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


First steps to getting out and about for Ranger



I take Syrah for a few kilometres walk/run every morning but the possibility of seeing other dogs and sending Ranger over threshold is too great to take him. Besides that he hides under the bed whenever I produce the lead.

I have started a bit of a routine now that seems to be working. I grab the lead (for Syrah) grab the ball thrower (for Ranger) and go out the back yard and throw it for Ranger for a while. I then take the side gate exit with Syrah for her walk, return through the side gate, snap the lead on Ranger, grab his ball and walk 100 metres to the village green.

At first I started just taking him into the front yard and letting him sniff around, the strange smells, tree’s and path just near our house. We have now graduated to the trip around the corner which has the added reinforcement of being able to play some ball. I’m constantly watching for other dogs and so far it is progressing really well, havent seen one. He is getting more confident every day. We do about a minute off lead ball play and then walk home. He is starting to get excited about it which is the best reinforcement for me to keep going. It’s a great little spot surrounded by cars and people far enough away to not bother him.

Training days 8/9 more counter conditioning and desensitisation to touch

Giving me his paw!

Giving me his paw!

It has been so cold and rainy outside but no excuses! Tonight we did some training on our couch bed watching a movie. Ranger is getting really comfortable with me handling his paw and I’m feeling confident to move on to the other one. Syrah didn’t want to be left out so we did some training with her too, handling around her lower back and tail which she is a little hesitant about. I was surprised to see that she is more sensitive about that than Ranger is about his paws… Always something to work on.







Sleepy boy


Training Day 7: Counter Conditioning and Desensitization to Rangers paws being handled.

Today’s training session was inspired by Dr Sophia Yin’s post about Counter Conditioning for Toenail Trim Aggression. We took a little longer than she did and didn’t make it quite as far but I was really happy with our efforts and Ranger was very brave. Our session actually lasted 3 minutes although the video is only 2min 30sec. I’m happy for any feedback and recommendations as I know there are a lot of mistakes in there.


Training Day 6 – Counter Conditioning, Birds session 3

This is training session 3 with the birds, I can’t believe how well he did. I am rewarding before he has a chance to snap at them or get too stressed and I don’t feel like I’m really pushing him but I also don’t want too. Really aiming to set him up for success.

Here is his session:

Note: A few hours later I had to vacuum the house and even over the vacuum I could hear him trying to have a go at them. I realised that its one thing to train him near the birds when he is not in a stressed state but he uses the birds as displacement behaviour for other things that stress him out.

Interested in any suggestions on how to change displacement behaviour like this???

Training Day 5 – Nose Work

Ranger in action :)

Ranger in action 🙂

I started nose work with Ranger about a year ago to build his confidence. He did so well at it but I called it quits with him when I saw just how hard to was for him to travel there, particularly on his own in the car, I couldn’t fit a crate in my Toyota Corolla and the only place he would go after being carried and lifted into the car was shaking down behind the seat.. for the whole trip. I now have mums car for 3 months and can fit 2 crates in so I can take both dogs. He still struggles with the drive but will voluntarily get in the car as our other dog Syrah is already in.

So last night I took both of them. Ranger is only on the first two odours, birch and aniseed while Syrah is on birch, aniseed and clove. Ranger did really well, his dedication to searching was still there and even though he wasn’t very fast his persistence in searching impressed me so much and he found the hides in the end. I was so happy with him.

Ranger in Action

Ranger in Action

Nose work is great for anxious or reactive dogs as it is a one dog at a time sport. It helps to build confidence by letting the dog figure out things for themselves and as there is no obedience or instructions they only do what they are comfortable doing. Ranger went from being nervous in class with a tucked tail and not wanting to even stick his head in a box to find some food, to now putting his head up on chairs, under tables and paws up on walls to find higher hides of only odour.

For more info on nose work check out these pages:

K9 Nosework in the US and K9 Nose Time in Australia

Training Day 4 – Obedience Class

I take Syrah to obedience most weeks and today as I could fit two crates in my car I decided to take Ranger too. Syrah loves getting in the car, travel and going anywhere really as the drive is the fun part for her. Ranger got in the car without too much fuss, I had put Syrah in first so it might tempt him to jump in. As soon as we started driving though he was back to hiding his head in the corner and shaking. When we got to the turnoff to class he surprised me by jumping up  and sniffing and getting quite excited so that was really positive!

I took Syrah to her usual class then half way through put her away and got Ranger out. We didn’t go into a class but just kept about 5-10 metres away from the class I had just been in. At first he appeared really nervous, tail tucked, ears back, eyes darting and had a small lunge and bark when a lovely Collie just looked at him, we did a quick ‘lets go’ and walked away, returning a little while later. I just kept shoving treats in his mouth, he was happy to take food when he wasn’t looking around (like how we started with the birds). After a few minutes we started a bit of a routine of him looking at the other dogs, to get him back to me I marked the behaviour with a ‘yes’ and he would turn around to get his treat… like we did with the birds. If he had looked at the dogs for a while and voluntarily looked at me I also gave him a reward, we worked on lengthening the time he was looking at the other dogs between every treat and I was really happy with his progress. If I ever thought he was starting to go from a look to a ‘stare’ or it was becoming intense I called him name and rewarded him.

We had to walk away a few times when I thought people or dogs got too close and the whole session with Ranger took about 10 minutes and he did very well, he was gaining confidence the whole time and we ended on a good note.

This is his little vest that he wears which I think is a nice level of warning without making people afraid of your dog.