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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
<span style="font-family:Calibri;"><span style="font-size:medium;"><b>I just want to warn everyone that dogs can and do get tetanus, although many vets seem to be unaware of this and/or think that it’s so rare that they don’t really consider it in their attempts to diagnose.</b> IMO, having now had experience with it, I think it’s not as rare as generally assumed; that it is rather a case of being misdiagnosed when it occurs.</span></span><br><br><span style="font-family:Calibri;"><span style="font-size:medium;">A couple of weeks ago, I had let the dogs out. A few minutes later, when I let them back in, Gracie came bounding up on three legs. When I tried to look at the paw/leg, it was obviously extremely painful, so I bundled her into the car and took her straight to the vet, the one who is relatively close by and whom I have been using for the more run of the mill cases. I told him I suspected she had injured her paw trying to climb the fence. He found no wounds; x-rays showed no fractures, so he diagnosed a bad sparin and sent us home with an anti inflammatory. That was late on a Friday afternoon.</span></span><br><br><span style="font-family:Calibri;"><span style="font-size:medium;">The foot/leg did not get any less painful, and by Sunday, I detected swelling. I gave her an injection of Baytril, because I wanted to start her on antibiotics as soon as possible. First thing Monday morning, I took her to the vet an hour away whose expertise I trust more. He was on vacation, but another vet in the office saw us and found two puncture wounds in Gracie’s paw. An abcess had formed. She was put on oral antibiotics, and I started soaking the paw to encourage drainage of the abcess. By that evening, she was putting weight on the foot.</span></span><br><br><span style="font-family:Calibri;"><span style="font-size:medium;">During the following days, she seemed a bit less lively than before, but I thought nothing of it – after all, her paw was still healing. By the weekend, I noticed her throwing up a bit of her food after eating. I figured the antibiotics were giving her an upset stomach. By Wednesday, she was still *off*, and seemed to have some trouble eating, so I took her back to the vet. They didn’t find anything, and were about to send me home, but I was concerned, so they suggested that I might take her to the U of I vet school clinic to be scoped for an obstruction in her throat. The vet they talked to there suggested that it might be a case of tetanus – she’s from Texas and had seen a number of tetanus cases. My vet didn’t think so, but on the two hour drive to the vet school, I became pretty certain it must be tetanus, and so it was.</span></span><br><br><span style="font-family:Calibri;"><span style="font-size:medium;">The chances of a dog recovering from tetanus are slight, but Gracie is young and strong and has a very even temperament (which, IME, is as important as anything else in an animal’s ability to survive a serious illness, especially one which damages the nervous system), so I put down the (sizeable) deposit and authorized treatment.</span></span><br><br><span style="font-family:Calibri;"><span style="font-size:medium;">Gracie spent eight days in ICU, and now I’m nursing her around the clock. She will make it, barring something unforeseen. Recovery to something approaching her prior condition will take four weeks, and there may be lingering symptoms for months. (She basically has to grow new nerve endings to replace the ones seized up by the tetanus.)</span></span><br><br><span style="font-family:Calibri;"><span style="font-size:medium;"><b>So, please be aware that tetanus does occur in dogs, that your vet may not catch it, and that it’s up to you to educate yourself.</b></span></span><br><br><span style="font-family:Calibri;"><span style="font-size:medium;">BTW, it can take anywhere from two days to two months for tetanus to manifest itself, and it does not necessarily require a puncture wound – the bacteria can enter even through a scrape.</span></span><br><br><span style="font-family:Calibri;"><span style="font-size:medium;">Gracie's recovery is rare enough that her case is going to be written up. Perhaps that will mean that her ordeal will help save lives, by making people more aware. There are certainly a number of vet students who are now very aware of tetanus - Gracie has become quite the celebrity at the vet school.</span></span><br><br><span style="font-family:Calibri;"><span style="font-size:medium;">Which leads me to another point - the vet school happened to have immediate access to the anti toxin she needed because they also have a large animal practice, and tetanus in horses is not that rare. So, if you have need of tetanus anti toxin for a dog, a clinic that treats horses may have some.</span></span>
 

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The animals in your care are so lucky to have you. I wish you and Gracie the best.
 

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Thanks so much for that information, many positive thoughts for a complete recovery for Gracie. I knew horses can get tetanus but didn't really think about it in dogs.<br><br>
Did the vets at the school mention if there is a vaccine for dogs similar to what they have available for humans?
 

