Usually, meningitis in canines may be a result of a bacterial infection (staph being a common causal pathogen). The same may also result from viral, fungal or parasitic infection. However, another type of meningitis known as steroid responsive meningitis (SRM) is becoming increasingly common in most dog breeds. Experts are not sure about what causes this condition, but they believe that it is an autoimmune disorder as it responds to steroid therapy. Although, meningitis can affect any dog breed, certain breeds such as the Pug, the Maltese Terrier, and the Beagle are more susceptible to it. Newborn puppies are more prone to develop this condition than adults.
Does Your Dog Have Meningitis?
☛ As meningitis affects the central nervous system, most of its symptoms are neurological in nature. These may include:
- Unsteady or uncoordinated gait
- Stiff neck
- Abnormal aggression
- High fever
- Abnormally increased sensitivity to usual stimulus such as touch
- Limited mobility
- Tilted head
- Muscle weakness
- Unusual whining
☛ The loss in coordination may cause the affected dog to stumble off to the side while trying to walk. The animal may also tend to walk with its legs spread apart more than normal. Meningitis in dogs, if left untreated, may also trigger severe symptoms such as blindness, and in some cases even paralysis that progresses with time.
☛ The symptoms that indicate meningitis can mimic those of other medical conditions. That is why it is important to show your dog to a vet so that potential problems can be ruled out. For diagnosing the condition, a series of tests and examinations are performed by a qualified vet. The tests may include blood test, urine test, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), X-rays, biopsy, and analysis of the cerebrospinal fluid of the animal.
Treatment for Your Ailing Dog
» The treatment of meningitis in dogs depends upon the type of the condition. For instance, steroid responsive meningitis is treated with the help of oral steroid administration.
» The success of the treatment greatly depends on the severity of the condition. Bacterial meningitis in canines is difficult to treat, and it generally requires a long-term treatment for the medicine to penetrate the blood-brain barrier. Usually high doses of antibiotics are administered to eliminate the causal pathogen.
» Furthermore, anti-Inflammatory medicines, or anti-seizure medicines may also be recommended in the course of the treatment. The aim of the treatment is to manage the symptoms such as pain or seizures, and restore functional and neurological abilities of the affected animal.
» Different breeds of dogs may show different levels of improvement during the healing period of the disease. Some breeds may get cured by a gradually reduced dosage of medicines while some might have to undergo a long-term treatment schedule in order to avoid relapses or future recurrences.
At the slightest recognition of the symptoms of meningitis in your dog, your sole responsibility is to seek advice and help of a qualified vet at the earliest. Many owners have had to go through the phase wherein they had to suffer the loss of their beloved pets due to delay in treatment. So keep a close watch on your pets' health and ensure to provide them with everything that is needed for them to live a long, happy and healthy life.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.