Tetanus in Dogs

Canine tetanus is a serious infection that can affect muscles and nerves in your dog’s body. It can be fatal if not diagnosed and treated quickly, but with antibiotics and supportive care, your pet can lead a long and happy life after recovery. We’ll go over the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention so you can keep your dog safe from this dangerous condition.

Keep your dog up to date on vaccines.

The best way to prevent your dog from getting tetanus is to keep him or her up-to-date on their vaccinations. Vaccines are the most effective way to prevent both canine distemper and canine parvovirus, two types of infectious diseases that can lead to tetanus.

Vaccines are also safe and recommended by veterinarians. The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends annual vaccination for dogs against these diseases as well as rabies, which reduces the likelihood that your dog will get infected with other diseases as well as providing them with a longer life expectancy.

What is tetanus?

Tetanus is a disease caused by a toxin produced by the bacteria Clostridium tetani. It is not a virus, nor is it related to rabies or distemper.

The spores of C. tetani are present in soil and manure; they can’t germinate unless they’re in an animal’s body—either through an open wound or ingestion (e.g., eating dirt). When these spores enter the body and find themselves in a favorable environment (i.e., warm and moist), they produce toxins that bind to nerves to prevent proper communication between muscles and the brain. This causes muscle spasms, rigidity, difficulty swallowing, paralysis of facial muscles that makes it difficult for dogs to breathe through their noses—and often death from suffocation if left untreated for too long!

How do dogs get tetanus?

Dogs can get tetanus from cuts, scrapes or puncture wounds. Tetanus is a bacterial infection that affects your dog’s nervous system. The bacteria enter the body through breaks in his skin and release toxins into his body through these breaks.

The two main ways for dogs to become infected with this bacteria are by coming into contact with soil that contains the spores of C. tetani, or through an injury that allows them to come into contact with the bacteria directly. The most common way pet parents encounter this disease is when they have their pets vaccinated against it at their annual exam appointment with the veterinarian!

What are the symptoms of tetanus in dogs?

The symptoms of tetanus in dogs depend on how severe they are. Mild cases may include stiffness and muscle spasms, while more severe cases may also include seizures or even death. Tetanus doesn’t always affect just one body part; some dogs will have symptoms throughout their bodies instead of isolated places like their jaw or back legs.

How is tetanus diagnosed in dogs?

Your vet will take a blood sample to test for the presence of tetanus. It’s also important to check your dog’s skin, as well as any wounds they may have, to see if they’re showing signs of the disease.

Your vet may want to take samples of fluid from your dog’s spinal cord or brain (if possible) for testing as well.

How is tetanus treated in dogs?

Treatment for tetanus in dogs is typically intravenous antibiotics. The course of treatment is 10 days or longer, depending on the severity of symptoms and how well the dog responds to antibiotics. The dog’s symptoms should improve significantly within 48 hours of starting treatment. However, it may take up to two weeks before they’re gone entirely.

The vet will likely want to see your dog regularly during their stay at the hospital so they can monitor their progress and judge when they’re ready for discharge back home with you.

Complications of Canine Tetanus

The most common symptoms of tetanus in dogs include muscle spasms, seizures and paralysis. Tetanus can also lead to death if left untreated; this is because the toxin produced by C. tetani is so potent that it can cause your dog’s muscles to contract uncontrollably and eventually shut down vital organs like the heart or lungs. The longer you wait before seeking medical treatment for your dog’s case of tetanus, the more likely he or she is to die from complications related to the disease.

Can we prevent tetanus in our dogs?

  • Vaccinate your dog.
  • Keep your dog’s vaccinations up to date.
  • Be wary of any wounds or puncture wounds on your dog, and get them checked out by a veterinarian right away if you think they might be infected.
  • Be cautious when handling dirt or sand, which can easily cause an infection if it enters a cut or wound on your dog’s footpads.


You can help your dog avoid tetanus by keeping them up to date on their vaccines. If they do get tetanus, you can often treat it with antibiotics and other medications to get them back on their feet! Even though you cannot prevent all cases of tetanus in dogs, there are some things that owners should know about the disease and its symptoms so they can take action early.