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Steroid-Responsive Meningitis-Arteritis in Dogs

Inflammation of the Meninges and Arteries Resolved with Steroids in Dogs

Steroid-responsive meningitis-arteritis describes the combined conditions of inflammation of the protective membranes covering the spinal cord and brain (meninges), and inflammation of the walls of the arteries. It causes changes in the blood vessels of the heart, liver, kidney, and gastrointestinal system.

Steroid-responsive meningitis-arteritis occurs worldwide and it is thought dogs may be genetically predisposed to the disease. However, any dog breed may be affected. Moreover, it occurs mainly in dogs that are less than two years of age.

Symptoms and Types

The disease can be sudden (acute) or long-term (chronic):

Sudden

  • Increased sensitivity to stimuli
  • Stiff neck
  • Neck pain
  • Stiff gait (walking motion)
  • Fever of up to 107.6 degrees Fahreinheit

Long-term

  • Further neurologic problems: paralysis, hind leg weakness, etc.

Causes

  • Unknown
  • Possibly immune-mediated, related to abnormal IgA production (Immunoglobulin A – an antibody in the mouth and on mucosal surfaces)
  • Triggered by environment, possibly infectious cause

Diagnosis

You will need to give a thorough history of your dog's health, onset of symptoms, and possible incidents that might have preceded this condition, such as accidents or previous illnesses. Your veterinarian will perform a complete physical exam on your dog, including a neurologic exam. Standard laboratory tests will include a biochemical profile, a complete blood count, a urinalysis and an electrolyte panel. A sample of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) will also be taken to check for cells and protein levels.

 
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