Tetanus in Dogs: Overview as well as Causes, Symptoms, and also Treatment Options

September 02, 2020 1 Comment

Django Dog Blog - Tetanus in Dogs: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment Options - djangobrand.com

Earlier this summer, we got a heartbreakinge-mail from a DJANGO Dog Blog visitor(transcript listed below). Jeanette’s dog, Sam, had regretfullysimply passed away from tetanus, a terrible yet rare disease. Jeanette reached out to us to share her dog’s stressful experience with tetanus as well as asked that we spread out recognition as well as share important information concerning the illness. In doing so, perhaps we could aid stop another pet dog’s fatality from tetanus in the future.

If I am being 100% straightforward, I (Steph) did not understand anything regarding tetanus in canines before Jeanette reached out. Sure, I had heard of tetanus in people and also received tetanus vaccinations throughout my life … but dogs? I never understood pets could be at risk to this condition. After some initial research, I recognized exactly how vital it is for us canine owners to be aware of tetanus in canines, the disease’s symptoms, as well as exactly how our four-legged pals can get the condition.

Because obtaining Jeanette’s heart-wrenching e-mail, I’ve done considerable research study on tetanus in canines. I additionally spoke in detail with Dr. Shadi Ireifej, the Chief of Medicine at Veterinarian Triage, who aided me additionally recognize risk aspects and therapy alternatives for this condition.

Below is whatever you require to find out about tetanus in pet dogs: the causes and symptoms of the illness, threat aspects, treatment options as well as prices, negative effects, and also tips for avoidance.


Tetanus is brought on by bacteria called Clostridium tetani (C. tetani). Clostridium tetani are primarily found in dust, dirt, and also feces.

When C. tetani microorganisms spores enter a pet’s body through a deep injury or open aching, they multiply. As the C. tetani microorganisms die, they create a neurotoxin called tetanospasmin. This neurotoxin binds to the pet’s nerves, eventually migrating to the brain as well as spinal cord. When this happens, natural chemicals that manage movement, touch, pressure, pain, as well as temperature level (glycine and GABA) can not be released. This results in convulsions of other signs and symptoms and volunteer muscle mass (more on symptoms listed below).

There are 2 kinds of tetanus:

  • Localized tetanus is one of the most typical type of tetanus and also has a 90 percent survival price. A dog with local tetanus might have muscle mass stiffness or tremors in the arm or leg closest to his injury. In many cases, local tetanus can become generalized tetanus.
  • Generalized tetanus occurs when tetanus spreads throughout the pet’s body. Generalized tetanus triggers the pet to shed his capacity to blink. The dog’s temple ends up being deeply old and wrinkly and also they ears become pulled back. His eyes protrude, as well as his lips curl back right into a ‘sinister smile’ called risus sardonicus. In more advanced stages of generalised tetanus, an affected dog may end up being so sensitive to appear that any loud sound such as hand clapping can trigger convulsions or seizures. The pet dog might not have the ability to bend his legs, causing what is called a ‘sawhorse stance’. The canine additionally might not be able to totally open up or close his mouth, and also his heart rate may drop listed below 60 beats per min. The survival rate for generalised tetanus in pet dogs is 50 percent.


Symptoms as well as indicators of tetanus in pet dogs can show up anywhere from three days to 3 weeks after the canine is wounded and subjected to C. tetani germs. Signs can be extreme or mild and also consist of:

  • Fever
  • Bowel irregularity
  • Drooling
  • Old and wrinkly forehead
  • Erect ears
  • Sunken eyes
  • Unable to blink
  • Clenched jaw (tetanus)
  • Smiling appearance (risus sardonicus)
  • Stiff and extended tail
  • Unbendable legs as well as an arched back (sawhorse stance)
  • Trouble consuming or drinking
  • Muscular tissue spasms set off by light, touch, or noise
  • Paralysis
  • Seizures
  • Difficulty breathing
“I think my pet dog is revealing symptoms of tetanus. What should I do?”

If your pet dog is exhibiting any kind of signs of tetanus, please see your veterinarian asap. Dr. Shadi Ireifej emphasized that canines that can not move or take a breath ought to be instantly rushed to the nearby emergency vet facility.


Tetanus is luckily uncommon in pets.

Dr. Shadi Ireifej has actually operated in veterinary medicine for 14 years. He saw one instance of canine tetanus at Cornell University in 2004. According to The Canadian Veterinary Journal, equines, humans, as well as sheep are 600 times more susceptible to tetanus than dogs. Birds and felines are 10 times much more resistant to tetanus than dogs.

Some pet dogs are much more at risk of tetanus than various other canines. Larger dog types that reside on ranches or in the nation have a higher risk of contracting the illness. Canines that have accessibility to manure or are close proximity to dead animals are additionally far more in danger of tetanus.

Dogs that spend comprehensive time outdoors can obtain tetanus from foxtails, or yard seed awns. If not discovered swiftly, these can tunnel right into your canine’s vital body organs and also blood vessels. According to the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, 27 percent of canine tetanus situations are brought on by foxtail burrs.

Newborn puppies can get tetanus via their umbilical stumps. Canines under 2 years old are likewise at greater danger of tetanus because they are extra likely to put dangerous, infected things in their mouth (unclean sticks, corroded nails, glass, etc).


There is no easy diagnostic test for tetanus. Blood tests aren’t exact since C. tetani does not live long airborne. A tetanus diagnosis is normally made based upon your pet’s appearance and the history of his injury. If you did not discover your canine’s wound 10 to 14 days back, your vet might get an urinalysis, electrocardiogram, and also chest X-rays.


