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Do you regularly treat your frogs for parasites?

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There has been a thread started already about doing your own fecals. If any other vets would like to jump in here and state the relative difficulty or ease of running them and IDing each and every bad, bad, and benign parasite in them, please do so. To be able to take pics of all these critters and get someone to go through them may also be harder than it is worth.


Rich
Hey Rich, I take care of very large(30,000 gal +) aquariums with trophy fish(bass, striper and such) and the like. One of the responsibilities that I have is being able to take biopsies and such from the fish and check them under a microscope for parasites and such. We do have a very good system that we are able to log into and see pics of different things to help diagnose what we have. We're then required to send pictures and water quality reports to a vet which in turn will verify our findings and give us the required treatment. We keep most of the meds that we will ever need on site so we just get the dosage and start treatment.

There may be a system set up like this for amphibian keepers...if so I'm not aware of it. While it's intimidating to get started doing these kinds of things it is by no means difficult. I currently have been doing my own fecals, but I take findings to a local vet - my sister. A project of getting a database going with pictures and descriptions to help the frogger identify the problems could streamline the entire system and would not really cause much of a strain on the vets either. I can run a fecal, send pics to the vet and have a treatment protocol in less than an hour most times if I have an idea of what it is I'm looking at. You didn't really post an opinion on how you feel about a system like this, but I think if done properly could be a very useful tool for the hobby.
 

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Hey Rich, I take care of very large(30,000 gal +) aquariums with trophy fish(bass, striper and such) and the like. One of the responsibilities that I have is being able to take biopsies and such from the fish and check them under a microscope for parasites and such. We do have a very good system that we are able to log into and see pics of different things to help diagnose what we have. We're then required to send pictures and water quality reports to a vet which in turn will verify our findings and give us the required treatment. We keep most of the meds that we will ever need on site so we just get the dosage and start treatment.

There may be a system set up like this for amphibian keepers...if so I'm not aware of it. While it's intimidating to get started doing these kinds of things it is by no means difficult. I currently have been doing my own fecals, but I take findings to a local vet - my sister. A project of getting a database going with pictures and descriptions to help the frogger identify the problems could streamline the entire system and would not really cause much of a strain on the vets either. I can run a fecal, send pics to the vet and have a treatment protocol in less than an hour most times if I have an idea of what it is I'm looking at. You didn't really post an opinion on how you feel about a system like this, but I think if done properly could be a very useful tool for the hobby.

Hi Tim,
I also think it would be a great thing if this system actually were out there. It is not at this time. One of the reasons may be the fact that this hobby is in it's relative infancy compared to fish keeping and fish medicine. And as Dr. Wright stated, the dosage and understanding of some drugs has changed in the last few years. A relatively short period of time. In his book that came out this decade he states that Panacur is relatively safe and in his post in this thread he states that this has changed a bit and that relative safeness is not quite as safe as previously written in his book. I'm glad that I no longer prophylactically treat my frogs and that during the relatively short period (and small dosage) that I did there were no adverse side effects of this treatment. I have to assume they would have shown up by now.
I doubt though that there are very many hobbyist who will go to this suggested extent to test. As I stated, it is hard enough to get everyone to send out fecals at the cost of $12. I can't see every, or even many, homes with a microscope and camera utilizing this sort of database in the near or distant future. Unfortunately.

Rich
 

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I agree Rich. I used to treat very similarly to what you were saying back when I was breeding chameleons and leaf tail geckos. Fortunately I never had any problems that I was able to detect from it. I know that most hobbyist aren't going to purchase a microscope and other supplies to do this. My thoughts were posted towards to keepers of larger collections that would have staggering amounts of money invested into fecals. These are the keepers that would be necessary in any development of these databases and such since they're likely to see a larger variety of parasites and things. While I'm not a member of ASN, I do agree with most of the practices and feel they would probably have a good opportunity to set up such a database. With the way that meds recommendations can change quickly it would always be best to show your findings to a vet trained in amphibians. I see a lot of potential out there for a system like this, but maybe your right and a database like this is just ahead of it's time for this young hobby.
 

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I've read through the comments that have been passed around since my posting. I am likely going to be only an occasional visitor to dendroboard and will likely remain somewhat challenged with navigating, posting, and the like. (I'd like to spend more time but opening a new hospital got in the way.) So, if what I am posting is more appropriate elsewhere, someone can quote me as a new thread.

