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What are Meningomyelitis?

The central nervous system is composed of the brain and spinal cord. These bundles of nervous tissue are encased in and protected by sheathes called the meninges. Rarely, an infection, trauma or autoimmune reaction can target this protective tissue and cause inflammation, leading to neurological problems and impaired movement. Meningomyelitis refers to the more serious condition where the protective meninges and the nerves themselves are inflamed. This can cause severe weakness, abnormal behavior and rob an animal of their coordination. If your dog shows any signs of difficulty walking, breathing, urinating/defecating, or any behavior unlike their usual demeanor, see a veterinarian immediately, as permanent neurological damage can occur if meningomyelitis is not treated swiftly.

Meningomyelitis refers to the inflammation of the sheath covering the nerves of the Central Nervous System, differing from meningitis in that the nerve itself also shows signs of inflammation in this condition. This may arise from either infection, autoimmune reaction, or trauma

Meningomyelitis Average Cost

From 93 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $10,000

Average Cost

$6,500

Symptoms of Meningomyelitis in Dogs

  • Difficulty walking
  • Abnormal behavior
  • Dilated or constricted pupils incongruent with ambient light
  • Trouble controlling urination or defecation
  • Reduction in reflexes
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Pain tracing back to spinal column
  • Fever
Types
  • Steroid-responsive
  • Infectious
  • Trauma
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Causes of Meningomyelitis in Dogs

  • Autoimmune reaction erroneously attacking the meninges
  • Infection of the spinal column
  • Trauma to the spinal column or spinal cord.
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Diagnosis of Meningomyelitis in Dogs

Owners who notice their pet displaying signs of neurological problems (such as suddenly bumping into objects or stumbling), running a fever, or failing to urinate should contact their veterinarian immediately. The veterinarian will make a physical examination of your dog, including checking their reflexes. Just as a human leg will kick when the knee is tapped, dogs have reflexes of their own. Often, dogs with meningomyelitis will exhibit impaired or absent reflexes, an important clue for the diagnosis. The veterinarian will also check for swelling and pain, which if localized to the spinal region could indicate the source of the problem.

Next, the veterinarian will run a CBC (blood count), a urinalysis, and conduct a spinal tap. A spinal tap involves collecting some of the fluid in the spinal column with a needle. Your dog will likely be sedated for this to avoid injury, and a portion of its back shaved and sterilized to prevent infection from the test. Analysis of this fluid will reveal whether or not there is an infection, and if so, what kind.

The veterinarian may employ an ultrasound to check your pet’s abdominal cavity and spinal region for cancer or evidence of trauma. Ultrasound is a simple, non-invasive procedure that can be performed in a veterinarian's office. Often, a veterinarian may refer your dog to an animal hospital for an MRI, which produces a more detailed image.

If signs of inflammation are present along with severe neurological symptoms, the veterinarian will diagnose the dog with meningomyelitis and formulate a treatment plan.

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Treatment of Meningomyelitis in Dogs

The type of treatment given will depend on the cause of the inflammation. Most common is an infection, whether viral or bacterial. Bacterial infections will be treated with antibiotics, given orally if the condition is not too severe, or intravenously if the dog cannot swallow. Supportive care such as IV fluids and nutrition may be given to keep the dog’s strength up. Viral meningitis will usually involve supportive care until the animal has cleared the infection on its own. Canine antiviral drugs are not widely available and have mixed efficacy.

If the injury is due to autoimmune disease or trauma leading to excessive inflammation, a course of anti-inflammatory steroids will be given. These steroids will need to be taken with food and/or a gastrointestinal protectant medication as they can irritate the gastrointestinal systems of many patients. Treatment with steroids in the case of autoimmune or inflammatory reaction usually produces a quick improvement of symptoms.

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Recovery of Meningomyelitis in Dogs

Animals who are not infected with antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria usually make a full recovery in two weeks if the infection is caught early. Proper administration of the medication, including taking the full course of antibiotics even after symptoms have resolved, is critical. Viral strains of meningomyelitis carry a more guarded outlook, as the supportive care offered by a veterinarian’s office may not be enough to counter the infection, but in many cases animals do make a recovery.

Steroid-responsive meningomyelitis responds well to high doses of prednisone administered over the course of several weeks and tapered off gradually. Many dogs can be discharged from the animal hospital after a week. Medium to large breed dogs seem particularly susceptible to this condition, and are most affected while under the age of 2. This mechanism by which this syndrome arises is poorly understood, and is diagnosed more often by the animal responding to treatment than by a definitive lab test.

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Meningomyelitis Average Cost

From 93 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $10,000

Average Cost

$6,500

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Meningomyelitis Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Joy

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Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

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3 Years

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Serious severity

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1 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Right Front Leg Weakness

My three year old cavalier spaniel was just diagnosed with autoimmune meningomyelitis this week. She has history of inability to walk correctly on right front leg and sometimes not bear weight on right front leg. She has had MRI and spinal tap and labs. There is no infection. Could you tell me the origons of the autoimmune disorder- is it congenital? Is there a better feed for her- anti inflammatory feed? Please advise. I need to learn more about this. She is on high dose prednisone currently. The prednisone has improved her lameness.

Sept. 8, 2018

Joy's Owner

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Tiamo

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Maltese Shih Tzu

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12 Years

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Serious severity

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1 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Can'T Urinate
Loss Of Balance

We have a White Maltese cross (Tiamo) who is 12 years old. This poor little man has had a hard time of things lately as 5 - 6 weeks ago he had major surgery due to Galbladder then he showed signs that he was not well again which the vet said he had parasites around his pancreatitis which they started him on medication. he seemed to pick up a little then all of a sudden started going down hill. They did an x-ray to find he had a torn ligament in his pelvic area (due to way he sits after two cruciate ligaments been done), so was told to try and keep him still. He was going to the vet every day and In the next few days he got to the stage where he could not walk on his back legs, so was sent to the specialist that day and that night was Diagnosis with Meningitis of the spine caused by parasite. This all happened with in a week and 3 days. it is now 7 days sense he started Steroids, antibiotics and painkillers. He can stand on his back lets but has very little control of them. He has taken a few steps that are wobbly. My biggest concern right now is that he has not been able to releave his bladder at all. He can do a poo but most times I am sure it is not because he wants to it just comes out, he does not eat as much as he use to and is not drinking enough water. Today he is in at the vets and they are going to put a drip in to give him fluids but also try and put pressure on the bladder so that he will pee. My vet has been good, but I don't think she is being totally honest (protecting us)at this point. I want to understand Does it sound like there is hope? If he has to have a tub put into his bladder permanentely, how do we take care of him.

May 11, 2018

Tiamo's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

I'm sorry that little Tiamo is having so many problems. It does sound like your veterinarian is taking care of him quite well, and he is in the right place if he needs hospitalization to recover. Without knowing more about his condition, I can't comment on what his prognosis might be, but if he is able to recover from the inflammation caused by the parasite, he may regain function normally. It may be a matter of time to see how he is going to respond. If he does need to have surgery on his bladder, your veterinarian will be able to let you know what any home care needs may be, as they will know more about the type of surgery that he may need. If you ask your veterinarian to be honest with you, they will tell you what his expectations are so that you have a realistic idea of what to expect. I hope that he comes through all of this normally.

May 11, 2018

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Meningomyelitis Average Cost

From 93 quotes ranging from $3,000 - $10,000

Average Cost

$6,500

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