  • Antibiotics. Penicillin and also Metronidazole are antibiotics made use of to deal with tetanus in dogs. They’ve no result on the neurotoxin yet can stop C. tetani from spreading.
  • Stablizing. Intravenous (IV) fluids are used to halt dehydration while oxygen is used to prevent respiratory failing. If your pet dog’s throat and also diaphragm are paralyzed, he requires an endotracheal tube or a mechanical ventilator.
  • Debridement. Dead cells is gotten rid of from around your pet dog’s wound to lower tetanus germs. It’s cleaned with light soap as well as water or iodine.
  • Sedation. Acepromazine and chlorpromazine are suggested to regulate your pet’s sensitivity to sound, light, or touch. He may also be infused with midazolam, phenobarbital, or diazepam to manage muscular tissue stiffness.
  • Equine antiserum. A debatable treatment, equine antibiotic may be an alternative if tetanus is caught early. Made from the blood of steeds, it can be provided by IV or infused under the skin or right into the muscle. It can use up to three days to destroy the tetanus toxin. Skin examinations are advised due to the fact that equine antivenin can trigger possibly life-threatening allergies.
  • Nursing treatment. Your dog might require around-the-clock treatment in a peaceful and also dark room for 7 to 30 days. He requires soft bed linens, constant rotation to prevent bedsores, hand feeding or feeding by a G-tube, and also assist expressing his bladder.

Tetanus therapies can cost anywhere from $15 to $20,000. The price of treating tetanus in pets will depend on the severity of the situation and also needed treatment. Light situations of canine tetanus that only require a vet go to, wound cleaning, and anti-biotics might set you back approximately $200. Serious cases of tetanus requiring lasting sedation, stablizing, and round-the-clock nursing care can set you back well into the thousands.

Right here is a checklist of approximate prices for common tetanus treatments. Please bear in mind that costs can vary extensively based on your place as well as veterinary center (we reside in NYC so everything expenses more right here):

  • Antibiotics like Penicillin (take by mouth) – $15
  • Injectable Penicillin – $250
  • Sedation – $85 (lap dogs) to $100 (huge dogs)
  • Bloodwork – $90
  • Wound Repair – $135 to $335
  • Horse Equine Antitoxin – $3,000


According to the Journal of Internal Veterinary Medicine, 77 percent of dogs that endure tetanus have a REM sleep actions condition (RBD). This usually occurs 2 weeks after pets are discharged from the veterinarian.

Your pet may shiver, run, or gripe in his rest. While anti-epileptic medications will not assist, signs and symptoms ought to not get worse with time. RBD might solve after numerous months.


Because tetanus is fairly unusual in dogs, there is no vaccination presently offered for canines like there is for human beings.

If your pet dog has a wound without symptoms, Dr. Ireifej suggests immediately cleansing it with mild soap and also water, iodine, or thin down peroxide to rid the website of germs as well as protect against infection. Dr. Ireifej also recommends using Neosporin to your pet dog’s cleansed injury as well as bandaging it to stop the intro of extra microorganisms.

No matter just how the wound appears, place an e-collar on your canine and visit your vet immediately. Your vet will certainly be able to effectively clean the wound even more (if required), prescribe any type of necessary anti-biotics, and also apply any type of required stitches.

Sam’s Story

Right here is the heartbreaking email we obtained from Jeanette, a DJANGO Dog Blog reader and also pet dog mother to Sam. Jeanette connected to us to share her and also Sam’s heartbreaking experience with tetanus in hopes that we would share details regarding the disease with our viewers.

Sam’s Story

May 29, 2020

“Our pet just passed away from tetanus. I’m reaching out to you to ensure that our tale can bring awareness to this “unusual” condition that seems to impact a fair bit of pet dogs every year. We initially saw our pet Sam’s face was actually weird. It appeared like she was secured a smile (we later on found out the name was “the ominous smile”) however very uneasy. Upon taking her to a vet they diagnosed her as dehydrated and also prescribed prescription antibiotics, lots of water, as well as rest. However later that day her signs appeared to be worsening as well as she appeared to be extremely out of it. We made a decision that she was acting in a not typical and also really alarming means so we took her to a 24 human resources healthcare facility, California veterinary experts. From there we obtained the news that our pet dog had contracted tetanus, a terrible however extremely unusual condition. Simply like any kind of other millennial couple my partner and also I started our google research study to attempt and also discover as much information on this disease as feasible. However there was little to no valuable info on recouping from tetanus and also a lot of truly sad pictures of dogs that appeared like they were experiencing. 2 days later our canines signs and symptoms got so poor that she was incapable to open her mouth (referred to as tetanus) and was having a really hard time trying to find a good setting so her air passages opened to take a breath. The dr in that hospital recommended her staying in the hospital for 2-3 weeks, but perhaps over a month, in intensive care in order for them to try and also save her. Yet even then the survival rate they provided us was 30%. We did not have the money to spend for a months remain at a medical facility for a 30% possibility survival. We can’ve taken her home yet without the proper devices and understanding to take care of her it was very likely that she would certainly stifle because of the illness and also die at home. Our pup was enduring as well as we made the very tough as well as heartbreaking decision to claim good bye to her. I want to try to connect to as several animal blogs as I possibly can to spread out recognition and possibly encourage some young veterinarians around to push for some kind of vaccine for tetanus in canines. Or a minimum of for anyone to do even more research study for pet dog owners like us to make sure that we can maintain our pups risk-free.”

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