Frog Diseases: Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD)
Metabolic Bone Disease, also called MBD, is a complex disease all too common in frogs. It causes these amphibians’ bones to become weak. Generally very active, frogs with MBD are likely to break their bones in their legs as they are hopping or hunting for their food. This may result to severe crippling or in extreme cases, even death.
Unlike humans, this disease is not only due to the lack of calcium or Vitamin D3, it’s also mostly a disorder of calcium metabolism. Some frogs are just biologically unable to take in calcium and turn it into its useable form right away. This causes these frogs a calcium deficiency. Furthermore, this bone deficiency is common in younger frogs contrary to the human genetic trend of lack in calcium in older persons.
However, the trends in this disease also have similarities with humans. Frogs also do not absorb Vitamin D that well. Therefore, lack of it is also vital to calcium metabolism. Sometimes, husbandry and improper diet prevents a frog from absorbing the nutrition it needs, and Vitamin D is one of the most affected parts.
There are also other causes for MBD. Usually, it is the direct result of improper calcium to phosphorus ratio. It usually hangs around Two is to One; Calcium is to Phosphorous (2:1: Ca: P). It is the low calcium level which leads to the softening of bones, making frogs vulnerable to fractures.
In its early stage, MBD is very hard to detect. Different stages and severities project various symptoms as well. These include the following:
- Flimsy or swollen legs
- Bumps along the vertebral column or arched spine
- Softening or hard swelling of the jaw
- Receded lower jaw
- Little movement
As the disease develops, the frog may be unable to eat and drink. Changes occur in the skull which results in its lack of ability to use its mouth. The tongue protrudes from the side of the mouth and appears longer. But because of this, it becomes useless. Also, preying flies or other insects common to the frog as food becomes very difficult.
If at this point, the frog is still not identified to possess MBD, here are a few more symptoms:
- Jerky manner in walking
- Twitching in the limbs, and muscles of the legs and toes even at rest
- Shakiness as being held
- Anorexia or extreme malnutrition
- Loss of body mass
- Bone fractures
- Partial paralysis
As the frog is closer to death, other organs may become affected. Development of the disease relies upon the severity of its calcium deficiency. It has to be remembered that inability to eat also means inability to gain the calcium it had lacked from the very start.
Like other frog severities such as Redleg, MBD has huge tendencies to be lethal. However, if it’s treated in time, chance of survival is just as great. Commonly, owners don’t notice MBD existence until before a lame leg or seemingly broken toes appear. Also only when everyday activities like jumping or walking or getting food suddenly becomes hard.
It is suggested that at the slightest and earliest occurrence of any of its symptoms, especially that of the flimsy legs, do preventive actions. Change the said frog’s diet. Fill your frog’s diet with vitamins for reptiles. Keep dusting your frog’s food with vitamin powder, but only one to two times every week. The frog might end up with too much calcium and might suffer from major organ problems.
The most logical move however, with the appearance of flimsy legs or any of the aforementioned symptoms, is to bring the frog to a veterinarian. Specialized vets are better when it comes to quickly diagnosing and treating the frogs in an accurate manner. This is needed because once the disease has gotten to an advanced stage (as any other disease), it is no longer curable. Therefore, in order to avoid MBD for the frog, preventive measures are always the best. The following may be done and are actually recommended:
- Diet must be complete with calcium, phosphorus, vitamins and other nutrients. However, remember to maintain balance.
- Exposure to fluorescent lights that provide UVA and UVB to manufacture Vitamin D
- Proper heat gradients
- Proper light and dark cycles
- Adequate room to exercise
- Be careful on what it is fed
- Avoid foods high in fats, oxalate and tannins which hinder calcium metabolism
At the end of the day, prevention stands to be better than cure. Some abnormalities or damage may retain long after Metabolic Bone Disease is cured. That would not be good for the welfare of both the frog and the owner—especially if there is some kind of financial blocks involved. The most important thing to remember is that taking care of the frog is almost synonymous to taking care of the owner.