Home » Syrah & Ranger » Tetanus in Dogs

Tetanus in Dogs

My dog Ranger is currently in the animal hospital suffering from Tetanus. I looked around online Saturday night to find some information on it and it was very limited as a result I took him into the emergency vet where he has been since then. For those wanting some info here is his story so far. Also for the record I have no idea where he got it from and the vets said that very few people do know where their dog got it.

Friday morning I noticed Ranges eye’s looked a little funny, funny as in his third eyelids were showing. This was his first symptom. I mentioned it to my husband as I was running out the door to just monitor it and I would see him when I got home. Husband did some research online and whenever third eyelids were showing there wasn’t any good news and his mouth, ears and eyebrows had started to become very stiff and taut.  So that night we took him to our local vet. This is a big deal for Ranger considering his anxiety but he coped very well. The vet had never seen it before and called for a second opinion, who suggested tetanus but sent us home to monitor him.

The next night I got home and he was still the same with no improvement, so late Saturday night we took him to the emergency vet in Sydney. After three opinions the vets all concluded that it must be tetanus (because it couldn’t be anything else) however gave me the option of taking him home to monitor him… or I could leave him there to be administered an anti tetanus drug, penicillin and eye lubricant as he couldn’t close them. I chose to leave him there and I’m glad I did. His case was very early on in its progression and the vets are usually only confronted with cases when the whole body is stiff. He has been there for two nights (tonight his third) and hasn’t made much improvement. I will update this blog when his story continues however wanted to post in case anyone else wanted the information.

Tetanus is easy to prevent but difficult to treat. If signs are detected early and the disease is not too severe, treatment can be successful using antitoxin and antibiotics. – NT Govt


Ranger came home today and is on a heap of medication included eye lubricant. He is doing well however no exercise for the next two weeks and we go back in 10 days to evaluate with the vets. This is how he looks today which is a little better however his face is still very tight from the tetanus. His eyes look a little better though.

Ranger, face muscles tight from the tetanus.

Ranger, face muscles tight from the tetanus.


The black dog in this link is not Ranger but his face looked like this on the first night of symptoms: http://conseilsveterinaire.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Tetanus-face-dog.jpg

Useful blog post: http://www.woodhavenlabs.com/tetanus.html

Info: http://www.nt.gov.au/d/Content/File/p/Anim_Dis/561.pdf


5 thoughts on “Tetanus in Dogs

  1. My wheaten border collie pup (5 mths) has just been diagnosed with tetanus, looked exactly like your photos with the drawn back face. Has been in vet hospital for 2 nights, hopefully on the mend.
    Where do you reckon it came from with your dog???
    Where are you at?
    I am at Port Stephens, only exercising we do is on the beach (which is covered in camel and horse droppings at present holiday time…?? Makes me suspicious). No wounds apparent on dog.
    Big coincidence same breed and colouring…

  2. Hi Lindsay, we are in Sydney, Ranger had a torn toe nail about a month before and apparently it can incubate for that long in the body so If I had to guess that would be my guess as to where it came from. I have heard that it is more common where there are horses and can remain in the soil (sand?) for quite some time. Considering how rare tetanus seems to be that is a huge coincidence that it is the same breed and colour. Wishing your dog all the best, it takes a long time to recover from but if you caught it early enough im sure your pup will be fine. Please keep me updated if you can.

  3. Hi,
    I hope Ranger is by now fully recovered.
    It was by reading this post on your blog, along with information on veterinary websites that I came to suspect that our dog, Amos, had tetanus. He was diagnosed with it on Thursday and has begun treatment. At the moment he appears very well – it’s just the incredible change in facial appearance that tells you there’s something wrong. Like in Ranger’s case, we first noticed the third eyelids, which set us off on a course of antibiotic eyedrops. They made no difference but the vet spotted an enlarged lymph node that told him Amos had been/still was? fighting an infection probably from a toe. I was impressed with that, as I hadn’t taken him in a couple of weeks earlier when he’d been on three legs for a couple of days with a sore toe! His ears then went up and the top of his head and the side of his face were (and still are) very tight.
    We’ve got our fingers crossed that early intervention will mean the disease doesn’t progress to the debilitating and care-intensive stage that we’ve been warned it could.
    His story, though only briefly, and in his(!) words, is here:


    • I really hope that you have caught it in time, I really appreciated the vets opinion and believe it saved rangers life. He has fully recovered and while he gets a tight face every now and then after strenuous exercise he has fully recovered.

  4. my 5 month old Doberman went through all symptoms with the addition of swelling beforehand. I thought it was a Red-back bite or a Brown snake as the swelling started on the right side of the snout and swelled her head prior to any facial disfigurement- vet gave her an anti inflammatory and some amoxyclave…
    Within 4 days of the original “event”/vet visit she was loosing control of her hind legs as she was turning around chasing a ball, prone/heal position 180 mid air!
    she was back at the vet within 30 mins…
    straight into hospital, hind leg function was gone and foaming from the mouth.
    i also noticed her third eyelid as a first sign of a problem in hindsight circa 4 days prior to “the swelling event” (8 days total), and unsettled sleep got worse and mornings became slow starts for her along with stretched out legs in bed (not stiff at this stage..
    Rapid onset from ok to shaking legs was 20 minutes after walk, immobility/stiffening of limbs for the dobe was within one hour of a 1 km morning walk- toxin had obviously built up overnight and moved around body from the exercise affecting motor neurons.
    8 hrs to complete loss of tail wagging function and hid leg paralysis.
    the ears started to erect (or bad enough for me to notice a change) on the same day as perceived snout “bite”, so i believe the issue was showing signs of starting 8 days prior to system interference.
    i believe the bacteria entered by her toenail (i went a little close with the clipper…) wrapped it and treated. however this is the only wound i recognise over the 2-3 weeks prior to infection.
    — dogs like to dig, tetanus loves the dirt…
    Ps dog is ok after 7 days in hospital….. has lost 4 kg from 20kg over the 7 days from inability to swallow… IV and tube fed liquids..
    prepare yourself for a rapid loss in weight dependant on circumstances, age, etc…

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