If I can recall the various questions people asked.

Vitamin A deficiency

Metamorphs and rapidly-growing juveniles are most commonly affected, but it may occur at any age and should be suspected with low reproductive success (low fertilization rates, low numbers of eggs produced, early deaths of larvae, and failure of larvae to complete metamorphosis), as well as frogs that bloat and in collections where there are outbreaks of infectious disease without a common pathogen being found.

The goal is to provide a supplement with a balance of fat soluble vitamins, A:D:E. Typically, these vitamins should be present at ratio of 100 iu A:10 iu D:1 iu E. Where vitamin A is <100, there is an increased risk of developing the disease. This often happens with aged or inappropriately stored vitamin products (i.e., high heat or humidity).

On the other hand, excess levels of vitamin A will inhibit the absorption and utilization of vitamins D, E, and K. High dosages of vitamin A may cause corneal ulcers, hyperkeratotic skin, long bone deformities, and other unusual signs develop.

This is an extremely prevalent condition in captive amphibians. Due to its prevalence, any ill amphibian should receive vitamin A supplementation as part of its initial treatment. Some amphibians develop the disease despite being fed items dusted with supplements rich in vitamin A. This is likely due to inappropriate storage of the product with concomitant degradation of the vitamins. However, species-specific needs for vitamin A may be a factor.

Avoid the use of supplements that list beta-carotene as an ingredient unless there is clearly stated a different primary source of vitamin A. I have started to recommend that at least once a week a frog's food is dusted with a supplement rich in vitamin A, even grinding up a human grade vitamin A tablet (again, make sure it is not beta carotene). There are many pet vitamins out there but unfortunately the quality control varies quite a bit among companies and even among different batches you may by from the same company; that's why I often recommend human vitamins. There are some new supplements out on the market for frogs that have high levels of vitamin A but I do not have experience with them.

Cost of Fecals/Worth of Fecals

I do "distance diagnosis" and will be happy to set-up a relationship through my office with someone who wants to do so by contacting my hospital.

That said, I agree that having a local vet who can look at your fecals is best. However, I consult with lots of veterinarians and am often frustrated by their inability to describe what they are seeing or to take a digital pic (easy to do even with a microscope that isn't adapted for cameras) to send to me. Thus I may only be able to say "sounds like a hookworm but if you can't tell me what's inside, it could be something else". As an example, one protozoal cyst looks almost identical to the egg of a fluke, so if the wrong identification is made, a frog may undergo pointless treatment for the fluke! There are many resources to identify parasites but they require some effort to acquire and the willingness to spend money on obscure things that are likely not going to make that veterinarian much money.

As far as cost, the direct fecal exam cost will varies from vet to vet and cost is not always a guide to reliability. A direct fecal is much more than just looking at "the bad guys". It is looking at the presence of other cells (intestinal lining, white blood cells, red blood cells), mucus, overall abundance of "the bad guys" and knowing what is normal for a particular group of amphibians. It takes many years to reach that level of knowledge and, frankly, I believe that what I charge for a direct fecal exam is fair no matter what other vets are charging for running the same test. Vets in Phoenix charge anywhere from $20 to $38 (and might be more, I didn't call some of the known high end clinics).

The client costs for polyvinyl alcohol identification of protozoal cysts may run $35 or more depending on the lab that is used. Often, a vet has to go to a research lab and make friends with a parasitologist to get some of these identified as the commerical lab may only be able to tell you "protozoal cysts". That might be done for free or a donation to the parasitologist's research may be requested. And, unfortunately, sometimes identification just cannot be made on preserved specimens.

What tests you run depends on what your collection's overall health is and what your overall goal is with regard to morbidity/mortality and identifying underlying causes. Someone with 40 tanks must take a herd health approach while someone with 3 or 4 tanks may be more likely to take an individual pet approach. As a veterinarian, I offer what I think is best and then work from there to come up with a plan that is right for a client's particular situation. If you tell me your budget is $200 for 40 tanks, then obviously we have to pick and choose what preventive measures we can take.

