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common health problems

* If your animal gets sick and either gets worse fast, or
  does not get better after you made the environment perfect,
  see a veterinarian who has experience with turtles.
  Some are in the yellow pages, or ask your local animal hospital or
  Humane Society for a reference to a turtle vet. Your local herp
  society may also be able to help.

* If your turtle gets sick, make sure, you are keeping it in clean
  water, feed it the right foods, and keep it warm enough. These
  are the primary reasons for turtles getting sick. Fix the
  environment, or the turtle will not get better, even with
  expensive medication.

* The most common symptom is a turtle not eating. See next section.

* Swollen eyes
  Most often the beginning of any kind of an infection. 
  Bacterial infections, caused by a combination of stress and physical damage
  (rough substrate, dirty substrate in eyes, scratched by other turtles'claws).
  Do not just use eye drops. If the infection is strictly in the eye,
  Gentocin drops (from your veterinarian) often help. 
  They ease the symptoms, and the turtle will be happier, but you
  need to treat the cause. Many infections have swollen eyes for a
  symptom. You can harm your turtle if you automaticall assume
  vitamin A deficiency and then pump it full with the vitamin.
  WARNING: Vitamin A injections are not recommended. It is very 
  difficult to decide on the proper dosage, and an overdose will kill
  the turtle; it is easy to overdose. Supplemented diet should be
  tried first! 

* Wounds in the skin and small rashes. You can treat these by 
  disinfecting them with Betadine or Nolvosan solution (dilute
  with same amount of water) and keeping the turtle warm and dry.
  Soak it twice daily for 1/2 hour in warm water, separate from
  other turtles, and disinfect after each bath. 
  If the condition does not improve, see a vet. These things can
  take several weeks to clear up. If it does not get worse, be
  patient and wait a bit.

* Shell sores, hole in shell, bloody sores on shell.
  Immediately remove the turtle from the water and keep it in a dry
  environment. Give a 1/2 hour soak twice a day.
  Sponge it off with Betadine or Nolvosan several times a day, 
  especially after the soak. See a veterinarian immediately.
  Shell diseases need much tender loving care to heal, and it 
  takes months or years to clean it up.
  Prevent it, by feeding a proper diet and cleaning the water.
  You may want to apply a THIN layer of Silvadene cream after
  putting the turtle back into its dry box.
  Oil based antibiotic creams  are good to put on when the turtle
  is in the water but should be wiped of afterwards. I primary ingredient
  in healing is drying out of the affected area. An oil-based cream will
  prevent that from happening.
  Keep the turtle plenty warm!

* Sneezing and gaping (occasionally)
  Like humans, reptiles occasionally sneeze or yawn. Turtles can get water
  in their nose and need to sneeze it out. If the sneezing happens
  only every once in a while, and if their is no mucus discharge,
  there is nothing to worry about.

* Sneezing (often), coughing, gaping
  Almost always a sign of respiratory infection, often pneumonia.
  This needs the immediate attention of a turtle veterinarian.
  The turtle will need antibiotics, X-rays, and a lot of care. One
  cause can be too low a water temperature.
  If your turtle is only sniffeling a little, try upping the temperature
  and wait a few days. If condition does not improve, see a veterinarian.

* Constipation
  Not very common in water turtles. But if you are sure your turtle
  is not defecating (remove the filter and see whether anything happens),
  he might have an obstructed intestine or some other problem. You may
  need and X-Ray to determine the exact cause. 

* Skin shedding
  A little peeling occasionally is fine. Turtles shed their skin like
  other reptiles, but more continuously. Mine usually shed more for a
  while, then less or not at all. As long as the shed sking is thin
  and tranlucent, and you don't see anything unusual on the skin, and
  the shedding is not excessive, don't worry. If the shedding is continuous,
  or the skin looks sore or red, or the shedding is very heavy, you may
  have to deal with a skin fungus. Have your turtle checked by a veterinarian.
  You may also soak the turtle in an idodine solution twice a day for
  15 minutes and keep it warm and dry outside the water overnight for a while.

* Shell shedding
  Turtles shed occasionally the outermost layer of their scutes. They are
  thin, translucent scutes. If the whole scute is shed and the bone becomes
  visible, or if shedding is continuous, you may have a fungus problem and
  should have your turtle inspected by a veterinarian. As an immediate
  measure, remove the turtle from the water except for a 30 minute bath
  twice a day; keep it warm and dry; soak twice a day for 15 minutes in
  iodine solution or sponge off with Nolvosan.


* Silvery spots under the top layer of shell
  The silver spot is most likely air trapped under a scute that might
  shed soon. (Not the whole scute to the bone, just one layer, which
  turtles shed periodically.) Just keep an eye on it. Sometimes, the
  spot turns green from algae that grow on it. You may try, gently, 
  to see whether to scutej (just a transparent layer) is loose and
  comes off. 
 Swollen eyes   
Most often the beginning of any kind of an infection. 
Bacterial infections, caused by a combination of stress and physical damage
(rough substrate, dirty substrate in eyes, scratched by other turtles'claws).
Do not just use eye drops. If the infection is strictly in the eye,
Gentocin drops (from your veterinarian) often help.  
They ease the symptoms, and the turtle will be happier, but you   
need to treat the cause. Stay away from Vitamin A shots until you
have tried a change in diet and soaking and topical antibiotics.
Lack of vitamin A is only one possible cause, and not the most common.
It is difficult to determine the correct dose, and too much will
cause the turtle a slow and painful death.

* Constipation
Can be caused by wrong diet, lack of exercise, or ingestion of sand, 
dirt, or gravel. If your turtle does not eliminate, or becomes hard 
and impacted at the rear end, see a veterinarian. This is a serious 
condition.

* Wounds in the skin and small rashes. 
You can treat these by disinfecting them with Betadine or Nolvosan 
solution (dilute with same amount of water) and keeping the turtle 
warm and dry. If the condition does not improve, see a 
veterinarian. Betadine is available at all drug stores. Nolvosan 
can be bought at farm supply stores or from a veterinary.

* Sneezing and gaping (occasionally)   
Like humans, reptiles occasionally sneeze or yawn. Turtles can get 
water in their nose and need to sneeze it out. If the sneezing 
happens  only every once in a while, and if there is no mucus 
discharge, there is nothing to worry about.

* Sneezing (often), coughing, gaping   
Almost always a sign of respiratory infection, often pneumonia.   
This needs the immediate attention of a skilled herp veterinarian.   
The turtle will need antibiotics, X-rays, and a lot of care. Better   
prevent by keeping your turtle warm enough and properly fed.

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