Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF)

Pet Owner Information and Care

Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) is a disease that causes clinical illness in both dogs and humans. Although it has been long identified as a human disease, RMSF was recognized in dogs until the 1970's.

Transmission from Ticks to Dogs

The Brown Dog Tick, the most common carrier of Rickettsia rickettsii in Arizona, feeds primarily on dogs for all four stages of its life cycle and transmits R. rickettsia through an infected bite.

Signs and Symptoms in Dogs

Symptoms are hard to detect, so watch your dog closely for changes in behavior or appetite. Symptoms usually appear 4 or 5 days following a tick bite and almost always include:

  • Fever (102.6°F to 104.9°F)
  • Severe fatigue

Other symptoms that may occur are:

  • Spots on lips and/or nose
  • Red eyes
  • Swollen extremities

Treatment for Dogs

The antibiotic of choice for treating RMSF in dogs is doxycycline.

Spaying and Neutering

Spaying- a procedure for a female dog that removes the ovaries and sometimes the uterus (the female reproductive organs) done by a veterinarian.

Neutering-a procedure for a male dog that removes the testicles (the male reproductive organs) done by a veterinarian

Spaying and neutering improves:

  • Dogs health
  • Prevents Dog overpopulation
  • Prevents free roaming and unwanted dogs (Can spread ticks)

Prevention for Dogs

The best method to prevent RMSF in dogs is to prevent tick attachment.

If you find a tick on your dog, carefully remove it right away:

  • Tweezers/forceps should be used
  • Always wear gloves when removing ticks and wash your hands immediately after

There are no anti-rickettsial (RMSF) vaccines available for use in either dogs or humans.