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Steroid Responsive Meningitis (SRMA) in Dogs

Source: Canadian Veterinary Medical Association Updated on July 16, 2015


Steroid Responsive Meningitis is a condition that involves a dog's central nervous system. Meningitis means inflammation of the meninges, the covering layer of the central nervous system. The condition is referred to as SRMA, or steroid responsive meningitis-arteritis because it affects the arteries in many body system tissues as well.

Certain breeds of dogs seem to be more affected, but it is considered to be a condition of any breed. Bernese mountain dogs, Nova Scotia duck tolling retrievers, boxers, and beagles are among the over-represented breeds.

Symptoms of SRMA

The problem usually develops in young adults. Signs include fever, stiff neck, hyper-reactivity to touch, and reduced mobility due to marked stiffness. It can be acute or chronic. The cause is not well understood, but because it responds to steroid therapy, it is likely an autoimmune condition. Autoimmune problems occur when the body sees itself as foreign and mounts a reaction. There is the possibility that infectious agents can trigger this reactivity. Steroid medications have anti-inflammatory action, and at high doses, inhibit the immune system.

Diagnosing SRMA

The diagnosis of this condition can be a challenge and thorough physical and neurological examination, laboratory tests, spinal fluid analysis, X-rays, and CT scans may be recommended. Initial treatment includes supportive care and steroid medications. Long-term steroid administration is needed to control this condition. Some dogs need stronger immune system suppressant medication (immunosuppressives).

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