Uncovering the Silent Threat: Causes of High Blood Pressure in Bearded Dragons

High blood pressure in bearded dragons can be caused by several factors, including inadequate diet, poor husbandry practices, and genetics. It is also hypothesized that bearded dragons may be able to adjust their blood pressure in response to illness or diet, although the exact mechanism is still unknown.

An improper diet that lacks appropriate nutrients can negatively affect a bearded dragon’s eyes and may be linked to obesity, which could contribute to high blood pressure.

It is essential to provide proper care and a balanced diet to maintain your bearded dragon’s health and prevent hypertension-related issues.

Understanding High Blood Pressure in Bearded Dragons

Hypo Het Translucent leatherback Bearded Dragon
Credit: Fen Dragons And More

Bearded dragons are some of the most popular reptile pets, known for their docile nature and unique appearance. Just like humans, these creatures can also suffer from high blood pressure, which can lead to serious health problems if left untreated. As a responsible pet owner, it is crucial to understand the causes and prevention of hypertension in bearded dragons.

Definition of High Blood Pressure in Bearded Dragons

High blood pressure or hypertension is a medical condition that occurs when the force of blood against the walls of arteries is consistently too high. In bearded dragons, normal blood pressure ranges between 80-120mmHg. However, anything above this range indicates hypertension and can potentially damage internal organs such as the heart and kidneys.

The Importance of Understanding the Causes of High Blood Pressure in Bearded Dragons

Left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to serious health issues such as heart failure, kidney disease, or blindness. It is essential for pet owners to recognize early warning signs and understand potential causes so they can take preventative measures or seek treatment if necessary.

In addition to knowing how to identify hypertension risk factors in bearded dragons, understanding the underlying causes can help prevent future occurrences. The following sections will expound on various factors that contribute to high blood pressure in bearded dragons.

Factors that Contribute to High Blood Pressure in Bearded Dragons

Bearded Dragon, Budapest Zoo 2014
Credit: Ciska van Geer

Genetics: Inherited Predisposition to Hypertension

Just like humans, bearded dragons can also inherit a predisposition to hypertension from their parents. This can be due to genetic mutations that affect the regulation of blood pressure, leading to an increased risk of developing high blood pressure.

It is important for breeders to carefully select breeding pairs and avoid those with a history of hypertension, as this can decrease the occurrence of high blood pressure in offspring.

Breeding Practices and Genetic Selection for Certain Traits

Breeding practices can also contribute to the development of high blood pressure in bearded dragons. Unfortunately, some breeders prioritize certain physical traits over health when selecting breeding pairs. Inbreeding can also increase the likelihood of genetic mutations associated with high blood pressure.

Diet and Nutrition: High Salt Intake

A diet high in salt is a major contributor to high blood pressure in humans and it’s no different for bearded dragons. Commercially prepared diets should have minimal amounts of added salt as it increases sodium levels in the body leading to hypertension.

Diet and Nutrition: Imbalanced Calcium-to-Phosphorus Ratio

Bearded dragons require calcium for strong bones, but too much or too little calcium in their diet can lead to imbalances that affect kidney function leading to hypertension.

Diet and Nutrition: Dehydration

Dehydration occurs when the body doesn’t have enough fluids, resulting in thickened blood as well as low fluid volumes present within vessels which causes increased resistance increasing the heart workload ultimately resulting in elevated diastolic pressures

Environmental Factors: Temperature Fluctuations

Bearded dragons are cold-blooded animals that rely on external sources like sunlight to regulate their body temperature. At extreme temperatures, they can suffer from stress leading to increased heart rate and blood pressure.

Environmental Factors: Stressful Living Conditions

Stressful living conditions including overcrowding, inadequate living space, lack of hiding spots, or a consistent feeding schedule can lead to chronic stress, which is known to contribute to hypertension in animals. It’s important for owners to ensure that their bearded dragons have an ideal environment that allows them to thrive.

There are several factors that can contribute to high blood pressure in bearded dragons including genetics, diet and nutrition, and environmental factors. As responsible owners it’s important to minimize these risk factors by providing a well-balanced diet with minimal salt as well as ensuring appropriate environmental conditions with adequate space and regular feeding schedules.

Specific Causes of High Blood Pressure in Bearded Dragons

Kidney Disease or Dysfunction

Kidney disease or dysfunction is one of the primary causes of high blood pressure in bearded dragons. Impaired kidney function can lead to fluid retention and increased blood volume, which can result in hypertension. Inflammation or infection affecting the kidneys can also contribute to high blood pressure.

Symptoms of kidney disease include lethargy, decreased appetite, weight loss, and dehydration. It is crucial to seek veterinary attention if you suspect your bearded dragon is suffering from kidney disease.

Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular diseases are another significant cause of high blood pressure in bearded dragons. Arteriosclerosis, which is the hardening of arteries due to plaque buildup on the artery walls, can lead to hypertension.

Atherosclerosis, which is plaque buildup inside the arteries that restricts blood flow, can also result in high blood pressure. These conditions make it difficult for the heart to pump sufficient blood throughout the body leading to an increase in blood pressure.

Endocrine Disorders

Hyperthyroidism and adrenal gland tumors are two endocrine disorders that cause hypertension in bearded dragons. Hyperthyroidism results from an overactive thyroid gland that increases metabolic activity and leads to elevated levels of hormones that regulate heart rate and circulation resulting in hypertension.

Adrenal gland tumors lead to excess production of hormones that cause hypertension as well as other symptoms such as lethargy and weight loss.

Understanding these specific causes will enable you as a reptile pet owner or veterinarian better manage your pet’s health care needs by identifying diseases early enough for effective treatment before they escalate into major problems like high blood pressure associated with organ damage and mortality among bearded dragons.

Prevention and Treatment Options for High Blood Pressure in Bearded Dragons

Dietary Changes Including Reducing Salt Intake

One of the most effective ways to prevent and treat high blood pressure in bearded dragons is to make dietary changes. A diet that is low in salt can help reduce hypertension in bearded dragons. Foods high in salt content, such as processed foods and commercial feed, should be avoided as much as possible.

Instead, a diet rich in fresh vegetables and fruits can provide essential nutrients without adding extra sodium to their diet. Be sure to provide adequate calcium supplements to ensure they receive an appropriate balance of calcium and phosphorus.

Veterinary Intervention

If you suspect your bearded dragon has high blood pressure, it is important to take them to a veterinarian experienced with reptiles right away.

The vet will perform diagnostic tests such as blood work and urinalysis, which can help determine the underlying cause of the hypertension. Depending on the diagnosis, treatments may include medications such as ACE inhibitors or changes in diet and living conditions.

Managing Environmental Factors

High temperatures or temperature fluctuations can impact a bearded dragon’s health adversely by causing dehydration or heat stress which can lead to an increase in blood pressure. Ensure that your pet’s living environment is suitable with enough space for them to move around freely without feeling cramped up or getting too cold/hot when temperatures fluctuate.


Understanding what causes high blood pressure in bearded dragons is essential for pet owners who want to keep their animals healthy and happy.

By making dietary changes, seeking veterinary intervention when needed, and monitoring environmental factors like temperature fluctuations; we can help our pets manage hypertension effectively while reducing the risks of complications associated with this condition.

With proper care and attention, your bearded dragon can lead a healthy and happy life, free from the dangers of high blood pressure.