Since my last ‘memoir’ post quite a few weeks back about little Indy’s trip to hospital for a suspected ‘raw chicken bone obstruction’ further medical events have unfolded which ultimately has resulted in Indy being diagnosed with “Steroid-Responsive Meningitis”.
Meningitis is a very serious life threatening condition in which symptoms can wax and wane for weeks and sometimes even months before a correct diagnosis is made. Without early, swift and aggressive treatment the outcome can be devastating.
What Were His Symptoms?
Indy had just been de-sexed and given his 1st booster vaccinations a few days prior. After coming home from hospital he was his usually bouncy and happy self. Around 3 days later things suddenly changed.
He became very lethargic, trembling, completely uninterested in playing, squinting eyes, reluctant to lift his head and unwilling to go outside; when he did he would just stand still in the one spot. This unusual behaviour quickly escalated to yelping in pain whenever I would pat him or attempt to pick him up.
I called the vet and explained Indy’s behaviour in detail. The vet thought Indy may have behaviourial issues; he prescribed “a very safe drug” (Endep) to treat it. I looked up “Endep” only to discover it can have some very nasty side effects. Safe? Not in my opinion!
I decided against the drug prescribed and rather sourced a second opinion at Monier Vet.
After a thorough examination the new vet recommended an antibiotic injection (Norocalv) in-case of a possible infection, anti-inflammatory injection (Reliven) to reduce his fever and antibiotic tablets (Clavulox) to take home. Indy was booked in again the following morning for a re-check to see if the fever had reduced. I was given very clear instruction that if Indy was to change in anyway overnight I was to take him to Animal Emergency Service.
The following morning Indy still had a fever and was dehydrated. IV Fluids and further tests were necessary to get to the bottom of his “Pyrexia” (unexplained fever) and treatment in Emergency as 24/7 care was highly recommended. Indy was a very sick boy.
How Was It Diagnosed?
Emergency vet; Dr Alex Hynes went through Indy’s entire medical history, including his recent trip around 8 weeks prior to emergency also for “Pyrexia”. With this recent history of on and off again fever, lethargy and taking into account his age his symptoms were classic for Meningitis.
The test to check for Meningitis is called a “Cerebrospinal Fluid” (CSF) collection, which looks at the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord and it does not come without a number of potential risks; ‘Bleeding into the spine’, ‘Paralysis’, ‘Brain Damage’ and ‘Seizures’. A few other tests were run to rule out any other conditions before going down the path of a CSF.
Indy had; Pain Relief, IV Fluids, Bloods – PCV/TP and venous blood gas, CBC/Biochemistry, Sterile Urine SG/Clinistix and Abdominal Ultrasound all of which came back with no markers of any other medical condition, including “Lyme Disease” (bloods were sent to the USA) and Distemper. The next step was the CSF test.
The Cytology (Smear) from the CSF indicated a positive result for “Meningitis”.
What Is The Treatment?
There are a few types of Meningitis, the most common being “Steroid Responsive” and the other “Bacterial”. Both are treated with different medications. Indy was treated for both common forms until the results came back a few days later. He had “Prednisone” for the steroid responsive Meningitis and “Tribressen” antibiotic to penetrate the blood brain barrier to treat the bacterial form of Meningitis. Because Indy had recently had his heartworm preventative, they also ran tests to rule out “Parasitic Meningitis”. The parasites become nomadic after worming treatment and that is when symptoms can arise.
Indy’s diagnosis: “Steroid Responsive Meningitis”.
So What Now?
When Indy came home he had to be monitored very closely for seizures. I have never felt so sick with worry. Amber knew something was wrong and for the following week refused to leave his side for a minute. Thankfully he never had a seizure and has responded really well to the steroid treatment.
Steroids do have a few side effects such as increased thirst and urination, increased hunger, panting (especially dogs), general loss of energy, developing or worsening of infections (especially bacterial skin infections) and vomiting or nausea (less common). It can also increase the risk of Pancreatitis and Gastrointestinal Ulceration. Dogs may suffer from all or just some of the side effects depending on dosage, age, response etc.
Indy is extremely hungry all the time and has put on some weight. Because of Indy’s new tendency to steal food, quite literally ripped from Amber’s mouth, dinner time is offered in separate rooms. This is the only way I know for sure each is getting their daily nutritional allowance and to prevent food guarding and disputes.
The first few weeks Indy had no energy at all and seemed really reluctant to do anything. It was so sad to watch my usually very cheeky and playful boy looking so sad and depressed. However the last few weeks I have seen great improvement and my cheeky boy is starting to shine again. He is slowly becoming like his old self.
Indy was also seen be specialist Dr Terry King at the Veterinary Specialist Services who provided such wonderful care; while our new regular vets at Monier Vet are carefully managing the condition under Dr King’s guidance. His medical plan ideally is to reduce the high dose steroid to none. He is currently on 5mg a day and the dosage will reduce every 4 weeks by ¼ a tablet. Then we move over to 1mg tablets, again reducing by ¼ a tablet every 4 weeks, until hopefully he requires no medication at all.
It is extremely important that this is done at a very slow and controlled rate which should take around 6 months. Reducing the medication too quickly or stopping altogether is extremely dangerous and comes with a very high risk of the Meningitis returning quickly and aggressively. I remain in regular contact with both specialist and general vet to give them a report on Indy’s progress and to be provided direction prior to each dosage reduction.
We have started the 1st stage of the steroid reduction and am relieved to say that Indy is doing really well.
Is It Contagious?
No. It is not contagious and can not be “passed on” to you or your other pets. Canine Meningitis is not like the contagious form that human’s contract.
Could It Come Back?
Yes. There is a chance that Meningitis can return.
The specialist advised generally 50% of dogs with “Steroid Responsive Meningitis” respond very well to treatment and eventually become drug free, 25% are able to reduce to a low dose of Prednisone for life and the remaining 25% very sadly have a ‘roller coaster’ ride and battle with the disease for the rest of their lives. Some succumbing to the disease or a secondary one.
Will Indy Recover?
Sometimes Meningitis can be linked to a number of other conditions. In 6 months time, when Indy is drug free, the specialist has recommended further blood work to rule out another underlying condition. With that said he was very optimistic with Indy’s response to treatment so far, he should make a full recovery.
To the team at Monier Vet, Animal Emergency Service, Veterinary Specialist Services and personally to Dr Alex Hynes & Dr Terry King for everything you all did for Indy. For without each and everyone of you Indy would not be with me today.
I will keep you updated on Indy’s progress both on this blog and our instagram page.
I would love to hear from anyone else that has a dog with Meningitis.
Has Your Dog Just Been Diagnosed With Meningitis?
This Message Is For You:
After Indy diagnosis I became totally consumed with scouring the internet for anything encouraging I could find on Meningitis. It was hard going, their are so many articles and the majority are very upsetting and so heartbreaking that you find yourself at the point of total helplessness. You may feel that all is lost. I have spoken to so many people; family, friends and complete strangers who have had their own dogs struck down with this terrible condition.
The one very important thing I have learned is
– Every dog’s journey with Meningitis is different.
Do not give up. There is hope.
A very special ‘Thank You’ goes to Josie’s Story for all of your advice and encouraging words when I needed them most.
Josie your strength is inspiring! I dedicate this post to you.
Update: Josie crossed the Rainbow Bridge in 2017. RIP Warrior Princess 2007-2017 Beautiful Josie
To “Brandy” and her loving family – who never gave up.
Brandy was Amber and Indy’s fur-friend.
Diagnosed with “Meningitis” and then a further secondary disease “Chiari Syndrome”. Such a brave and strong girl, but the fight was just too much.
Author Bio: Nikki is pack leader at Pressplay Pets, a blog for the modern age pet parent interested in health & care, news, reviews & personal accounts of unconditional love & at times heartfelt pain of pet parenting. She is also proud mum to cute and cheeky Papillons ‘Amber’ and ‘Indy’ and one crazy Rainbow Lorikeet named ‘Ralph’! Follow my Instagram and Facebook and Twitter.
Pressplay Pets a blog for the modern age pet parent interested in health & care, news, reviews & personal accounts of unconditional love & at times heartfelt pain of pet parenting!Follow Us!
My dog, Dodger, died unexpectedly 2 weeks ago from complications due to some form of meningitis. I didn’t see any concerning symptoms of any kind until it was too late. Dodger was 7 years olds, and he was always a very active, rambunctious, strong, energetic dog. 2 years ago, he developed chronic eye disease, which led to a corneal abrasion and an eye infection. Since then, he had been treated regularly for this condition — and just back in August of 2022, his opthamologist said that his eye was continuing to heal. She even cut back our visits to once a year instead of multiple times a year. Despite having his chronic eye condition, it never slowed him down or interferred with his happiness or comfort. Other than his eye disease, he had always appeared to be a perfectly healthy dog. The weekend prior to his death, Dodger began acting as if he was having trouble jumping up onto my couch and bed. I thought this was strange because this was a completely new thing that arouse out of nowhere on a Friday night. Still, he acted completely normal in every other way. The next day, he continued to resist getting up onto furniture but showed no discomfort when I would pick him up to put him on the furniture — and he showed signs of pain or discomfort when he would get off these pieces of furniture. At this point, I thought he might have strained a muscle or something in his back or shoulder (my previous dog pulled a muscle in his shoulder and acted this same way, but it quickly resolved with medication and restrictions on activity). I decided to give him gabapentin that he had been prescribed in the past and keep an eye on how he was feeling. That same evening, I went to pet the side of his head, behind his ear, and he yelped. Now I was very worried. I thought he may’ve hurt his neck or head somehow when I wasn’t at home the day before, and now his pain/discomfort was getting worse. OR I was worried that he had an ear infection. Since it was Saturday night, I couldn’t get him to his primary vet until Monday at the earliest (if there was even an appointment slot available) — so, I took him to an emergency vet hospital. One thing that I did notice after he yelped and before I got him into my car to take him to the emergency vet was that he seemed to be looking around strangely at one of the walls in my apartment. After this, I placed a treat on the floor — and Dodger seemed to have trouble locating locating it on the floor in front of him for a few seconds. I thought this seemed strange. I told the emergency vet staff who did his intake that night about his symptoms, AND I clearly mentioned that he appeared to be looking around strangely at the wall and his brief difficulty locating the treat. After the intake, the vet staff took him into a treatment area (without me) for further examination. A little while later, I met with a vet, who informed me that he couldn’t find anything particular wrong with Dodger. He said that Dodger wasn’t responding unusually to any range of motions tests, pain tests, etc.. He said that Dodger appeared to be fine, but he suspected that he could be developing a back issue or he strained/hurt a tissue area in his neck or upper back region. He said that he felt it wasn’t necessary to do any x-rays, since he believed what was causing Dodger’s issue would not show up on an x-ray. Since the vet felt confident that x-rays were unecessary at this time, I opted to not have any x-rays done. In the end, the vet told me to continue giving Dodger gapapentin and restrict his activities for 2 weeks. He said that if the symptoms progressed or they weren’t improving, then I needed to have him seen by his primary vet to investigate further as to what the issue might be. By Monday morning, Dodger had no improvements in his mobility but certainly hadn’t gotten any worse. And he had never again looked around strangely at any walls or had trouble locating food or treats. He was eating well, had healthy bowel movements, he was drinking well — he was still playful and happy-go-lucky. His only syptom was his continued resistanced to jump up onto furniture. He had never again yelped when I touched him, as he did two nights before. On Monday morning, I decided to make an appointment with Dodger’s primary vet. Dodger’s annual exam was coming up in two weeks, and I thought it would be good to go ahead and have this done while following up about his mobility issue. Dodger passed his annual exam with flying colors. The vet said he looked good — his fecal analysis was fine, his heartworm test was negative, his eye was looking good despite his chronic eye condition. The only thing the vet noticed was that Dodger showed some resistance when the vet stretched Dodger’s neck to one side. The vet was confident that he had tweaked a muscle in his neck. He told me to stop the gabapentin, and he prescribed Dodger an NSAID instead (to help with pain and inflammation). When I got home from the vet, I gave Dodger the NSAID. Still, Dodger was acting competely normal other than resisting jumping up onto furniture. Confident that Dodger was simply dealing with a strained muscle in his neck and he needed nothing more than an NSAID to handle it, I left home about an hour later to attend a social gathering. A few hours later, when I arrived home, Dodger was going full blast, as if he had never had anything wrong with him