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Clinical case of botulism in three dogs

  • University of Veterinary Science, Budapest, Hungary


Botulismus is an intoxication caused by the neurotoxin of Clostridium botulinum. Clinical signs are characterized by progressive, symmetric, generalized LMN (lower motor neuron) dysfunction. The severity of the illness depends on the amount of neurotoxin in the circulation and on the susceptibility of the animal. The incubation period may vary from a few hours to 6 days, and the course may last about 14-24 days. In case of recovery, muscle weakness dissolves in a descending way, starting from the muscle of the head, through the front legs, and the trunk to the hind legs. The diagnosis of botulismus can be based on the detection of the toxin in serum, faeces, vomitus or contaminated feed. The most widespread method is the toxin isolation and neutralization test performed in mice. In their 3 patients, ataxia beginning with the weakness of the hind legs occurred one day before hospitalization. The three foxterriers came from the same household, thus all the circumstances: nutrition, environment were the same. Flaccid tetraplegia developed within five hours after admission, following an ascending route, including the paralysis of the neck and head muscles, as well as the eyelids (Figure 1). Anamnesis and the results of the clinical examination arose the suspect of botulism, whilst no characteristic alterations of the blood count, blood chemistry and acid-base analysis were found (Table 1). Toxin isolation from the serum using mice inoculation toxin-neutralization test confirmed the diagnosis, and revealed Type C toxin. List of differentials included polyradiculoneuritis, tick paralysis, monensin toxicosis, and traumatic spinal cord lesions (Table 2). No antitoxin preparation was available to provide adequate serum therapy. Supportive treatment consisted of parenteral nutrition (Figure 2) and parenteral amoxicilline-clavulanic acid therapy to reduce any potential intestinal population of C botulinum. Besides placing a permanent urinary catheter to ensure urination, soft bedding was provided, and the animals were turned regularly to prevent haemostasis in the lungs. One dog died on the 4(th) and an other on the 8(th) hospitalization day, but the third one left the hospital in improving status due to intensive therapy on day 18(th).
Zusammenfassung Gegenstand und Ziel: Beschreibung einer Intoxikation mit Clostridium botulinum. Material und Methode: Fallbericht einer fünfjährigen Golden-Retriever-Hündin. Die Diagnose erfolgte durch den Toxinnachweis in verendeten Hähnchenkadavern, an denen das Tier geleckt hatte. Ergebnisse: Die Hündin entwickelte innerhalb von 24 Stunden eine schlaffe Tetraplegie, die nach drei Tagen unter symptomatischer Therapie eine beginnende Reversibilität zeigte. Schlussfolgerung: Botulismus sollte beim Hund differenzialdiagnostisch bei einer progressiven Nachhandschwäche, aszendierend bis zur Tetraplegie berücksichtigt werden. Klinische Relevanz: Neben der Fallbeschreibung wird eine Übersicht über Pathogenese und Klinik gegeben und die aktuellen diagnostischen und therapeutischen Möglichkeiten aufgezeigt.
During an outbreak of suspected botulism in waterfowl on Hamilton Lake an eight year old entire male dog was admitted to a Hamilton veterinary clinic. The dog was unable to stand upon admission and showed a partial lower motor neuron dysfunction characteristic of botulism. Treatment consisted of antibiotics and intensive supportive therapy. Complications resulted in the dog being destroyed ten days after commencement of treatment. Analysis of a serum sample taken antemortem, confirmed the presence of Clostridium botulinum type C toxin.