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How do dogs Get Meningitis? 7 Causes-Treatment-Prevention

Canine Meningitis is a neurological disease in dogs that affect the meninges membranes and causes inflammation. Meninges are the protective membranes that surround the central nervous system and cover the spinal cord and brain. How do dogs get Meningitis?

Canine Meningitis is a rare and uncommon illness in dogs in dogs. The illness leads dogs to severe pain and very uncomfortable situations.  Some breeds are predisposed to the disease, but any dog can develop Meningitis. Every pet owners need proper knowledge about Canine Meningitis.

How do dogs get Meningitis?

To better understand the answer to the question, How do dogs get Meningitis? We first need to know the Types of Meningitis in dogs.

Types of Meningitis in dogs:

Based on the severity of the diseases, canine Meningitis is categorized into two types.

1. Infectious Meningitis:

The leading cause of Infectious Meningitis are viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungi, and protozoa. These viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungi, or protozoa attack the body and start infections in certain parts of the body.

This infection then reaches the Central nervous system via the bloodstream and affects the brain and the spinal cord. 

The canine Infectious Meningitis is rare in dogs. This disease is mainly found in adult dogs. It affects the immune system badly and spread to the whole nervous system.

2. Non-Infectious Meningitis:

The type of Meningitis whose exact cause is unable to identify is known as Non-Infectious Meningitis. This type of canine Meningitis is considered a result of some immune system disorder or any other underlying issue.

Non-Infectious Meningitis is further categorized into three types

  1. Steroid-Responsive Meningitis-Arteritis (SRMA)
  2. Granulomatous Meningoencephalitis (GME)
  3. Necrotizing Meningoencephalitis (NME)

7 Cause of Meningitis in Dogs:

1. Viral & Bacterial infection:

A dog that suffers from bacterial infections has chance to develop Infectious Meningitis. The Bacterial infection mainly migrates via the inner ear, vertebrae, and sinuses.

Many canine viruses such as Rabies in dogs, parvovirus in dogs and distemper are considered among the leading causes of Meningitis in puppies.

These Bacterial and viral infections in a certain part of the body go through the bloodstream into the central nervous system of the dogs and cause Meningitis.

2. Protozoans and Fungal infection:

Fungal infections such as Valley Fever (coccidioidomycosis) and protozoans infection known as Toxoplasmosis, attack the canine body, cause infection and migrate in the canine central nervous system to develop Meningitis in puppies.

3. Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF):

Rocky Mountain spotted fever (RMSF) is the most common rickettsia illness in both humans and dogs transmitted by hard-bodied ticks.

According to pet experts and vets, the RMSF is among the causes of canine Meningitis. Delaying in diagnosing and treatment of the  Rocky Mountain spotted fever can lead your canine to death.

4. Infection Injury:

Every dog wound and injury needs proper care and treatment to avoid infection. Besides other complications, the infection develops in injury, and wounds may lead your canine to Meningitis.

Like bacterial, viral, and fungal infections, the injury infection also travels through the bloodstreams to the central nervous system.

5. Presence of Parasites:

Canine parasites such as roundworms, heartworms, and whipworms (How dogs get Whipworms?) lead the canine to many health issues include Meningitis. How often to deworm dogs?

6. Immune-mediated Diseases:

The cause of Immune-mediated Diseases is unknown, but it occurs by an aberrant immune response. The disease mainly occur in the dogs when the body starts attacking its own immune system.

In dogs such as Hemolytic anemia is the Immune-mediated Disease that often leads puppies to certain health issues, and Meningitis is one of them.

7. Vertebral Disc Inflammation:

Vertebral disc inflammation, also known as discospondylitis, is a commonly occurring disease in dogs. This disease is usually caused by a presence of infection between the vertebral discs.

Dogs suffering from diabetes mellitus and hypoadrenocorticism are more at risk to suffer from the disease. Dogs who suffer from Vertebral disc inflammation has also at risk of developing canine Meningitis.

