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Seeing Veterinarians

First and foremost, the veterinarian is your best friend and advisor when it comes to sick turtles. While with experience, you will be able to diagnose and maybe even treat some minor problems, the veterinarian knows the bigpicture, and can perform necessary tests, prescribes medications. They can warn you of complications, and make sense of confusing symptoms.

The best way to keep your veterinarian bills manageable, is to strive for the best possible husbandry practices; and if your turtle does get sick, do seek advice and treatment as soon as possible. Not only will your turtle suffer less, if it gets treatment early, the treatment is likely to be shorter, simpler, and therefore less costly.

Of course, it is up to you to decide, whether to treat a sick turtle in the first place, and if so, whether to treat it yourself, or whether to see an expert. Since the animals are being kept as captives, away from their natural environment, we also become fully responsible for their well-being.

The prices for visits to the veterinarian vary greatly, and while a good veterinarian costs money, the best veterinarian is not always the most expensive one. If you can't afford to pay for your turtle to see a veterinarian, but you would like to help your animal, here are a few suggestions:

1. Some veterinarians will treat animals at a lower cost, if the owner clearly has the desire, but not have the means to help.
2. Try to find someone in a herp society who has experience with the condition your turtle experiences. Maybe they can help you treat the turtle, or they can help you find affordable help.
3. Use the net, books, and other reptile owners as a resource. The more you can find out about your turtle's problem before seeing the veterinarian, the shorter the visit, and the more likely you can get away with one visit and a follow-up phone call.
4. Show willingness to administer treatments and medications yourself. Most veterinarians will be happy to show you how to give injections or apply medications. That way, your animal will not have to be borded.
5. Follow all instructions to the dot. This will help your turtle get well faster, and your bills will be lower.
6. Once you find a veterinarian you like, establish a good working relationship. See the same person for all problems. Once a veterinarian knows you and your animals, it is often possible to get help over the phone.
7. Many veterinarians have payment plans to help distribute the cost of expensive treatments over several months.

When Should Your Turtle See a Veterinarian

The answer to that question depends a lot on your level of experience. If this is your first turtle and the first time something is wrong, you should see a veterinarian and not try to treat the turtle yourself. If you have experience with some problems, a veterinarian should be called or visited if the problem persists or gets worse in spite of treatment.

In general, if your turtle is sick with anything that you don't know what it is, or that you don't know how to treat, see a veterinarian immediately. I can't emphasize often enough that the sooner your turtle is treated, the faster and cheaper the recovery.

Dead Turtle Syndrome

DTS, Dead Turtle Syndrome, is a serious and often fatal condition of many turtles. Turtles suffer well, and they can get DTS before you know it. A turtle is diagnosed with DTS, when its condition has (often slowly and unnoticeably even to experienced keepers) worsened to the point where the turtle is dead, it just doesn't know it yet. Very few turtles have recovered, but usually they don't.

When is it Time to See a Veterinarian?

Every time you are worried. If I am worried, I go see a veterinarian for both my and the turtle's sake.
If you are using home treatment, and the turtle is getting worse. I usually give anything a few days to a week to get better. If things stay the same, I go see a veterinarian after that time. If things get better, I don't see a veterinarian. If things get worse in spite of my attempts at treatment, I see a veterinarian immediately.

lf your turtle is sick or maybe sick, and you don't know what to do. As with people, it is much cheaper to treat the beginnings of a problem. The money you think you are saving by putting off a visit to the doctor, will be more than used later if you have an advanced disease to deal with.


This is a picture of a turtle with a Shell Rot
This is a picture of a turtle after cleaning it


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Site Created: 1/8/2002, Last modified: 12/7/2003 by Petra Grujic