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Health and Medications

This page describes readily available treatments and medications we have found safe and effective in our experience for a broad range of common dart frog ailments. It is prudent to have ready access to many of these medications in case of emergency.

Medicinal science for dart frogs remains nascent and controversial. Moreover, the best options for you might be limited to prescription drugs. While we have had personal success with each otfthese non-prescription treatments, we encourage you to discuss your particular need, diagnosis and treatment options with a qualified veterinarian before initiating treatment.

A milligram scale is required to accurately weigh out a number of the chemicals below.  This one is only $20 and works great.


Isotonic Ringers

Frogs are hypertonic (contain more dissolved salts in body fluids) compared to their environment. They thus must actively counter osmotic pressure to maintain proper osmolarity and this requires energy. Soaking a sick or weakened frog in isotonic Ringer’s solution enables them to  instead spend their energy on getting well.  Ringers solution is an effective aid for bloat which results from a failure to osmoregulate.  Conversely, it is used to rehydrate frogs (eg: escapees!).  Note, while Ringer's bath can assist the frog osmoregulate, it is not a cure for the primary issue that lead to the symptoms to begin with.  The frog might be able to recover from the original issue on its own or might require additional medications. 

Ringers solids, available here, are stable indefinitely at room temp.  Dissolve pouch A of solids  completely in 1/2 gallon distilled water. Then add pouch B and mix well.  Soak frog in solution for 1-3 hrs and repeat as needed.  Keep solution refrigerated . Discard if particulates or algae/slime growth is evident. 

 

Calcium Gluconate

Calcium gluconate is used to provide an energy boost to weakened and/or anorexic frogs.  It is available here.  2% refers to weight/volume. Thus, add 20mg per ml of distilled water. Add several drops of the solution to the frog’s back. This can be repeated several times a day.  Refrigerate/freeze  unused solution.  Discard if algae/slime growth is evident. 

 

Antiparasitics

Ivermectin

Ivermectin is a potent, easy to dose de-wormer. It is sold as a 5mg/ml solution for cattle, such as here.   It is important to dilute this solution before administering to frogs.  Add 1 part of 5 mg/ml solution to 6 parts of distilled water.  Dropper bottles work well for this.  Mix well and add one drop of the dilution to back of frog. Use dilution within 36 hrs or discard. Repeat once per week for 4 weeks.


Fenbendazole

Fenbendazole is a de-worming agent that can be used to prophylactically reduce nematode burden. Pure fenbendazole is available here.  The recommended dose is 25mg/kg of frog which translates to ~1.5 dusted wingless melanogaster per gram of frog or ~10-15 flies per adult tinctorius. Care should be taken not to overdose fenbendazole as this can result in adverse events. Treatment of infected frogs is done once a day for 3 days and then repeated in 2 weeks. Prophylactic treatment can be administered once every 2 weeks.

Note: When de-worming frogs, wide-spread worm death can cause septic shock. We recommend incrementally increasing to recommended dosage if large worm burden is expected.

 

Methylene Blue

Commonly used to prevent fungal and protozoal infestation of eggs/tadpoles. It is available in most aquarium stores or here.  Add 5 drops per liter of water for egg soak or 2 drops per liter for tadpoles. Harmless to eggs/tads.

 

Antibiotics

Triple Sulfa

Triple Sulfa is a broad spectrum antibiotic that is very effective for treating and preventing infections in skin lesions. It is available from API and sold at most aquarium stores or here.  Each packet contains 2,000mg, sufficient for 3 gallons of water or Ringer's solution.  We recommend making smaller batches in Ringer's solution.  For example, weigh out 333mg and dissolve into 1/2 gallon of Ringer's solution (see above).  Soak frogs for 30-45 minutes 1-2x per day. Dilution is stable for 72 hrs.

 

Triple Antibiotic Ointment

This broad-spectrum antibiotic salve is available at most pharmacies and is effective for promoting healing while treating and preventing infections in skin lesions. Petroleum jelly based ointment contains: 5mg/g neomycin sulfate, 5,000 U polymixin B sulfate, and  400 U bacitracin zinc.  Use a cotton swab to apply to lesion several times a day. Use in combination with triple sulfa soaks for best results.