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What sort of dog is Gracie? I'm so glad to hear she's going to be okay. The best to you and all your critters.<br><br>
And thanks so much for the info.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>*AHIMSA*</strong> <a href="/forum/post/2903358"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
The animals in your care are so lucky to have you. I wish you and Gracie the best.</div>
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You know, the older I get, the more I realize how lucky I am, to have shared, and to continue to share, my life with so many wonderful individuals. I learn from each of them.<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>desert-dweller</strong> <a href="/forum/post/2903448"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
Thanks so much for that information, many positive thoughts for a complete recovery for Gracie. I knew horses can get tetanus but didn't really think about it in dogs.<br><br>
Did the vets at the school mention if there is a vaccine for dogs similar to what they have available for humans?</div>
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Dogs are apparently about 200 times more resistant to the tetanus bacteria than humans are (and cats are about 2400 times as resistant). I don't think that there is a vaccine for dogs, as there is for humans, but I want to talk to the vets at the university clinic about any downside to giving a dog the antitoxin as *just in case* after a puncture wound. I do not want to see any of my animals going through Gracie's ordeal ever again.<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Capstan</strong> <a href="/forum/post/2903452"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
What sort of dog is Gracie? I'm so glad to hear she's going to be okay. The best to you and all your critters.<br><br>
And thanks so much for the info.</div>
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Gracie appears to be a black lab/boxer mix. She has a lab face and the long legs and the build of a boxer. She's 63 pounds, and very powerful. She's also very intelligent, and that, combined with her solid personality, helped her survive. Can you imagine all of your nerve endings firing off all the time, contracting all your muscles?! A dog with a nervous disposition could not survive it, IMO.<br><br>
She's about two, and I am at least her fourth home. I thought it important that she realize she wasn't being abandoned, since she's been with me only a couple of months, so I visited her every day. After the first day, they apparently realized I was capable enough not to let her pull out her IV or do anything else injurious, and I was able to spend an hour or two lying down with her each visit. (She was in isolation, not because she was contagious, but because dogs with tetanus need quiet and dark, and as little stimulation as possible.)<br><br>
She has a lot of fans at the clinic now - everyone kept telling me how good she was, no matter what they had to do - that she seemed to know that they were trying to help her. I have no doubt that she knew.
 

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OMG that is scary! I'm sorry it happened to Gracie and I'm happy she's going to recover from this ordeal. Thank you for posting this. I don't have any dogs, but every dog parent on this board should know about the risk of tetanus in their dogs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Gracie thanks everyone for the well wishes. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)"><br><br>
I guess I should describe some of the things to watch out for, although apparently different dogs can present with somewhat different symptoms, at least early on.<br><br>
The first thing I noticed, in retrospect, was that one evening, the whites at the top of her eyes showed slightly. I noticed it, but thought that it was just something that I had overlooked previously - as I said, she hadn't been with me for long.<br><br>
She did seem somewhat quieter than usual. I attributed it to the healing paw.<br><br>
The difficulty swallowing is what triggered our third vet visit. She was still moving normally by the time we left the vet's office and started out for the U of I (we went there directly from the vet), but I could see her condition deteriorating by the hour that day. By the time we got to the U of I, her gait had stiffened, she was salivating unusually, and her eyes were staring and a little drawn to the side. By later in the evening, her jaw was in a rictus grin, and her eyes were really drawn back.<br><br>
These symptoms, BTW, are common to tetanus and rabies, and I suspect that a number of dogs are diagnosed with rabies and put down, when they actually have tetanus. (The clinic did take rabies precautions during the first days, just in case.)<br><br>
I also want to publicly express my ongoing appreciation of my vet in St. Louis, Marcy Hammerle of The Pet Doctor. My sister called Marcy to let her know what was happening, and Marcy promptly spent the evening researching current treatment for tetanus so that she could doublecheck to make sure everything possible was being done for Gracie. (It was.) Marcy is great - it's been three years since I moved up here with my crew, but she still cares enough to go to that effort.
 

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interesting read, thx for the info<br><br>
glad gracie's doing better, she's a tough one <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)">
 

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Oh wow it's so so great that she'll be able to recover. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/love.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":love:"> I'm worried about my pups, now. I'm definitely going to be much more aware about anything suspicious with them. This is a great post, thanks so much mlp for posting. Would you mind if I posted this story in other places for others to read as well? Like Facebook for example?
 

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Gracie will most certainly be in my thoughts. You will be too.<br><br><br>
It's a long story, but one of my foster dogs several years ago got tetanus and unfortunately Jessie did not make it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Puppet Master</strong> <a href="/forum/post/2904323"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
Oh wow it's so so great that she'll be able to recover. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/love.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":love:"> I'm worried about my pups, now. I'm definitely going to be much more aware about anything suspicious with them. This is a great post, thanks so much mlp for posting. Would you mind if I posted this story in other places for others to read as well? Like Facebook for example?</div>
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Please do! That's why I posted Gracie's story - if just one case of tetanus can be caught earlier....<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Almeria</strong> <a href="/forum/post/2904407"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
Gracie will most certainly be in my thoughts. You will be too.<br><br><br>
It's a long story, but one of my foster dogs several years ago got tetanus and unfortunately Jessie did not make it.</div>
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I'm so sorry, Almeria. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/hug.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":hug:">
 

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How is Gracie doing?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
She continues to improve daily. Someone who did not know her well would not suspect that she was a critically ill dog just a short while ago.<br><br>
I spoke to the doctor, and there are no adverse side effects to giving the tetanus antitoxin, just in case, if a dog susrains an injury. She says its inexpensive too - she thought about $10. I will do that if any of the dogs sustains an injury in the future; I don't want to risk any of my dogs going through this again.
 

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Thanks for sharing this info! And best of luck to Gracie.
 

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Gracie's got a great nurse <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)"><br><br>
Important info, thanks for sharing mlp.
 

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I am glad that Gracie is continuing to get better!<br><br>
And thank you for that information. I'm going to ask my vet also because it is something to think about.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Small animal practices don't generally carry the anti toxin, but practices that treat horses may. (Horses are less resistant to tetanus than humans by a factor of 3.)
 
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