Is Lockjaw in Dogs Real? Here Are the Facts


Lockjaw, when it occurs in humans, is a painful and sometimes even debilitating condition. But did you know that lockjaw, or trismus, can also happen to our canine friends, as well?

This condition happens when the jaw muscles spasm and cause the jaw to “lock” or get stuck in a certain position. It’s caused by tetanus, which occurs when harmful bacteria enter the body through a wound or injury.

If you’ve ever wondered, “can dogs get lockjaw?” you’re not alone. While dogs have a natural resistance to tetanus, it’s still possible (although rare) that they can indeed get lockjaw. To learn more, keep on reading this post!

Lockjaw in Dogs

It’s important to be aware of the fact that any dog can be affected by lockjaw. While it most often occurs in adult dogs, there is no predisposition for size, breed, or sex.

If a canine is affected by lockjaw, he won’t open or close his mouth. Of course, this leads to complications in eating and drinking and can be deadly if left untreated. That’s why it’s crucial to watch out for the telltale symptoms.

Lockjaw Symptoms in Dogs

Several symptoms are associated with trismus in dogs and that you should be on the lookout for. We’ve listed the most common ones below:

  • strained facial expression
  • swelling
  • visible pain or discomfort
  • dehydration
  • excessive or abnormal salivation
  • “stuck” jaw
  • fever
  • weight loss
  • loss of appetite
  • shifted jawbone or shifted facial bones

Have you noticed one or more of these symptoms in your dog? If the answer is yes, you should take your dog to the vet immediately.

Diagnosing Lockjaw in Dogs

To diagnose lockjaw in a dog, a vet will conduct a physical examination, including manipulating the dog’s jaw. Blood tests will also be done to ensure that trismus is the cause of the dog’s symptoms.

Other diagnostic tools may be used as well. These include radiographs, CT scans, and MRIs of the jaw and skull.

Treating Lockjaw in Dogs

Depending on the dog’s condition, treatment isn’t always successful. However, there are several treatment options out there.

The most common way to treat lockjaw in dogs is surgery. During surgery, the dog’s facial and jawbones may be resectioned, resulting in relief from trismus symptoms. Dogs with trismus are also given antitoxins and antibiotics, which are used to treat symptoms of tetanus.

It’s important to know that, even after treatment, your dog may need lifelong therapy after having lockjaw.

Can Dogs Get Lockjaw

So, can dogs get lockjaw? The answer is yes, although it is rare!

Now you know what signs to look for in your own canine companion, and you can rest assured that your pup is happy and healthy.

Did you learn anything new from this information? If you did, be sure to check out the rest of our posts about all things pets and animals!

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