The Tetanus Grin
Annelise Enslin (BVSc. BSc)
Tetanus is a condition that is caused by bacteria called, Clostridium tetani. The bacteria infects wounds where there is little to no oxygen and produces a toxin that affects nerves (neurotoxin) in a way that prevents muscles from relaxing, thus causing stiffness. This is different from some other neurotoxins that cause a “floppy” paralysis. Different species of animals have different degrees of resistance to the bacteria. Horses are relatively susceptible whereas dogs and cats seem to be more resistant. This however does not mean that they are never affected. With dogs in clinic we have seen it in association with toe nail injuries, tail docking (ringing), puppies losing their milk teeth. With horses being more susceptible it can occur with any form of wound. Therefore vaccines and anti-toxin are routinely used in this species.
Clinical signs usually consist of the following:
• Stiffness of a single limb that progress to affect all limbs
• Pricked up ears, lips pulled back at the corners, facial skin drawn back with wrinkles on the forehead and third eyelids coming up on both sides. This is classically referred to as the “sardonic grin.“
• Jaw becomes locked
• Sensitive to light and other stimuli like loud sounds or sudden movements Treatment in dogs:
• Large doses of horse anti-toxin
• Wound clean up
• In some cases, certain sedatives may help with muscle stiffness
• Intensive care involving syringe feeding, fluid administration by way of intravenous catheter if needed, if unable to stand frequent turning over
The anti-toxin will not do anything about the toxin that has already attached to and caused an effect in muscles. It will only neutralise the toxin that is still free-floating in blood and is still produced in the wound.
Care will continue until such a stage where the body has produced new, unaffected muscle receptors that allow normal contraction and relaxation. This may take several weeks.
Prognosis: If intervention occurs early in the disease process, the prognosis is good for recovery. However if left untreated for too long, the prognosis is poor as these dogs can suffer from fatal paralysis of the respiratory muscles and the inability to swallow resulting in choke or aspiration pneumonia.
Read more >Monday 18th of December 2017: Mycoplasma Bovis is a bacterial disease affecting cattle.
For more information on the outbreak in the Patoka area- click here. If you have any concerns with regards to your particular situation please get in touch with one of our Veterinarians
Read more >Monday 18th of December 2017: At this time of year care needs to be taken with dogs around streams, rivers and lakes due to the possibility of algal blooms.
Read more >Monday 18th of December 2017: It's this time of year that we are concerned about our furry companions overheating. Any dog is at risk of heat stroke but particularly brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds and dogs with a long or thick hair coat.
Read more >Monday 18th of December 2017: This year has raced with speed, and another Christmas is coming up soon. We all know what that means; ham, roast and all sorts to satisfy the taste buds.
Read more >Thursday 5th of October 2017: As of October 2018, the non-therapeutic docking of dogs tails will be prohibited in New Zealand.
Read more >Tuesday 3rd of October 2017: During the spring and summer months we see a high number of dogs with itchy skin.
In the past, the only way to manage atopy (itchy skin) was through medications such as antihistamines and steroids but Hill's nutritionists and veterinarians have developed a new Prescription Diet specially formulated to help manage environmental sensitivities in dogs.
Read more >Tuesday 3rd of October 2017: Vaccinations are designed to prevent your pet from contracting diseases. We have a few different vaccines available in NZ based on what diseases pose a risk to your dog.
Read more >Wednesday 27th of September 2017: It seems like companies are bringing out new flea products every few months these days, and even we find it hard to keep up! Here is an overview of the products we have in store.
Read more >Thursday 27th of July 2017: Some horse owners are still drenching their animals on a six to eight weekly basis regardless of age or worm burden. This was a traditional approach which is outdated and possibly detrimental in terms of developing resistance to drenches.
Read more >Thursday 27th of July 2017: The first five years of a horse's life are critical in regards to dental development. Like us, horses have two sets of teeth, the deciduous being shed from about two and a half years until the permanent teeth have erupted at around five years.
Read more >Tuesday 11th of July 2017: Kennel Cough (also known as canine infectious tracheobronchitis) is a highly contagious respiratory disease. Dogs commonly contract kennel cough at places where large amounts of dogs accumulate, such as boarding and daycare facilities and dog parks.
Read more >Tuesday 11th of July 2017: As our pets age dental disease can start to set in. We often start noticing signs from around the age of 5 (which equates to around 35 in human years). Dental disease can affect the internal organs and the overall health of your pet. There are some measures you can take to help slow or prolong the effects of dental disease at home.
Read more >Friday 23rd of June 2017: It is important to Vet Services that you understand what happens to your pet when they come to us for surgery. We appreciate that you may feel anxious leaving your pet and we hope the following will help ease any concern you may have.
Read more >Friday 23rd of June 2017: A common emergency condition that we see at a vet clinic is the cat with a 'blocked bladder' (urethral obstruction). They often present to us as a cat that is in pain due to an unknown cause. The owner may find them hiding in the garden or under a bed and suspect that the cat has had some sort of trauma.
Read more >Friday 23rd of June 2017: In recent weeks we have been presented with several cases of rabbit haemorrhagic diseases. This is a viral condition which is unfortunately deadly to pet bunnies.
Read more >Tuesday 28th of March 2017: General stiffness, slowing down, difficulty rising... Is it just old age? Our senior pets may show subtle signs or be quite obvious in their attempts to tell us about their problems. One of these problems that we commonly see is arthritis.
Read more >Tuesday 28th of March 2017: A few months ago I was presented with a 7 year old male cat Beau who had been weak, lethargic and drinking more than usual for about 3 weeks at home. Closer examination revealed very weak and floppy muscles with an almost distended abdomen. Blood and urine tests then showed elevated blood glucose confirming my suspicion that this boy had developed diabetes mellitus.
Read more >Tuesday 28th of March 2017: Being from South Africa it was relatively easy diagnosing the cause of severe anaemia in dogs as almost always it was due to a blood parasite called Babesia (which we don't have in New Zealand), and if it wasn't that then the chances were good that it was due to an auto immune disease called Auto Immune Haemolytic Anaemia or IMHA for short.
Read more >Tuesday 28th of March 2017: What is wellness testing?
Wellness testing is the term given to a group of tests that is performed specifically to detect signs of early disease in a pet that is apparently healthy.