The symptoms of meningitis in dogs

Updated November 21, 2016

Canine meningitis is a serious health issue caused by bacterial or viral infections. Meningitis in dogs affects their brain and spinal cord, and it can be deadly. You should know about symptoms of canine meningitis. If you are able to identify the symptoms you can help get a dog treated before the damage is irreversible.

High Fever

When a dog has meningitis, it will have a high fever. If you notice your dog acting strangely, you should take his temperature. If you take the dog's temperature with a rectal thermometer, it should be between 38.0 and 39.1 degrees C. If you use an ear thermometer, a normal temperature is 37.7 to 39.4 degrees C. Anything higher than that could indicate meningitis.

Sensitive to Touch

One symptom of meningitis in dogs is a strong reaction to being touched. If you try to touch your dog and she has a weird reaction or backs away in pain, she may have meningitis.

Decreased Appetite

When a dog feels sick, one of the first things to change is his appetite. A dog that suddenly has no interest in his food or treats may have meningitis.

Stiff Limbs

Meningitis affects a dog's limbs, which makes it hard for her to walk. It can look like the limbs are stiff and unable to function properly. It can be particularly hard for a dog to move her neck, so she may hold her head to one side constantly.

Muscle Spasms

Meningitis also causes a dog to experience muscle spasms. You can physically see the muscles spasm at times. It will look like there is twitching in the dog's limbs.


Seizures in dogs are very hard to witness. He will collapse and start frothing from the mouth. The most important thing to do is try to protect his head from banging against the floor. If your dog has a seizure, take him to the veterinarian immediately. From there, the veterinarian will be able to do necessary tests to see if meningitis is the problem.


A more subtle symptom of meningitis is confusion. If your dog suddenly looks like she doesn't know where she is, it might be a sign of meningitis.


Meningitis can cause paralysis of limbs. A dog will suddenly not be able to walk or move. This is a very serious problem, and you should take the dog to a veterinarian immediately.

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About the Author

Megan Richardson began her career as a freelance writer and editor in 2009. She has experience in public relations and event planning, and she worked as a writer's assistant to a published author for more than a year. Her work has also appeared in "The Daily Sentinel." Richardson holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication and journalism from Stephen F. Austin State University