Discussing and prescribing medications
I will often discuss medications in general terms in a forum like this. I am uncomfortable offering certain advice due to the regulations governing veterinary medicine in Arizona. I cannot legally prescribe medications for pets unless I have developed a doctor-client relationship. In today's litigious world, lawsuits have flared over someone taking internet forum advice and applying it to their pet and having the pet die (whether or not the advice ahd anything to do with the pet's death). So I am happy to talk about some things but I will rarely, if ever, post a specific dosage for medicine or even a recommendation on a particular brand of a product (notice I did not tell you the vitamin supplement to use). Sorry, but that's what I have to do to cover my butt!

Now I know I forgot something
But it's 1:30 am and I need to get to sleep!
 

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I don't know why there is a smiley in my sentence. It should be ratios of A to D to E. Apparently putting in colons triggered the smiley!
 

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Thanks Kevin. One thing though. I have used herptavite exclusively for years now and it has no Vit A just beta carotene. I have seen no adverse effects w/ this supplement regime. Most of my pairs breed regularly and produce good froglets from the start at well under a year old. I only feed crickets(gutloaded w/ strictly leafy greens) once a month or less now so springs fed yeast and ff`s and supplement is all they get anymore. I don`t know where they could be getting the vit A from other than converting beta carotene. There was a scare years ago about oversuplementing A by using nekton because of the huge amount of A in this form. It was said this was more for snakes and monitors who ingest the livers of mammals?
 

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Vitamin A levels may vary quite a bit depending on species, what's going on in the vivarium, etc. Most captive amphibians that have been on a diet that does not have a source of vitamin A that have had liver analysis done are extremely low (often undetectable) levels of vitamin A. There is a risk of oversupplementation but with a once weekly dusting, the risk is extremely low. I listed some of the known signs of toxicosis just for that reason.

My assumption now is to think a vitamin A deficiency is playing a role in any problem unless I am able to conclusively rule out otherwise. It would be interesting to look at the frozen livers of any of the frogs that may die (for any reason) that are on a supplement lacking vitamin A to see what their levels are. Sometimes "good reproduction" will found to be actually "low reproduction" compared to frogs that are normalized with respect to vitamin A levels.

Sadly, it is a vastly underexplored and undocumented field, amphibian nutrition, and I know that there are many factors that affect individual hobbyists' success beyond what is in the bottle!
 

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Thanks for the input. I may get some nekton again and try it out.
I hate that there isn`t more of a call for the info on cb frogs. Sooo many questions and so few outlets.
 

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I have been pondering the vitamin A as retinol issue for awhile now and with respect to dendrobatids, a source of vitamin A may be in the diet of the flies but it will depend in a large part on the components of the media used to rear the flies and the conditions in which the flies were reared... if the media contains sufficient carotenoids that the fruit fly can use as a precursor then the fly will synthesize 11-cis 3-hydroxyretinal from the carotenoid..
However basic potato flake recipes (standard used in labs) contain very little in the way of carotenoids like beta carotene (about 21 mcg of beta carotene and 88 mcg of vitamin A as retinol per cup of rehydrated flakes). This is then subjected to a fermentive culture in which the flies are reared and fed causing the maggots and the flies to compete with the yeast and bacteria for these food items potentially resulting in the published analysis that fruit flies are deficient in retinol.

The levels may also be affected depending on when the flies were removed from the cultures.. so earlier batches of flies may contain greater levels of 11-cis 3-hydroxyretinal than later batches of flies.

So to get to the point, if a media was used that contained a sufficient source of carotenoid the flies would have a higher level of 11-cis 3-hydroxyretinal which when combined with a supplement allows for a sufficient supply of vitamin A to the tadpoles. This could be one of the possible differences seen in the success of some people with obligate egg feeders.

Now this train of thought is not proven but you can see the connections together above...
Some thoughts..

Ed
 

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Ed - not to sound chemistry or biology challenged, but what type of additional Vitamin A source are you/do you suggest to use in cultures, quantities, etc...?

Taking this a step further, what do you suggest to use for the dusting (I know some of this info is above) of fruit flies to increase this as well? Frequency?

Be kind - most of us are not working around or have access to lab scales, or reading technical journals that you might - so if you could translate some of your info that would be great. Not that we can't figure out what you are saying - just at the moment I am feeling challenged :rolleyes:.

