Whole Dog Journal's Blog May 3, 2018

Tetanus Shots for Dogs and Other Veterinary Questions

Posted at 10:55AM - Comments: (12)

Whole Dog Journal is not just about my dogs, though I do use them for article ideas and models for articles sometimes, but there are some weeks when the lines blur a bit.

dog cut on rusty wire

Woody had a run-in with rusty barbed wire, cutting his face and one forearm. (What looks like it might be more blood on his neck is his collar.)

The June issue contains an article from one of our new veterinarian contributors about how to assess and clean a wound, and also discusses tetanus. I specifically asked this author to write something for me after my young, exuberant dog Woody cut his face on rusty old barbed wire. Suddenly, I had a million questions. Do dogs get tetanus? Is tetanus one of the shots that we ever give dogs? Why do I associate rusty metal with tetanus? WHY DON’T WE GIVE DOGS TETANUS SHOTS?

Stand by. The answers to all of my questions are in the June issue.

Also in the June issue: an article about advanced diagnostic tests for senior dogs. This is a follow-up to the article in the May issue (“Physical Exams for Senior Dogs”) that was contributed by another veterinarian who is now writing for WDJ. These articles were her idea; I didn’t assign them to her. But I have been waiting for them with bated breath, because it’s time to take my 10-year-old dog, Otto, in for some extensive senior exams. He’s starting to get a bit rusty himself; stiff when he first gets up, with a trace of a limp that I can’t quite pin down to one limb.

Also, right on schedule, he started up with his spring cough a few weeks ago; after 10 springs together, I know that he’s allergic to some type of local pollen in the spring, and for a few weeks he will exhibit this heart-stopping, raspy cough that gives me nightmares about heartworm and makes me review his health diary, checking to make sure we never missed a dose of heartworm preventive. But it also reminds me that the last time I had him in for extensive tests, an x-ray revealed that he had pneumonia in one lung. His vet and I were both surprised, because he hadn’t been coughing very much and his lungs didn’t sound bad, but that’s why these next-level diagnostics are important.

One thing I hate about taking him to the vet, though: the whole “taking him in the back” thing. I recently attended the annual conference for the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, and the first day was devoted to “Fear Free” veterinary practices. In various talks, practitioners described how they have transformed their veterinary practices and dog-handling methods to make trips to the vet less anxiety-producing, and I became convinced that I need to find a Fear Free practitioner to take Otto to.

senior dogs socializing

Lena, one of Otto's playmates from his youth, has severe arthritis, but we no longer have to worry about Otto getting her too excited and making her play hard (with extreme pain the next day). Now they are content to stroll around together, which makes me worry a bit about Otto's health.

I love his veterinarian, but she works in a large corporate group practice that offers zero flexibility about this. When they need to take something as small as a blood sample or as large as a chest x-ray or abdominal ultrasound – both of which I’m planning on asking for Otto soon – they “take him in the back” without me. The last time I took Otto to the vet, he came back “from the back” smelling terrible, having expressed his anal glands in fear. What happened? The vet tech who brought him back to me laughed it off. “Oh, it happens, he was fine, don’t worry.” Was it because they rushed him – or worse, dragged him – across a slippery floor? Was it being restrained? I have no idea, and of course no one will describe what happened, and I just don’t think that’s acceptable.

To cement this desire: trainer/author Linda Case, author of “The Science Dog” blog, as well as books Dog Food Logic, and her latest, Dog Smart, sent me an article (which will also appear in the June issue) about a scientific study in which dogs were monitored during sham veterinary examinations during which they either had their owners near to and comforting them or not near them. Heart rate, internal temperature, and other physical indicators of stress were monitored during the dogs’ examinations.† The results? You can read about them in the June issue. Suffice to say, Otto will be meeting a new vet soon, even if I have to drive 100 miles to find him or her.

Comments (12)

Would love to know the type/name of insurance you got?
Would you be willing to give the name, Iím in a quandary and seeking guidance.
WDJ has been helpful but realand personal recommendations are supportive of that good article. Itís time for me to take the plunge and write the check!!!
Please all chime in if you have a favorite and why, also the cost!

Info much appreciated.
Many thanks and good health to all.

Posted by: Her Woofness | May 10, 2018 10:30 AM    Report this comment

The Vet place I go to usually wants to take my dog to the back for weight, anal glad expression, shots, etc. I tell them my dog will be more comfortable with me insight so they leave the dog in the room with me. The tech. holds the dog while procedures are being done. I will not allow my dog out of my sight so I know what transpires and my dog feels more secure.

Posted by: Dog lady | May 4, 2018 9:02 PM    Report this comment

My 8 year old dog just finished a long, almost 5 month recovery from tetanus. It is a very difficult disease to beat - she had to be kept in an induced coma for 10 days to prevent the tremors in her muscles from making her body temperature skyrocket. She spent a total of 3 weeks in intensive care at a veterinary specialist, followed by 4 months of physical therapy to rebuild her wasted muscles. The scariest part is she had no obvious wound - one of her vets said it could have been caused by the smallest scratch or scrape, and could have already been superficially healed before she even started showing symptoms.