at all. He was bouncing all over the place, jumping up on my bed and couch, he was excited and playful. He wolfed down his evening bowl of food that he left uneaten while I was out. It wasn’t unusual for Dodger to hold off on a meal from time to time. He was his completely normal self. The following morning, we went through our normal routines before I went to work. I gave him his NSAID and left. When I got home from work, he hadn’t eaten his morning meal. I thought maybe the NSAID was upsetting his stomach or something because he had been completely normal the night before. At this point, Dodger was acting as if he was uncomfortable again. I first noticed it when I put him on the floor to get him ready to go out for his afternoon bathroom break. He appeared to be walking a little bit stiff and his head seemed to be drooping slighly to one side. I was discouraged because I thought the NSAID had been working, but clearly it hadn’t helped that day. As I was walking Dodger, I noticed that he would avoid going over anything that was even slightly elevated off the ground. When we got inside my apartment building, he resisted getting into the elevator. So, I picked him up and put him inside the elevator. When we got into my apartment, he ate half of the bowl of food that was left over from his breakfast. I thought that was a good sign. Still, I was discouraged that his mobility seemed to be getting worse than better. I felt helpless and lost because, I was told by his vet a day earlier that it most likely a tissue that should resolve during the coruse of an NSAID. So Dodger continued on in the same condition throughout the evening. He lied on the couch next to me the entire evening, even got into my lap as he always did, for me to pet him. At this point, he never yelped or acted strangely in any way other than his mobility impairment. I was thinking, “Why isn’t this NSAID helping? He was doing great the night before after he took the NSAID. That night, as I was putting him on the floor to take him out for his last bathroom break of the day, he yelped. That got me more discouraged. I took him out for his walk — and despite having his mobility issues and his head tilting slightly to one side, he wasn’t satisfied with his brief walk and insisted on going further on a walk. I thought this was a good sign that he was wanting to walk more than we had. So, we walked further for a little bit, and he was plugging along (although he was still walking a bit stiff and wobblish and his head was still tilted slightly to one side). When we got into my apartment building, he again resisted getting into the elevator. But then he circled around once and entered. Now, I started questioning things more — “Shouldn’t he be getting better not worse? Why is this tweaked muscle situation having more pronounced symptoms than it ever has so far?” I brought him inside and put him on the couch, where he lied down next to me and rested. I was getting more discouraged and anxious at this point. I didn’t understand what could be going on. How could a tweaked muscle be treating him this way? This didn’t happen with my previous dog when he tweaked a muscle in his shoulder. I laid on my couch, watching TV for an hour or so. And Dodger lied next to me, resting with no complaints, Finally, I got up to go into my bed, and I picked up Dodger to bring him to bed with me. At this point, he yelped again, and when I put him down on the floor he was significantly wobbly. That was it. No more of this. Something his very wrong here I thought. I know my dog, and something isn’t right. I took Dodger to another 24 hour emergency hospital in town (this was not the same hospital as I took him to the previous weekend — that hospital was closed at this time). This new emergency vet hospital took Dodger in with me right away. The did bloodwork, an ear cytology and a general exam. The vet showed me that Dodger’s eye was flickering back and forth when she shined a light on it. This was the first time I had seen this, and this was the first vet who noticed this. In this case, she was confident that Dodger’s condition was either vestibular disease or something of a more serious neuorological condition. She said that she would begin treating it as vestibular disease, but if his symptoms worsened or did not clear up, then I needed to get him to my primary vet or she would make a referral to a neurologist for me. She prescribed Dodger two medications for dizziness and naseau. She said that vestibular disease improves over time on on its own, but I should not give it more than 3 days to be unresolved. This vet was the first doctor to give me some sort of answer that made clear sense to me. I wasn’t left with a vague diagnosis. She said it was clearly one of two things. Unfortunately, this hospital didn’t have an MRI machine — so, this was one of the reasons she recommended having him see a neurologist if he got worse or his symptoms didn’t improve. I was grateful for this vet’s diagnosis, and I was glad that I got him to her when I did. Unfortunately, an hour after we arrived home from this hospital, Dodger’s conditioned worsened. He began having panting spells and was yelping when I slightly touched him. Then it became impossible for him to stand up on his. I had him propped up on my bed with pillows. A few times, he tried to get up but rolled over onto his back and started panting heavily. At this point, my heart was breaking. I was terrrifeid as to what was causing him to rapidly get worse. I picked him up, and his head fell to one side and he was panting loudly– then he urinated on me. I began to panic. I wasn’t sure if he was going to make it any longer. I didn’t know what to do for him at this point. The emergency vet who just seen him said that he needed to see my primary vet or a neurolgist if he got worse — I knew there was nothing more that they emergency vet could do for him on their end — I was already given the course of action I needed to take if things got worse.
I had to break my post down into two So, I got Dodger comfortable on the couch, propped up between 2 pillows — where he rested seemingly comfortable, except for the few times when he would try to move and started panting heavily. I sat down on the couch and lied him across my lap, petting him and comforting him. The whole time, I was losing my mind. I wasn’t sure now what was wrong with him. I was terrified that something very serious was happening to him, and I was constantly worried that he might suddenly pass away at any moment. It was the most helpless I have ever felt in my entire life. Finally, later in the morning, when my primary vet’s office opened, I called them to report Dodger’s condition, and I asked them what the vet thought the next course of action should be. I asked if I needed to bring Dodger in to them ASAP or what? I had no idea what I needed to be doing or what he needed at this point? My vet’s office was of no help. The rude technician with whom I spoke, told me that since Dodger was last seen by the emergency vet and not by them that he needed a referral for a neurologist from the emergency vet — because apparently he was suffering from a neurological condition. This changed from earlier in the conversation when she said that his vet still believed Dodger was experiencing a back issue. Regardless, I immediately called the emergency vet, and within 10 minutes they had an emergency referral made to a neurologist at a specialty hospital in town. This was somewhat of a relief, knowing that I was getting him to a hospital with a neurologist. Since this is the only practice in town with a neurology department, the soonest appointment to get Dodger into the hospital was at 1:00 pm. So, I kept Dodger comfortable on my couch until 12:30pm. It was the longest and most stressful 3 hours I had ever experienced. Dodger remained comfortable, without any complaints this entire time. He even perked up and whimpered happily when some of my friends arrived to help me transport him to the hospital. He was immediately taken into treatment when we arrived at the hospital. The neurologist suspected that he had encephalitis, meningitis or possibly even a brain tumor. At this point, Dodger could not stand or walk on his own. He was only able to do what the neurologist called an alligator role. Dodger was hospitalized overnight, with an MRI the follwing morning. I was relieved that he was at the hospital. I knew that he was where he needed to be, he was getting the care he needed. But I was also scared to death about what was causing his symptoms. The neurologist called me the follwing moring after the MRI, and broke the news to me — the whole left side of Dodger’s brain was inflamed. She believed that this was the result of an autoimmune response. Dodger had diffiiculty breathing under anesthesia during the MRI, so she said that doing a spinal tap would be too risky. He could die if he was given more anesthesia. She and I agreed that the risk was not worth it. She said that she would treat the brain inflammation the same for both viral/bacterial encephelatiis/meningitis and a condition caused by an autoimmune response. She was confident that he would recover, with possible temporary or lifelong side effects – still, she believed that he would survive. And I believed that he would be coming home to me in the next few days. *On Wednesday evening, a few hours after Dodger was admitted into the hospital, he was standing on his own, taking treats and making friends with the techs. On Thursday evening, the neurologist informed me that it was taking Dodger a long time to fully recover from the anesthesia from that morning. On Friday afternoon, when I spoke to her, she told me that she got Dodger to eat on Thursday night, he seemed to be doing fine — but he started having seizure activity on Friday morning. They gave him medication for this, and the seizure activity was under controll. At this point, on Friday afternoon, Dodger was sleeping a lot from the seizure medication. Still. the neuroligst believed that he would improve, and he would either be released from the hospital on Saturday or I would get to visit him on Saturday (since he might need to stay in the hospital until Sunday). I was worried and discouraged, but I was prepared to bring him home — I even prepared our apartment for his return. Additionally, I was mentally prepared to take on temporary or long-term care that might be required after Dodger returned home. I knew that he might be left with side effects from the encephalitis/meningitis. Still, I believed that he would make it home, and he would live a long life despite any possible side effects. About forty minutes after I last spoke to the vet on Friday afternoon, two days after Dodger was hospitalized, she called to tell me that Dodger stopped breathing while she was examining him. She told me that they had started CPR and would continue for about 10 more minutes. I told her to continue with the CPR. She called me back 10 minutes later to tell me that they were unable to revive Dodger, and that his chance of being revived at this point was only 5%. She suggested that it was unecessary to continue trying to revive him at this point. I agreed. And she let me know that he passed away. This was one of the worst moments of my life. When I went to the hospital to pick up Dodger in his coffin, the vet showed me his MRI. His brain and spinal cord were both inflamed, and when I said that’s spinal meningitis, isn’t it? She said, “Yes. Exactly.” I want to stress here that I know that this hospital and this doctor did everything in their power to help Dodger. I was very grateful for them. Unfortunately, the meningitis was too much for Dodger’s body and he was unable to beat it. He fought so hard, and I am SO PROUD of him for being so strong. I just wish I could’ve been there with him when he passed away. This has been one of the hardest parts in my grief – that I didn’t get to say goodbye to him, be with him and comfort him when he passed away. It’s two weeks later, and my heart is still broken. I still wrestle around with the thoughts of: Why did this happen to him? How did this happen to him? What caused this to happen? What did I overlook? Why did he keep bouncing back, only to get worse each time? Why were the symptoms so elusive until it was too late? I even wonder sometimes if the meningitis was caused by too much anbiotic use. Dodger had been on antibiotics for a skin reaction to bug bites back in July of 2022. Then in early December of 2022, his eye troubled eye ulcerated and became infected. He was put on antibiotics for that. Then a week later, a vet believed that he might have a skin infection and put him more antibiotics. He finished his last course of antibiotics about 3 to 4 weeks before he started showing any symptoms of the meningitis. Did this cause his body to go into an autoimmune response, which then caused the mengitis? Now, I wonder about this a lot? The neurologist was confident that it was caused by an autoimmune response. But she never expressed that she believed it was from all the antibiotic use. The one thing that I do know is that his eye condition was an automimmune condition – so I guess his body was predisposed to autoimmune issues? That would make sense to me? See, I’m still trying to make sense of it all, but I can’t. Often I really believe that Dodger was cursed with poor genetics, which led to his eye condition and also caused the meningitis. I just don’t know for sure. But it seems likely. Anyway, I wanted to share my story and my horrible loss due to this sinister and terrible disease. I never even knew that dog’s could get meningitis, until the neurologist told me on the day of Dodger’s hospitalization that dog’s could. I also wanted to share my story in case anyone who reads it notices any similarities in behaviors/symptoms in their pets and Dodger’s behaviors/symptoms that led to his death. My advice is don’t let a vet pass off a tissue or bone issue so quickly — especially if your pet is exhibiting any other unusual symptoms (like Dodger’s brief episode of looking strangely at the wall and having difficulty locating a treat on the floor — as brief as it was, and it never surfaced during the exam an hour or so later, I now know in retrospect that it was a symptom of the meningitis). Those symptoms were dismissed from his diagnosis at the time. If you see symptoms, but they don’t show up later during an exam, don’t let those symptoms be dismissed. Also, very important to note, that symptoms can come and go. I learned this. Your pet can be fine one minute, then be having symptoms the next minute. Dodger’s symptoms were cryptic enough to fool 2 vets in a span of 2 days. And unfortunately, it was too late.
