You will likely have to give your bearded dragon oral medication at some point in their life. Pets get sick, and beardies are no exception.
When that happens, it will be up to you to administer their medicine at home. That medicine will come in one of two forms: Injectable and oral. We, unfortunately, now have a lot of experience with both.
We rescued our beardie, Bacardi, from what turned out to be a pretty bad situation, and it’s fallen on us to deal with the resulting health issues.
The first time the vet handed us a big bag of syringes and several medicine vials, we were overwhelmed. Not only did we have no idea how to inject medicine into a reptile, but we also had no idea how we would get little Bacardi to take her oral medication.
The injections were easy compared to the oral meds. We didn’t need Bacardi to cooperate to use a needle. We absolutely needed her to cooperate when giving her oral meds.
Thankfully, we have an amazing vet who showed us two methods of giving our bearded dragon oral medication. We like one more than the other but will share both here, just in case.
What’s the Best Way to Give a Bearded Dragon Oral Medication?
Fill the oral syringe with the prescribed amount of medication. Hold your beardie firmly in one hand. With your other hand, take the tip of the syringe and wiggle it between your beardie’s lips. When your beardie tries to bite the syringe, gently push it into their mouth and dispense the medication.
Two Very Important Notes:
- When we refer to a “syringe” in this article, we are referring to an oral syringe that does not have a needle attached! Do not, under any circumstances, try to use a needle to administer oral medication to your bearded dragon!!!
- The skill explained in this article is essential for another reason besides oral meds. If your beardie gets constipated or sick and you have to feed them apple sauce, pureed pumpkin, or some other soft food, you will use the exact same methods described here!
Video Demonstrations of How to Give a Bearded Dragon Oral Medication
Bacardi (our rescued bearded dragon) came to us with a host of health issues. She is a living example of why we built Beardie Bungalow in the first place. She was kept with another beardie in a tiny enclosure, didn’t get enough food or water, and didn’t have proper temps in her tank to thrive.
Because of that, Bacardi has to take four different oral medications daily for the rest of her life. The first video below was taken about 90 days after we started giving her daily meds. We put this video first to show how easy it gets with practice.
We took the second video during the first week we started giving her daily medication. You can see how much patience it took us at first. We didn’t want to be doing this, and neither did Bacardi. But even with how long it took at first, you’ll notice that Bacardi never puffs up, turns black, or get aggressive.
She does try to get away (and this is when her spikes prove to be the sharpest!), but she is never stressed to the point of showing it.
Key points for the administration of oral medication to your bearded dragon:
- Hold your beardie gently but firmly. They will probably try to wriggle out of your hand. They will also stiffen their spikes and become very pokey. It’s key to learn to hold them so you don’t get poked, and they can’t move too much.
- Isolate their head. The more you can keep their head from moving, the quicker it will go.
- Gently wiggle the tip of the syringe between your beardie’s lips. Don’t be too aggressive, but press hard enough that you can eventually wedge the tip between their lips and against their teeth.
- If this doesn’t work, you can gently pull down their lip to allow the syringe to enter their mouth. Simply push lightly on the side of their mouth, directly under their bottom lip.
- Once between their lips, use the same wiggling pressure on their teeth. They will quickly become agitated by this and try to bite the syringe.
- Let them bite it! This places the tip exactly where you want it, inside their mouth.
- We like to slide the tip a little further in and toward the back of their mouth at this point.
- Slowly inject the medication into their mouth.
- Remove the syringe, and you’re done!
The first few times you do this, it will be frustrating. Don’t get impatient and start forcing things. You may even need to stop and try again later. If your beardie is puffing up and their beard is black, it may be best to let them calm down and try again in a few minutes.
But with persistence, you and your beardie will get the hang of it. It will get easier each time you do it (we promise!). Below you can see where we started with this process. It’s important to us that you see that it didn’t always go super smoothly.
An alternate method of giving a bearded dragon oral medication
We strongly recommend the above method when giving your bearded dragon oral medication. In our experience, it’s easier and less stressful for you and your beardie.
That said, some bearded dragons will not open their mouth regardless of how much you wiggle that syringe between their lips. In that case, you’ll need to use the second method.
One person can perform this alternate method, but it’s much easier with two people. The steps below are the easiest way to do this with one person.
- Set your beardie down and cover them with a towel.
- Leave their head out so you can access their mouth.
- Make sure they are facing away from you and that they can’t back up.
- Reach under your beardie’s chin and grab a small bit of skin.
- Pull down on that skin until your beardie opens its mouth.
- Insert the syringe and administer the medication.
We don’t have a video of us doing this with Bacardi, as she will not open her mouth with this method and quickly becomes agitated and aggressive. Instead, below, we have a video made by the Center for Bird and Exotic Animal Medicine showing this method.
We hope this article helps. When your pet is sick, it can be stressful. When it’s up to you to ensure they get well, that adds even more stress!
Owning a bearded dragon comes with several unique challenges, and giving them oral medication is one of them. If that process can become easy for both of you, it makes their being sick just a little bit more bearable!
Where do I buy oral syringes?
In our experience, your vet will give them to you along with the medication. You can also buy them on Amazon. Ask your vet what size to get, as that will be determined by the type and amount of medication you are administering.
How long will I have to give my bearded dragon oral medication?
This will depend on the type of illness they have. The most common course of medication is 30 days. Some medicine will only need to be given for three days. In other cases (like ours), it may be needed for the rest of their life.
Can I reuse the syringes?
Yes! Make sure to rinse them out thoroughly between uses. If you are giving multiple medications, it’s a good idea to stick with only one type per syringe. Each unique med should have its own syringe.
This is not the case if you are using a standard syringe with a needle to inject the medication. In that case, each syringe will be a one-time-use item. Make sure to return the used syringes to the vet for proper disposal. Do not throw used needles in the garbage!!!