Spinal Meningitis in Dogs

Meningitis in dogs is a potentially severe and even life threatening condition that affects the meninges. The meninges are tissues that surround the spinal cord, and meningitis occurs when these tissues become inflamed for one of several different reasons. Meningitis tends to affect certain breeds, such as boxers and beagles, more than others, although it may strike any dog and at any part of his life. Read on for a brief overview of spinal meningitis in dogs so that you'll best be prepared to deal with this condition quickly if it should come up for your pet.

Causes of Meningitis in Dogs

At this point, veterinary scientists do not know the exact cause of spinal meningitis in dogs. It is speculated that there is a genetic link that causes some dogs to be more predisposed to this condition than others. There may also be environmental factors that play a role in causing your pet to develop this condition. Finally, pets with weakened immune systems or immune systems that don't function at an optimal level tend to be more likely to develop the condition.

Symptoms of Meningitis in Dogs

The symptoms of meningitis in dogs tend to surround the neck and can also affect the nervous system. In advanced cases, symptoms become more severe. Be on the lookout for the following symptoms of spinal meningitis in dogs:

  • Stiff neck
  • Rigid posture and gait
  • Tenderness when you touch the neck
  • Fever
  • Reduction of mobility

If you notice these or any other symptoms which you think may be related to a case of spinal meningitis for your pet, it's important that you bring him in to a vet's office as quickly as possible in order to have him analyzed and diagnosed. Treating the condition quickly is a crucial step toward ensuring that your pet will remain safe and healthy throughout the duration of the disease.

Diagnosing and Treating Spinal Meningitis

Based on the symptoms that you provide to your vet, he will conduct his diagnosis using one or more of several different types of procedures. The most common include a full medical history evaluation, a physical examination, a neurological assessment, and a spinal tap. The spinal tap is designed to retrieve a sample of spinal fluid from your pet in order to be able to determine whether there is any infection of the fluid.

With proper treatment, well over half of the cases of spinal meningitis will be resolved without any relapse. Treatment typically involves a regimen of steroids or other immunosuppressive drugs. Prednisone is among the most popular medicines that is used to treat spinal meningitis in pets. It will be necessary that you and your vet continue to monitor your dog for signs of a relapse into spinal meningitis once again for several months after the initial infection takes place.

For more information about spinal meningitis in dogs, including how to deal with your pet's specific case, consult with your veterinarian.