didnt seems too uncomfortable so we did it once a week for the next too weeks till he got deflated and active enough to not want to stay flipped over and take the stabbing so we decided to stop. Its been a good 5 months now since we did it and other than some trouble with his legs (probably due to me not really knowing what i was doing when lancing him) he seems happy and healthy - eating, gaining weight and satying a lovely green. I read somewhere that someone lanced their frog through the thigh to hit the lymph nodes directly but when we tried once my toad seemed very uncomfortable, squirmed and bled, so personbally i wouldnt recommend that place unless you're a frog anatomy god and know exactly where you're piercing.
    I feed 4th stage silent crickets to mine, at the moment I sometimes use tweesers to hold the cricket in the air so my toad can eat it as his bad legs make it harder for him to hunt, though now he's adapting and once the crickets fall in the water he scoops them up without problems. I put it about 4 every day or so as there's two toads to feed.
    mapdoggis likes this.
  4. Shacklebolt's Avatar
    Alright, again, thank you so much! My toad doesn't seem to be too bloated so it may not be dropsy. Either that, or I'm just catching it in its early stages. He is still fairly active as he occasionally moves around, but he doesn't appear to be too comfortable. I've been changing out his water twice a day to make sure he has a clean environment. He might pull through, but he is still pretty dark. If he doesn't improve in a few days I think I might giving him a dilute wash in tea tree oil as I read it could help if the dropsy was bacterial (see link) JASON*Tea Tree Oil | Walgreens If he does end up swelling more, how much did your needle/syringe cost?
    Let's hope he gets better, this isn't the first time he's given me a scare!
  5. jen0311's Avatar
    Because of the coudy eye I'd be tempted to assume something bacterial/fungal with yours. Mine probably had something different going on as he had no other symptoms at all. You could try and ask some pet shops who sell toads if they could suggest some treatment options, sadly in my case they were fair useless, but you never know. But soaking yours is probably highly preferable to just lancing him straight away, i only did it cause there was no other symptoms to treat but it really is last resort thing i think. We didnt buy a needle, as my partner's diabetic so we used one of the unused insulin needles he had already. I don't know if you can purchase needles singularly (I've never honestry tried shopping around for needles so i'm pretty uniformed) but from a medical supply site at a glance you can get a bulk order for like 5-10 pounds depending on what you want - but the tinner and smaller the better if it comes to you lancing. Hope your toad gets better with the soaks though, lancing really is a stress and I sincerely wish you won't need it!


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