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Meningitis in Dogs… Causes, treatments and costs!

We’re not going to sugarcoat this one because, let’s face it, meningitis is a terrifying thing that can happen to both us humans and our canine family members. This is why we wanted to take a moment and discuss what it might be like to own a dog diagnosed with meningitis so that you, as the owner, might have a better understanding of what’s going on and what might happen throughout your dog’s treatment.

After all, the first step in getting your dog better is first understanding what you’re dealing with and then, from there, implementing a plan to get them the best care available, right? So, without further ado, let’s dive right in.

What is meningitis?

To understand what meningitis is, they’ll first need to know that the brain and spinal cord are covered in membranes known as meninges for protection. And what happens with meningitis is that these membranes get inflamed or infected. This can be very dangerous since all communication with your body occurs via the spinal cord and brain.

It’s also essential…

You understood that this infection or inflammation of the meninges differs from encephalitis, which is swelling of the brain rather than the meninges covering it. A combination of the two is called meningoencephalitis, which, as you can imagine, is much worse.

What causes meningitis in dogs?

The most common cause of meningitis in dogs is an infection that is caused by:

  • Bacterial infections,
  • Viral infections,
  • Fungal infections,
  • Or parasites.

This can happen due to a superficial ear infection left untreated or something more severe like rabies or vertebral osteomyelitis. It can also occur after bodily trauma, like a car accident.

Now, just because you, as your dog’s owner, can’t think of a situation in which your dog could have been susceptible to meningitis, this doesn’t mean that situation doesn’t exist. Perhaps your dog had a slight infection, and you didn’t know. They could have also been exposed to a toxin that caused meningitis

Symptoms of Meningitis

Meningitis can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms seem slightly generic – other illnesses have similar symptoms. Still, some of the common ones at the onset of meningitis include:

  • Fever or chills,
  • Weight loss/ lack of appetite,
  • Weakness and overall lack of movement,
  • Sad or depressed demeanor (yes, dogs can get depressed),
  • Lack of interest in regular activities,
  • Low blood pressure,
  • Muscle spasms, cramps, or stiffness,

As the disease progresses, things become much more severe if left untreated. Your dog could even suffer from blindness, seizures, or paralysis. Another type of meningitis your dog may have been exposed to is granulomatous meningoencephalitis, mainly caused by a canine distemper virus.

Diagnosis of Meningitis 

Getting an accurate diagnosis is very important to your dog’s health. If you fail to get your dog diagnosed, it could suffer from many more significant problems like blindness or sudden death. This is why it’s always important to have your dog checked out by a professional whenever you suspect anything is wrong with them. You see, in addition to performing a physical exam on your dog, your vet will also likely order a series of blood tests and check your dog’s cerebrospinal fluid via a spinal tap

After this…

Your veterinarian will decide on an adequate treatment plan depending on the severity. It is likely your dog will have to be hospitalized for stabilization. In some cases, this may not be necessary. Treatment typically involves steroids or corticosteroids and careful watch. This brings us to a good place to remind folks that we at IndulgeYourPet are not doctors, veterinarians, or medical professionals. We are all passionate about animals and only want to see what’s best for them. This is why we always recommend that the moment you feel something isn’t right with your dog, be sure to take them to the vet ASAP!

This way…

You can be sure they are getting the care they need right away, which could mean the difference between life and death: a small vet bill vs. a large one. If there’s one thing we’re sure of around IndulgeYourPet, it is that going to the vet can be expensive. It can get costly when dealing with a severe medical condition like meningitis. This brings us to our next topic, which is…

Cost of Treatment

Meningitis is a severe disease, and recovering from it is not easy. First, the diagnosis process isn’t always clear-cut, especially if you don’t know what viruses or infections your dog suffers from. Second, there will be a lot of lab work to get to a diagnosis – all of that is expensive.

, Diagnosis alone will likely cost between $200-1000. And then that’s when the actual cost of treatment kicks in. Those costs can vary significantly, depending on whether your dog needs to remain overnight in the vet clinic, needs IVs, or just medication.


For your dog to truly recover, be mentally prepared to pay $3000. If it’s anything less than that, you’ll feel more relieved. This brings us to the last topic that we want to encourage you to check out: the possibility of purchasing a pet insurance policy. This way, if your other pets encounter a similar diagnosis or suffer an injury that might also require extensive vet care, you won’t be on the hook for 100% of those costs.

For more information on who we feel currently offers the “Best” pet insurance policies in the industry, fpleasecheck out our Best Pet Insurance Companies article.

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