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Should I Be Giving My Bearded Dragon Vitamins?

It’s just not possible to accurately recreate a dragon’s natural habitat or food sources in captivity. Wild dragons have a much more varied diet and more exercise. In captivity, even the best lighting sources you can provide can’t come close to the natural sunlight wild dragons live in. Because of this, calcium and Vitamin D3 are the main nutrients they need in quantity, but there are other vitamins and minerals you’ll need to provide.

Bearded dragons do need vitamin and mineral supplements regularly. While they can and should get many of the nutrients, they need from the food they eat and get what they need to manufacture Vitamin D3 from their UVB light, they still need more.

Should I Give My Bearded Dragon Vitamins?

There is a lot of discussion on how these nutrients should be provided, as well as how often they should be provided. We’ll go over the important nutrients, how to provide them, and a reliable schedule for providing these.

If you have a reptile veterinarian or exotic pet veterinarian (and you should), he can certainly advise you on what your dragon needs and how to provide these nutrients.

In addition, you should have your dragon checked out by your vet as soon as possible after you get him. This visit will not only provide a good checkup to make sure your pet is healthy but will also provide the vet with a baseline of his condition.

He’ll be able to compare his health to his condition at his first visit and be better able to tell if something is lacking later on. You’ll then know if you need to increase his bearded dragon supplements or if your dragon is perhaps being fed too much or too little of one substance.

What Vitamins Should I Give My Bearded Dragon?

Basically, there are three main bearded dragon supplements that your pet will need. These are calcium, Vitamin D3, and a regular dose of bearded dragon vitamins.

There are several multi-vitamin products specially formulated for reptiles, available both in pet stores and online, as well as calcium and Vitamin D products, some in combination, so you won’t have any trouble providing these. Reptile products are the vitamins and supplements any reptile in captivity needs, so they are just fine for your beardie.

One caveat is to read the labels for the ingredients carefully, taking note especially of what kind of Vitamin A, a particular supplement provides. While Vitamin A is important for dragons, some products have too much, which can make your beardie quite sick.

This is because Vitamin A is not flushed out of the body the way some other vitamins are, and the buildup can cause some serious problems. It’s best to stick to products that provide Vitamin A as beta carotene. This is the substance that provides Vitamin A in much of nature and will provide your dragon with all the Vitamin A he needs without overdosing him with it.

Vitamin D3 is a very essential nutrient that helps the dragon assimilate his needed calcium. Many supplements offer a combination of this vitamin and calcium in powdered form to make things easier. Check out my article What to Feed a Bearded Dragon [The Complete Guide] to see which foods have the most vitamins for bearded dragons.

How Often Should Bearded Dragons Have Vitamins?

The number of times per week each supplement is given will vary with the age of your pet. This is because young dragons are growing quickly, and even go through a rather surprising growth spurt, so of course, they need more nutrients at this stage.

For bearded dragon vitamins, unfortunately, this is where there is a great deal of discussion and varying opinions on the subject. a good rule of thumb is to give them to him four or five days a week until he reaches the age of one year. By this time, his major growth period is over, and his growth will slow down very noticeable.

At the age of one to two years, he’s still growing a bit, even though you may not notice unless you measure him periodically. He’ll need his multivitamins three to four days per week at this stage. After he reaches the age of two years, this can be cut down to two to three times per day.

Other sources state that babies should get multivitamins only twice a week, cutting this down to once a week for juveniles and adults. To add to the problem there is even a great deal of difference as to various sources determining at what age a dragon is considered a juvenile. Some sources rate a dragon a juvenile at three months of age while others go up to seven months.

Your best bet may be to see what your vet recommends. If a reptile or exotic vet is not available in your area or at a convenient distance, then keeping a reptile at all may not be the best idea for you.

Any reptile is bound to come up with some sort of health problem or sickness at some point in his life, and you’ll need a vet who is familiar with reptile care to handle it. Your average small animal vet probably won’t have a clue as to what is wrong or how to treat it.

How Do You Give Bearded Dragons Supplements?

There are two common ways to give bearded dragon supplements, neither of which involves trying to stick something in your dragon’s mouth. These are by gut loading their feeder insects and by dusting those insects with the desired supplement. Dusting is the more common practice. It involves choosing a few of the insects for the forthcoming meal, putting them in a baggie containing the supplement powder and shaking it up a bit.

This is one main reason that many supplements for reptiles come in powder form. You can also dust their greens if your beardie balks at powdered insects, but it’s harder to get the powder to stick to greens.

While crickets are the most common insect given to beardies for live food, Dubia roaches, natives of Central and South America, are also a good choice. Most people cringe at the word “roach,” but these insects are much easier to dust with bearded dragon vitamins and supplements, as they can’t jump. If your interested in raising your own crickets check out my article How to Breed Crickets for Bearded Dragons.

Even if a roach or two should escape at some point, they are tropical insects and usually won’t live long in your home. You don’t need to fear some kind of infestation. Another quality is that they tend to live longer than crickets, so they are a food source that should be considered to give your dragon a variety.

