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Old 01-07-2008, 08:37 AM
Schnauz Schnauz is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Virginia
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Default Final Diagnosis: Tetanus

I posted a couple of weeks ago about my(now) 7 month old Standard Schnauzer puppy and her inability to use her back legs. She was first diagnosed with panosteitis, which isn't the case, and then a second opinion found a serious bladder infection. Once the bladder infection cleared and her fever was gone, Nixie was still unable to use her legs. We were in and out of the vet office almost daily, with overnight stays and even day stays to make sure her hydration was kept up, and to administer liquid medication. The two possibilities were meningitis or tetanus, but now all doctors involved are sure it's tetanus.

I'm mostly writing about it to vent frustration, and also just in case anyone else has or in the future will have to deal with this heinous affliction.

This is aparently extremely rare for dogs. We were unable to locate a definitive source of the infection, but teething seems to make the most sense, as she's had no other sites for wounds besides losing her baby teeth. Veterinarians don't keep the anti toxin on hand because of the rarity, so we had to order it especially for her.

Her symptoms were slow to onset, very progressive. It started off with just a funny walk, to a bunny hop run(which prompted x-rays to check her hips for displaysia). Then she remained able to walk but it was entirely from the waist back - not quite a bunny hop, but very stiff use of her legs simultaneously. Finally as her leg muscles stayed contracted, her back feet stay curled under, and the legs were sticking out almost completely straight behind her. The heartbreaking scenario is that since she's no longer technically "sick" with fever, she is very frustrated that she can't stand, and boy does she show it.

At this time, after the anti toxin, she hasn't shown too many signs of improvement aside from her back legs being relaxed a bit more often. Her front right leg has now also become a bit contracted, but not as bad as her back legs did.

She has to be carried up and down stairs for pottying(we're on the 3rd floor) and has a hard time going while laying down. I assume it's because she'd rather stand and squat, so she resists, but eventually just goes. This is probably the hardest part on my husband and i, aka her humans.

She's on Metronidazole and a liquid antibiotic sulfamethoxazole(we were covering meningitis with drugs as well just in case. we did not have a CFS done because our vet didn't have the equipment, and the referral source was out of the budget financially thanks to the first vet who diagnosed panosteitis). She's on Valium for muscle spasms and tramadol for pain(which we don't believe she's in anymore, any time she whines it's either for food, water, potty, or just because she see's a bone and can't just go get it herself). Finally, she's on acepromazine to help with the muscle spasms as well as to help her stay calm/sleep during recovery.

A bout with tetanus is typically 3-4 weeks long. We're ending week 3, however it's only been 4 days since the anti-toxin treatment. We're hoping to see improvement in the next week.

Her current veterinarian has been an absolute angel since we began seeing her. She's a breath of fresh air compared to our last vet, she seems to genuinely care about the health of animals and not just the estimate involved in care. She's younger, but relys on the experience of the more senior vet's at the clinic, and I really feel like all the doctors are involved in diagnosis, and that they all really do care about Nixie's recovery.

I found a really good study on cases of tetanus which was published to the internet that you can read here if you're interested. It's one of very few out there due to the rarity of this condition in dogs. Although they found a 50% survival rate, it still somehow gave me a lot of hope as far as the recovery of my dog because the more i read the more i said "that's nixie." So in that way i found it kind of uplifting. I guess it feels better knowing you're not totally alone.

Anyway, I'm still baffled as to how or where or when she actually contracted Tetanus. It could have been any number of things, after all she is a puppy and they seem to be able to find anything to eat that you didn't...and they're sneaky about it sometimes... I never wish this on anyone though. Probably my only real advice is to be very careful when your puppies are teething, and if ever in doubt - get second opinion!
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Old 01-07-2008, 09:04 AM
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Barb04 Barb04 is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Tennessee
Posts: 27,367

I'm glad you were finally able to find out what's happening. I never heard of a dog getting this, but we don't know everything. Thanks for the info and hope Nixie gets better soon.
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Old 01-07-2008, 09:16 AM
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Sweet72947 Sweet72947 is offline
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Join Date: May 2006
Location: Northern Virginia
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Thanks for the info, I hope Nixie gets better. Kudos to you for not giving up!
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