If you notice that your frog seems a little larger and slower than usual, it may be bloated, which can be very serious and even fatal in some cases.
Bloating can be caused by several different things. In less worrisome situations, your frog may be getting ready to lay eggs, or your frog may be struggling with obesity.
Bloating can also be due to an infection, a poor diet, a foreign body, or chemical exposure. In these instances, the health and safety of your frog could be in jeopardy, and it is important to take action.
Read on to learn about the potential causes for bloating and the best methods for treating your frog.
Which Frog Breeds are More Prone to Bloating?
African Dwarf Frogs and African Clawed Frogs are two species that are more prone to problematic bloating. These frogs are entirely aquatic, meaning that they live their whole lives underwater.
Because of their common aquatic nature and appearance, these two species are often confused for one or the other. Rest assured, they are two distinct species that even come from different frog families.
If you own one of these types of frogs and notice abnormal swelling in their abdomen, leg area, or head, there is cause for concern.
Other species of frogs that are less prone to bloating can also experience problematic bloating, even if it is less common. To determine the best course of action, the first step is to look at some of the most common causes for bloating in frogs.
Five Common Causes of Bloating in Frogs
Let’s read through these 5 common causes of bloating in frogs and use the process of elimination to help you determine what is going on with your frog.
Dropsy is thought to be caused by a disruption in proper lymph drainage, though the exact causes of dropsy are still debated by veterinarians.
What we do know is that a poor diet can lead to dropsy, and so can a bacterial infection. To determine if your frog’s diet might be causing dropsy, double-check the nutritional requirements of your frog and cross-reference them with the diet it’s received in the last month. Correcting your frog’s diet will likely resolve dropsy over time if there are significant nutritional deficits.
If you are certain that your frog is receiving all of its essential nutrients and can rule out a poor diet, your poor frog might have an infection. If this is the case, the dropsy is more dangerous, and you should seek out immediate veterinary care.
Frogs with dropsy also tend to show signs of lethargy and regurgitation. Some frogs retain a normal appetite while they have dropsy, whereas others might refuse to eat.
Dropsy caused by a bacterial infection is especially dangerous because of the build-up of lymph fluid. This bloating can put strain and pressure on other organs, even so much as to cause organ failure.
Another common cause of bloating in frogs is impaction. This happens when your frog ingests a foreign body by mistake. Most impaction cases are the result of an improper substrate. Beware of substrate that has gravel-like chunks.
When your frog goes to eat, its tongue can also catch things around its intended prey, like pieces of substrate. If your frog does swallow a foreign body (non-food item), it can get lodged in their digestive tract and cause a blockage, which can lead to bloating.
To determine if impaction might be the cause, examine your substrate and tank environment to determine if there are any swallowable foreign bodies that are accessible to your frog. If there are, remove them immediately.
If you think your frog might have swallowed something it shouldn’t have, one thing you can do is gently massage the frog’s abdomen with your forefinger. Ensure you wash your hands before doing so and handle your frog as carefully as possible.
Sometimes, a frog can pass an impaction blockage on its own, but other times the frog will need medical care before getting better.
3. Water Retention
Some bloated frogs might be retaining too much water. This can happen if your frog is experiencing a calcium deficiency or has some kind of infection.
As is the case with dropsy, too much fluid build-up can be especially harmful since it puts pressure on multiple parts of the frog’s body. To see if your frog may be struggling with water retention, analyze your frog’s calcium needs and calcium intake. If there seems to be a shortage, work on adding more calcium into their diet ASAP.
You can also look for signs of illness, such as changing skin color and abnormal behavior. Treating the root problem will decrease water retention and subsequent bloating.
4. Ready to Lay Eggs
If your frog is female, there is a chance that she is getting ready to lay eggs. Female frogs can create thousands of eggs that are kept in the body until mating season. Typically, egg production happens from late summer until early spring, and spring is the normal time for them.
