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Steroid Responsive Meningitis
SRM is caused by the immune system targeting the lining of the brain and spinal chord or meninges
A whippet with this condition is a very poorly dog, he or she will normally have a very high temperature, and an uncomfortable stiff appearance as if all of its joints are sore, the neck may be very stiff and pain will be exhibited when the neck is flexed. The dog will not shake themselves and may be unable to get up on to the sofa on its own.
This non infectious form of meningitis, usually affecting young dogs, does not respond to antibiotic or anti-inflammatories, but improves following corticosteroid therapy. Neck pain and fever with a stiff, short-strided gait and reluctance to walk are the most common signs, but other neurologic symptoms have been seen. CSF shows increased protein and neutrophilic pleocytosis. This is the most-common form of meningitis diagnosed in veterinary hospitals, and can be seen concurrently with immune-mediated polyarthritis.
The initial onset is usually sudden but it can re-occur, The dog may look as if it is terrified to move, may stand with head held low, high temperature and inappetance will almost certainly be present. Diagnosis can be made by spinal tap revealing the presence of white cells indicating inflammation, even this is sometimes inconclusive and a symptomatic diagnosis may be made after ruling out any infection.
Treatment is usually prednisolone (steroids) at an initial high immunosuppressive dose ,gradually reduced over a period of months During high dosage a gastro-protectant such as Zantac should be given. Response to steroid treatment is usually rapid with this condition but great care must be taken to withdraw the steroids very slowly to prevent relapse. In fact it will take several months to gradually wean the dog off the steroids and prevent a relapse. This is best overseen by a specialist medical vet who is experienced in the management of these conditions and is therefore less likely to have their patients relapse.