On a side note - Has anyone thought about or used folic acid to dust fruit flies before? As an essential building block necessary for human development I wondered if anyone has ever considered using it or have used it. I have tried it a few times - think I have noticed an improvement in egg/tad development success but have not tried to quantitatively or qualitatively monitor it's use. Usually, I will toss it into my dusting powder when I remember - could be 1-2 times a month or 3-4 times a year. Like I said - I am not sure if I had any positive results that I can back up - just curios what others think or if they have tried this.

Thanks




I have been pondering the vitamin A as retinol issue for awhile now and with respect to dendrobatids, a source of vitamin A may be in the diet of the flies but it will depend in a large part on the components of the media used to rear the flies and the conditions in which the flies were reared... if the media contains sufficient carotenoids that the fruit fly can use as a precursor then the fly will synthesize 11-cis 3-hydroxyretinal from the carotenoid..
However basic potato flake recipes (standard used in labs) contain very little in the way of carotenoids like beta carotene (about 21 mcg of beta carotene and 88 mcg of vitamin A as retinol per cup of rehydrated flakes). This is then subjected to a fermentive culture in which the flies are reared and fed causing the maggots and the flies to compete with the yeast and bacteria for these food items potentially resulting in the published analysis that fruit flies are deficient in retinol.

The levels may also be affected depending on when the flies were removed from the cultures.. so earlier batches of flies may contain greater levels of 11-cis 3-hydroxyretinal than later batches of flies.

So to get to the point, if a media was used that contained a sufficient source of carotenoid the flies would have a higher level of 11-cis 3-hydroxyretinal which when combined with a supplement allows for a sufficient supply of vitamin A to the tadpoles. This could be one of the possible differences seen in the success of some people with obligate egg feeders.

Now this train of thought is not proven but you can see the connections together above...
Some thoughts..

Ed
 

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I wonder if making sweet potato, squash, etc. cultures would help. :)

The orange-colored fruits and vegetables including carrots, apricots, mangoes, squash, and sweet potatoes contain significant amounts of beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin.

Green vegetables, especially spinach, kale, and collard greens, also contain beta-carotene, and are the best sources of lutein.
WHFoods: carotenoids
 

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Ed - not to sound chemistry or biology challenged, but what type of additional Vitamin A source are you/do you suggest to use in cultures, quantities, etc...?
This to some extent is all guesstimates as I have yet to see an analysis on it.. Personally I add some spirulina to my ff media to bump up the levels of available carotenoids as not only does it contain several different carotenoids but depending on the strain it can have a lot more beta carotene than carrots or sweet potatos.
For those who want to peruse ff nutritional requirements see The Nutritional Requirements of Drosophila Melanogaster -- BEGG and ROBERTSON 26 (4): 380 -- Journal of Experimental Biology

As to amount, given that the flies are in effect living in a uncontrolled bioreactor with all kinds of other organisms.. your guess is as good as mine. For more than a year now I have been adding about a teaspoon per cup of dry media at the time I make up the cultures (otherwise the spirulina is stored in the freezer to dimish oxidation).



On a side note - Has anyone thought about or used folic acid to dust fruit flies before? As an essential building block necessary for human development I wondered if anyone has ever considered using it or have used it. I have tried it a few times - think I have noticed an improvement in egg/tad development success but have not tried to quantitatively or qualitatively monitor it's use. Usually, I will toss it into my dusting powder when I remember - could be 1-2 times a month or 3-4 times a year. Like I said - I am not sure if I had any positive results that I can back up - just curios what others think or if they have tried this.
At least some of the common supplements already contain folic acid as do the ffs and the brewer's yeast used in many of the cultures....
It should be stored in the liver and the occasional (stress occasional here) addition is unlikely to be harmful but real excesses can cause problems including seizures.

Some thoughts,

Ed
 
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This whole thread has been really enlightening...and perhaps should be revived...I am considering treating one of my frogs who appears too skinny...so am reading up on treatment for worms...Would love to see some updating on the latest treatments, thinking, options....things of that sort.
 

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This whole thread has been really enlightening...and perhaps should be revived...I am considering treating one of my frogs who appears too skinny...so am reading up on treatment for worms...Would love to see some updating on the latest treatments, thinking, options....things of that sort.

