Save MORE On Subscription Orders

Free Fedex 2-DAY Shipping Orders $100+

Tularemia In Dogs

Reading TimeReading Time:

Tularemia In Dogs
rabbit fever in dogs

Tularemia in dogs is a bacterial disease that is caused by Francisella Tularensis. Even though to contract this is relatively rare disease, canines may contract tularemia rabbit fever during any phase of their life. It is also referred to as “rabbit fever” because it is typically discovered in animals like rodents and rabbits. In some instances, dog tularemia left untreated may become deadly; therefore, it is vital that you recognize Tularemia as soon as its symptoms arise. Here is our guide to understanding that the fever is a bacterial disease, Tularemia.

What is Tularemia; Known as "Rabbit Fever" in Dogs?

Tularemia is discovered throughout most of the world, which includes continental Europe, the United States, China, and Japan. In the United States, Tularemia is found in all states except Hawaii, yet is more common in the states of California, Arkansas, Missouri, Montana, South Dakota, and Oklahoma. Tularemia incidents usually are greater around the country in the summertime, as deer flies and ticks are more populous, and within the winter rabbit hunting season.

Tularemia is a zoonotic disease, meaning it may be passed from an insect or animal to a human being, or from one animal species to another. Zoonotic diseases can’t be transferred from one person to another; however, you potentially can contract the disease from your pet. Tularemia in dog symptoms may take up to ten days to present themselves, and bacteria may stay alive for months or weeks without a host. It is vital that if you reside in tularemia-prone regions or areas, that you take all of the necessary precautions in order to mitigate the contraction risks and keep you and your pup as healthy as possible.

Causes of Tularemia in Dogs

The disease is contracted by exposure to contaminated soil, water, or animals. Dogs may catch the disease by drinking contaminated water or via contact with soil that’s the home to infected organisms, which may linger as an infection for months.

The most typical way canines contract the disease is through a bite with an infected mosquito, flea, mite, or tick; the most typical carriers are the Rocky Mountain wood tick, the Lone Star tick, and the American dog tick.

In addition, the tularemia bacteria may infect a dog by getting inside his eyes, airways, or gastrointestinal system, or via skin contact. The bacteria create a blister inside the skin 3 -5 days after contact. As the blister starts to ulcerate, 2 - 4 days later, the bacteria may enter the lymph system, and spread to the remainder of the body, which includes the bone marrow, spleen, liver, and lungs.

Other Symptoms of Tularemia might involve:

fever is a bacteria called francisella tularensis
  • Vomiting
  • Ulcers or white patches on the tongue
  • Throat infection
  • Stiffness
  • Skin ulcers
  • Reduced mobility
  • Increased panting or respiratory rate
  • High heart rate
  • Frequent urination
  • Enlargement of spleen or liver
  • Dehydration
  • Diarrhea
  • Cough
  • Abdominal pain

Any of those conditions may cause canines to stop consuming food for extended time periods:

Minor Reasons 

  • Nausea
  • Upset stomach
  • Eating something he shouldn’t
  • Picky eater

More Severe Reasons 

symptoms of Tularemia in Dogs | Innovet Pet
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Pain
  • Digestive issues or IBD
  • Excessive stress
  • Bacterial infections
  • Viral infections
  • Serious illness – cancer, diabetes, intestinal worms, renal failure
  • Favoring human food

Diagnosing Tularemia in Dogs

For the veterinary professional to make the most accurate diagnosis, you’ll have to provide them a full history of your dog’s recent activities and health. If he has been boarded, interacted with additional animals, on an outing, or traveled to regions in which insects are populous, it is vital that the vet knows. If the vet suspects tularemia, they might specifically inquire about the wild and domestic animals infection carriers your pup might’ve been exposed to in the past couple of weeks.

Unfortunately, there isn’t any single, simplistic test for tularemia. As you take the dog to the vet clinic, he or she should do a full physical examination. A preliminary diagnosis based upon your pet’s physical examination, recent activities, and medical history might prompt treatment even before a final diagnosis is done. Even though lab work and bacterial culture test still also will be ordered.

Within some instances, the tularemia in dogs diagnosis isn’t so obvious and samples must have specialized lab services to confirm the disease’s presence. It’ll include laboratory work like a CBC (complete blood count), blood chemical profile, urinalysis, electrolyte panel, and blood chemistry panel.