I will always love you, my boy, Dodger.
I will always be your dad, and you are
always in my heart forever. Nothing
can ever take that away. I’m so sorry
that you fell victim to such an evil
disease. But you were so brave and
strong, and such a fierce fighter.
I LOVE YOU. because it is so long;
Hi Adam, My heart broke reading what happened to Dodger. Thank you for giving so much detail in both of your posts. It is so important pet parents learn to read the signs and not to take no as an answer from some vets. I hope you do eventually feel some peace after Dodgers terrible passing, you did do everything you could or knew to do. RIP Dodger another beautiful soul taken by this terrible condition.
Hello there, im so happy to see someone talking about this brutal brutal illness. I have Boston Terrier, named Benji, he’s 7,5 years old. On September 27th i drove him down to ER for limping and close to not even walking at all, also one of the side of his face was drooping. It was super sad to see him like this.. he stayed overnight at the hospital. Next day he got MRI done, turned out he got meningitis.
Benji is on steroids now, going on almost second month now. He gained some weight, lost a lot of muscle mass and super lazy and tired. But other than that, he’s doing great so far. We love him so much, it just hurts to see him go through this..
Im so sadden to read other stories of pups who had no chance to enjoy their life on this earth with their owners.
Anyone who’s going through this, i wish you good luck to you and your pet!
If anyone have any suggestions or comments on how to or what to, please, email, share your thoughts. Thank you!
Our little Ollie (2.5 years old) Pomarain/Korgi mix we belive got menigintis (how, where, when we don’t know). After about 2 weeks, of pain and crying, we took him to the vet who knew nothing. Couple of days ago, rushed Ollie to the animal hospital, we was limp, went blind in one eye, could not swallow, could not stand. Panting mildly, as if struggling for air. We had to put Ollie down. The vet costs were astronomical and we still don’t know what he had, but from the symptoms, identical to Meningitis. His little friend Zorro won’t eat, misses him dearly, as does our daughter. What a nightmare, no real answers. I think by the time we got him to the hospital there was likely nothing that could be done. I wish we had been steered down the right path.
I am so very very saddened to read little Ollies story. It breaks my heart knowing another dog has been lost to this terrible condition. Sadly many vets do find it difficult to diagnose (at least certainly in the early stages), often diagnosed as disc issues; and owners are often a little perplexed as the symptoms often come and go for some time, not really knowing if they should go to the vet before finally the condition deteriorates at such a rapid rate. I am sorry this was your outcome. Indy and Amber send their love.
Thanks for your kind reply. It’s now been a month since Dodger passed away, and it still feels like it was just a week or so ago. In general, my grief has become less intense and less chronically painful. But I’m constantly thinking about Dodger, and I miss him so incredibly much each day. I’m sometimes still in disbelief that this happened to him. I often feel angry that he fell prey to an awful condition that had such insidious symptoms. The neurologist told me more than once that his body did a remarkable job of compensating for his condition, and she believes his condition had been manifesting for some time. Only such an evil disease could’ve successfully kept itself so well hidden from my dog, me and medical professionals before it was too late. Still, I often question myself as to how I couldn’t possibly see something that would have alerted me that something was wrong — especially something that was this wrong. Now I often spend a lot of time feeling as though I must have failed Dodger somehow. I wonder if I did something wrong in his life that triggered this. For example — was his food that he was eating for the last 3 years of his life the wrong food (even though it was promoted as a very healthy food and diet)? I often wonder if I didn’t do a good enough job of getting his eye drops into his impaired eye, which in turn caused his eye to become infected back in the beginning of December (and did bacteria from this infection cause his meningitis, even though he was put on antibiotics at the first sign of the infection)? Or was it the antibiotics that he was put on for this infection that triggered the inflammation in his brain and spinal cord? I often wonder if there was something I unknowingly did in his life to cause this. I often wonder if there was something I could’ve done to prevent this. I know guilt is a normal part of grief, even if it’s irrational. But more often than not, I feel my guilt is justified because of how I wonder if I did fail Dodger in some way that led to his meningitis and death. I know 100% that I did all that I could for him once I saw his first noticeable symptoms, but that doesn’t erase my wondering if I was unknowingly and indirectly in some responsible for his condition. I will never have closure on his death, but I want to have closure on why and how he became ill.
I feel where you are coming from in terms of “was it something I did wrong”. I have always wondered with Indy why did he get it. Like Dodger, Indy was waxing and waning symptoms of something not quite right…but nothing seemed quite wrong at the same time. I truly believe that if it was not for my sisters dog who got it and survived (many years earlier) and my friends dog also getting it and passing away only months before Indy became unwell. Without me having finally this terrible feeling it might be Meningitis, I feel I would have lost Indy also. Yes it is a terribly sneaky disease that truly hides itself inside our dogs, often until it is too late. With Indy we will never know if it may have manifested slowly after he had his vaccinations. It was all around the same time.
I am very lucky to still have Indy, as you may have seen in the comments on my post many have sadly lost their dog to this condition and it is just too incredibly heart breaking when I read all of the comments.
Hi I’ve just come across your article online about your little Indy’s battle with meningitis. My little 11 month old Cavoodle has been diagnosed with possible meningitis. I took her to the vet yesterday as she was lethargic and just not herself. They said she had a temperature in excess of 40 and appeared to have neck pain and told me I should immediately consult with the QLD Vet specialists in Stafford as her initial signs pointed toward meningitis. Frankie has a spinal tap procedure and blood tests yesterday and is stayed overnight. The vet has said we should have results tomorrow. I am beside myself sick with worry. I just cannot believe this has literally come out of the blue as she has had absolutely no signs of any illness until today and the onset was so sudden and so apparent. I’m in shock and am reaching out to see if you can give me a recommendation on the specialist that you took your puppy to given you are in Brisbane. I have not issue with the vet specialist I am currently with but I think that second opinions are extremely valuable and it cannot hurt to have a second specialist lined up pending the results from Stafford today.
Hi Nikki, (i’m a Nikki too!), I am so sorry to read about your young pup. Yes it is a scary disease but many dogs do survive. Indy was diagnosed by Dr Alex Hynes (Emergency Vet at the Animal Emergency Service in Logan. They are now also in Jindalee and on the Gold Coast). But he was treated by Dr Terry King at VSS. Also in the same complex as AES. https://www.vss.net.au/dr-terry-king.html He was fantastic and had an amazing knowledge on Meningitis (he also treated by coincidence years before my sisters dog also got the condition). The catch with treating it is to not withdraw from the steroids to quickly. Terry was great by putting together a plan and structure for his medication and treatment. The reason I have my boy today still with me! I hope everything goes ok today. Don’t give up hope, you have taken quick action. Please let me know what the outcome is and if you have any other questions I am happy to answer them as best as I can. Nikki
Hi Nikki 🙂
Thank you so much for coming back to me. I called up to see if Dr King was open to appointments but unfortunately he has taken a step back due to the Corona Virus and not currently seeing any patients. One of my facebook friends by chance came across my post to your FB page and has actually given me the details of a clinic she is familiar with who just so happen to have the only vet neurologist in QLD practising with them. I had done some research and a lot of forums recommend seeking the opinion of a neurolgist so I am booked in to see Dr Christine Thomson at the Animal Referral Hospital http://arhvets.com.au/brisbane/ out at Sinnamon Park on Tuesday. I am about to go and pick up Frankie so will sign off for now and try to give you an update in due course. Thanks again. <3
Oh good…I was going to suggest them also, just in case he had retired or something. That is the place I go now actually! They are just a few streets away from my place. Indy had surgery on his hip (yes he is my trouble child) by Dr Lance a couple of years ago when he slipped over in the house. They are fantastic! You will be in good hands with them. 🙂
Our 4 month old puppy passed away almost a year ago (4/26/19) due to suspected viral meningitis. We have no idea how or when he contacted it. It was very scary to see my baby go through what he did for what seemed like since we brought him home.
I am so sorry to read that your puppy passed away from Meningitis. It is a terrible condition that is difficult to spot the signs until it is nearly too late.
We recently adopted a 1 year old Boxer, Stormy, that needed to be rehomed. I didn’t know before I got her that she was incredibly underweight. When I arrived out came a lethargic, skin and bones, sad dog that had a sore on her back from being in a kennel the size of my Chihuahuas. At first I thought that was what the leg stiffness was about and they we’ren’t feeding her properly so I spent some time feeding her and letting her get some excersize to hopefully clear everything up. She is the sweetest, not even close to aggressive dog you’ve ever met. After nothing cleared up I took her to the vet because she was always resting her head on things, pacing aimlessly around the room and putting her head in corners. The vet diagnosed her with worms, a UTI, ear mites and she showed every sign of having had meningitis as a puppy that went untreated. After starting her on all different types of antibiotics and a steroid she started bouncing around, acting a total sweet clumsy fool and wanting nothing but love and attention. Until today she has gone back to pacing around the room and is only comfortable if she is on top of me sleeping. He said she has very mild symptoms so there is some hope for her but I am reading that a lot of people noticed seizures after getting their dogs fixed. She is due to be fixed this week because my vet fears that going into heat could alter her mental state dramatically but now I’m terrified that it will only decrease her quality of life. Some days she is a completely normal dog and I’m praying that she doesn’t lose that in the end.
Hi Sam, Of course having your dog desexed is always a good option, it reduces many issues including unwanted litters but especially so mammary cancers etc. I can’t say how Stormy will respond to being put under anesthetic…but if it helps any Indy has gone under a few times now in the last couple of years and yes he still has meningitis and he has been fine. No complications actually at all I have been told.
I think that the seizures that most are talking about is before the dog has actually been diagnosed. They developed seizures after being desexed…but it seems, as with in Indys case he likely already had the symptoms of meningitis before being desexed. The debate still continues if Meningitis is sparked from over vaccinations???? For Indy he also had his booster vaccinations at the time of being desexed…so we will never really know. His current vet just undertakes Titer tests to check on his levels of cover. So far so good. So we have not had to decide if a booster vacc in required.
Please let me know how Stormy goes. It is a difficult decision to know which is the best route. Maybe talk to your vet about your meningitis concerns…maybe they may suggest putting her on steriods before and post surgery to help??? Not sure but worth the question I would think.
I’d like to add my experience in case it may help others avoid the same fate. My beautiful 6 month old lab puppy started displaying strange symptoms as soon as we brought her home from being spayed. She would hide in a corner of my closet all day and night, only coming out to eat or go outside. Took her back to the vet, they gave pain meds in case she was in pain from the surgery. A few days later, she started yelping whenever she bent her head down; took her back to the vet and they gave anti-inflammatory meds. A few days after that, she started walking sideways. Then she collapsed and couldn’t get back up. Immediately took her to the emergency vet, but despite all their efforts she passed away that night, just a week after being spayed and starting her strange symptoms. Necropsy determined death due to meningitis. Moral of the story: sudden behavior change, neck pain, and neurological issues are classic signs of meningitis, but our vet missed it. Please make sure your vet does not!