The other way to provide supplements is to gut load your live food. This involves choosing the insects for your beardie to eat at a meal the next day and feeding them foods rich in vital nutrients. Many foods can be fed to the crickets or roaches, including dark green vegetables and some fruits.

Some people even recommend cat or dog food. The reason behind gut loading for the next day is to allow your chosen insects to assimilate the nutrients. However, don’t wait longer than the next day to feed them to your beardie, as the extra nutrients will just pass through the insects. It’s a good idea to give  the vitamin’s at regular intervals, you can read my article The Complete Bearded Dragon Feeding Schedule for more information and tips on setting up a feeding schedule.

Can I Put Calcium Powder in My Bearded Dragons Water?

This isn’t advised for one big reason. While most sources urge that you provide water in a dish, most beardies don’t drink much from it. Besides, some of these powders are not very easily dissolved in water. Beardies need to be misted daily with a plant mister or other sprayer that provides a fine mist. You can actually see your beardie lick drops of water from himself.

Best Vitamins for Bearded Dragons for Optimal Health

As mentioned before, there are many reptile vitamin supplements on the market that would be fine, except that you should stick to only those that provide Vitamin A in the form of beta carotene to avoid overloading your beardie with the vitamin and making him sick. Unfortunately, there aren’t many reptile vitamins that accomplish this.

Among these are HerptiVite by RepCal and Fluker’s Reptile Vitamin with Beta Carotene. Both are available online and should be available at pet stores as well.

You’ll also have to balance your vitamin supplement with your calcium and Vitamin D3 supplements. For instance, if you give your beardie a combination calcium and Vitamin D3 supplement, you’ll want to get vitamins that don’t have D3, and the vitamin supplement should not contain calcium at all.

Bearded Dragon Vitamin-A Deficiency Symptoms

While it’s advisable to take steps to prevent an overabundance of Vitamin A in your dragon’s system, he does need it. Symptoms of a Vitamin A deficiency can include cloudy, swollen or dry eyes. He can also develop respiratory problems. A blood test can detect if your dragon has this deficiency.

Bearded Dragon Vitamin-D Deficiency Symptoms

Vitamin D allows your beardie to assimilate the all-important calcium. If he doesn’t get enough, he won’t be able to make use of the calcium you provide for him. This is one of the main causes of Metabolic Bone Disease in dragons. This is a serious condition that can be reversed if caught early enough but can eventually lead to a painful death.

Symptoms of a Vitamin D deficiency include loss of appetite, lack of energy or seeming lethargic, and shaking. His bones will get soft, leading to his laying on his belly. Dragons should be standing with their bellies off the ground, not dragging themselves around in a slither.

In addition, if you have a female, she will lay eggs at times, laying as many as four clutches of eggs during the mating period. This will happen whether the eggs are fertile or not. She needs plenty of calcium and Vitamin D to form those eggs, and even more during the mating season because of the egg-laying.

Bearded Dragon Supplements Schedule

You won’t have to feed your bearded dragon supplements at every meal. One meal per day is enough, and you won’t have to feed them any one supplement every day, with perhaps the exception of a baby.

Below is a sample schedule for supplement and vitamin feeding. Of course, your vet may have a suggested schedule, so take advantage of that. If your dragon has a deficiency in some substance, your vet will let you know what changes to make.

Babies – from hatching to four months old should have calcium with or without Vitamin D3 six to seven days a week. They should have vitamins two days per week. If you already give your beardie Vitamin D3 with his calcium, the vitamins don’t need to contain it, but if not, they should.

Juveniles – four months of age to a year old need the calcium supplement five days a week, and the vitamins two days.

Adults – from one to two years of age should have calcium four days per week: the vitamins once per week. By this age, they will only be eating once or maybe twice a day.

After two years of age, you can cut the calcium supplement down to three times per week. The vitamins should still be given once per week.

For a sick dragon at any age, he should be given the calcium supplement six days per week. The vitamin supplement schedule will depend on whether he has some type of deficiency, in what nutrient, and how severe the deficiency is. Your vet will advise you on what he needs and how often.

A female in the egg-laying phase needs the calcium supplement six days per week and the vitamins twice a week. This should continue for a month after the egg-laying has ended to restore any shortages in nutrients.

If you feed your beardie a wide variety of insects, some of them may contain a high calcium content. Some choices that do include Black Soldier Fly larvae, butterworms, and Phoenix worms. In this case, your beardie may only need calcium three days a week if he’s under two years of age, and twice a week if he’s over two.

If possible, try to use the calcium and vitamin supplements and separate days. For instance, a week may consist of vitamins, calcium, calcium, vitamins, calcium, and calcium. For adults, it can be calcium, calcium, nothing at all, vitamins, nothing, and calcium. This gap will allow your beardie to better absorb and assimilate what he gets.

Conclusion

This subject may seem complicated to an owner who is getting his first reptile, but it will get easier once you get the hang of it. You may even find yourself investigating the possibility of raising your own crickets or Dubia roaches for your supply, especially if you have a young beardie that requires them as the major part of his diet and eats four or five times per day.

Just work out a schedule that works best for both of you and don’t forget to enjoy your beardie while you ensure that he gets everything he needs.