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Rocky Mountain

Spotted Fever in Dogs

spread by ticks

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Dogs can get Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

By: Tippy and Turbo

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is a tick-borne disease in dogs
caused by a bacterium called Rickettsia rickettsii. The
bacteria are spread when an infected animal such as a rodent
is bitten by an American Dog Tick or a Rocky Mountain
Spotted Fever Tick.

Two days to two weeks after the dog (or a human) is bitten
by an infected tick, symptoms begin. A veterinary check may
find anemia, low platelet count, increased liver enzymes,
and possibly ulcerous sores in the mouth or on the feet.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF) affects dogs in one of two
ways: Subclinical or Acute. In subclinical RMSF, the dog has
mild or no symptoms and usually recovers quickly.

Some symptoms that may occur in the acute stage include:

* Fever
* Loss of appetite
* Muscle and joint pain
* Swollen lymph nodes
* Fluid accumulation in the face and legs (edema)
* Many infected dogs also have symptoms of neurological problems,
such as depression, seizures, dizziness or even coma.
* Some dogs develop heart arrhythmias that can be fatal
and/or develop pneumonia.

Treatment for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in dogs is
usually a ten to fourteen day course of the antibiotics
tetracycline, doxycycline or enrofloxacin. If the disease is
acute the dog will also be treated for shock and any nervous
system symptoms that occur.

Most dogs that are treated within the first few days of the
disease will recover, sometimes very quickly. If the nervous
system has been affected there may be ongoing problems,
however. German Shepherd and some English Springer Spaniels
seem to be more vulnerable to the disease and often have a
severe response. Dogs that have recovered from Rocky
Mountain Spotted Fever are immune to reinfection for years.

Unfortunately, there is no vaccine for this disease, so
prevention is necessary.

The tick picks up the bacteria with the animal's blood and
passes it on to its next victim with its bite. A tick must
be attached to the victim for over five hours before the
disease to be transmitted, so careful tick prevention and
careful checking after outdoor expeditions can prevent the
disease, at least theoretically. The challenge is that ticks
look for parts of the body where the blood is near the skin,
the skin is thinner, and the will be hidden, so it can be
hard to find them.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is a problem primarily in the
far east and far west of North America, including the Rocky
Mountains, of course. But the disease continues to spread to
other parts of the continent. If you live in an affected
area you should take special care against ticks during the
months between April and September. Keep high grass and
brush away from your home and yard. Keep tick preventative
preparations on your dogs and cats, and check them over
carefully after outings. Change and wash your clothing and
take a shower yourself, checking for ticks, after every walk
in the woods or fields.

As we said, removing ticks before five hours have passed can
save the life of your dog or even yourself.

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