I am so very sorry to read that your pup passed away from this terrible condition. Yes, once the symptoms start the condition can worsen at a quick rate. The more owners we can educate about this terrible condition the more dogs that may just be saved. Thank you for taking the time to tell us your heartbreaking story and I am so very very sorry your outcome was not a positive one.
I am so happy to have found this thread. My not quite 4 year old yellow lab Gus was diagnosed with Meningitis on Wednesday. Apparently he followed the “typical” route. Suddenly depressed, in pain, walking slow. Vet first started with “maybe he got into something” so we did charcoal and fluids. 3 days later, he was worse. Could not open his eyes well, walking with head down, tail down, ears back. He could not tolerate being touched and started having back leg tremors. took him back to Vet who did xrays and said he had a bulging disk in his spine. Steroids and pain meds. 3 days later, he was back to being just sick. I could see he was just not himself. He would not interact with his environment, would not let his puppy sister near him, and sometimes would just stare off into space when outside. took him back to the vet and they sent us to a Neurologist. They were fantastic and first did the spinal tap and then the MRI and gave me the diagnosis. He is on 5 medications (steroids, pain, antibiotics and some ulcer prevention) and I am home taking care of a very sick boy. I have had a few days of “I got this, we’re going to get through this, “no worries about your pee accidents buddy” and a few days of meltdowns. He has been on these meds for 4 days so not long in the big scheme of things. I am keeping a journal of what is better and what is the same. What is driving me crazy is how intermittent his symptoms are. For a few hours I have moments of “there’s my boy! ” and then “oh man, he is not getting better” The up and down is really hard on the psyche. He started back to only eating one meal a day after doing his normal eating for 2 days straight and for a Labrador that’s weird enough but a Lab on steroids? He is sick of his 10 pills a day and I certainly am trying not to make it a battle but even with peanut butter he is spitting them out. I had to resort to the shoving it down his throat tactic this morning and then giving him a molasses dog treat as a reward for swallowing (I have taken him off all treats until I meet with a specialist on dog nutrition but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do) I have an 11 month old female lab who is cheery, fun loving, playful and silly and poor girl Loucie is getting the short end of the stick when I have to push her away from Gus when she tries to play with him or when I yelled at her to not eat the remnants of a pill Gus chewed on and then spit out on the floor. I know this is a journey and I too have had to stop reading articles about Meningitis because there are so many sad stories out there. It’s weird, when he was okay, I never really thought about losing him right? just a normal 3 year old sweet boy, not a care in the world. Now I think about losing him everyday because of this illness and am fighting myself to stay positive. I tell him all the time “we got this, just me and you bud, we’re going to get through this, you’re going to be better and you’re going to be here with me and Loucie for a long time” he looked at me once and gave me a puppy kiss. I say it for him as much as for me.
My one-year-old Australian Shepherd just got diagnosed with meningitis this week, how was your lab doing? I am feeling that Hope was this right now. Any positive stories could really help. Thank you!
Just read your sad story about Gus
Don’t know if he is still alive
I rescued a toy poodle living in a cage
He had two good years with me then
Off to specialist menengitis diagnosis
I live with the fear of death like u with Gus.
Wanted to tell u I care and I cried for you both.
I believe we will c them again after we die.
Our little Maltese / Chuwawa called Chewbacka has been diagnosed with Meningitis today..
We to were told 3 days ago he had a spine issue and he was given an injection to see if he improves.. next day he was worse.. took him back to the vet to complain about the diagnosis.. The vet wanted to see him back 2 days time and have some stronger drugs..
Instinct told me take him back next day… forget 2 days time..
So here we are 3 days after first symptoms .. Chewey has been accepted to the hospital awaiting his MRI scan and then operation for spinal fluid check to check which type of Meningitis he has..
Thanks to all the messages shared on about what to expect it helps me a lot.
I shall give an update on the his journey !
3 days ago my Little 11 month old doggie was full of life.. so this strikes fast !!!! Hopeful we have caught this on time ?
I hope your little pup is doing better?! Please let us all know when you can.
Hi. I’m so glad I found your blog. We have a 9 year old chiweenie female, Chili Bean, that was diagnosed with brain meningitis in Nov 2017. Her underlying disease was diagnosed as auto immune. She suffers from seizures and is on 4 meds several times a day. Her seizures are happening weekly and this week she has already had two. We are beyond worried and continue treatment with her neurologist. I am curious to know how Indie is doing and what dosage of steroid he is on, if any. Chili Bean takes 1/4 tablet every other day along with auto immune, and two seizure meds daily every 12 and 8 hours. She weighs almost 10 lbs. having put on weight since diagnosis. We are watching her diet.
Hi Candice, Yes Indy is still on prednisone. His dosage is considered a ‘physiological’ dose; so low but just enough to keep the disease from returning. He is on 1mg every 3rd day (he weighs just over 3kg / 6.6lbs).
Diet is very important along with keeping them away from stressful events…especially the few days post a drop in drug dosage. I do hope little Chili Bean does better soon.
How is parasitic meningitis diagnosed? And what is the treatment? I currently have a young Chihuahua in 24-hour emergency care for what is believed to be steroid-responsive meningitis. She has had x-rays, blood tests, and an MRI and spinal tap. Nothing has shown any significant results. She is showing some improvement to steroids and antibiotics, but her course is very slow. Thanks for any info about the parasitic variety.
I personally do not know how the parasitic meningitis is diagnosed. I know that with Indy they were concerned it was that and put him onto a particular antibiotic that is able to penetrate the brain barrier to treat the parasite. But before going further the results returned that he had steroid-responsive meningitis. He is now still on steroids (1mg every 3rd day) and no longer on the antibiotics.
I am devastated to be a member of this group but for the first time in 3 days have hope. My 14 month old chihuahua woke up early walking crooked. I thought omg he hurt his foot / leg. Hours later we were rushing up to a specialty hospital 2 hrs away with a suspected neurological problem. Within two days he underwent an MRI and spinal tap. Awaiting infectious disease results. And have a cocktail of medications …. all for a little guy that just 5 days ago was a bundle of energy living life. Searching the internet had been devestating. For the first time since Monday reading your posts I have hope. I have racked my brain to figure out how, how did this happen. I am heartbroken about this diagnosis for my wrigley but reading what others have overcome give me hope.
I have an 8 month old Catahoula pup that on April 20th was neutered and very quickly afterwords started showing neurological signs and becoming incontinent (fecal and urinary) . He has had an MRI and spinal tap. MRI was normal CSF fluid showed leukocytes are active and I was told he has meningitis. The hard part is he has never vomited, never stopped eating, NO pain at all, no facial signs. They have him on high doses of steroids and almost 2 weeks into it no change in his neurological. Has anyone ever had a dog with meningitis with out any pain or change in behavior? I’m sick over this, it breaks my heart to see my boy not be able to run and play like he did before the neutering.
Wow that is very interesting behaviour from you pup. Most do show signs of pain; in particular around the neck and head along with turning off food. I wonder if you have discovered it in the very early stages and this is why? I hope so.
Hi, Gina. My case is pretty alike to yours. Last June 2018, my six years old male dog started having seizures, three within a month. After examination, doctor said he presented pain to turn his neck to the left and had no reaction to menace on his left eye. He had a mri and cfs tap. He was diagnosed with meningitis (steroid responsive). I should say that I never noticed any of those symptoms before the diagnose nor after, he was normal! He never showed any behaviour change, nor fever, nor pain signs, just partial seizures. After two weeks on treatment and medicated on high doses of steroids(5mg/12hrs) and phenobarbital he had another seizure. And another one on October. Last January he repeated exactly the same as in June, three seizures within a month. I’m pretty worried thinking about it could be a relapse, his current vet (our usual one) says he’s neurologically perfect and these seizures are sequels of meningitis, but to me there’s no difference between both cases.
I wish I’d read this just a few months earlier. My sweet Pepper started having neck stiffness and low grade fever in February. My vet was laying out signs of pain, and fever was on the list. She wasn’t eating, was lethargic, and just not feeling good. We did multiple follow up visits, NSAIDS,one round of steroids, and laser pain treatments. She would perk up a little and then go back to feeling bad. She went in the hospital for dehydration and pancreatitis on March 19. She was discharged on March 21 with Clavumox and prescription dog food. The next day she was confused, lethargic, staggering, and depressed. I took her back to her vet, and she began having seizures. We were told to take her to the vet ER. She had seizures in my arms the whole way over in 5 p.m. rush hour traffic. They admitted her immediately, and a vet came in and asked me if anyone had mentioned the possibility of meningitis. We told her that they kept telling us she had disc problems and would soon need surgery. They started her on antibiotics, fluids, steroids, and anticonvulsants. Unfortunately, she passed away a few hours later. It pains me to no end to know that my baby suffered for her last month of life because I didn’t know that she was that sick. We thought she would be better soon. I didn’t even know that dogs got meningitis! I thank you for posting your story for others to see.
I am so very sorry that your vet missed diagnosing Pepper earlier. You will see from Indy’s story along with all the other people that have made comments…the symptoms are all so very similar and nearly every dog is diagnosed with disc issues prior to discovering Meningitis. Thank you for telling us your story. I just wish you had a happier ending for Pepper 🙁
Thank you for your blog about Indy. Our 5 1/2 year old Japanese Chin, Miss Ming, also experienced a sudden onset of meningitis. She was restless and tilting her head up. She panted and trembled but had no fever. Our vet treated her with Metacam for pain but she got worse and lost the use of her hind legs the next day. The vet then gave her immunosuppressive injections of steroid and recommended that we take
her to a neurology clinic for an mri. They suspected she had a herniated disc in her back and needed surgery. She did not, so the neurologist did.a spinal tap and diagnosed her with meningitis of unknown etiology (MUE). She was given oral steroid (prednisone), omepresol for gastritis and 4 antibiotics until her tests showed no infection. She is still on the prednisone and omeprazole as well as gabaratin for pain. The neurologist said she suspects the cause is auto-immune and her prognosis is poor. The dog is normalizing under prednisone but the vet wants to give her a course of injections of cytarabine and gradually reduce her prednisone. It has been three weeks since she became ill. So far her treatment has cost about $4,000.
That is so sad to read that her prognosis is poor. Indy will remain on prednisone for life, but he is now happy and back to his old self. I hope that Miss Ming will also have a positive outcome with the use of steroids. Indy entire treatment was around $8000au. Thankfully I did have health cover for Indy, so I was eventually refunded almost 80%.
Thank you. We have opted to continue her treatment with cytarabine injections every three weeks and a reduced dose of prednisone. Dogs with this condition have survived between 2.5 months and 1.5 years. We have hope that her life may be extended a bit as she seems normal now and we are not ready to put her down. It is a progressive brain disease so we watch her carefully and love her a lot.
Hi, not sure if you’re still monitoring this or you get alerted. My sweet boy was diagnosed with this and we’re about one week in with no improvement. What was the end outcome of your girl?
I am very sorry to read about your boy getting meningitis. It is a roller coaster ride that is for sure. Indy – is a boy too but looks pretty enough to be a girl 🙂 is doing really well. He will remain on a very low dose (1mg every 3rd day) of prednisone for the rest of his life. The ED vet said its almost a placebo dose but clearly just a enough tweaking to keep the condition at bay.
The ED vet went really hard on Indy with very high dosage of preds and a super slow reduction in dose. By a 1/4 every 4 weeks. The vet said this is the only way to ensure it didn’t come back quickly. It ran a toll on him for sure; his nature changed and was like a different dog.
