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Meningitis in Dogs – Causes, Symptoms and Better Treatment

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Like us, the system of membranes that surround the central nervous system of the dog is called meninges. If this system becomes inflamed, it causes meningitis in dogs. Meningoencephalitis, on the other hand, it is inflammation of the meninges and the brain. Meningomyelitis is inflammation of the meninges and spinal cord.

The inflammation of the meninges normally causes high swelling of the brain and/or spinal cord, causing various neurological complications. Long-lasting inflammation can also obstruct the flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). It is the protective and nourishing fluid that circulates through the brain and spinal cord which leads to the accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain causing very serious sequelae such as seizures and paresis.

Meningitis In Dogs
Meningitis In Dogs Causes, Symptoms And Better Treatment

If you want to learn the causes, symptoms, and treatment of meningitis in dogs. We recommend you to continue reading this article and know all the details about this disease in the dog.

What is Canine Meningitis?

The canine meningitis is defined as inflammation of the meninges. The membrane layers that cover and protect the outside of the brain and spinal cord in dogs.

Dogs with meningitis have high fever, stiffness and muscle spasms, hypersensitivity to touch and walk stiffly. More severe cases of meningitis can cause blindness, progressive paralysis, seizures, extreme depression, confusion, agitation, and aggression.

Affected dogs may be unable to coordinate their movements, being able to move in circles uncontrollably or they may stumble when they walk. Unfortunately, meningitis can be fatal for a dog.

Causes of Meningitis in Dogs

Most cases of canine meningitis are caused by secondary complications of other diseases including viral, protozoal, parasitic or fungal infections. Meningitis is painful and can be caused by any disease that causes inflammation. Other causes are exposure of the dog to chemical toxins, wounds infected by bites, bacterial migration in the brain of infected sinuses, and nasal passages, ear or other infected sites.

Meningitis can also be aseptic, which means that it is caused by a non-bacterial disease of unknown origin. Aseptic meningitis tends to affect puppies and young dogs of large breeds between 4 and 24 months of age. Meningitis is a very serious disease that should not be taken lightly.

Is Meningitis in Dogs Contagious?

No, it is not contagious and can not be spread to humans or other domestic animals.

Symptoms of Meningitis in Dogs

Most cases of canine meningitis occur when there are secondary complications caused by other diseases or a bacterial infection. Dogs of any age, race or gender can be affected equally. Newborn puppies are more vulnerable.

Symptoms Of Meningitis In Dogs

Symptoms of meningitis in dogs include:

  • High fever
  • Muscular stiffness.
  • Muscle spasms in the back (often painful)
  • Hypersensitivity to touch (hyperesthesia). It may hurt when touched.
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy.
  • Sickness.
  • Vomiting
  • Walk with rigidity.
  • Inability to bend the legs
  • Nod.
  • Depression.
  • Visual impairment / blindness
  • Progressive paralysis
  • seizures
  • Confusion / disorientation
  • Agitation.
  • Loss of coordination (ataxia).
  • Aggressiveness.

Meningitis is a condition that can lead to the death of a dog. If your dog shows the meningitis symptoms mentioned above you should go immediately to a veterinarian. Early diagnosis is essential for successful treatment and recovery.

In order to correctly diagnose meningitis in dogs, the diagnosis will have to be made by an expert veterinarian and this will perform a series of tests and examinations.

Diagnosis of Meningitis in Dogs

You should provide the veterinarian with a complete history of your dog’s health, including onset and the nature of the symptoms. The veterinarian will then perform a complete physical examination and several laboratory tests such as a complete blood count (CBC), biochemical profile, and a urinalysis to help, identify and isolate the type of infection.

For example, The biochemical profile may indicate a liver and kidney involvement, while the blood test may reveal an increase in white blood cells, which is a symptom of an ongoing infection. Urinalysis can reveal pus and bacteria in the dog’s urine, a symptom of urinary tract infection.

Other tools that are used to identify the cause of meningitis include an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) (CAT scan), abdominal and thorax ultrasound, x-rays and samples on the skin, eyes, nasal discharge and sputum. One of the most important tests to diagnose meningitis is the analysis of cerebrospinal fluid. It consists of extracting a sample of cerebrospinal fluid and then it is sent to the laboratory for culture and subsequent evaluation.

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Treatment of Meningitis in Dogs

Meningitis can be difficult to diagnose. If a veterinarian suspects that the dog has meningitis, he may prescribe prophylactic treatment immediately even before the diagnosis is confirmed. The goals of canine meningitis treatment are to avoid the process of inflammation, recover functional neurological capacities, relieve and control pain and prevent or treat seizures.

Treatment Of Meningitis In Dogs

  • The standard treatment protocol starts with doses of steroids. Usually administered orally to reduce swelling and inflammation of the brain.
  • The most common type of meningitis in dogs is called “sensitive meningitis” and is diagnosed more frequently in young dogs and adults of large breeds. The cause of sensitive meningitis is unknown, but the disease responds positively to oral steroid treatment.
  • The dogs suffering convulses caused by meningitis also be treated with anticonvulsants.
  • Other types of meningitis are bacterial meningitis. This is more difficult to treat. Normally, the treatment of bacterial meningitis is long-term. It is also expensive and can be exhausting for the dog and owner. If the dog has seizures associated with meningitis, antiepileptic drugs can be used. These should also be managed with care.

The care and attention are essential for the treatment of meningitis in dogs. Intravenous or subcutaneous fluid therapy, nutritional supplements, comfortable bedding, free access to drinking water and the administration of pain medications are necessary to manage severe cases of meningitis in dogs.

Owners of dogs that have been diagnosed with meningitis should have a perfect collaboration with the veterinarian to determine the treatment and management options available. In some cases, dogs that recover from meningitis need lifelong physical therapy and medical treatment. In the most severe cases of meningitis will opt for hospital treatment to prevent possible complications that may appear and to maintain hydration levels through fluid therapy.

Prevention methods of Meningitis in Dogs

Currently, there is no way to prevent meningitis, apart from preventing the underlying cause of the disease. As with most diseases, a high quality homemade dog diet, free access to fresh water, good hygiene conditions and veterinary checks are recommended for reducing the risk of contracting infectious diseases.


The prognosis for dogs with meningitis is variable and may require monitoring depending on the dog’s response to antibiotic treatment. Some dogs die despite treatment, while others recover completely. Early diagnosis and aggressive treatment can greatly improve the chances of a dog recovering completely.


Hence, we have provided the complete details of Meningitis in Dogs and How the causes in dogs. Also Meningitis symptoms in dogs and the best treatment to cure it has been explained clearly. We hope you like this article and willing to share the article on social media networks. Feel free to ask questions in the comment box below. Stay tuned to Dogsfud for a more awesome article on dog diseases.

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