5 Skin Problems You Can Get From Your Pets


Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

Most people are probably well aware that a tick's destructiveness bears no relation to its miniscule size. These eight-legged critters attach themselves to your dog and pass along bacteria as they feed. One type of bacteria ticks carry is called Rickettsia rickettsii. These bacteria transmit the disease Rocky Mountain spotted fever (which -- despite its name and area of origin -- has made its way to both U.S. coasts).

Once inside your pet's circulatory system, Rickettsia rickettsii multiply quickly. Your dog may develop symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, red eyes, vision problems or bleeding.

Dogs can pass Rocky Mountain spotted fever to humans, but not directly. The tick that rode into your house on your dog also has to bite you in order for you to become infected. You can also get the condition if you come into contact with the tick while trying to remove it from your dog and you have an open wound.

In people, Rocky Mountain spotted fever typically causes a signature red, spotted rash. Other symptoms include a high fever (between 102 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit, or 38.9 to 40 degrees Celsius), joint swelling, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath and possible neurological problems. The disease can become serious enough to require hospitalization, but antibiotics can cure both pets and their owners.

To prevent this potentially dangerous disease, check your pet -- and yourself -- for ticks whenever you return from a walk in a wooded area. Spray yourself with an insect repellant containing the ingredient DEET on your skin, or one containing permethrin on your clothes before going out. Wear a long-sleeved shirt and long pants, and tuck your pant legs into your socks. Also make sure your dog is up-to-date on its flea and tick control medication.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • Centers for Disease Control. "Community-Associated MRSA Information for the Public." (April 29, 2010)http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dhqp/ar_mrsa_ca_public.html
  • Centers for Disease Control. "Hookworm Infection." (April 29, 2010)http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dpd/parasites/hookworm/factsht_hookworm.htm
  • Centers for Disease Control. "Ringworm and Animals." (April 29, 2010)http://cdc.gov/healthypets/diseases/ringworm.htm
  • Centers for Disease Control. "Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever." (April 30, 2010)http://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/diseases/rockymountain.htm
  • Centers for Disease Control. "Scabies." (April 30, 2010)http://www.cdc.gov/scabies/
  • Chailleux, N. and Pardis, M. "Efficacy of selamectin in the treatment of naturally acquired cheyletiellosis in cats." Canadian Veterinary Journal. October 2002; vol. 43: pp. 767-770.
  • Medical News Today. "MRSA Transmission Between Dogs/Cats And Humans: An Increasing Problem." June 22, 2009. (April 29, 2010.)http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/154840.php.
  • Merck Manual. "Hookworm Infection." (Accessed April 30, 2010)http://www.merck.com/mmhe/sec17/ch196/ch196i.html
  • Nash, Holly. "Hookworm Infection, Prevention & Treatment in Dogs." Pet Education.com. (Accessed April 30, 2010)http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=2&aid=747
  • Smith, Michael. "Family Pets May Harbor MRSA, Other Nasties." ABC News. June 22, 2009. (AccessedApril 30, 2010) http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Germs/story?id=7884755&page=1
  • Stoppler, Melissa Conrad. "Catching Ringworm from Pets." MedicineNet. (Accessed April 30, 2010)http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=82553
  • University of Georgia. "Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in Dogs." (Accessed April 30, 2010)http://www.vet.uga.edu/VPP/clerk/otis/
  • WebMD. "Cheyletiellosis (Walking Dandruff) in Dogs." (Accessed April 30, 2010)http://pets.webmd.com/dogs/cheyletiellosis-walking-dandruff-in-dogs
  • WebMD. "Ringworm of the Skin - Topic Overview." (Accessed April 29, 2010)http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/tc/ringworm-of-the-skin-topic-overview


Quick Tips: Help for Acne

Quick Tips: Help for Acne

Acne isn't just for teenagers. Anyone can be affected! Learn acne basics plus easy ways to prevent and treat unwanted pimples.