How Do Dogs Get Meningitis

Meningitis is a severe and life-threatening condition that affects humans, but did you know that dogs can also suffer from this disease? Yes, it is true! Canine meningitis is a rare but serious condition that pet owners should be aware of. In this article, we will examine how dogs get meningitis, the symptoms to look out for, and the treatment options available to help your furry friend recover.

What is Meningitis?

Meningitis is a condition characterized by inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. The condition can result from bacterial, viral, or fungal infections. Although it is more common in humans, dogs can also suffer from meningitis.

How do Dogs Get Meningitis?

Dogs can get meningitis due to various reasons such as bacterial or viral infections, immune-mediated diseases, cancerous growths (neoplasia), or exposure to toxins. Here are some common causes:

1. Bacterial Infections

Bacterial meningitis is caused by bacteria that invade the protective membranes around the brain and spinal cord. The bacteria enter through wounds, ear infections, sinus infections or other infections in the body. Common bacteria that cause meningitis in dogs include Streptococcus spp., Escherichia coli (E.coli), Klebsiella pneumoniae, and Staphylococcus aureus.

2. Viral Infections

Viral meningitis in dogs is caused by viruses such as canine distemper virus, herpesvirus, parvovirus-2a virus (CPV-2a), adenovirus type 1 (CAV-1), and rabies virus.

3. Immune-Mediated Diseases

Immune-mediated meningitis occurs when a dog’s immune system attacks its own body’s tissues resulting in swelling of the protective membranes around the brain and spinal cord. This type of meningitis may develop as a result of chronic inflammation, allergies, or autoimmune diseases.

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4. Cancerous Growths

Meningitis can also be caused by the spread of cancerous cells from other parts of the body into the protective membranes around the brain and spinal cord. This is referred to as neoplastic meningitis.

5. Exposure to Toxins

Exposure to certain toxins such as lead, insecticides, or pesticides can cause meningitis in dogs.

Symptoms of Canine Meningitis

The symptoms of canine meningitis may vary depending on the underlying cause of the condition. However, some common signs to look out for include:

1. Fever

2. Stiff neck

3. Lethargy

4. Loss of appetite

5. Seizures

6. Head tilt

7. Pain when touched on head or neck area

8. Depression

9. Weakness in limbs

10. Vomiting and diarrhea

11. Increased thirst and urination

12. Sensitivity to light and sound.

If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, it is essential to take them to a veterinarian immediately.

Treatment Options for Canine Meningitis

The treatment options available for canine meningitis depend on the underlying cause of the disease. Here are some common treatment options:

1. Antibiotics: For bacterial meningitis, antibiotics are prescribed to kill off the bacteria causing the infection.

2. Antifungal medication: If fungal infections are responsible for meningitis, antifungal medications are prescribed to treat them.

3. Anti-inflammatory drugs: These are used to reduce inflammation caused by immune-mediated diseases.

4. Chemotherapy: If meningitis is caused by cancerous growths, chemotherapy may be used to shrink or eliminate tumors that have spread around the brain and spinal cord area.

5. Intravenous Fluids: Dogs with severe dehydration may require intravenous fluids as part of their treatment.

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6. Pain Relief Medication: Dogs with meningitis may experience pain, and pain relief medication can be administered to alleviate their discomfort.


Canine meningitis is a severe condition that requires prompt diagnosis and treatment. Pet owners should be aware of the symptoms associated with meningitis and take action immediately if they suspect their furry friend has contracted the disease. With early detection and proper treatment, dogs can recover from meningitis and return to their happy, healthy selves.