What to do if your dog has Tularemia?

If tularemia is found, your pet’s test results will uncover an elevated white blood cell count, low blood sodium, low blood sugar, toxins in the blood as well as thrombocytopenia (low platelet levels). There also may be blood in your furry friend’s urine.

If blood tests reveal hyperbilirubinemia (elevated bilirubin levels, this may be a sign of liver damage. If that’s the case, your pup likely will be exhibiting jaundice symptoms. Liver damage also can cause disorientation, canine seizures, head pressing, depression, blindness, and/or personality/behavioral changes.

Tularemia Treatment for Dogs, Rabbits, Hares, and Rodents

Vets treat tularemia cases using antibiotic medicine. Treatment might involve an aggressive routine which includes hospitalization with supportive care. It’s important to follow your veterinarian’s aftercare and prescription instructions; carefully follow the dosage and continually administer the medication to your dog until the vet says otherwise. That applies even if symptoms have disappeared or it seems he’s in remission. Ending medication or treatment too early may lead to a relapse of tularemia.

While on treatment and medication, keep the dog secluded and away from other family members or pets. It’ll prevent the bacteria from spreading all throughout your house. It’s essential to take precautions as you take care of your pet, use gloves and use best hygiene practices, such as frequent handwashing, in order to prevent contracting tularemia yourself.

Tularemia in Conclusion

Consider providing him nutritional supplements or easily digestible, highly-nutritious food. As your pet’s body recovers from tularemia, he’ll require increased quantities of protein, calories, vitamins C and A, and occasionally the mineral zinc. He might not have an appetite as he recovers; therefore, offering him nutrient-rich food sources will make sure that he is receiving all the minerals and vitamins needed, even if he is consuming a smaller portion than usual.

Instant treatment and diagnosis are crucial. There are many at-risk activities (like hunting often in rabbits, hares) which may make your furry companion more vulnerable to contracting the disease.

Keeping tabs on your pup’s activities, particularly if you reside in a state or area in which tularemia is common, is critical. Arrange routine appointments with the vet and regularly check your pet for mites, ticks, and fleas.


Tularemia in Dogs
Bacterial Infection (Tularemia) in Dogs
Naturally occurring tularemia in a dog
Tularemia (Rabbit Fever) in Dogs


Approved by:

Dr. Sara Ochoa

Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, St. Georges University

Sara Redding Ochoa, DVM was raised in north Louisiana. She graduated from LA Tech in 2011 with a degree in animal science. She then moved to Grenada West Indies for veterinary school. She completed her clinical year at Louisiana State University and graduated in 2015 from St. George’s University. Since veterinary school she has been working at a small animal and exotic veterinary clinic in east Texas, where she has experience treating all species that walk in the hospital. In her free time, she likes to travel with her husband Greg, bake yummy desserts and spend time with her 4-legged fur kids, a dog Ruby, a cat Oliver James “OJ”, a rabbit BamBam and a tortoise MonkeyMan.


Thanks for stopping by!
P.S. We Love You!

The Innovet Team

Please do not ask for emergency or specific medical questions about your pets in the comments. Innovet Pet Products is unable to provide you with specific medical advice or counseling. A detailed physical exam, patient history, and an established veterinarian are required to provide specific medical advice. If you are worried that your pet requires emergency attention or if you have specific medical questions related to your pet’s current or chronic health conditions, please contact or visit your local/preferred veterinarian, an animal-specific poison control hotline, or your local emergency veterinary care center.

Please share your experiences and stories, your opinions and feedback about this blog, or what you've learned that you'd like to share with others.

Recent Posts

Common Health Concerns in Senior Dogs
Common Health Concerns in Senior Dogs
An Overview on Hypothyroidism in Dogs
An Overview on Hypothyroidism in Dogs
Pancreatitis in Dogs: What It Is and Possible Natural Alternatives
Pancreatitis in Dogs: What It Is and Possible Natural Alternatives
Crusty Dog Nose: Why It Happens & How To Treat It
Crusty Dog Nose: Why It Happens & How To Treat It
Canine Vestibular Disease: An Overview
Canine Vestibular Disease: An Overview
Heavy Breathing in Cats (Dyspnea): Symptoms, Prevention & Treatment
Heavy Breathing in Cats (Dyspnea): Symptoms, Prevention & Treatment
Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published