The bacteria Clostridium has many different subgroups, each of which can cause a different disease. Clostridiums are responsible for many cases of food poisoning, for example, and another type of Clostridium causes Botulism.
Tetanus is caused by a neuro-toxin made by the germ known as Clostridium tetani. This germ can survive in the soil and if it gets in a cut or wound, the germ will multiply and then release it's toxin.
Dogs and cats seem to have a fair amount of natural resistance to Tetanus, but we they are still susceptible. Usually the cause is a wound that is ignored.
The toxin released by the bacteria often nums or paralyzes the muscles near the wound... but the toxin is spread by the lymphatics and circulatory system throughout the body causing any of the following:
Pain during urination
Stiff and hard tail
Continuously erect and stiff ears
Progressive stiffness of the body muscles, giving the animal a sawhorse appearance
Breathing difficulty (due to stiffness of the chest muscles)
Difficulty opening the mouth (due to stiffness of the jaw muscles)
Whole body muscle spasms with sudden external movement, sound, or touch
Death due to inability to breathe
There isn't a vaccine available for dogs and cats.
There is an anti-toxin, but using it is somewhat dangerous as it may cause an anaphylaxic reaction.
The tentative diagnosis is made mostly by observing the very stiff muscles and other symptoms.
Other clues include a very high or abnormally low white blood cell count, an elevation in the blood of an enzyme called creatine phosphokinase (CPK), and the presence of myoglobin in the urine.
The definitive diagnosis is from culturing the organism from the wound.
Treatment involves high doses of combinations of penicillin G, tetracycline, and metronidazole antibiotics, control of the seizures, and lots of supportive care to include IV Fluids.
Sometimes the muscles spasms in this disease are so severe the patient can't swallow and a feeding tube must be inserted into the esophagus. And sometimes the muscle spasms are bad enough to cause heart attacks.
In milder and moderate cases, treatment is often sucessful but requires up to several weeks of expensive hospitalization. The more severe cases usually die.
"What To Expect When You Go To The Vet"
if your pet should have a problem with ...
To include Femoral Head Removal, Hip Dysplasia, Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries, Panosteitis, Radiographic Demonstrations, Disc Disease, and Bone Surgery
Strokes, Vascular Diseases, Anemias, DVT, DIC, Blood Parasites, Rat Poison, & Bleeding disorders
Cardiology Heart disease in Cats, Cardiac Hypertrophy, Valvular disease, Cardiac Insufficiency, Congestive Heart Failure, Heartworm Disease, and a little history about the milestones in treating heart disease Cats: general information page and directory of diseases and problems specific to cats including vaccine recommendations, leukemia, feline viral infections, feline upper respiratory disease and cats that just aren't feeling well. Dermatology: Skin problems including allergies, rashes, bacterial infections, and itching. Hair Loss, Yeast Infections, Hormonal Problems Heart disease; Cardiac diseases, vascular diseases, stroke, & heartworms Hormone Diseases: Diabetes, Thyroid Disease, Cushing's Disease or Hypercortisolism, Addison's disease or Hypocortisolism, Pancreatitis, obesity as a disease Infectious Diseases Colds, Distemper, Parvo, Leptospirosis, Bruceellosis, Panleukopenia, Feline AIDS, Leukemia, Hepatitis, Kennel Cough, Ringworm, Rabies, FIP, Canine Herpes, Toxic Shock Syndrome, & More Intestinal problems: diarrhea, constipation, torsion, indigestion, and gas. Also pancreatitis, vomiting, esophagitis, colitis, parvo and other types of dysentery Metabolic Diseases: Diabetes, Thyroid Disease, Cushing's Disease or Hypercortisolism, Addison's disease or Hypocortisolism, Pancreatitis, obesity as a disease Parasite Problems Fleas, Ticks, Heartworms, Intestinal Worms, Mosquitos, Lice, Mites, and other welfare recipients Poisons Snakes, Insects, household chemicals, plants, and foods that might poison your pet Skeletal-Muscular Problems Arthritis, Fractures, ACL, Ligament Injuries, Disc Disease, Pannus, and many other problems of the bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments Skin Problems: allergies, rashes, bacterial infections, and itching. Hair Loss, Yeast Infections, Hormonal Problems Surgery: Spays, Castrations, Testicle Recipes, Soft Tissue Surgery, Hard Tissue Surgery (Bones), C- Sections, Declawing, Tumor Removal and Cancer Surgery
Other Topics on This Site
Zoonotics: Diseases, worms, and parasites people get from pets.
Includes information about Prescription diets used to treat disease, and a discussion about the pet food industry
Includes information about feline and canine heat or estrus, breeding, C-Sections, pyometra or Infected Uterus, dystocia, no milk, mastitis, & brucellosis
Also newborn care, undescended testicles, and alternative to spaying and castration
WildLife Page: Taking care of baby bunnies, squirrels, and birds. A very funny story about beavers, and other misc information Our Dog Page: a directory of problems of concern in dogs including parvovirus, distemper, canine herpes, and other diseases