Meningitis in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Meningitis can be fatal for dogs. However, there is a cure, but you need to pay close attention for any changes in your dog's body or behavior to notice it on time.
Meningitis in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Last update: 20 August, 2018

Meningitis is a common disease for dogs, and it can come out of nowhere. However, there is no reason to be alarmed because it’s easy to cure with the right treatment. Continue reading to learn about the causes, symptoms, and treatment.

What is meningitis in dogs?

Like humans, dogs have membranes around their nervous system called the meningesIf they swell up for any reason, then they become prone to getting meningitis. It can also cause the brain or spinal cord to inflame, which has an even more serious neurological impact.

This inflammation obstructs the flow of their cerebrospinal fluid that protects the brain and spinal cord, and provides them nutrients. Too much of this liquid building up in the brain can cause seizures or paralysis.

The question is: how do dogs get meningitis?

Causes of meningitis in dogs

The main cause is usually another disease such as wormsviruses, protozoan infections, or poisonous mushrooms. Any health problems from another illness can act as the “initial phase” of meningitis. 

husky at vet for meningitis treatment

Bodily toxins can also lead your dog to get meningitis. For example, things like an infected bite or bacteria moving to their nose, ears, or any other infected part of the body.

Research has shown that meningitis can also be aseptic. That means there could be bacteria that you are unaware of that caused the disease. It normally affects younger dogs between 4-24 months old. No matter what kind it is, you should never take meningitis lightly because it’s deadly.

Symptoms of meningitis in dogs

Meningitis symptoms are the same for all dog breeds. There are a lot, and a could have several of them at the same time. Below are the most common, well-known symptoms:

  • High fever
  • Stiff muscles
  • Painful muscle spasms in their back.
  • Hypersensitivity to touch (hyperaesthesia)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stiffness while walking
  • Inability to fold legs
  • Head bending downwards
  • Depression
  • Visual problems/blindness.
  • Progressive paralysis
  • Seizures
  • Confusion/disorientation
  • Agitation
  • Loss of coordination (ataxia)
  • Aggressiveness

Don’t wait even a second if your dog has any of these symptoms. Take them right to the vet so they can get the medication they need. Never forget that meningitis can be fatal for dogs.

Treatment for meningitis in dogs

There is no need to be worrying too much about because there is a treatment. The issue is that it’s hard to diagnose meningitis, so you have to make sure you’re looking after your dog and watching for any sudden changes.

a sick puppy

The most common meningitis in dogs is viral. It’s usually not as intense and can be treated with steroids. 

Bacterial meningitis is a whole different ballpark. It’s expensive and exhausting, for both the pet and owner. If your dog is having seizures too, there are antiepileptic medications you can get to help them.

Intravenous therapy, along with other medications, is the best way to deal with the symptoms. It also helps to make sure your dog has a clean bed and fresh water at all times. If things get really bad, there are pills you can give them to help with the pain.

If the meningitis is serious or lasts a long time, your dog will probably have to go to the hospital to keep it hydrated with an IV and also to try different treatments.

Now you know that you play the most important role when it comes to your dog’s health, because you need to look out for any changes in his body or behavior.

The contents of My Animals are written for informational purposes. They can't replace the diagnosis, advice, or treatment from a professional. In the case of any doubt, it's best to consult a trusted specialist.