Signs and Symptoms of Meningitis In Dogs:

Signs and Symptoms of Meningitis In Dogs
  • Muscle spasms ( Particularly in the back, neck, or forelegs)
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • Stiff neck
  • Restlessness
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of appetite
  • Head tilting
  • Eyes twitching
  • Lack of consciousness
  • Loss of balance
  • Decrease In a blood pressure
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Depression
  • Seizures
  • Paralysis
  • Blindness
  • Pain
  • Muscle spasms
  • Pacing or circling
  • Aggression or agitation
  • Howling and Growling

Diagnosing Meningitis in Dogs :

To diagnose Canine Meningitis, a veterinarian will go through the below procedures.

  • First, vet will Note down the signs and symptoms.
  • The vet will perform a full-body physical examination.
  • May Perform a series of the test include a Blood test, fecal tests, urine tests.
  • The veterinarian may collect a sample of your dog’s cerebrospinal fluid (CSF).
  • May suggest An MRI or CT for deeply diagnosing.

Treatment of Meningitis in Dogs :

  • Treatment of Canine Meningitis depends on the cause of the inflammation.
  • Usually, the meningitis treatment in dogs is done with steroid Administration.
  • The main purpose of the use of steroids is to suppress the immune system response that is responsible for the inflammation.
  • The use of antifungals, anti-parasitic, and anti-bacterial medications may be needed to control the existing and preventing secondary infection in the body.
  • In severe cases, the Hospitalization and use of IV fluids along with other medication can be used.
  • If the Meningitis is caused by any other health issues, specific drugs for that health issue may be administrated.
  • Anti-epileptic drugs may also be used to reduce the risk of seizures.

How much time does it take to Recover a dog from Meningitis?

The recovery time of dog Meningitis depends on the type and severity of the illness and response to treatment. Sadly, to say many dogs die from the disease. But timely diagnosing and treatment may save your pup life.

Some dogs show improvement in clinical signs within 3-5 weeks  and start to recover in 4 weeks or so, while some may take a long time, maybe in months. Dogs having  a week immune system takes a long time than others.

How do you prevent Meningitis in dogs?

No doubt, Meningitis is a rare and uncommon disease in dogs, but still, there are chances that a dog may suffer from it. So there are some good ways with which you can prevent your furry friend from this fatal illness.

  • Make sure a routine vet checkup to timely diagnose canine health issues.
  • Make sure a proper and timely treatment of any infection in the body.
  • Keep your dogs properly and timely vaccinated.
  • Make a proper exercise schedule and prevent your canine from stress and anxiety.
  • Prevent your pup from injuries and wounds. If it occurs, make sure to properly clean to protect from infections.

Dog breeds that are more Exposed to Meningitis:


Can dogs survive Meningitis?

Yes, timely diagnosing and treatment of the illness increase the survival chance of a dog suffering from canine Meningitis. Sadly, to say many dogs die from the disease. But timely diagnosing and treatment may save your pet’s life.

No doubt that canine Meningitis is rare, but still, a dog may suffer from the illness. So please make sure if you notice any signs and symptoms of the illness, as discussed in the article above, contact your vet immediately for timely diagnosis and treatment.

Is Meningitis in dogs contagious?

No meningitis is not contagious in dogs. The disease is found rare in dogs. Adult dogs are reported more to suffer from diseases. Some dogs breed such German Shorthaired Pointers, Beagles, Bernese Mountain Dogs, are considered more exposed to the Meningitis as compared to others.

Can ticks cause Meningitis in Dogs?

Yes, Ticks can be the leading cause of Meningitis in dogs indirectly. According to pet experts and veterinarians, tick bites can cause Tick-borne diseases such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Lyme disease in dogs.

The disease causes severe infection in the body, which may then migrate via the bloodstream to the dog’s central nervous system and may lead a dog to Meningitis.

Can ticks cause Meningitis in Dogs?