I do hope your boy pulls through. It really is a terrible and frightening condition that I wish more pet parents were aware of 🙁
Your story is giving me a bit of faith! My poor pup (evangaline 7 month old cane corso) is hospitalized with meningitis (so they think) and is being treated with harsh steroids. I have been so worried and heartbroken. She is my service dog and i am terrified of all the things that could happen. I just want my baby to come home….
Thank you for sharing your story to the public, and please keep evangaline in your prayers..
I am sorry to hear your pup Evangaline may have meningitis. I hope she is doing better.
After our 15 yr old Doberman male passed in July, we decided to get another pup from the same breeder. The breeder had just given all the puppies their first round of shots 3 days before we brought him home. We have 4 middle aged female rescues at home. About days later he had some occasional vomiting and was a bit lethargic.Then that resolved and he developed fever and I took him to the vet. Vet wasn’t sure what was wrong, but gave him a steroid shot, Benadryl and Flocillin. That night I thought we were going to lose him. His fever spiked, we were wetting paws and ears with cold rags and giving water by syringe. I took him in for sub cutaneous hydration the next day and he stayed on Clavamox for a week, and luckliy he is fine now.
Fast forward 2 weeks now, and I wake up and my 6.5 yr old beloved mixed breed, Amber is sleeping in her own vomtius (in my bed of course) , and has urinated on herself. Last night, she was fine, ate well, took a nice evening stroll, and went to sleep at MN. By morning, she was squinting as if the light bothered her eyes, not wanting to move, jumpy and lethargic. At the vet she was ataxic, and almost fell over. Almost like the Dobie pup 2 weeks ago. I took her to the vet.She got the same, Depo Medrol, Flocillin, and Cerinia and a packet of Clavamox to be continued. It has been 8 hrs now, and she wont eat, but did get her to take some cold water. I’s swear it sounds like a meningitis form, but almost like the pup gave it to her. She was up to date on her shots, and no poisons lying around. Is there a virus that can act like meningitis? The pup doesnt seem to have any residual problems. Amber has just been sleeping all day besides a little water. Hoping it will pass by morning. Vets were again vexed.
Hi Laura, It is terrible to read what you have been experiencing!!! I do not know of any other condition that is like Meningitis and it’s symptoms; although their are various forms of meningitis…bacterial and also another kind that is spread through a parasite. My boy has the steroid responsive kind. So his is 100% treated with steroids alone. which is also not contagious to other animals or humans. But I must admit I do not know if the bacterial or parasite kind is contagious??? Worth asking the vet though.
Please let me know how Amber goes (that is the name actually of my other dog!)
We just adopted a female schaunazer dog a month ago. We were suprised to know that she had been under steroids for over 3 months. Her liver enzimas have reached extremely high level and there is an enlargement of her spleen. Therefore, the previous vet has started the reduction of steroids due to the side effect. However, she has started running fever and lost her appetite. Unfortunately, the previous vet could not diagnosed it. So, we decided to take her for a 2nd opinion. The current vet believes is meningitis. They have scanned a CTScan for next week and depending on the results then a CSG. She is only 5 years and the vet said that if meningitis is confirmed the life spam is about 2/3 years old. Have you heard about it? Additional to steroids, what other type of medication can be given?
I know that the bacterial meningitis can give a dog a very short lifespan. However, the steroid responsive meningitis is much easier to manage. My sisters dog also had steroid responsive meningitis and she lived to 15-16 years old! So I think each dog’s journey is different depending on their diet, early treatment & drug dosage etc. As for medication I only know of steroid working to control the condition. However, I also give my dogs a very natural diet and keep them away from stress. Stress I have found has put a spike in Indy’s condition.
Hi! Im so sorry you went through all that … o was wktha my baby in annelevator and there was a dog there and i asked if he was ok and they told me he had meningitis i asled if it was contagious and he said itnwas auto immune andnthat itnwasnt but still incouldnt help but worry about my baby and my 2 dogs…. i find your story helpful but i keep gettiing mixed reviewd feom what i read in the internet becaus esome say it is contagious and some say its not .. so now im just really worried as im nkt sure
It’s ok Adriana….it is not like the human meningitis which is contagious. It is an autoimmune condition that you can not catch 🙂
Our Boston terrier Finnbar has just been diagnosed with meningitis. I am frightened for him and worried sick. Thanks for the article , it has helped. I just hope he gets well.
I am so sorry your dig has just been diagnosed. It is a bumpy ride for a while but if your pup responds to treatment things should settle down.
I just lost my precious Nemo today and after reading your blog, I feel strongly it could have possibly been to Meningitis. He had a very stiff neck, yelped at times, was unable to stand on his own without stumbling after a while, he was eating but not drinking water, trembled and had a eye twitchy thing going on, he also seemed “gone” when looking at his eyes. He used potty on his own but could only stand for a bit.. I am so angry and sad that the vet did not rule out this ugly disease and sent him off with NSAIDs for a slipped disc. I wish I would have read this blog earlier. I am also sad that I did not know about this.
I am so very very sorry that you have lost Nemo. What you have described sounds so much like Indy (including the slipped disc “diagnosis”).
It truly breaks my heart when I read of pets that are misdiagnosed and lives lost to this terrible condition. This too could have been Indy and the reason I shared his journey; in the hope more dogs lives could be saved :(.
My thoughts are with you xxx
Thank you for writing about your experience,we are at the start of treatment for morris, our year old whippet. He presented with pain and high temperature three times, the second time we had a csf tap with a negative result. But after painkillers for a few weeks was back to normal. Then about three months later presented with the same symptoms. This time was treated as srma despite not repeating tests as the vets don’t think it is anything else. He has started his steroids but we have already had to go back a step as he doesn’t seem himself. He is better than he was but I don’t have my morris back yet. It’s encouraging to read that indy took a few weeks to start returning to himself, as I think I assumed that the steroids would instantly bring back normal morris. So hopefully we will see an improvement soon. It’s so heartbreaking to see my bubbly, playful pup so disengaged with myself, my other dogs and the world itself. It seems like there is such a lack of information out there for what to expect during treatment. He is so quiet and reluctant to do pretty much anything. And that scares me, he looks so depressed all the time. Hopefully an even more gradual reduction of steroid dosage will help his progress and bring my boy back.
So thank you for sharing your experiences, it helps when you are dealing with a disease that requires trial and error and no one has hard and fast rules. I hope indy maintains good health, and that everyone else going through this gets the best results possible.
Since he has responded well to the steroids the vets will be able to direct you how to slowly reduce to a management dose (or if Morris is lucky no steroids at all!). When the dose lowers that is when you will start to see the old Morris 🙂
Seeing them so depressed and disengaged is very heartbreaking; I know.
All the best with Morris and let us know how he goes.
I just wanted to give you an update on Morris. He is now onto steroids every other day (second to last dosage) and I have my Morris back! It took about a month before I could see Morris coming back to himself, but as it’s so subjective the vets could not give me any other advice apart from continuing with the steroids and waiting to see how it developed. He was supposed to have his booster at Christmas but we have held off until he is off the steroids (under veterinary recommendation) just in case as there is anecdotal evidence of links between vaccination and relapse.
We found that he has been super hungry, lost all his muscle and weight in the first couple of weeks and it has severely affected his skin. Now he is on this much lower dose the side affects are reducing considerably.
It has not been a smooth ride with him but we are nearing the end (I hope). Hopefully others going through the earlier stages of this horrendous disease can take some comfort from his story, as a few months ago I wasn’t even sure we would still have him. My heart goes out to everyone else doing battle with SRMA.
Thank you so much for giving us an update on Morris’s progress. That is such wonderful news to read and I am so happy to see he is doing well!
Yes the early days are just so bumpy and seems like such slow progress…but like Indy, Morris is getting their 🙂
Thank you for sharing. My duck tolling retriever has been battling with meningitis for 4 months now. It has been great to see her gradually becoming her bouncy, happy self again but unfortunately she has had several relapses. We are now back up to the full dose after patiently bringing it down to a quarter. Longer walks seem to have triggered the symptoms. It’s very upsetting to go back to the beginning again, I really hope she can get through this.
It is interesting how each dog is different; yet all have a similar issue that something triggers the symptoms again. For Indy it is “stressful” situations; ones that he finds stressful (eg attending a large dog walk with hundreds of dogs). I hope she is doing better now and you are working out what works and does not for your pup.
I am in the middle of this horrible experience. My Louie, a 5 month old Teddy Bear, was a normal into everthing pup one minute and within a half an hour he went down hill. I immediately took him to my vet. He sent me to an er vet. That night I had to leave my critically ill baby in their hands. Yesterday hevwas transfered to their sister er that had a mri machine. He wad quicly diagnosed with meningitis. He had a mri, spinal tap and a whole batch of different tests done. As of today he is starting to come around. Sitting uo and doing a little walking but still in the er. My heart is breaking seeing the little angel so sick. He is still not responding to my voice, his eyes are starting to track. I cant believe how fast this came on. Any encouragement you can give me would be gratly appreciated?
Carolyn I am so very very sorry that you Louie has been struck down so quickly by Meningitis. I hope he is starting to show some improvement…the one thing I know personally and have heard from many other fur-parents is not to give up to early. They can go worse before they get better. I wondered if Indy would ever be like his old self ever again….but in time he was. He is now doing really well.
Thank you so much for sharing your story. My 10-month old, pit/lab puppy is currently spending the night at a specialty clinic and will have a spinal tap tomorrow morning to confirm meningitis. Sadie was spayed while we were on vacation and was fine when we picked her up last Tues. afternoon. Wednesday morning she was extremely lethargic, could not easily move her head or bend down enough to eat. She was also running a low fever. Our vet treated with antibiotics, but Sadie did not improve. I did some research on my own and came across several articles about canine meningitis. Her symptoms seemed to fit the profile. As we ruled other things out, our vet agreed that meningitis was a definite possibility. We all agreed this morning that Sadie should see a neurologist as soon as possible. Luckily, she was able to be seen today at a clinic about 90 min. away. I am praying that we are starting treatment early enough and that Sadie recovers completely. I miss her fun and crazy personality!
I am so glad that you got onto the diagnosis so quickly. This is why I did Indy’s story; to help people “discover” this terrible condition before it is too late. Sadly many vets do miss the symptoms….mainly because they fit so many other more common conditions. Please let us know how Sadie is going.
Hello All – our little Maltese was diagnosed with MUA in 2014, went on steroid treatment and fortunately made a complete recovery.
Mr Cherubini, a specialist in Veterinary Neurology stated at the time that ‘due to anecdotally reported relapse associated with routine vaccination, we suggest avoidance of any further ‘booster’ vaccinations – unless extremely necessary or in the case of an outbreak of some of the diseases fir which we do vaccinate’
I have paid for a blood test to check her current immunity, if that comes back negative I will have to decide whether to risk vaccination.
Has anyone else been advised to avoid boosters?
Yes, my vet has recommended we look at Titre testing from now on; she is very cautious about giving him vaccinations. Amber had her 1st booster – which last 3 years; I will be testing her levels in 3 years. As for Indy who has been diagnosed with Meningitis he has only had his 1st year vaccination (he had a 3 yearly one) so is not technically due until next year. I plan to test him at that time.
