Bizzie is a young Gordon Setter bitch who originally came to see us in January with a swollen, painful toe.
X-rays showed no sign of a fracture but her toe was incredibly swollen and most likely infected.
The toe was treated and gradually started to improve but then Bizzie started behaving strangely; she wasn’t herself and she had a strange look in her eyes with an odd facial expression.
Vet Fiona Cornish quickly recognised the characteristic symptoms of the disease tetanus which is rarely seen in dogs.
The condition is caused by a bacterial infection in a deep penetrating tissue wound. The bacteria produce a toxin or poison which then gets into the system and starts to cause muscles to go into spasm or tetany.
The symptoms tend to be first seen in the facial expression as the muscles contract and cause a startled expression with the ears pulled back and the eyebrows raised. If the condition progresses then this will lead to other muscles such as those of the legs to become spasmed and painful and eventually it would affect the chest and diaphragm so the dog wouldn’t be able to breath.
Clearly this was a very serious problem for Bizzie but luckily the owners had noticed the problem early. Treatment involved intravenous antibiotics, a specific anti-toxin to try to neutralise the poison and other supportive care.
Thankfully her condition stabilised quickly and within a few days she was able to go home. The condition slowly resolved over the next few weeks and now Bizzie is back to her old self and her facial expression has returned to the happy face it usually is.
We wish Bizzie well as she has fully recovered and has even been shown at Crufts in the Gun Dog Section.