If a female frog doesn’t lay her eggs, they deteriorate in her body over time.
Eggs can produce a lumpy, rounded, bloated appearance in female frogs. To determine if your frog might have a belly full of eggs, first double-check the gender of your frog. Then, examine the bloated area.
If your female frog’s belly is more rounded and lumpier than usual, and if it is in the fall or winter months, there is a chance that there could be eggs in there. If you notice that other parts of your frog’s body are impacted by bloating, such as the head or the legs, then egg-laying is likely not the cause.
5. Exposure to Tap Water
Have you provided your frog with unfiltered tap water? Tap water is brimming with chemicals that are used to clean and improve the water, like chlorine and fluoride. On top of this, tap water can also be rife with contaminants like herbicides and pesticides.
All of these chemical additives and contaminants are potentially hazardous for your frog’s health. If your frog has ingested or absorbed tap water, it can start to bloat as a reaction to the additives and chemicals found within the water.
If your frog has extended exposure to tap water, the chemical exposure can lead to prolonged stress, making your frog more susceptible to illness. The stress alone can be enough to initiate bloating in a frog, but tap water can also make your frog more likely to develop other problems that can also lead to bloating.
Can My Frog Be Just Fat?
It might just be that your frog is struggling with obesity due to being overfed. To determine if this is the case, consider how much your frog eats every week and track its diet and activity levels back over the past few months.
You might be very well-intentioned, but overfeeding your frog isn’t doing it any favors. You can double-check how much your frog species should be eating and compare that to the amount it’s been normally getting. When in doubt, talk to a specialist to ensure their nutritional needs are being met.
If your frog has been struggling with obesity or overfeeding, you can reduce the size or frequency of the serving. Be sure to stay in line with what your particular frog needs by selecting highly nutritious food sources.
How Can I Help My Bloated Frog?
Now that we’ve reviewed some of the most common causes for bloating in frogs, what can you do to help your pet? Here are five different steps you can take to treat your frog’s bloat.
1. Determine the Cause
You can’t take proper action until you’ve determined the cause. After going through the list above, you should be able to rule out a few of the possibilities.
For example, if your frog is male, you can rule out egg-laying. Another example would be that if you’ve never given your frog unfiltered tap water, you can also rule that out.
The trickiest cause is infection since there are a lot of different bacterial infections that can occur, and symptoms can vary.
As a general rule of thumb, you can examine your frog’s skin to check for signs of illness. If their skin is paler, drier, or just appearing different than normal, these are signs of illness.
Once you have determined the most likely cause of your frog’s bloating, you can take action.
2. Treat With Antibiotics
In the case of illness, you will need to treat your frog with antibiotics. This should strictly be prescribed by a vet.
Illness and infection are serious causes of bloating and should not be treated lightly. If you suspect that an underlying infection is the cause of your frog’s bloating, you should seek out veterinary help right away.
3. Provide a Salt Bath
A salt bath can be an effective way of easing impaction. To do this, you can fill a container with warm filtered water and Epsom salt. The amount of salt you add should be contingent on the amount of water in the bath. The amount of water should be based on the size of your frog.
For non-aquatic frogs, you will want to ensure that the water line does not go above the frogs’ throat area. Once you have your water amount, you can conduct some research to determine the correct amount of salt.
You can leave your frog in the bath for 30 minutes to an hour daily until the bloat clears. A warm salt bath can aid your frog even if it isn’t struggling with impaction.
4. Clean the Tank
It is always a good idea to keep your frog’s environment clean, especially if you start to notice troubling signs like bloating. Take some time to freshen up your frog’s substrate, water, and general environment. This is a general recommendation that can help with a variety of problems.
5. Seek Out a Veterinarian
Lastly, if your frog doesn’t seem better within 1-3 days and you haven’t done so already, seek out veterinary care. Good research can only take you so far in some cases and doesn’t replace the expertise of a veterinarian.