Tetanus, or lockjaw, is one of the most dreaded diseases in horses. While it can be prevented with proper care, you might be wondering exactly how to prevent tetanus in horses and what causes it in the first place. Here are some facts about tetanus in horses and how you can avoid this debilitating disease from afflicting your prized animal.
What is tetanus, and how does it affect horses?
When tetanus spores enter the body, they reproduce and create toxins affecting the nervous system. This toxin can cause muscle spasms, seizures, and rigidity. Left untreated, tetanus can be fatal to humans as well as horses. Fortunately, it is easily prevented by taking proper precautions. The following tips will help you control your horse from contracting tetanus.
How can horse owners prevent tetanus?
The best way to protect your horse from tetanus is to ensure that the vaccine is up-to-date. It is essential to review your horse’s vaccination history and ensure they are up-to-date on their shots. If not, you should schedule a visit with your veterinarian for a tetanus booster as soon as possible. You can also protect your horse from tetanus by making sure they have regular checkups, proper nutrition and management, and other medical treatments.
What are the signs of tetanus in horses?
The signs of tetanus in horses are stiffness, pain, and spasms. Tetanus is an acute neurological disease that primarily affects horses. It is caused by a potent neurotoxin (tetanospasmin) produced by the bacterium Clostridium tetani. Tetanospasmin affects the central nervous system resulting in muscle contraction or rigidity that may be associated with vocalization (e.g., whinnying), sweating, and elevated heart rate and blood pressure.
How is tetanus treated in horses?
Tetanus is a severe and potentially fatal disease. Prevention is critical; the best way to do that is by vaccinating your horse against tetanus. The vaccine can be given in one or two doses depending on the type of vaccine used, and it will protect your horse for four to five years. It is important to note that even if you have had your horse vaccinated, he could still contract tetanus from various sources. If you notice any unusual behaviors (such as head-pressing), muscle spasms, drooling, loss of appetite, or lethargy in your horse, consult a veterinarian as soon as possible.
How can horse owners protect their horses from tetanus?
The best way to protect your horse from tetanus is to vaccinate them. There are two types of vaccines available, an intramuscular vaccine and an intravenous vaccine. The intramuscular vaccine is delivered over four injections, while the intravenous vaccine only needs one.
A vet can administer the shots and will be able to advise you on how often they need to be done, but it’s recommended that horses are vaccinated annually or every six months.