Symptoms of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in Dogs

By Nidhi Nangia. July 7, 2017
Symptoms of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in Dogs

In addition to grasses and flowers, the spring season also brings plentiful of ticks. One nasty disease born from ticks is Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. It can not only affect dogs, but also humans. Some dogs with this disease never develop any symptoms, but severe cases may prove to be fatal too, especially if left unattended. Read this oneHOWTO article to find out symptoms of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in dogs, their causes and other information.

You may also be interested in: Common Causes of Fever in Dogs

Causes of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

As its name suggests, a dog gets infected with this fever if an infected tick bite him. The types of ticks associated with this disease are Rhipicephalus and Dermacentor, more commonly known as American dog tick, Rocky Mountain wood tick, or brown dog tick. A tick gets infected when a female tick passes its organisms to its eggs, or when a male tick transmits the organism to a female during mating. A tick may also get infected if it feeds on an animal that is already infected with this fever. These species of ticks are commonly found in the eastern parts of Rocky Mountains, and also the Pacific Coast.

Can rocky mountain fever be transmitted from dog to dog?

Although Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is not contagious and cannot be transmitted from dog to dog, the other dog may get infected if the same tick bites him too. According to a research, cats and humans are also likely to be infected with this disease. This is why it's highly important to remove any ticks on an infected dog with gloves to get rid of it and avoid infection.

Symptoms of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in Dogs - Can rocky mountain fever be transmitted from dog to dog?

Signs and symptoms of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

As we've mentioned there may be no symptoms of rocky mountain spotted fever at the beginning although you may find ticks. However, as the infection progresses in the dog’s body, blood vessels become leaky and blood clotting decreases. This can lead to a number of abnormal bleeding conditions:

  • The owner may start noticing blood in the dog’s urine and stool. Nosebleeds are also common.
  • The dog’s stool may become darker and tarry in appearance
  • The dog starts eating more slowly than normal, or does not eat its food completely. In severe conditions, the dog can stop eating altogether, or vomit after eating. Although changes in appetite are associated with several other conditions, it can be an important symptom of rocky mountain spotted fever if the dog is experiencing other symptoms as well
  • Bruising is an important telltale sign of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. The dog may develop small bruises less than 8 inches in length in different parts of its body. Most of these bruises are not solitary, but appear over larger skin patches. In severe conditions, the bruises may appear to be larger than these. The bruises may occur on the dog’s genitalia, around the eyes, and in mucus membranes
  • The dog may become fatigued and lazy. It may refuse to exercise, go on a walk or interact with family. It may spend more time sleeping than normal
  • Normally, a dog develops fever after about 4 days of tick bite. Normal body temperature of a dog should be between 100.5 and 102.5 °F. A dog suffering from RMSF may develop temperatures of around 105 °F. Take a look at our article on how to check a dog's fever if you've never done so before.
  • Joint pain is another common symptom of RMF. The dog may move slower than normal, and becomes sensitive when someone touches their joints. The dog may refuse to use stairs or to get up or down the furniture. The dog may take a long time to shift from standing position to sitting position and vice versa
  • Swelling may occur on different parts of the dog’s body, especially in the scrotum, ears, lips and fingers. Affected body parts may appear squishy and puffy due to the excessive accumulation of fluid in their tissue. The skin may appear normal, unless there is bruising as well

Diagnosis and treatment of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

If the veterinarian suspects of symptoms of Rocky Mountain spotted fever in your dog, he may recommend a chemistry panel and blood cell count. These tests will confirm antibodies to the infected ticks. Antibiotics like doxycycline are used to treat this fever, along with supportive care for management of symptoms. After the first doses have been given, you will start to see some improvement after as little as two hours. Keep up with your vet's prescribed treatment in order to help your dog recover completely.

Since there are no vaccines to prevent this disease, the best step you can take is to prevent ticks altogether.

Symptoms of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in Dogs - Diagnosis and treatment of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

If you want to read similar articles to Symptoms of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in Dogs, we recommend you visit our Pets category.

  • There are certain areas where there is a higher risk of Rocky Mountain spotted fever. If you live in areas such as Aarizona, you will need to take extra care.

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