Steroid Responsive Meningitis (SRM)

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Steroid Responsive Meningitis (SRM)

Steroid Responsive Meningitis (SRM)

SRM  is a particular form of meningitis which affects the arteries in many body system tissues as well as the meninges, but as its name states, it can be treated successfully with steroids. SRMA is not contagious. Most cases are seen in dogs under the age of two years old, however it can occur at any age. Sighthounds, especially whippets and whippet crosses seem to be more prone to SRM.

Symptoms

  • Stiffness
  • Pain in the neck and back.
  • Lethargy
  • The dog can be reluctant to move
  • The dog may refuse food
  • High temperature
  • The dog may hide away
  • The dog may stand with its legs apart and its head held low.
  • The dog looks uncomfortable and can act strangely.

SRM can be acute and rapid in onset or chronic, with symptoms developing slowly over several days or weeks. It can be very difficult to diagnose, with vets opting to try other treatments for other conditions first.

Once the dog is on steroids then you tend to notice a difference very quickly. However, if it has been left too long before treatment, or is a very severe case it can cause permanent damage or even death.

The dog will need to stay on steroids for a long time, with treatment slowly being reduced. Dogs can suffer from relapses at any point, so you always need to be on your guard.

Joy has kindly let us tell you about Honeys battle with SRM

My ‘show-bred’ greyhound bitch, Honey was diagnosed with SRM last May when she was 2 years & 3 months old.
I got Honey at 4 months old and she never had any health problems prior to this.
She suddenly became very un-coordinated and couldn’t use her front legs properly. She also hung her head down very low. We first thought she had a stroke and took her to the vet immediately.
She was kept in for various blood tests then sent home on antibiotics & painkillers. When tests were negative the vet said he suspected meningitis & took Honey in for a spinal tap & MRI scan (luckily she is insured!)
Apparently this type of meningitis doesn’t show on MRI (Honey’s was clear) but our vet was convinced that she had SRM & started her on steroid treatment. She improved slowly on the treatment but had good & bad days. She seemed to lose her vision & balance and would only walk if next to the wall and didn’t like being outside.
After a few months on high doses of steroids the vet decided to reduce the dose as Honey was doing well but she relapsed and was put back on the higher dose for another few months and also another tablet ‘Azathioprine’.
Honey had regular blood tests to check for side-effects of the drugs and after 8 months we were able to slowly reduce the steroid dose. In April this year she finally came off the steroids but remains on Azathioprine which she has every other day.
Honey’s weight ballooned because of the steroids but she is now back to normal and is extremely well now.
I consider myself very lucky to still have Honey – it’s been a struggle and there were times I nearly gave up because I felt so sorry for her.
I think having a vet who recognised the symptoms reasonably quickly had a lot to do with the fact she got through this – I hadn’t heard of it before but having researched it since Honey’s illness I now know the signs were all there when she first became ill.