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Published: Apr 02, 2012

Most pet owners know that ticks are nasty parasites that can affect dogs any time they are outdoors. With spring here and ticks around, it is important for owners to understand how ticks can harm dogs.

Because ticks suck blood, they are able to transmit a number of diseases to animals and people. While many pet owners have heard of Lyme disease, another serious illness that can result from ticks on dogs is Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Without proper treatment, this condition can have serious complications, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Although any dog can be affected, purebred dogs and German shepherds may be more likely to develop a severe reaction to the organism that causes Rocky Mountain spotted fever, according to PetMD. Clinical signs such as depression, lethargy, anorexia, blood in the urine, painful swollen joints and an irregular heartbeat can accompany the fever, which most dogs develop within five days of contracting the infection. A dog might also have discolored spots along its skin, loss of coordination, swollen lymph nodes and pain or swelling in the eyes.

If you notice any of these clinical signs in your dog, bring it to the veterinarian. The news outlet also reports that antibiotics and various anti-inflammatory medications will usually be required to treat this disease.  Depending on the severity of the ailment, your dog may need to stay at the animal hospital until its condition improves.

VCA Animal Hospitals reports that while there is no vaccination for this condition, it is important that dog owners remain diligent in examining their pet for ticks after they are outdoors and use appropriate flea and tick preventative medications to avoid this and other serious conditions.