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Meningitis: Dogs Can Contact A Neurological Condition

Updated on August 27, 2023

What dogs are at the most risk for meningitis?

Meningitis can be fatal if left untreated, or leave a dog with major neurological problems. Many causes and symptoms can cause meningitis in dogs.

Puppies have a higher chance for contracting meningitis since their immune systems are much weaker than an adult dog. Some breeds seem to be more vulnerable to meningitis than other breeds of dogs. Bernese Mountain Dogs, Pugs, Beagles, and Maltese seem to be at a higher risk for meningitis.

Cute Dogs

Bernese Mountain Dog
Bernese Mountain Dog

What triggers meningitis in dogs?

However, many different factors can cause a dog to contact meningitis. Bacterial infection is the most common cause of meningitis in dogs that start in other parts of the body and spreads to the brain or spinal cord. Common bacterial infections are eye infections, ear infections, and nasal cavity called meningoencephalitis that usually follows diskospondylitis (inflammation of the vertebral disk) and osteomyelitis (bone and bone marrow become inflamed). Other factors are fungal, viral, and parasitic infections that move into the central nerve system.

  • Bites that become infected
  • Rabies
  • Lyme Disease
  • Distemper

Puppy Meningitis - Pretreatment

Symptoms Of Meningitis

Muscle Weakness
Stiffness in Legs, Back, Forelegs
Unsteady Walking
Loss of appetite
Head Tilts

These Are The Early Signs

Advance Signs Of Meningitis

Servere Depression
Seizures /Agitation
Loss of muscle coordination

Advance Stage of Meningitis

Macey the Meningitis Dog | Meningitis Now

Time Well Spent

Such short little lives our pets have to spend with us, and they spend most of it waiting for us to come home each day. It is amazing how much love and laughter they bring into our lives and even how much closer we become with each other because of them. John Grogan

Can Meningitis Be Prevented?

Meningitis can't be prevented but there are some things a person can do to help ensure your pets doesn't contact the disease. The meningitis can be hard to detect and other diseases need to be ruled out.

  1. Regular vet check ups (helps to give the dog a healthy immune system)
  2. Fresh water daily
  3. High-quality diet
  4. Housing conditions need to be clean

Canine Steroid Responsive Meningitis in Golden Retriever

Test Options

Source: PetWave, Updated on July 16, 2015 said that "If a veterinarian sees a dog with fever, stiffness, painful spasms in the back, rigidity of the muscles of the neck and forelimbs and extreme sensitivity to touch (called “hyperesthesia”), she probably will begin her diagnostic process by running blood and urine tests to detect possible causes of those signs. If the results of those tests are normal, she may prescribe medications on the assumption that the signs are caused by meningitis. This is called diagnosis by response to treatment. If the medication works, then the dog probably was suffering from meningitis."

Test that can be done in helping to determine if your pet has meningitis are:

  • Computed tomography (CT or CAT scan)
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) tap
  • Analysis of cerebrospinal fluid obtained by a spinal tap can be diagnostic
  • Cerebrospinal fluid which coats the brain and spinal cord can help with the diagnosis

Best Friend

"Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring — it was peace." ― Milan Kundera, author

Sleeping Puppy
Sleeping Puppy

The nervous system of the dog


"The central nervous system includes the spinal cord and the brain. The brain is divided into 3 main sections—the brain stem, which controls many basic life functions, the cerebrum, which is the center of conscious decision-making, and the cerebellum, which is involved in movement and motor control. The spinal cord of dogs is divided into regions that correspond to the vertebral bodies (the bones that make up the spine) in the following order from neck to tail: cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacral, and caudal segments. Specialized tissues called the meninges cover the brain and spinal cord, and cerebrospinal fluid surrounds and protects the brain and spinal cord."

The peripheral nervous system consists of the nerves that are found throughout the rest of the body." according to:

Last full review/revision July 2011 by William B. Thomas, DVM, MS, DACVIM (Neurology); Cheryl L. Chrisman, DVM, MS, EDS, DACVIM (Neurology); Charles E. Rupprecht, VMD, MS, PhD; Kyle G. Braund, BVSc, MVSc, PhD, FRCVS, DACVIM (Neurology); Caroline N. Hahn, DVM, MSc, PhD, DECEIM, DECVN, MRCVS; Charles M. Hendrix, DVM, PhD; Karen R. Munana, DVM, MS, DACVIM (Neurology); T. Mark Neer, DVM, DACVIM; Robert Wylie, BVSc, QDA

(Picture following this post)

Nervous System Of A Dog

Nervous System
Nervous System

Meningitis in Dogs

Have you ever had a dog that contacted meningitis?

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© 2016 Anna Haun


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