There is an antitoxin to stop the spread of the toxin once a dog has contracted tetanus, but there is no vaccine. Tetanus is actually relatively rare in dogs, they are naturally less susceptible to it than we are, but they can get it, and it doesn't have to be a major or even obvious wound.

I'll also put a plug for pet insurance in here. My dog's total care, including the hospitalization, the cocktail of drugs she was on for weeks, and the months of PT and follow up blood work, cost $55,000. Pet insurance saved not only my credit for the next several years, but also relieved me of the burden of worrying about money on top of worrying about my girl's life.

Posted by: twilitewulf | May 4, 2018 6:23 PM    Report this comment

We've been taking our dogs to the same veterinary practice for almost 23 years. It's definitely fear free -- everything is done in full sight with explanations (when needed) for what they need to do. We're fortunate to have a dog who will let them do anything they need to do (one of the rechs tells all her patients "Be like Lars"; this is dogs as well as parents!) He gets excited just going to the vet!

As for getting tetanus, anytime he's outside, he's on leash.

Posted by: DreamWeaver | May 4, 2018 5:30 PM    Report this comment

We have been taking our dogs to the same Veterinary practice for many years and it was fear-free up until 2 years ago when a new Dr. saw my recently rescued girl Husky. I watched him poke and prod her body during a first visit for her with us. He must have hit a tender spot because she turned her head toward him quickly and he jumped back and called for a Tech and a muzzle. I stated neither were necessary and I would hold my dog for him. He refused because, "if she bites you the State would hold me responsible and you could sue me." I stated I have always held my dogs if needed. He refused and I told him we would finish the exam at another time, with another Veterinarian, and walked out. We still go to the practice, but we always ask that one of the other Veterinarians see our dogs. So far it hasn't been a problem.

Posted by: Waggs | May 3, 2018 3:48 PM    Report this comment

My best friends Mini Australian Shepherd just got tetanus she believes from a rusty nail. She also lives next to a farm which has livestock so when it rains she is downhill from them. This poor dogs legs locked up in very painful muscle spasms and he could not walk. Her vet had to keep him anesthetized for days to keep him out of pain. His spasms are gone but his front legs are still somewhat stiff so he's still not walking much. Unfortunately a tetanus shot was not available for dogs which is totally ridiculous. They have them for primates and livestock, why not dogs?

Posted by: Kathryn W. | May 3, 2018 2:10 PM    Report this comment

I am fortunate to have a vet that does all blood draws,temperatures, vaccinations, acupuncture and exams with me in the room. The clinic has their scales in the reception room so we can get the weights before the appointment. I have nervous Nellie dogs and they act much better if I do the hold for needle sticks of any kind. Win-win all the way around. I have also been there for ultrasounds and xrays taken while awake. It has always been this way, not sure if I was granted professional courtesy (dentist, not vet) or if this is always the way appointments go. 25 years and counting with the same vet clinic.

Posted by: DrBecker | May 3, 2018 12:55 PM    Report this comment

Several years ago I lost a beloved dog to tetanus. He had a leg wound, checked by the vet, but by the time tetanus was diagnosed, it was too late. I was beyond devastated.

Posted by: Gustopher | May 3, 2018 12:36 PM    Report this comment

Our vet is fear-free, and I am astonished at the difference it makes. It even carries over to other clinics. One of our dogs had been timid and somewhat reactive with strangers. After a few fear-free visits, she had to go to a specialist. The first thing she did was to reach herself over to a woman in the waiting area and ask to be petted. In the exam room she lifted her head and cruised the countertop for peanut butter ...

Posted by: Jeannette | May 3, 2018 11:52 AM    Report this comment

Because I do not vaccinate every year (sham practice), I never, never allow my dogs out of my site. I don't care how much they weigh or what their temp is. They go in only for HW test and mandatory check-up. I raise my dogs naturally, which means no poisons, and they are HW and flea free every year. Wish more efitors would promote these practices to get the word out.

Posted by: KellyH | May 3, 2018 11:42 AM    Report this comment

I need to find fear free vet, for sure. My dog had something happen to him "in the back" and he started to display fear aggression. It took me a year to get him past that(he still isn't totally over it). Now it's time for a rabies vaccination and I'm dreading the visit probably as much add here is.

Posted by: DAG | May 3, 2018 11:26 AM    Report this comment

I have had too many incidents where my dog was taken in the back and something happened. So now if I cannot go with my dog, then I find a different vet. I have a vet who even lets me put on lead and be there holding dog for an xray. My dogs are my family and their safety and well being are very important to me just like my children's safety and well being are. I will drive a distance just to find that vet. If there is an emergency after hours, that is the only time I compromise because the emergency is out of my control but I try to find an emergency vet nearby that will work with me.

Posted by: kruzingwithk9s | May 3, 2018 11:06 AM    Report this comment

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