Judy, I do not believe prophylactic treatment with biocides is a wise choice. In fact, and in my opinion, many medications (all antibiotics and some of the more toxic antiparasitics) should not be used at all (with a rare exception or two) without proper testing, including drug sensitivity testing in the case of bacteria. Please, Please, Please, Please!!! Get proper Medical advice from a qualified vet before allowing anyone here to play doctor with your animals. There is a potential fine line between doing nothing and doing something without knowing what that something should target.

Thanks for reviving this thread. Stay tuned for an idea I have to help everyone become more aware of proper preventative husbandry.
 

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Glad that this thread was brought back...thanks Kyle. I do not regularly treat unless it seems appropriate...however...having a skinny frog that is otherwise healthy seems suspicious to me. Contamination of the environment and shedding of nasties for vivmates does concern me. Unfortunately in MD, you actually have to have the vet examine the patient...which seems ludicrous...what are they going to do, wait for the frog to poop, run to the microscope and examine ? The fresher the sample, the better chance for a more accurate result...but retesting and retesting is the best course of action. So options include finding a sympathetic vet, going on (pardon the pun) gut instinct, or spending an enormous amount of money on visits to the vet for "examination."
 

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A vet, and any medical doctor for that matter, cannot legally prescribe medication without a doctor/patient relationship. I find it hard to believe a vet will refuse a routine fecal exam to confirm presence. If present it would become imperative to establish a doctor patient relationship to determine animal weigh, proper dose, contamination containment and isolation, and disinfection protocal for the enclosure. If one frog out of several in the same viv has parasites, the other animals (with a few exceptions) must be treated as carriers. As Ed has stated many times: a negative test does not equal no parasites. If a cagemate is symptomatic I would put money on the vet prescribing treatment to the vivarium as if it was a single organism represented by the frog you bring in. Prophylactic treatment based on suspicion is NOT a valid choice and should be regarded as such. (a rare example may be fresh imports for chytrid/ranavirus with a follow up test to confirm treatment, and only then by experienced keepers who do not need to ask a forum for instructions. I do not fault you. Actually I commend your stepping up to the plate for the health of your frogs!!! While your intentions are good, the road to hell is also paved with the same!

PS i got your PM and will respond shortly :)
 

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Many states have this law, Judy, and it is in place to establish a patient-owner-doctor relationship. The way it is carried out is usually rather loose however once you trust your vet and they trust you.

Often an initial physical exam is required (and why wouldn't it be? I'd be very uncomfortable if my human doctor thought they could diagnose me over the phone!), but follow up rechecks on fecals and the such do not require them to again see the animal in person, unless, of course, you would like them to.

Each state is different of course, but I find if you have a good working relationship with a veterinarian, they tend to cut you some slack here and there where they can. A good exotics veterinarian will understand the limitations of transporting a sick dart frog every two weeks and wouldn't request it unless absolutely necessary.
 

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I appreciate the posts about this....and am trying to keep it "alive" for a bit so that other people will more readily see it. To me it is interesting that routine deworming for my horses, dog, cats is just that: routine. Having things become immune to medications is not a new concept to me--antibiotics being the prime example. However, seems like oceans between this animal husbandry approach and that of our captive frogs. Common sense, experience, and sensitivity to "normals" is what I'm trying to achieve. Yes, a relationship between client and vet plays a part...and perhaps this is the better way to achieve best results. But pardon me, I still think it stupid to have to take the frog.....
 

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Hey Judy,

People need to keep in mind that some of that information is now significantly out of date. With respect to shot gun treatments, there is a lot of problem with that approach as you'll need at least three different treatment medications to account for the main parasites that cause that sort of symptoms.

The reason it is important for the vets to see the animal as opposed to just the fecal is because if the animal is asymptomatic with a positive fecal then depending on the parasite in question, the best course of action may be to not treat but just monitor the animal. There are people in the hobby who take the position that no parasites are acceptable in the frogs. The problem with this position is that the more cutting edge of the vet community has been moving away from that position for a number of years now since it is possible to cause harm to the animals if it isn't done properly. Keep in mind that while treating one parasite it isn't uncommon for a second one to make it's appearance as the stress of the treatment lets the second parasite to become more active.

Some comments

Ed
 
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