Hello all, thank you for adding me to this group! I need some advice for tomorrow as I am pretty convinced our baby girl has a meningitis of some variety. Most of the classic symptoms, 1.5yr old pekingese, our loving cuddle bug is so lethargic, psuedo-anorexia, bouts of vomiting, leg twitching, awkward gate, and the like but the eye movements and gazes have done me in. Developed after a food change last weekend so we assumed sensitivity, behaved accordingly to no avail. Three days of symptoms caused an early morning trip to the vet weds. We’ve been treating for gastrointestinal since but after listing all symptoms I’m strongly convinced. I’m concerned about my vet running us through the diatribe when I want to start steroids asap and move on to CSF testing once we’re home as we’re prepping to move from Colorado to Florida this month!!! My wife has 12 yrs vet tech experience with our vet in Florida and I want all treatments coming from them as they’re trusted and fAir. Also, finances are tighter than usual with a cross-country move. Advice on getting straight to the business with the temporary Vet? Thank you!
I am so sorry to read what your going through right now with your little dog. Have you been able to convince the vet? I can appreciate that the vet might not want to rush into a CSF test as it does come with a number of risks. But is necessary to do to confirm meningitis. At the end of the day you know you dog better than anyone so just say you want the test done along with starting steroids. My dog was also put on a special antibiotic (incase it was the bacterial kind of meningitis) that can go through the brain barrier until the test results returned. So maybe discuss that also. Just to be on the safe side. Let us know how you go!
My 3 month old puppy was diagnosed with meningitis a few days ago. We were lucky we caught it early, he had no other symptoms than seisures, and he was very well in himself outside of the fits. He seems to be responding well to all of medications, but has less energy, is very hungry and thirsty and wees a lot! But I’m feeling positive with how he’s progressing and I’m keeping my fingers crossed
Hi Kate, I am so glad to hear you were able to catch the condition early and that he is responding so well to treatment! Yep Indy had the same side effects. But once the steroid dosage is reduced he will start to go back to normal. Thank you for letting us all know how he is responding to treatment; it is so important that people know that many dogs pull through Meningitis. Let us know how he goes. Cheers Nikki
My dog became ill on his 1st birthday. He started vomiting and was very lethargic. Within a few hours he was being sick every 20 minutes and couldn’t walk without stumbling and crashing into things. We rushed him to the vet who gave him fluids and everything else. They tested for meningitis the next day and said it didn’t look good and told us to prepare to lose him. They started him on high dose steroids and after a few days he gradually got a little bit better. He wouldn’t eat on his own for almost a week and wouldn’t even lift his head from the ground. He stayed in the vets for almost 2 weeks but was allowed to come home when he could eventually walk again. It was the happiest moment when he took his first steps again. It was like he was learning to walk all over again. The vet recommended the same treatment (lowering the steroid dose very gradually) he had lost a lot of weight during his time in the vets so it wasn’t a big deal that the medication made him gain weight. It is now 8 months since he became ill and he is 100% back to his old self. You would never know anything had ever been wrong with him. The vet recommended not getting any more vaccines for him as this can trigger the meningitis to return. You just have to stay hopeful but it really is an awful thing for you to go through. Anyone who has a dog recently diagnosed, just know it can get better!
Hi Sophie, Thank you so much for sharing your success story. I have received so much response from desperate dog owners who are going through the very stressful beginning; it is nice to finally hear some good news that my readers can get further encouragement from.
It is a long bumpy road but when they are stable it is like nothing ever happened 🙂
Interesting what your vet said regarding vaccinations. My vet is also concerned about vaccinating Indy again. He had the 3 yearly one done and is not “due” until next year. I will be doing titer testing on him and Amber from now on. Fingers crossed they have received another puppy vaccine to cover them for life. We don’t have the rabies vaccine in Australia – but I have also read some devastating links to that and meningitis.
My little jack Russell Sassy only 2 years old was diagnosed with meningitis back in August 2016 after many weeks of vets visits, initially they thought she had a back problem, it was an MRI scan that showed the inflammation of the spinal fluid. Sassy was prescribed prednisolone 5mg per day, after 2 days it was like a miracle, her symptoms were relieved and so was I. After a few months we reduced the meds to 2.5mg once a day and again one month later we reduced it to 2.5 mg every 48 hours. It was then we realised that Sassy’s symptoms were returning so we upped the dose to 2.5 kg every 24 hours, she was ok for two weeks and then the horrid symptoms returned again!!!
We are now back on the full 5 mg dose of prednisolone and 25 mg of Atopica also known as Ciclosporin. We are on day two and so far the symptoms haven’t been relieved, I’m am so anxious so see her suffering and wanted to know if anyone else has tried this combo of drugs and how long it took to work.
Hi Linda, I am sorry to hear that Sassy has been diagnosed with Meningitis. Indy is only on Prednisolone. I am not aware of the drug Atopica/Ciclosporin helping Meningitis patients? I too would be interested if anyone else has found this product to help.
Indy too has had a few flare ups of Meningitis symptoms – for Indy it seemed to happen around the time I reduce the pred dosage and also when a “stressful” event occurred. EG: I took him and Amber to a HUGE dog walk raising $ for a shelter. There were thousands of people and dogs. They had fun but I think on a whole it was too much for him and within days the symptoms returned. It occurred a second time; this was a less stressful event but it was a new place I took him. Again the symptoms returned.
Each time I called the specialist who confirmed my suspicion that it was connected. He said that he had seen it happen far to many times not to believe it was connected. So I was thinking maybe think back when you were reducing the dosage did anything happen that could have helped contribute.
Please let me know how Sassy goes.
As a physician, I recognized some of the signs of meningitis in our 11 month old Dane mix, but they didn’t become certain until very late in his course. When he started to look unusual, we took him to the vet and found no explanation for his condition. He’d had some diarrhea, but was resolving. No fever, no white count, no chemical shift in blood profile, nothing. He continued to eat, pee, and poop, but his neurologic deficits continued, most concerning to me of which was squinting and light sensitivity. He was placed on antibiotics, and he remained relatively stable until yesterday, when he suddenly had difficulty with walking, standing, and seemed to be favoring his neck. We rushed him back to the vet (for the 4th time in 4 straight days), and the subspecialty veterinarians continued to baffled by his presentation — particularly absence of fever and other usual signs of acute illness. He was kept in the hospital overnight, for close monitoring, and MRI/CSF sampling to be done today. Sadly, at 2AM last night, he went into sudden cardiac arrest and he was lost. We are devastated.
In retrospect, I’m not sure anyone could take a different approach given his unusual presentation. But high dose steroids and heavy hitting antibiotics may have helped. But hindsight is 20/20 and our poor boy is no longer suffering. From a human-medicine perspective, this presentation was highly unusual, and none of the symptoms of meningitis seemed to fit. But this is really the only possible diagnosis for him: viral or granulocytic/fungal meningitis.
I feel for everyone else who has dealt with this. We are crushed.
I am so very very sorry to read what your beautiful dog went through and to finally have such a devastating outcome. Meningitis can be difficult to diagnose in the very early days and I am saddened that Meningitis has taken yet another pup.
Thank you for telling us your story as I truly believe that it is so important for many more fur-parents to be aware of this condition and the symptoms so that hopefully more dogs can be saved.
My thoughts are with you 🙁
My 4 year old dachshund mix was diagnosed with meningitis about 8 hours ago. It’s been a long past couple weeks… Symptoms ranged all over the place (lack of appetite, fever, ulcers on tongue, then to insatiable appetite and a bloody nose). We went to the vet 4x prior to this most recent hospitalization. Never got a formal diagnosis until today… We just were treating the various symptoms. Yesterday, thought she had a turn for the better until she had a seizure. Rushed her to the emergency vet where they kept her overnight for monitoring until the specialists could see her and more testing could be done. She has several seizures overnight. They did an MRI and csf eval and confirmed meningitis. She started steroids and a 16 hr infusion of cytosar earlier today. Plus she’s on two anti-seizure meds. I’m a mess. I made her a DNR… Praying she remains stable through the night and responds to treatment come morning time…
I am very sorry to read that your pup has been diagnosed. I hope she has started to respond to treatment?
I tought my dog have Meningitis. Symptoms are same you described. I adopted him, i found him abandoned in a street, very sick in last April. He had a strange kind of fungus in skin..long term treatment. After finished he got flu…i turn my laundry into a emergency room for him…recovered…weeks later (10 days ago) he started tilting their head..and got worse. Diagnosis are bad here (no MR or Tomo here) but i and my vet suspect are meningitis. He prescribed some corticoids for him. I felt he got better. Now he dont walk but always hungry and eat or water is not a problem. Other behavior is his legs muscles are super rigid and if i show food he relax…this is my only window now between me and him.Sooner he eats, turn rigid and his eyes look to nowhere again. I will never give up from Pupi…and yes is an very emotional rollercoaster. Just sharing this to let go a piece of this from my shoulders…and encourage others to continue. Today is day 11 from our battle. Thanks, Rodrigo – Brazil.
Thank you for sharing your story! We have a Duck Tolling Retriever – Fletcher who was diagnosed with SRMA 3 weeks ago, he’s 18 months old. We had to visit the vet 3 times in 3 days before we were referred to a specialist who inferred meningitis straight away. We knew it was something more than just an infection like originally diagnosed. Fletch is responding well to the Steroids and is on 40mg per day…we have an appointment at the vet tomorrow to see how things are tracking. The hardest part for us is the total personality change. Fletch is usually just like your Indi – full of beans and very cheeky. I work from home and he usually follows me around the house. These days he sits by himself in another room sleeping. He perks up for walks but still doesn’t run or chase and won’t walk far. His biggest change is he seems to hate other dogs at the moment. Usually he is the annoying pup wanting to say hi to every fur friend he meets but he is not interested in any other dogs at the moment.
The hunger and excessive drinking/weeing is manageable but it’s so heartbreaking that we seem to have lost our lovable goof. Hopefully as we start to reduce the dose he will start bouncing around stealing all my favourite underwear again!
There is a support group for his breed on Facebook that might be helpful to others who read your blog – I know I have had lots of people contact me giving me advice and sharing positive experiences which I found really helpful.
Tollers with auto immune and cancer support group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1463900193893308/
Hopefully some others can find some comfort here, best wishes to you all and your fur friends. Love Fletch and Kat xx
Hi Kat and Fletch! I am relieved that your specialist was able to quickly diagnose Meningitis. A timely diagnosis means a lot in terms of a positive response to treatment. Yes I know 110% just how you are feeling right now with your boys personality change. I truly felt that I was now left with a dog thats personality was a shell of his former self. He hated his big sister Amber so much that I was heartbroken that this might be how it is now. Amber was so desperate to play whilst Indy just growled and snapped at her. Indy has reduced to 1mg every 3 days and this will now be his life long maintenance dose. I would have preferred to get him down to nothing, but, each patient is different and responds differently. For Indy each time I reduced it lower then his current dose his personality changed. He became quiet and depressed. The specialist was always so worried the meningitis was raising it’s head again. But even with a very low does Indy has returned to his old self 🙂 I know that your boy will return. It just takes a little bit of time.
Thank you for the facebook link I will have a look 🙂 Hopefully others will see it also and find comfort they are not alone.
My four year old French bulldog Aja has just been diagnosed with meningitis and it is just going up and down all the time. I feel so bad for her, last night she had an attack where she could not breath nor move and she vet herself. I really hope she will do better in sometime. I just love her so much sometimes I wonder if it is for my own sake that we keep on fighting this nasty sickness or for hers.
Regards Annesofie, Denmark
Unfortunatly she did not live through the night ?
I am so very very sorry to read that your Aja has not survived this terrible condition. It really does break my heart to read another beautiful soul taken. My thoughts are with you xx
My pooch Minnie border was diagnosed October 2015 with steroid responsive meningitis when she was 11 months old … Managed to get her down to 2.5mg every 3rd day then she relapsed so currently back on 5mg every other day. Does anyone else experienced separation issues with dogs that’s had or got meningitis?
