Vaccines are a hot topic these days. Which vaccines people should get and why is a question that has divided our nation. It has also caused a lot of distrust and confusion.
Luckily, when it comes to our pets, the answers seem to be a little more clear-cut and agreed upon. If you’ve owned a dog or cat in your lifetime, you are used to taking them for their yearly shots and checkups.
But what about your bearded dragon? Do they need vaccines? If so, what kind and when? This is one of the more common questions we get from new beardie owners. And it’s a great question too! We all want our beardies to live long, healthy lives!
Do Bearded Dragons Need Vaccines?
Bearded dragons do not need vaccines. Being solitary animals, they don’t carry the same risk of illness that social animals like cats and dogs do. Proper diet, supplements, and tank setup will prevent most common health issues. A yearly visit to a qualified exotics vet is still strongly recommended.
Since proper care and yearly checkups are the most important things to ensuring the health of your bearded dragon, let’s take a look at a few things you can do to keep your beardie happy, healthy, and free of the need for injections or medicine of any kind!
Bearded Dragons and Vaccines
While it is strongly recommended that you take your bearded dragon to the veterinarian for frequent check-ups and when they have major health emergencies, it is not necessary to vaccinate your bearded dragon.
Your vet will most likely not even bring up vaccines for your scaly little friend. Bearded dragons are not around other animals very often, and when they are, they are not usually susceptible to their diseases.
When you take your bearded dragon to the veterinarian, there are a number of different ways they examine them and treat health issues.
When you take your bearded dragon into its basic physical examination, the veterinarian will weigh them, check for any outer physical abnormalities, and check for dehydration. They will also ask for a stool sample to check for parasites.
Veterinarians look at your bearded dragon’s nose and eyes and check for discharge and signs of illness to determine if your bearded dragon is healthy. When bearded dragons are frequently and thoroughly examined by an experienced reptile veterinarian, their health should be kept in check. Any health issues will be diagnosed and treated right away.
Finding a great vet is critical when it comes to keeping your bearded dragon healthy. A qualified exotics vet will not recommend any vaccinations and will be a great partner in helping you raise a healthy bearded dragon.
How to Keep Your Bearded Dragon Healthy
While vaccinating your bearded dragon is not necessary, there are things that you can do to keep your bearded dragon healthy. Here are a few things that you can do to ensure the overall health of your pet.
Keep Them In a Properly Set Up Enclosure
Invest in a high-quality vivarium (you can see the one we use, recommend, and love here!). A vivarium is the enclosed habitat where the bearded dragon will live. There are just a few, basic things to get right when setting up your enclosure. We’ll list them here, and we’ll link to articles and guides we’ve put together to make sure you have step-by-step directions for each!
Your beardie’s home should be:
Provide Proper Lighting
Bearded dragons need two types of light during the day when they are awake. The first is a basking light. This is critical to their digestion and to simulate their natural habitat (the arid deserts of Australia). The basking light must provide a specific temperature range for your bearded dragon.
The second is a UVB light. UVB rays allow your beardie to naturally produce vitamin D. Since it is NOT recommended to place your enclosure in direct sunlight, the UVB is needed to provide the benefits normally received from the sun.
A third lighting tip is to turn all room lights off at night. This is to help mimic their original habitat, as well as to train them to know when it’s time to sleep and when to be awake.
It is important to understand that they need to remain warm at night and with the light off, they will lose a major source of their heat. If you don’t feel inclined to up the temperature of your whole house, it may be worth investing in a ceramic heat emitter. If the room you keep your bearded dragon in gets below 65 degrees Fahrenheit, you’ll want to look at adding one of these.
Feed Them Live Insects
Yep, that’s right, live insects. Preferably Dubia roaches (we explain why this is your BEST option here). While some beardie owners try to get around this by feeding prepared food or freeze-dried insects, those are simply not healthy long-term options.
If you are going to be a beardie owner, you are going to have to learn to deal with keeping and feeding live insects.
Feed Them a Variety of Healthy Fruits and Veggies
When they are young, bearded dragons eat mostly protein and very little greens. As they age, this ratio switches until they are eating greens daily and insects only a few times a week.
There are a lot of things that will fill this slot for your bearded dragon. You’ll probably have to try a few different things until you find what they like and will eat.
To make this easier, make sure to check out our complete bearded dragon nutrition guide here. We also put together a list of almost 300 foods you can find at your local grocery store and tell you exactly which are good, which are not so good, and which are toxic for your bearded dragon!
Give Them the Right Supplements
Although the majority of your bearded dragon’s diet includes leafy greens that already naturally contain lots of vitamins and nutrients, it is never a bad thing to supplement some vitamins they may be lacking. The best way to do this would be to sprinkle vitamin powder on their food when you give it to them.
For example, although the UVB light can produce vitamin D, they need more vitamin D3 than that light can give them. This UVB light can also decrease their ability to properly absorb calcium, so they also need an additional source of calcium. Using powder, animal-safe vitamin D3 and calcium can significantly help their health as they get all of the sufficient nutrients they need.
While this might seem complicated, we’ve made it very easy by outlining the 3 supplements you’ll need and exactly how and when to give them to your beardie.
So, do bearded dragons need vaccines?
The reason to give a vaccine in the first place is to prevent a known disease. With bearded dragons, almost all of the known health issues can be prevented by following the steps above. Doing those things is kind of like giving them a vaccine without actually giving them a vaccine!
Bearded dragons are relatively healthy creatures, so they don’t need to be vaccinated. However, if you notice that your bearded dragon is not feeling well, take them to the vet. We know firsthand from caring for our little Bacardi that the earlier you catch something, the easier it is to take care of.