What is Tetanus and why vaccinate?

A potentially deadly disease, Tetanus can persist in the environment for many years — placing your horse at risk of infection even at home. In this article, we discuss the importance of vaccinating your horse against Tetanus.

What is Tetanus and why vaccinate?

What is Tetanus and why vaccinate?

The bacterium Clostridium tetani, which causes Tetanus, survives as spores in manure and soil where it gains access to your horse’s body via wounds — most often, puncture wounds. Between four and 21 days following entry, a neurotoxin is released with insidious effects.

Signs of Tetanus

As the bacterium multiplies rapidly, the neurotoxin may cause severe: 

  • Stiffness or tetanic contractions of the limbs
  • Cramping
  • Third eyelid protrusion

Sadly, in 80% of cases, Tetanus is fatal as treatment is often costly, time-consuming, and ultimately unsuccessful. However, with routine vaccination, the risk of Tetanus infection can be avoided in the first place.

Treating Tetanus

 It should be mentioned that if your horse contracts Tetanus and you’re unsure of their vaccination history, your veterinarian may administer the Tetanus antitoxin injection. Although, this vaccine isn’t 100% effective and you may still be faced with the prospect of euthanasia.

 That’s why vaccination against Tetanus is the best decision for your horse.

Preventing Tetanus

 If your horse is unvaccinated against Tetanus, you should follow the below schedule to give them the full benefits of immunity:

  •  First dose – Equivac 2-in-1 or Equivac T

            4-week interval

  • Second dose – Equivac 2-in-1 or Equivac T

            12 month interval

  • Booster dose – Equivac 2-in-1 or Equivac T

            12 month interval

  • Annual booster – Equivac 2-in-1 or Equivac T

It’s important to remember that even if your horse never leaves your property, Tetanus simply cannot be avoided. Horses, by their very nature, are injury-prone, and stabling and paddock injuries are common, resulting in puncture wounds that are the ideal entry for Tetanus.

Routine vaccination is the only way to prevent Tetanus infection from beginning.


  • Dr Louise Cosgrove

    The founder of Exclusively Equine Veterinary Services, Louise is driven to support horses in their recovery from injury or illness. A graduate of the University of Queensland, with international equin...

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