Metabolic Bone Diseases in Exotic Animals

Other than diseases which result from infection from bacteria and viruses, diseases can also be caused due to deficiency of proper nutrients in the diet. The metabolic bone disease is caused if there is a deficiency of vitamin D, calcium, and phosphorus. The condition specially aggravates when the problem is not treated for a long period of time. The major cause of this disease is due to improper care in dietary needs of animals. According to some doctors, the disease can also be caused due to high consumption of proteins.

Metabolic bone disease is also known by other names such as osteoporosis, cage paralysis, nutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism, rickets, and paper bone disease. Even if the ratio between calcium and phosphorous is disturbed, the disease is impending. A well balanced diet and close monitoring can result in the proper absorption and retention of calcium in the bones.

As long as the young one is totally dependant on mother’s milk, it has very rare chance of developing this disease. But once it starts eating other food and completely leaves mother’s milk, it can face the risk. Also animals which live in the wild have lesser chance of developing metabolic bone disease. The animals are able to eat the prey as a whole and the meat is combined with skin, fat, fur, bones, feathers, intestines, etc. Different parts of the prey provide different nutrients and the animal feeding on it gets a balanced diet by eating it.

The major cause of this disease is the unbalancing of calcium. Chunks of muscle meat which are provided to animals in captivity contain minute traces of calcium and high levels of phosphorous. This high level of phosphorous decreases the capacity of the body to absorb the available calcium. Calcium deficiency can also occur when the animal is not fed with fully grown animals and only neonatal prey. The actual ratio of calcium and phosphorous that has to be consumed is 20:1. And this ratio is reversed when only meat is given to the captive pet, which results in nutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism. Even worse, organs such as heart, kidney and liver will have calcium and phosphorus in the ratio of 1:44 which is alarming.

Even when vitamin A is taken in excess, it suppresses the absorption capacity of vitamin D and even of calcium. The rate of vitamin A consumption increases when liver is fed a lot. When the required quantity of vitamin D becomes less it causes rickets disease. In this disease, the bone density is reduced at joints and they become pliable and brittle. The bones become more prone to pathological fractures. Other than that neuromuscular abnormalities and poor motor reflexes can also be caused.

Calcium is not only required for proper bone growth but also for the proper functioning of muscles. It also enables the blood clotting, activation of enzymes, and activation of enzymes. The function of vitamin D is to maintain the proper ratio of calcium and phosphorous in the blood stream.

The diet should be well balanced. Twice a week, the animal should be given bones which have scanty meat on it like ribs, necks, thigh bones, etc. A more simple way is to give the animal a whole prey to feed on. Commercially designed diets already have the required composition, but that can be more expensive.