14 Symptoms of Tetanus in Dogs 

Tetanus in dogs is a very serious disease. It is caused by toxins produced by anaerobic bacteria, meaning that they grow in conditions where there is no oxygen. Tetanus can be infected humans and the mortality rates are high. Besides rabies, according to WewPet, tetanus is one of the most dangerous diseases common in both dogs and humans.


What is tetanus in dogs?

Dogs get tetanus because of exposure to a bacterium known as clostridium tetani. Soil bacteria is very easy for getting into a small wound. Cats are much more resistant to tetanus than horses, humans and dogs.

Tetanus is a fairly common disease in dogs. Toxins are usually considered a contagious infection by entering into the peripheral nervous system. These neurons travel into the spinal cord and it can also spread into the body through the bloodstream. Toxins associated with nervous systems in the injured area. And then, it moves into the central nervous system, affecting these amino acids glycine on the production.

This causes inhibition in the central nervous system. It can hinder your muscle growth that it will cause muscle spasms.  It is a start to spasm in the masticatory muscles, and then it spreads to the muscle of the face, torso and extremities. The characteristic of this disease is a painful contraction of a muscle, often in the jaw. The majority of the cases of tetanus in dogs are so dangerous and should be treated immediately.

Danger level as an dogs with tetanus

Tetanus is A really dangerous disease in dogs and infected humans. Tetanus in dogs can not live more than a few days after the onset of the disease. The entire body is cramped and arched like a blank of wood.

The incubation period of tetanus varies between 3 and 21 days. Also, the symptoms appear typically within 5 to 10 days after infection. After bacteria has entered the wound and germinated. The muscles around the infected wound may become rigid first.

The dog may appear stiff and lame, with weakness and an uncoordinated gait. The symptoms may then disappear spontaneously if the infection remains local to the area in which it entered the body. While in other cases the symptoms can escalate and grow a tetanus disease. If the toxins can gain access to the nervous system.

The symptoms related to generalized disease are:

  1. Fever 
  2. Constipation 
  3. Pain during urination 
  4. Excessive drooling
  5. Wrinkles forehead 
  6. Rigid tail and difficulty moving
  7. Continuously erect and stiff ears
  8. The manifestation of muscle spasticity is spreading through their bodies and it cause the pet’s body to get stiff as a wooden board. 
  9. Difficulty eating
  10. Breathing difficulty (due to stiffness of the chest muscles)
  11. Difficulty opening the mouth (due to stiffness of the jaw muscles)
  12. Whole-body muscle spasms with sudden external movement, sound, or touch
  13. Paralysis
  14. Death due to inability to breathe


The diagnosis of tetanus in dogs is generally made based on the visual appearance of the dog and history of wound. Typically, there are many cases that extend deeply into the wound, but luckily, damaged skin has been healed. After taking a detailed history, your veterinarian will then conduct a complete physical examination on your dog.

  1. Complete Blood Count (CBC): is a blood test that is used to measure and evaluate the cells that circulate in blood. Here is a test to check the types and numbers of cells in their blood, including red blood cells, white blood cells. Infected dogs will have an abnormally low and high white blood cell count.
  2. Biochemicals tests designed to evaluate the function of the internal organs in the body: The tests measure and determine the amount of these enzymes circulating in their bloodstream. Biochemistry testing may reveal high concentrations of an enzyme called creatine phosphokinase.
  3. Using a myoglobin test to detect the amount of the protein myoglobin in the urine: This protein is normally found in the muscle cells of animals. Myoglobin is a protein that is normally found in the muscles, and with constant contractions and stiffness of muscles. The dog often has high-level urine myoglobin.

Also, some samples and the fluid from a wound will also be collected for examination of the presence of tetanus bacteria entering a wound.

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Tetanus in dogs will need to be hospitalized and constant nursing care is usually required for a period of 3-4 weeks. If your dog is unable to eat on its own, your veterinarian will place a feeding tube directly into its stomach. So, Intravenous fluids may start to prevent dehydration.

Because this tetanus toxin attacks the muscles and nervous system. Your dog are likely to be highly sensitive and will be unable to adapt to the infusion tube method. Such manipulations may exacerbate the symptoms.


Your dogs will keep sedated or injected with antibiotics to control the spread of infections. Drugs can be used to minimize the muscle spasm, convulsions, limiting toxins and prevents it from continuing to bind with the nervous system.

If your dog is not able to breathe properly, a tube was placed into the trachea to facilitate normal breathing. In order to allow them to breathe normally until the muscles have been discovered from the infection. If your dog is not able to pass urine, a urinary catheter will be placed to allow the passage of urine. If your dog is constipated, an enema can be given to relieve constipation. 

Nursing care

One of the important features of nursing care is to keep the dogs in an environment of low light and low noise, as these animals are extremely sensitive to touch, sound and light. The dogs will be kept sedated to prevent further aggravation of the symptoms.

In combination, these types of drugs will encourage your dogs to remain in a lying position for an extended period. Because of this, there is a concern for the side effects of lying in one place for too long. You should provide your dog with soft bedding, and you will need to schedule regular times throughout the day when you can turn your dog over to its other side, to prevent bed sores.

In many cases, these treatments may be applied in the home environment. The most important consideration is the ability to maintain a sterile environment for the dog. Especially, the purpose of physical therapy and massage are extremely important methods to improve the circulation and the muscles are transmitted to the lymphatic vessel. Besides that, it can help relax rigid muscles and minimize your dog’s discomfort 

Recovery period 

Once your dog is out of danger, you’ll be allowed to take it back home where you will need to provide good nursing care until your dog has fully recovered from the infection and its side effects.

As mentioned above, it is important to change your dog’s resting position every few hours to prevent ulcers. Keep the wound clean and visit your veterinarian if you see any change in the color of the wound or if ulcers start appearing. Otherwise, you should expect your dog to feel sore.

You will need to set up a place in the house where your dog can rest comfortably and quietly, away from other pets, active children, and busy entryways. 

Trips outdoors for bladder and bowel relief should keep short and easy for your dog to handle during the recovery period. Use pain medications with caution and follow all directions carefully to prevent drug overdose, as well as too little.

You will need to visit your veterinarian a few more times to have your dog examined and to evaluate its recovery status. The prognosis largely depends on the severity of the disease; the more severe the disease, the less are the chances for a full recovery. Good owner compliance is required as these animals often need a long period of time for a full recovery. A strong commitment from your side will greatly improve your dog’s chances for survival.

Disease prevention

When your dog is injured, you must have an examination for the wound. It defends against infection by topical anti-infective therapy. The wound should then open or widen to kill the bacteria that cause the dog to get tetanus.

Get a tetanus vaccine as soon as the wound is contaminated with dirt, deep and puncture wounds. Or as soon as you suspect your dog will infect with the Clostridium tetani bacteria.

If your dog has surgery that does not guarantee good sterility, so you should leave a wound uncovered or a non-stick bandage. Need to consult a doctor when the dog has an accident, treat the wound. When there are signs of a tetanus attack, then you will need to go to the hospital to receive emergency treatment.

For the newborn dogs, you have to need to disinfect the umbilical cords with Alcohol iodine solution of 5. Using the clamps helps stop bleeding from the blood in the umbilical cord and should not be tied just to stop umbilical bleeding.

In addition, the pet owner should also pay attention to observe and keep when the dogs are free to limit wounds, bites, burns, accidents … unnecessary injuries on their bodies.

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