Meningitis in dogs

Co1

Well-Known Member
#1
Thought I'd post this as I wasn't aware this was possible in dogs, but mine is about a week into treatment. She's a 2 year old fell terrier.

2 Friday's ago we were out for the tea time walk. Dog was full of energy, running and retrieving like a good un. At her dinner fine then had a nap. All as per usual. Normally she would wake at about 19:30 and want to play for half an hour, but not tonight. She appeared knackered and slept all night.

At 05:00 we awoke to hearing her having a seizure. It lasted about 60 seconds. Surprised and a bit worried we took her to the vets at 08:30. They suspected epilepsy but really there wasn't much to do at this stage. The dog was lethargic but had an appetite. What followed was a rapid decline. She had another 4 seizures before 13:00 that day and she was into the emergency vets that afternoon and kept overnight for monitoring.

She he was given Valium and had no more fits, but wasn't recovering. We took her back to the vets on Monday night and he would have expected her to have recovered but was concerned that she hadn't. For comparison, she was behaving like our previous 17 year old dog the week before we had her put down. He suspected meningitis and she was booked in the following morning for a spinal tap.

Long story short, he was right. She was prescribed a strong and long (6 weeks) course of steroids and the change after the first 24 hrs was amazing. She still isn't back to full fitness yet, but is at about 90%. If he hadn't spotted it so early there is a good chance she wouldn't be here given the rate of decline.

If this helps one of you spot it early then I'll be happy.

All the best
Col
 

srvet

Well-Known Member
#3
Thanks for the info - always useful to know! Hope she makes a full and speedy recovery.
We see two main types of sterile meningitis in the UK, both of which appear similar in presentation. The first is steroid responsive meningitis-arteritis which usually responds relatively well to treatment and is essentially curable in many dogs. The second is called granulomatous meningoencephalitis or GME and behaves in a more persistent manner. Both will respond to steroids well in the initial stages but GME typically relapses after a while as the disease process is not resolved by the treatment. Dogs with GME normally succumb to the disease following relapses although some can survive a reasonable length of time with some treatment protocols, especially where cytosine arabinoside. Differentiating between the two can be a bit vague with there being significant overlap between typical cell types seen on cerebrospinal fluid cytology. Steroid responsive meningitis typically has CSF containing predominantly polymorphs but ,GME a more mixed polymorphs/mononuclear cell population. Definitive diagnosis is difficult without post mortem samples. Hopefully your dog will have the steroid responsive version which is more common in young small breed dogs. Best of luck with how things go. The main thing is to treat with enough steroids for a long enough period of time.
 
#5
Thanks srvet for the additional comprehensive info.

i think you replied to me in error - i was replying to the OP who provided the initial info - i was unaware that dogs could contract meningitis.

No doubt he will review the thread at some point and pick up your helpful post! :tiphat:
 

srvet

Well-Known Member
#6
Thought I'd post this as I wasn't aware this was possible in dogs, but mine is about a week into treatment. She's a 2 year old fell terrier.

2 Friday's ago we were out for the tea time walk. Dog was full of energy, running and retrieving like a good un. At her dinner fine then had a nap. All as per usual. Normally she would wake at about 19:30 and want to play for half an hour, but not tonight. She appeared knackered and slept all night.

At 05:00 we awoke to hearing her having a seizure. It lasted about 60 seconds. Surprised and a bit worried we took her to the vets at 08:30. They suspected epilepsy but really there wasn't much to do at this stage. The dog was lethargic but had an appetite. What followed was a rapid decline. She had another 4 seizures before 13:00 that day and she was into the emergency vets that afternoon and kept overnight for monitoring.

She he was given Valium and had no more fits, but wasn't recovering. We took her back to the vets on Monday night and he would have expected her to have recovered but was concerned that she hadn't. For comparison, she was behaving like our previous 17 year old dog the week before we had her put down. He suspected meningitis and she was booked in the following morning for a spinal tap.

Long story short, he was right. She was prescribed a strong and long (6 weeks) course of steroids and the change after the first 24 hrs was amazing. She still isn't back to full fitness yet, but is at about 90%. If he hadn't spotted it so early there is a good chance she wouldn't be here given the rate of decline.

If this helps one of you spot it early then I'll be happy.

All the best
Col
yep, I definitely meant to quote the OP! Should be more careful which buttons I press!
 

Co1

Well-Known Member
#7
We see two main types of sterile meningitis in the UK, both of which appear similar in presentation. The first is steroid responsive meningitis-arteritis which usually responds relatively well to treatment and is essentially curable in many dogs. The second is called granulomatous meningoencephalitis or GME and behaves in a more persistent manner. Both will respond to steroids well in the initial stages but GME typically relapses after a while as the disease process is not resolved by the treatment. Dogs with GME normally succumb to the disease following relapses although some can survive a reasonable length of time with some treatment protocols, especially where cytosine arabinoside. Differentiating between the two can be a bit vague with there being significant overlap between typical cell types seen on cerebrospinal fluid cytology. Steroid responsive meningitis typically has CSF containing predominantly polymorphs but ,GME a more mixed polymorphs/mononuclear cell population. Definitive diagnosis is difficult without post mortem samples. Hopefully your dog will have the steroid responsive version which is more common in young small breed dogs. Best of luck with how things go. The main thing is to treat with enough steroids for a long enough period of time.
Thanks for the info, I'm not clear exactly which form she has so that is a question to put to the vet next week. He did seem relaxed about the prognosis, so hopefully it's the former.
 

Buchan

Well-Known Member
#8
Thanks for the info, I'm not clear exactly which form she has so that is a question to put to the vet next week. He did seem relaxed about the prognosis, so hopefully it's the former.
Just make sure your vet knows the information comes from a recognised specialist rather than "some fella off tinternet"!
 

Co1

Well-Known Member
#10
Hard to pint point the cause, srvet may know better. I can tell you that in the run up she had a stomach infection, followed by an ear infection followed by an infection in a split claw. This was over a 2/3 month period, might be nothing but it might be that her immune sustem was knackered from this and the associated antibiotics.
 

srvet

Well-Known Member
#11
Just make sure your vet knows the information comes from a recognised specialist rather than "some fella off tinternet"!
I think I prefer some fella off t'internet!! :oops:
It is often hard to pinpoint a cause but anything that causes antigen/antibody complex production could be implicated, but this doesn't narrow it down much. I have had positive titres to distemper virus in the past with similar cases but these could have been historic exposure not active infection. Also worth ruling out tick borne diseases including antibody testing for borrelia, ehrlichia, bartonella and toxoplasma/neospora. Most of the time these are negative which leaves us with idiopathic ie we can't identify the cause.
 
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Co1

Well-Known Member
#12
Back at the vets today and it is the steroid responsive one, so the outlook is good. She's on a six week steroid programme now and we'll go from there. The recovery has been superb, she probably back to about 95% of where she was beforehand.

Thanks for for all the replies,
Col
 

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