A beloved English Springer Spaniel suffered such a severe attack of tetanus that his body went into almost total lockdown and left him fighting for his life.

One-and-a-half-year-old Brian’s muscles were so stiff that he was left battling to breathe and unable to walk, eat, drink or urinate.

The stricken dog was referred to Linnaeus-owned Dick White Referrals (DWR), in Cambridgeshire, where expert vets Ines de Freitas and Christophe Dupont took charge of the challenging case.

Ines, a clinical fellow in neurology and neurosurgery, said: “Tetanus is a toxin produced by bacteria that finds its way into the body through an open wound.

“It spreads to cause severe muscle rigidity and, on arrival at DWR, Brian’s muscles were stiff to the degree that he couldn’t walk, eat, drink or urinate.

“He was even struggling to expand his chest to breathe so we admitted him straight into our intensive care unit.

“Brian needed heavy sedation and muscle relaxants to counteract the stiffness in his muscles. This posed a big challenge as we needed to give him continuous drug infusions and monitor him very closely to ensure his airways were protected from regurgitation.

“His heart rate, oxygenation, ventilation and fluid intake were also carefully monitored and he had a urinary catheter placed to monitor urine production.

“He was fed via a tube to keep him healthy and strong to fight this life-threatening disease.”

Tackling the tetanus was not the only challenge. Further tests and examinations revealed that Brian was also suffering from aspiration pneumonia which not only further compromised his ability to breathe, but presented a risk of infection spreading to his other vital body organs.

Ines and Christophe acted quickly to combat the pneumonia, treating it with oxygen therapy, nebulisation and antibiotics.

But Ines confirmed there’s no easy solution when it comes to tackling tetanus.

She added: “There are no medications that can treat tetanus directly so it’s a disease where, once established, the aim is to keep the pet alive and try to give the body time to heal.

“Brian’s case was challenging and our brilliant ICU team monitored him closely.

“Happily, despite his dire and fragile state on arrival, Brian responded really well to his treatment, including physiotherapy sessions which soon had him walking again.

“After two weeks in hospital he was able to return home to rest and recover and continue his physiotherapy sessions under the watchful eye of his caring family.”

Brian’s owner and breeder, Susan Musselwhite, from Hadleigh, in Suffolk, is delighted with his recovery and full of praise for the DWR team.

She said: “It’s incredible. He was at death’s door and I honestly feared I’d never see him again alive but now you wouldn’t know there had ever been anything wrong with him.

“I’m so grateful. When you breed dogs, you can’t help but get personally involved with them and he’s such a lovely, kind-natured dog so I really wanted to give him every chance.

“There didn’t seem much hope when I saw him before he was taken off for treatment. Brian was as stiff as a board, like he’d just been taken out of a freezer.

“It was really upsetting and I was totally distraught so it was such a relief to see him again and know he’d come through.

“The level of care Brian received from Dick White Referrals was excellent. They showed real compassion and empathy and communicated fully throughout. I cannot give the DWR team enough praise and I’d definitely recommend them.”

For more information on Dick White Referrals, visit www.dickwhitereferrals.com or search for Dick White Referrals on social media.

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