Tetanus In Dogs: Symptoms, Causes, & Treatments

Injured dog receiving bandage in veterinary surgery. could have tetanus from the wound.

(Picture Credit: Westend61/Getty Images)

Tetanus in dogs refers to a condition caused by toxins produced by a bacteria called Clostridium tetani. The condition can end up affecting the functions of the dog’s spinal cord, brain, and nerves. When this happens, the dog experiences muscle spasms and lockjaw.

Larger breeds of dog, including Labradors and Golden Retrievers, are more likely to contract tetanus than other dog breeds.

If you see stiffness, muscle spasms, or other symptoms in your dog, then you must get to a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment. Here’s what you should know about the symptoms, causes, and treatments for tetanus in dogs.

Symptoms Of Tetanus In Dogs

Tetanus can produce a range of symptoms in dogs; although, these symptoms often do not appear for around five to ten days after the initial wound or exposure.

Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Stiff muscles
  • Muscle tremors
  • Limbs seeming stiff while attempting to walk
  • A stiff tail

Causes Of Tetanus In Dogs

Veterinarian wrapping bandage around a dog's leg

(Picture Credit: VioletaStoimenova/Getty Images)

Tetanus in dogs is caused by a bacteria called Clostridium tetani. This bacteria produces a toxin known as tetanospasmin. In turn, the toxin begins to affect the dog’s nerves, brain, and spinal cord.

Dogs can contract tetanus through open wounds and can pick up the bacteria through infected soil.

Treatments For Tetanus In Dogs

If your veterinarian suspects that your dog may be suffering from tetanus, they’ll first conduct a full physical examination of the dog and look out for any open wounds. They’ll also ask about your dog’s medical history and any recent outdoor adventures where your dog could have contracted tetanus.

Next, the veterinarian may recommend a combination of urinalysis, blood tests, and an electrocardiogram to confirm their diagnosis.

Vets can prescribe antitoxin medicines to help with treatment; however, these medications can often have side effects. Antibiotics are another option for treatment.

Your vet will also attempt to clean up and remove dead tissue from any open wounds.

In cases where dogs have become dehydrated, vets may use an intravenous drip to restore electrolytes and hydration. Many cases require a stay in the hospital for dogs to recover.

In general, to lessen the chances of your dog contracting this condition, keep an eye out for any open wounds and always treat and clean them as soon as possible.

Has your dog ever contracted tetanus? How did your vet treat your pet? Let us know in the comments section below!