I am very sorry to read that your dog Minnie has steroid responsive meningitis. I have found that with Indy when he has had a relapse it has been a week or two after decreasing the steroids and he might have a stressful experience; for example, dropped the meds and 1 week later we attended a massive dog walk to raise money for the RSPCA. Indy seemed to find the event a bit overwhelming. 2 days later he relapsed. The specialist confirmed that this type of thing happens more often then not to consider it linked.
So now when I reduce his medication I ensure for a few weeks afterwards Indy’s routine is without any change or stress. Fingers crossed that keeps working. As for separation issues? I’m not sure, Indy does not cope well on his own but I don’t know if that is just Indy’s personality?
I would love to also know if anyone else can answer your question!
Thank you for sharing your story. Our beautiful seven month old Snuffey died peacefully last week. we went to specialists, and the vets a million times. She was given steroids each time and would bounce back after a couple of days but we did find over time in between shots that she was getting worse and worse and slower and slower. Slept alot and was quieter. We only see this now, now that she is gone. We went the homeopath way as well. I have just had a report sent through and it appears Snuffey had a post vacinnation meningitus. Apartently toy dogs are having severe reactions to the Leptoguard vacinnation as it is very “live”. She got sick a day or two after each shot and never got better. She had neurological symptoms like a tilted head, one of her eyes would sink in her head, her back legs wouldn’t work properly and when she could walk it was like she was croacked. I am so pleased we let her sleep when she needed to, gave her lots of cuddles and at times feed her with a syringe. She was very loved to the end when she passed away quickly and peacefully. Her little body had had enough.
I am so heartbroken to have read the passing of your dog Snuffey. Meningitis is a terrible condition and each dog seems to have a different journey. RIP sweet Snuffey xxx
I am so sorry to read about Indy! My dog Beverly (Bevi) was just diagnosed with Meningitis. She had 2 seizures which were around 5 minutes long with a break of around 5 minutes in between. She had an MRI & a spinal tap. I am going to make an appointment at the vet ASAP. It is likely that I am going to go the homeopathic route as it is a lot safer. Her bones cannot take steroids and antibiotics are so hard on the system.
I hope all goes well!
All the best,
Oh Janie I am soooo sorry to read this! They say everything has just 6 degrees of separation…I hoped this would not be the case for Meningitis. Yes I know I have been struggling with the idea of Indy being on Steroids, especially since I try to keep their diet etc so chemical free (and raw :)). It was 100% though the only option for Indy, it did save his life. He did not need to remain on antibiotics as his was not bacterial. His dose is decreasing slowly, I hope he will be steroid free in the near future. PI know how hard you work on keeping your babies as chemical free and natural as possible, please let me know how Bevi goes. All the best Nikki
Thank you for sharing Indy’s story and continually answering people. My dog Boomer was just diagnosed with Meningitis. While I do not doubt the diagnosis, my vet (actually Neurologist) said that he does not have Bacterial Meningitis. He has steroid responsive meningitis. Yet, he still sent him home on a very powerful course of antibiotics as well as steroids. They also said to restrict all activity for 2 weeks. I hate to have Boomer on medication he may not need as it is rough on his stomach. He must feel sick just being on Steroids and antibiotics. My feeling is if it is not bacterial according to the spinal tap, although he did not send it out he only looked at it, why have him suffer with more medicine. The other question I have is if you had restrictions on activity. My feeling is to let Boomer do what Boomer feels like doing. I am not saying I will be running him in a 5k but he loves his walks so much. I want to take him on walks. What is your feeling on this?
It is a better diagnosis that he has Steroid Responsive rather than Bacterial which more difficult to control. In regards to the steroids…it is 100% what saved Indy’s life! I know it is a horrible medication. But for many dogs they only need to remain on it at a high dose for a few months and gradually reduce to either a minimal dosage or none by around 12 months. My Indy has had a few hicks ups as he dose gets very very low and he keeps having to go back onto it; but not a high dose like when originally diagnosed. The vet is starting to consider he may require a very small dose for ever (possibly 1/2mg every 3 days); but once again we are dropping the dose over a few months and touching base with the specialist for guidance. I would naturally prefer him to be on nothing; but sometimes that just is not the case. Your vet will likely stop the antibiotics once it is 100% confirmed not bacterial.
For his tummy I would try and get him onto some probiotics to help the tummy lining. As foul smelling as it is I give Indy (and my other girl Amber) “Lamb Green Tripe” every day. Not sure where you live and what product you can get your hands on; but I offer raw/frozen “K9 Natural” from NZ. My sister’s dog who was diagnosed with Meningitis years before Indy used to have “Slippery Elm” sprinkled into her food. Both products are so good on the gut and colon.
In regards to activity. You will find that the high dose Boomer has probably been prescribed will mean he actually will not want to do anything at all! Indy was like a shell of himself; sad, depressed and grumpy! I was panicking that this was his new personality; but I can 100% say that once the dose reduced, the Indy I knew came back. He is now totally like his normal self; he does not feel sick that is for sure. I would give Boomer the 2 weeks to get over the spinal tap. That is a major procedure and the last thing he needs is strain on his neck if going for a walk and pulling etc. Please don’t give up on him if he must remain on the steroids for a little while yet.
I wish you all the best and if I can offer anymore details on Indy’s journey please let me know. 🙂
Hi Folks, thank you for sharing your stories. We are getting very discourage with our sweet pups illness. He has been diagnosed with meningitis. He started his treatment 3 days ago. When can we expect to see any sort of improvement?
I found with Indy it took a couple of weeks for him to really seem better. But it took months for him to become is old self; that was only once the steroids were reduced. Hopefully some of our readers will give some feedback on how their own dogs journey went in the beginning. Each dog is different. Please let us know how your dog goes.
Thank you so much for this article of hope. I’ve found nothing but scary horrific articles on this horrible disease that is currently affecting my beautiful 9-month old black labrador, Poppy. We caught it very early and started treatment immediately, her MRI was perfect but she has moderately high cells in her spinal fluid. It is heartbreaking although I have faith that she is going to get through it.
My thoughts and prayers are with all dogs and owners going through this terrifying ordeal.
Hi Hazel, I am so glad that you are being so positive. Most dogs do pull through, especially when diagnosed and treated early, it is a long road to recovery and so many feel like it will never end. But I know that for Indy, even though he did become like a shadow of himself (both in weight and then in personality) he finally started to become his old self again (around 6 months after the steroids had been reduced) and he is now 12 months later 100% his cheeky self. I would love to know how Poppy’s journey goes. Please keep us all up to date. It is amazing how many dogs are diagnosed with this condition. Early and aggressive treatment with steroids is the key!
Thank you for sharing our story.Certainly sounds similar to ours. I am in the middle of researching and so glad I found your ‘little ray of sunshine’. Our nearly 3 year old may have meningitis. The last test should return tomorrow to see if it may be valley fever. All I know is our boxer Daisy is in a lot of pain. Can’t pin point an area. Or just when we think we have it’s no longer as sensitive. All of her muscles are so tensed that her back is arched. Poor girl. I hope we can get her diagnosed and treated soon. Even the pain killers just aren’t enough to keep her comfortable. But no fever, but she seems to get soooo cold at times and just shivers.
Hi Toni, I have never heard of valley fever? But I sure know how unforgiving meningitis is for a dog. It is heartbreaking and if it is meningitis I would think the shivering is one of the same symptoms Indy had. Has the vet started steroids yet? The one thing Indy’s vet did after doing an spinal tap was start treating both forms with antibiotics (not the usual kind the one that penetrates the brain) and steroids. Once they worked out it was the steroid responsive kind they stopped the antibiotics. Please let me know what Daisy is finally diagnosed with and if you have any other questions please just ask. If I can help I will.
My baby, Poppy, a six year old Lhasa Also had spinal surgery 3 weeks ago after a herniated disc was diagnosed, she was slow to recover but made progress and regained the use of her back legs, she developed an ulcer on her eye and had a stitch put in to keep the eye closed and help in heal, the stitch came out two days ago. She was walking and getting stronger and was due to come out of hospital yesterday evening but the vet called yesterday morning and said she was going down hill and they believed she has meningitis, we went to see her yesterday evening and it was devastating, I feel so helpless. They started her on steroids yesterday, we pray for some improvement in the morning. She should have another MRI in the morning to confirm diagnosis/rule out anything else.we are so afraid for her. I can’t sleep with the worry and we miss her so much but know they are doing all they can for her. Has anyone else had experience of a dog developing meningitis after spinal surgery? I’m clutching at straws right now
Hi Laurie, I am sorry to hear the terrible journey Poppy is going through. It is interesting that you say about spinal surgery and meningitis. They actually thought Indy had a disc issue initially because he yelped when his spine was pushed, he was given anti-inflammation medication. It seemed to settle, so I arranged to have him neutered a few weeks later. Suddenly all the symptoms returned but much much worse. He was going down hill so fast, after spinal tap they worked out not a spinal issue but rather Meningitis. High steroids is what saved Indy. He has been on them (reducing every couple of months) for the last 12 months. Please don’t give up on Poppy. I know with Indy I was wondering if he would ever be the same again. He was like a totally different dog. Depressed, cranky and did not want to be touched. As the steroids was reduced, around the 6 month mark he started to become his old self again. Indy is still on steroids 1 year later but the dosage is very very low. He is 100% back to his old self! If you are not seeing a specialist that treats Meningitis I highly recommend that you do. It is a touch and go condition but if managed well you can have a good outcome. Please let me know how she goes.
It is comforting to read all your stories. Our little furry boy Rusty started getting weak in his hind legs then gradually the front legs and unable to lift his head or wag his tail. He looked very miserable. We took him to a second vet yesterday, the other thought it was his spine and put him on anti inflammatory. By yesterday he could barely stand or walk and was not interested in food and had trouble swallowing. The vet recommended antibiotics and to give him water every hour. After seeing him in hospital we decided to leave him there to be put on a drop. We researched Meningitis and contacted the Vet after reading Indie and Coopers story. He has been commenced on the Steroids as well as the Antibiotic. Curiously like Cooper he does not have a Temperature and so far no fits. We are both in a state of shock as it happened so quickly
I am so very saddened to hear about your boy Rusty and his possible Meningitis diagnosis. Yes this disease can be very quick. I am so relieved that you spotted Indy’s story and suggested Meningitis to the vet. Early treatment is so important. Please let us know how Rusty goes with his treatment.
Thank you so much for sharing your story. Our 5mth old lurcher is having his mri / spinal tap this morning – meningitis is top of the list. Such a shock. My thoughts go out to all owners and dogs that have gone through this. x
I am so very sad to hear that your pup has to experience a spinal tap 🙁 I hope it went well? Please let us know the outcome. xx
I’m glad to find your post, and happy that your pup is doing good! We were lucky to get a quick diagnosis. Our boxer mix pup showed signs yesterday morning, and by mid-afternoon, I made a vet appointment. She was lethargic, didn’t eat or drink, whimpered, though I couldn’t find a tender spot. Had I found your blog during the morning while I was looking for what might be wrong, I would have made the appt immediately! Your dog’s symptoms were spot on with mine.
But the good news is that she was given Clavamox and Metacam and was eagerly eating at 930p that night and lifting her head for the first time. She has the bacterial form. This morning she is almost back to normal, though if she bends her neck she yelps. We weren’t told about any continued treatment, other than the two weeks of anti-inflammatories. I wanted to give an outcome for this form for those who find your very helpful blog.
Thanks for posting it!
