Tetanus Shots for Dogs and Other Veterinary Questions


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

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

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.