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Desert tortoise not eating after near drowning

Discussion in 'North American Tortoises (genus Gopherus)' started by Susan J, Jul 9, 2019.

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  1. Susan J

    Susan J New Member

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    Need some advise. My tortoise nearly drowned last August. Hasn't eaten anything since event
    Seen vet numerous times. Tube feeding blood work antibiotics. Still not eating. Blood work show some liver damage but not failure. Should I continue to seek vet care or leave him be? Any advice would be good.
    Moozillion likes this.
  2. dmmj

    dmmj The member formerly known as captain awesome Moderator 10 Year Member!

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    I would leave alone, maybe try some baby carrot food soaks.
  3. Yvonne G

    Yvonne G Old Timer TFO Admin 10 Year Member! Platinum Tortoise Club

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    He hasn't eaten for almost a whole year? They can go a very long time without food, but that's really way too long. What kinds of foods are you offering him?

    My thought on the subject, and ONLY because he hasn't eaten in almost a whole year, is to have the vet put an esophagostomy tube into his stomach and feed him that way. The tube goes into an incision in his neck, so it doesn't interfere with his mouth, should he eventually decide to eat on his own. If you do go this route, bear in mind that a tortoise's digestion is not like ours. What you put into his stomach today may not empty into the digestive tract right away, so you don't want to put too much. I would feed him a small amount every other day.

    Please keep us informed as to how this little guy is doing.
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  4. TammyJ

    TammyJ Well-Known Member

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    I agree with soaking him in the baby carrot food baths, and also would ask what food is he being offered? Where is he being kept? Can we see some photos? We would like to help. Nearly a year without eating? Whew.:eek:
  5. Susan J

    Susan J New Member

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    I have tried everything he used to love. Lettuce, squash, rose petals, melon. The vet did put feeding tube in several time into his stomach to help kick-start him to eat. nothing seems to work. I was hoping that if I backed-off from vet care that maybe he would start eating on his own. we may be dealing with brain damage or his sense of smell has been impacted. he does sniff at food, but just won't take a bite. so frustrating.
  6. Susan J

    Susan J New Member

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    thanks for your input! New Vet is has started this tubing today. He is completely impacted. So, will include mineral oil with tube feeding too.
  7. mark1

    mark1 Well-Known Member

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    b complex injections do appear to me to stimulate appetite ……. I had a turtle not eat for 8 months , he ate within 2 or 3 days of a b complex injection , I've had a few I couldn't get eating after hibernating , they also ate shortly after getting b complex injections ……... after a year i'd think an injection of ADE would be a good guess in that he is undoubtedly deficient in everything ……. fluid therapy i'm sure wouldn't hurt ….. as far a tube in his neck , myself personally i'd have trouble seeing a reason for it , other than to administer oral medications .... it's not like these guys have to eat everyday , or even every week …….. I would tube feed him every once in awhile , but not very often ….. not sure how his liver would take it but anabolic steroids can stimulate appetite …. I assume your vet is pretty experienced with tortoises , and has already weighed or tried some of those thoughts ?
  8. JoesMum

    JoesMum Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    @Moozillion hand endless problems after Jacques nearly drowned. Unfortunately it did not end well :( I wish you luck. It seems that recovery is far from straightforward
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  9. Moozillion

    Moozillion Well-Known Member 5 Year Member Platinum Tortoise Club

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    Hi, Susan.
    I'm very, very sorry to hear about your tortoise.:(

    I had a turtle with a drowning experience and I will share what I learned.
    On Dec 8,2017 I found my eastern mud turtle in her tank, apparently having gotten trapped under her basking platform and drowned. I held her head-down to get the water out and pumped her legs to get her breathing. She started breathing on her own and moving! i thought all would be well. :)
    But over the next 18 months she had 5 different hospital stays at the exotic vet: twice for treatment of aspiration pneumonia from the drowning and 3 more times for unknown infection- her symptoms were always the same: stopped eating , hiding more and at the vet's she would show an elevated blood count.
    I took her to the veterinary school here in our state, and they did some more tests. Unfortunately, she was getting worse, and we had her euthanized just last month (June, 2019: a full year and a half after the drowning).

    The veterinary school did a necropsy on her. She had pneumonia, inflammation in her lungs and SHE STILL HAD CRUD ("foreign material," to use the veterinary school terminology) IN HER LUNGS FROM THE DROWNING 18 MONTHS BEFORE!!!
    Turtles have no diaphragm, so they can't cough to clear stuff out of their lungs. The antibiotics circulate in their blood streams and kill the pneumonia; but the inhaled crud lies inside the AIRWAYS where the blood vessels don't go. So every time the infection is cleared up, the crud the airways acts like a seed and starts another infection. They found microscopic bits of yellowish "matter" throughout her lungs and in her liver which was mostly likely dead white blood cells that were the result of her immune system trying unsuccessfully to destroy the gunk she had inhaled.

    They told me we did the right thing to euthanize her because she was not going to get better. She was basically dying very slowly ever since the drowning incident.

    Based on my personal experience and how badly your tortoise has been doing, my suggestion would be to euthanize him/her.

    Again, I"m very, VERY sorry for your sad situation. :<3:

    Hugs from Moozilion
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  10. Susan J

    Susan J New Member

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    New update: he is eating!! New vet put feeding tube in which requires feeding with critical care food syringed in 3x per day and daily soakings. Vet gave us an 80 percent chance that he would eventually start eatting his own but may take weeks. X-ray revealed he was compacted with decomposed granite so we added mineral oil 1 time per day. Just a few days ago he started to eat on his own. Hopefully this trend continues. Thanks for all the great advise.
    Ciri, JoesMum and katieandiggy like this.
  11. JoesMum

    JoesMum Well-Known Member 5 Year Member

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    Excellent news. Fingers crossed for sustained improvement :)
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