Learn what the symptoms of Tetanus (sometimes called 'Lockjaw') are and how to protect your donkeys.

Tetanus is not a contagious disease but is caused by bacteria present in the environment. This bacteria can infect your donkey if they have an open wound or cut, roll on a sharp object, or get a graze from hedge prickles, which causes blood to be drawn.

How does the infection spread?

The bacteria can enter the body via the wound,going directly into the blood stream. Another way for the bacteria to get into the body would be through pus in your donkey’s foot. Once it is in the bloodstream, the bacteria will be carried to the nervous system.

What are the symptoms?

Tetanus will cause some of the following symptoms:

  • Rigidity
  • Muscle spasm
  • Third eyelid moving – leading to vision issues.

What happens if the infection is left unchecked?

Ultimately, your donkey’s respiratory muscles will become paralysed. It is not unknown for donkeys to be found dead with food in their mouth as they couldn’t chew due to the jaw muscles being paralysed. Most clinical cases of Tetanus will end in death.

What can I do to prevent this?

  • Find your donkey passport
  • Check the vaccination date
  • Book your donkey's annual Tetanus inoculation with your vet
  • Put a reminder in your calendar for the next Tetanus inoculation.

All UK and European donkeys should be issued with an Equine Passport, which will give details of due dates for Tetanus innoculations.

Want to know more?

Information for donkey owners