I am so glad to read your dog is doing much better and that my Indy’s story has been of some help! Please let me know how your girl goes 🙂
My dog was 11 when she got her meningitis after having her vaccinations. (shes always been a little over-weight, never turned her nose up at food and is a whippet) At first she got really ill; wouldn’t get up straight be in pain eating, drinking, walking etc. We went to our vets and they didn’t know what were wrong except all her organs were as healthy as a 6 year old dogs’. So we put her on steroids and were told at first it couldn’t be meningitis or cancer *sigh of relief*. She started getting better, happier and then after 3 weeks she couldn’t even get out of her basket. We took her back and upped her steroids and giving tramadol. Small miracles started to happen but no good changes. She could eat a little but always brought it up again later in the week, walks were now a once a week event. After an inconclusive MRI and blood scan as well as a bunch of other scans. It took nearly 1 year to finally get referred to a specialist and our vet realised she couldn’t find out what was wrong, after which my dog was so ill and high temperature and very clingy as well as near on 10 visits to the same vet. After five days in the specialist we were then given a letter telling us what caused it and how she will cope. The meningitis was caused by an allergic reaction to her booster jabs. Now an some very good steroids and tramidols which we have now been able to lower down to every other day *woop* she runs like a bullet again and eats whilst keeping to a healthy weight. I still worry about the day the pills no longer work or her engine burns out because of the steroids and the great advice and knowledge we finally received I’m happy with the way she is and even more happy to know what it is. Shes been at her happiest since the specialist visits and continue to get happy even with a few bold patches and a few new grey hairs.
I remember reading the letter and seeing that she need a complex carb (?) diet as well as vitamin B rich food. My mum (used to racing greyhounds in her younger years and being a kennel made throughout most of her 20s) said ‘how the hell am i gonna shove bread down her throat on a daily basis’. Throughout all of it my mum was there with the jokes, the chocolate and tissues. I’ve had my baby girl since i was 7 and was the most scared to hear she had meningitis. When she was younger she’d run along the mud flat so fast she’d end up running on water. She’d jump of the pier and roll around in the sand. Chasing rabbits and getting stuck under beach huts. I’m just glad shes getting her ‘need for speed’ back even if it means minus the antics.
It is very sad to read that it took so long to diagnose your dogs Meningitis. Old age Meningitis is quite rare as it usually affects young dogs around the age of 1 year. With that said my sister’s dog also was mature aged, the vet at the time was so surprised he wrote a thesis about it! Thank you for sharing your story with all of us and I hope you girl has many more years with you 🙂
Thanks so much for sharing your story! Like you mentioned, it’s quite difficult to find good and specific information about dog meningitis online. It’s also great to hear that Indy is doing so well, and it gives me hope for our pet.
Our 8-month old Corgi puppy was just diagnosed with meningitis. His CSF is still in the lab (for over a week now…), so we’re unsure of the cause, but he has responded really well to his prescriptions of prednisone (steroids), Enrofloxacin (Baytril), and Clavamox (both antibiotics). At this point we’re still not sure if it’s Steroid-responsive or bacterial.
Do you remember if they identified the cell types in Indy’s CSF sample? Our pup Chip had lots of neutrophils in his, and the symptoms sound very similar. While we’re waiting to hear back about whether there might be parasites, bacteria, or fungal agents causing this immune response, I was just hoping to find out more about what the presence of high levels of neutrophils (as opposed to other immune response cell types) in the spine might suggest.
Hi Kevin and Mags! Thank you for your message and I hope Indy’s story has given you hope of your pup getting through this terrible disease. I can not remember what the cell types were however it was finally determined Steroid Responsive Meningitis. After more then 6 months Indy finally stopped steroids a week ago, however, a few days later turned off his food. The specialist decided to er on the cautious side and Indy has gone back onto a very very low dosage of 1mg a day (split am/pm) for a week. Yesterday, dropped back again to 1/2mg once a day. The specialist can not be sure it was Meningitis raising its head again, but we will try again to stop the steroids over the next couple of weeks.
The specialist did say that some small dogs titter along on what is usually considered just a “Pysiological Dose” but it seems to keep the symptoms at bay. Fingers crossed he was just having a off day and in a few weeks can finally be steroid free.
I wish you all the best with your pup. Keep positive, if it is steroid responsive just always remember your pup may be very down and not seem at all anything like your former pooch. But don’t worry he will be his usual self again in time as the dosage is reduced 🙂
Please let me know how he goes.
omg… I think I just lost my 10 year old papillon to meningitis.., just this week…, after reading your blog. The trouble is he was being treated for a soft trachea problem that had just developed. As a result of this he had been having little fits.., waking up because he couldn’t breath but not very often. Then he started having them constantly.., he was on cortisone, heart tablets and diuretics to lose weight as well. He had started to improve after a week or so of this treatment, then he suddenly started vomiting one night. He was unsteady on his feet and hanging his head and doing little yelps.., the Vet wanted to eithanse him pretty much straight away.but ended up giving him a cortisone inejection and antibiotics. after one day on pain killer and sedatives there was no improvement and we felt no other option but to have him put to sleep. It’s been such a shock and I can’t stop crying…! I feel like we could have saved him somehow…., I loved him so much, my little buddy. We just had our other dog euthased 4 weeks although he was quite ill for sometime and it was a blessing in the end.., I feel the universe hates me right now… I will get another Papillon eventually but I need time to grieve.., my beautiful Basil.
I am so very sorry to read about your little boy Basil. Meningitis is a terrible disease that so many people are unaware their dog can contract. And still sadly some vets may not diagnose it early enough before irreversible damage has already occurred. With Indy they had a suspicion it was Meningitis and did a spinal tap. Before the results came back started treating him for both forms with high doses of Steroids and special antibiotics that is the only kind that can penetrate the blood/brain barrier. Indy ended up thankfully with the Steroid responsive kind, which has a much more positive treatment rate.
It is just so heartbreaking for you to have lost two fur-babies in such a short time frame. I too know how you feel, having lost my cat Morticha and my other Papillon Corey only 3 months apart in 2012. I still cry to this day when I think about them. You did everything you knowingly could for Basil, we trust our vets and hope that they can and will make the correct diagnoses early enough and implement treatment. Sadly sometimes they don’t.
Yes in time your own heart will mend just enough to bring a little heartbeat back into your home. Thank you for telling me Basil’s story.
My husband and I got a Masti-Dane puppy at about 10 weeks old. We had struggled with the addition after spending 10 years caring for our beautiful sweet Great Pyronese/Newfoundland mix after a botched knee surgery. Painful as it was, we were trying to heal and move ahead. We aquired the puppy we named Zues at about ten weeks. We took him to our Vet for a checkup and his 2nd set of shots at 12 weeks. He was diagnosed with a yeast ear infection and started on flea and heartworm meds. He was the sweetest loving puppy we could have asked for. We fell head over heels in love with him. We were treating him for the ear infection with Vet prescribed drops. At 13 weeks we came home to a very sick puppy who could barley get up and go outside. He was urinating on himself and would not eat. We took him to the Vet and he was placed on intravenous fluids and monitoring. He also had a very high fever of 105. When we went at the end of the day to check on him, he couldn’t even lift his head and displayed signs of extreme pain even though he was on pain killers. We were devastated. We made the decision to stop the horrendous pain and let him go. We were obsessed with what could have cause this and sent bodily samples to a pathologist to be tested. After many tests that proved negative, the Vet determined that Zues had meningitis. I guess even when you do everything right, sometimes it not enough. We would love to get another dog but are still just in such pain from this. Nothing but sorrow. So sad. This disease is awful.
I am so sorry to read about Zeus. Yes Meningitis is a terribly cruel disease and catches most pet parents by surprise. It seems that the earlier the diagnosis the better the outcome. But because the signs are so non-descriptive it often is overlooked as a number of other conditions. You never forget your fur-babies, but in time your heart will mend just enough to bring another one into your life. Thank you for telling me Zeus’s story 🙁
I’m deeply sorry… I have had dogs or fur babies all my life and it sucks that I’ll was like this can make them suffering and unable to be ok.
Just at 7 months old and after being diagnosed with cough , Scotty was getting super sick , I rushed to the vet ,half day observation his gp requested me to pick him up to take him to emergency urgently after he vomited everything and his back legs were dragging. I am not sure whether it was the Proheart injection or his cough syrup, that his body was fighting . He has meningitis of unknown origin and I am devastated… From a bubbly, gorgeous nature puppy to a lovely dog that can walk properly, eat his food properly and do his morning walks.
My heart goes to all of you , we do so much for them that it is important to stay calm and provide as much love as we can.
HI I just read your post. Our seven month old puppy has just passed away with post vaccination meningitus. Vets specialist have tried to help but only steroids would help and then eventually they stopped working and Snuffey had had enough and died peacefully after a four month illness. We feel bad about vacinating her but you sometimes have no choice. We are getting a new dog and we will wait until nine weeks of age before vacinnating. I do think dogs are over vacinated. Just one in a thousand thing I guess. Sorry to hear about your Zues. I think people like you should have dogs and other people who mis treat them shouldn’t. Dogs definately become part of the family.
Thank you so much for ‘Brandy’s Dedication’.
We still miss her very much each day.
I’m so glad to hear Indy’s doing so well. Keep up the good work Indy !!!
Love DEB and RAELENE
Brandy was a beautiful gentle and CRAZY girl all in one 🙂 We were so happy that Amber had such a gentle friend her age to play with.
I didn’t know dogs could get Meningitis. Best wishes for a smooth recovery.
Before my sisters dog contracted it I also had no idea. It is a terrible disease, however, I am hopeful that since it was diagnosed early and that Indy has responded so well he should be all good in no time. Thank you for your kind message 🙂
How very lucky Indy is to have you as his mum. Thankfully you got a 2nd opinion.
I too was terrified you would loose him . I was so sad for what I thought was going to happen
You are amazing as are the Vets and Specialists all involved with getting your Beautiful Indy back up on his feet.
I was so worried also. Knowing what my sister went through with her dog Rascale years ago and then again recently with my friend with her young dog Brandy, who was not much older than Indy. I was a mess :(. We have a long way yet to go, but little Indy has some of the best specialists around guiding us.
Thank you for sharing your story about Indy. How is he doing now?
My sweet Champ is staying at the emergency clinic overnight tonight following his many tests due to his hind leg weakness. The neurologist suspects meningitis for a variety of reasons and will start him on steroids tomorrow (since he had an anti-inflamatory yesterday). It will be a little while before we know exactly what is wrong. I too have been scouring the web for information and I find your statement that every dog has a different journey with meningitis a relief, actually. Our Champ has so few of the symptoms, but xrays and the CT scan ruled out any spinal problems. He is a rescue dog so I know little about his history except that he was chained up for the first 3 years of his life. And he has small pieces of metal imbedded in his flesh around his back. So he can’t have an MRI. God knows what happened to him. Anyway, thank you for your post. It has given me hope.
Thank you for your message and I do feel for you right now. It is a scary ride and I wish Champ all the very best. And yes each dog’s journey is different and when you read all the scary stuff on the net it can and does make you feel their is no hope.
But I can say that Indy is doing really well, he started on 10mg of prednisone (steroid) a day and for Indy during those high doses he was a totally different dog. He became very quiet, grumpy had zero interest in playing or really anything. I was starting to think that this was how he was going to be from now on. But as the dosage was lowered in .25mg every 4 weeks. He slowly started to become his old ‘pre-meningitis’ dog again.
Now 6 months later he is currently on 1/2mg every 2nd day for the next 4 weeks and then the specialist decides if he comes off totally or the dose is stretched out again further in days. The secret is very small reductions and very very gradual. He has put weight back on (when diagnosed he was only 2.3kg and now a healthy 3.3kg).
Please let me know how Champ goes, and I will keep you both in my thoughts.