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Home Pet Q&A Dog Questions Do Dogs Carry Tetanus?

Do Dogs Carry Tetanus?

Dogs can carry tetanus, but there is no available tetanus shot for dogs. If you are bitten by a dog and do not have a current tetanus shot, you should get one. While the disease is rare in dogs, it's still smart to get a shot following a bite just in case the dog is carrying the disease. For dogs with tetanus, the prognosis is mixed and depends on the severity of the condition.

What is Tetanus? 

Tetanus is caused by a toxin called clostridium tetani. The disease can be found in dogs, but it more commonly affects humans and horses. Tetanus affects the nerves, brain, and spinal cord, and can be fatal.

There are two kinds of tetanus: 

  • Localized Tetanus: This is the more common, and easier to treat, type of tetanus. Dogs may have muscle stiffness closest to the wound. Tremors are also possible. In some cases, localized tetanus will become generalized tetanus.
  • Generalized Tetanus: Dogs with generalized tetanus will experience stiff muscles throughout the body. In severe cases pets' limbs become so still that they cannot stand. Additionally, facial muscles may be affected and dogs may become unable to swallow. 

Treating Tetanus in Dogs 

Antitoxins, antibiotics, and intensive nursing care are among the treatment protocols for tetanus in dogs. Even with early intervention, the prognosis is mixed with survival rates of 50% to 90%. Dogs with localized tetanus have a better chance for recovery as do pets who begin receiving treatment early.

Though rare, dogs can carry tetanus, and they can pass it to humans. If bitten, be sure your treatment includes a tetanus shot just to be on the safe side. 

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