Evaluating the effect of equine tetanus antitoxin on mortality rates of dogs affected by tetanus



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PICO Question

In dogs with tetanus, does administering the equine tetanus antitoxin compared to not administering the antitoxin reduce mortality rates?


Clinical bottom line

Category of research


Number and type of study designs reviewed

Three studies were reviewed for this Knowledge Summary, all of which were retrospective case-control studies.

Strength of evidence


Outcomes reported

There was no difference in survival to discharge between dogs treated and dogs not treated with equine tetanus antitoxin.


The current literature suggests that administering the equine tetanus antitoxin to dogs affected by tetanus had no positive or negative effect on mortality rates, though the level of evidence amongst the literature is weak.


How to apply this evidence in practice

The application of evidence into practice should take into account multiple factors, not limited to: individual clinical expertise, patient’s circumstances and owners’ values, country, location or clinic where you work, the individual case in front of you, the availability of therapies and resources.

Knowledge Summaries are a resource to help reinforce or inform decision making. They do not override the responsibility or judgement of the practitioner to do what is best for the animal in their care.


Bandt, C., Rozanski, E.A., Steinberg, T. & Shaw, S.P. (2007). Retrospective Study of Tetanus in 20 Dogs: 1988-2004. Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association. 43(3), 143–148. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5326/0430143

Burkitt, J.M., Sturges, B.K., Jandrey, K.E. & Kass, P.H. (2007). Risk factors associated with outcome in dogs with tetanus: 38 cases (1987-2005). Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 230(1), 76–83. DOI: https://doi.org/10.2460/javma.230.1.76

Greene, C.T. (2006). Tetanus. In: CT. Greene, ed., Infectious diseases of the dog and cat, 3rd St Louis: Saunders Elsevier, 395–402.

Zitzl, J., Dyckers J., Güssow A., Lehmann H. & Hazuchova K. (2022). Survival in canine tetanus – retrospective analysis of 42 cases (2006–2020). Frontiers in Veterinary Science. 9. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2022.1015569

Vol. 9 No. 1 (2024): The first issue of 2024

Section: Knowledge Summaries

Categories :  Small Animal  /  Dogs  /  Cats  /  Rabbits  /  Production Animal  /  Cattle  /  Sheep  /  Pig  /  Equine  /  Exotics  /