A dog owner whose beloved Labrador nearly died from a rare disease is urging other owners to be on alert for its terrifying clinical signs. 

Gabrielle Bann-Khellaf’s dog Milo fell victim to Tetanus – a rare condition in which bacteria release toxins which attack the nervous system, spinal cord and brain. 

Two-year-old Milo’s ordeal began when he started limping and lifting his right paw. 

But with no wounds or cuts visible Gabrielle’s local vets believed he’d suffered a soft tissue injury or hairline fracture best cured by rest. 

Then a few days later Milo took a worrying turn for the worse. 

Gabrielle, from Hyde, Cheshire, said: “My partner Simon noticed his ears being pinned back and his eyes were wide, causing him to have a startled look. 

“I thought it was an infection so I took Milo back to our local vets who advised it was suspected Tetanus and prescribed Milo some medication.” 

But the next morning, with no improvement in Milo’s condition, Gabrielle’s local vets transferred him for specialist care at our Manchester pet hospital. 

Our team confirmed he had Tetanus – which at that point was grade 1 of 4 – most likely caused by a small cut in Milo’s paw which had since healed up and was therefore undetectable but which had already allowed Tetanus bacteria into his body. 

Our team prescribed further medication and told Gabrielle to return if Milo worsened. 

Sadly he did – suffering from vomiting, seizures and spasms overnight, and with his tail and back legs becoming stiff. 

The next day our team admitted him for round-the-clock care but his condition continued to deteriorate to the point that he was struggling to chew and swallow.  

At this point he had a feeding tube inserted through his neck to allow him to eat and to reduce the risk of him swallowing food the wrong way onto his lungs.  

Milo was also struggling to walk and his face was stiff to such an extent that his eyes were facing in different directions and he was unable to look at anything face on. 

Eventually our team were able to stabilise Milo and then, bit by bit, he began to improve. Milo tetanus

After twelve days in our hospital, he was eventually well enough to leave and for Gabrielle to continue to nurse him at home. 

We had to feed him liquidised food 4 times per day and change his dressing daily,” Gabrielle said. 

“Our local vet helped us with this as we did not feel comfortable changing his dressing with the open wound where his feeding tube was. 

“And Simon had to sleep downstairs with Milo whilst he had the feeding tube to prevent him from scratching the open wound and dislodging the tube.  

“Despite Milo having the tube, being on numerous tablets and suffering with seizures and spasms he was still friendly and wanted to run around. 

“But we couldn’t let Milo go near other dogs in the event they took a dislike to him with his facial features looking so different.” 

Happily, Milo is back to his normal playful self, though he is still taking medicine to ensure the effects of the Tetanus are fully resolved and is still suffering slight spasms in his sleep. 

Gabrielle is now keen to raise awareness of the condition’s little-known impact on dogs so that other owners can be aware of what to look out for. 

Gabrielle said: “I honestly had no idea that dogs could be affected by Tetanus and I don’t know any other dog owners who knew about it either. 

“It was such a distressing experience seeing the impact of it on Milo that I just want to make other people aware. 

“To see your dog in that kind of state and for there to be no obvious explanation is just really traumatising. 

“After two weeks at home, we were able to get rid of the feeding tube and go back to normal dinners and I’ve never seen him happier. 

“The team at Vets Now were brilliant with him – and with us. 

They phoned us and kept us updated with videos and photographs of Milo every day. 

“We were able to visit Milo as well – and it was really important for us to ensure he knew we were coming back for him, despite it being very upsetting to see him in such a poorly state.” 

Milo’s care was led by Lauren Allcock, who is one of our Manchester veterinary surgeons. 

Lauren said: “Milo is such a sweet, handsome boy. He was with us for a long time and definitely made a huge impression on us all. 

“Despite being so unwell, as he started to improve we definitely got to see his cheeky and slightly stubborn side, and none of the team will forget him in a hurry.