Diseases & Conditions
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What is botulism?
Botulism is a neuromuscular disease, meaning it impacts your dog’s muscles and nervous system. Your dog gets this disease by ingesting a toxin secreted by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. The toxin is found most often in decomposing carcasses and spoiled food. Although this infection can be life-threatening, dogs are pretty resistant to botulism and thus have a much better prognosis than large animals for whom this disease is often fatal.
What will botulism look like in my dog?
If your dog has botulism, the symptoms will depend upon the amount of the toxin ingested and will generally progress in stages. First, your dog will begin to move in a stiff or shuffling manner. Next, your dog will lose muscle tone, his reflexes will be slowed, and he may develop paralysis in all four legs. Muscle weakness can cause your dog to have problems swallowing, difficulty barking, and make his eyes look dilated. In addition, if your dog’s respiratory muscles become impacted, he may die.
How does my dog get botulism?
Most often, your dog will develop botulism by ingesting the botulinum toxin from decaying carcasses or spoiled food. However, there is a type of botulism called Toxicoinfectious botulism that is caused by actually ingesting the bacteria spores.