Seeking some guidance for my little love (eastern box turtle)

jahmeanne

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Hi all,

My name is Jamie. I'm 34 years old and I've been a long time lurker of this forum. I hate that this is the first post I'm putting on here, but I need some guidance (or perhaps comfort) about a situation I'm facing with my 38+ year old eastern box turtle, Daget. She's been my companion for 29 years and recently she was struck with illness. Before I proceed, I should note that I'm already working with an exotic vet to help her and am looking for additional insight as I await some of her results...

Two weeks ago she surprised me with an egg. In all of our 29 years together, she's only laid eggs probably 5 or 6 times. The next day, she laid another egg. Usually when this has happened in the past, she'd rest for a bit and then return to her peachy, energetic, sassy self. This time it was different. She is extremely lethargic and will not eat or drink (unless I'm soaking her). I got her to an emergency ER vet (who claimed that had an exotic vet onsite, though I never met her) on July 18th and she was handled horribly. I wasn't able to be with her when they examined her, but she was cold when they came back with her and she started opening her mouth more to breath (not fully, but lowered her lower jaw enough to know it was not normal behavior). They claimed to check for additional eggs, but did not find any. They also gave me a prescription for Ceftazidime with no context as to the purpose of this antibiotic (after claiming she looked great otherwise). Obviously I was peeved about the situation and heartbroken that she seemed worse off than before. I suspected a potential respiratory infection and went seeking for another vet.

On Wednesday I was finally able to find an exotic vet that I could meet in person. She was amazing to work with and she handled Daget really well. X-rays showed no signs of egg binding or pneumonia. She said her mouth looked pink and healthy, eliminating the possibility of a respiratory infection for her. We're waiting on blood work to seek out any deficiencies / systemic infrections in the meantime and she believes I should continue giving Daget the antibiotic

Despite pneumonia and RI being removed from the vets suspicions, I'm still worried that it could be a possibility. She continues not to eat / drink and she continues to lower her lower jaw a bit. I noticed when I soaked her this morning (it's the only way I can get her to get some water in her system), she appeared to have drool under her chin.

Daget means the world to me and I want to do everything in my power to help her while we try to figure out what's going on. I'm wondering if anyone here has run into a similar situation with their companions in the past. Everything I've researched always points back to a respiratory infection. If anyone has had similar experiences or could offer any guidance / advice, I'd be beyond appreciated. I trust the vet but it's hard to see her in this state. Right now my only hope is that the Ceftazidime will help her with whatever she's dealing with. She's on her second shot out of seven (given every 3 days) but I haven't seen much improvement yet. She also makes it impossible to give her those shots, so I'm hoping it's getting into her system properly. Anyways sorry for the essay, writing this out helps me too. It's been a very stressful / emotional week.
 

Yvonne G

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My first thought was something stuck inside her mouth or at the back of her tongue. Of course because of the egg, one would think there were two or three more inside wanting to come out, but you said that was nixed by the vet.
 

jahmeanne

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Hey Yvonne,

Thank you for your response. Dystocia was definitely my first suspicion when this all started, but yes the vet took very thorough / multi angled x-rays and did not see anything additional.

While that in itself is a relief, it still begs the question of what's wrong with her. I never thought about something potentially being stuck in her mouth. I'm not sure how one would go about checking for that. It's in scenarios like this where I wish I could actually talk to her.
 

zolasmum

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Hey Yvonne,

Thank you for your response. Dystocia was definitely my first suspicion when this all started, but yes the vet took very thorough / multi angled x-rays and did not see anything additional.

While that in itself is a relief, it still begs the question of what's wrong with her. I never thought about something potentially being stuck in her mouth. I'm not sure how one would go about checking for that. It's in scenarios like this where I wish I could actually talk to her.
I am so sorry about Daget, and I hope she will recover from whatever the problem is, quickly. I can't be any help,I'm afraid, but wanted to say how much I feel for you, and her - I shall be thinking of her - and I hope you will let us know her progress.
Angie
 

turtlesteve

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A surprising and unfortunate thing I have learned is that egg-related infections can occur even with immature (un-shelled) eggs, or with shelled eggs where the shell is reabsorbed. So a normal x-ray is not necessarily confirmation of anything. These infections are commonly fatal. I lost a female redfoot to this (the ruptured egg did not show up on x-ray)

Knowing that SOMETHING is wrong, I would proceed with the antibiotic. Otherwise, I'm not sure what else to recommend.
 

jahmeanne

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Thank you all for your suggestions and hopes for her. She's been resting a lot and attempted to eat yesterday, but had a lot of jaw irritation. I just gave her the third dosage of antibiotic, so I'm sure that probably wore her out a bit.

Much to my relief, the exotic vet tending to her will be back in the office today. I'll hopefully get her bloodwork back and update her on Daget's increased jaw irritation. My lady is a strong one, I'm really hoping she'll pull through this.
 

jahmeanne

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Very best of luck. Is Daget mostly housed inside or outside?

Fingers crossed for a recovery.
Sadly she's an indoor box turtle. I live in a very dense suburb with little space (and lots of cats in the area). I do my best to get her outside for a minimum of 30 minutes each day though. While that's not ideal, it's the best I can do in the current circumstances. I hate it.
 

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