What Is Meningitis of the Brain in a Yorkshire Terrier

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Meningitis can pose serious health issues to a Yorkshire Terrier if not detected and treated during the earlier stages. Although many people misdiagnose meningitis with flu, it is more serious as it can lead to seizures and complete paralysis. So, what is meningitis of the brain in a Yorkshire Terrier?

What Is Meningitis of the Brain in a Yorkshire Terrier?

Meningitis of the brain in a Yorkshire Terrier is a neurological disease that causes the inflammation of the protective membranes surrounding and protecting the central nervous system. If not detected and treated early, it might lead to secondary inflammation of the brain or spine.

Keep in mind that there is meningomyelitis, which is a similar health issue to meningitis, affecting the meninges and the spinal cord, and meningoencephalitis, which affects the meninges and the brain. Although these different health conditions have distinct causes, they present the same signs of meningitis in a Yorkie.

Yorkie wearing a nurse cap

Meningitis is fatal, and you will need a vet who can diagnose and treat it during the earlier stages. Some early symptoms that might indicate your Yorkie is suffering from brain meningitis include:

  • Low blood pressure 
  • Fever 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Vomiting 
  • Depression 
  • Unsteadiness while walking 
  • Head tilting 
  • General body weakness 
  • Sensitivity to touch 
  • Eyes tracking up and down or from side to side 
  • Muscle spasms in the forelegs, neck, and back
  • The Yorkie holding its back or neck rigid due to the stiffness of the spine

If you fail to notice these early signs or misdiagnose them, they progress into more serious signs. Some of the more serious symptoms include:

  • Abnormal levels of agitation or aggression 
  • Disorientation or confusion
  • Stupor or dullness 
  • Blindness 
  • Loss of muscle control and severe unsteadiness 
  • Seizures
  • Paralysis 

What Causes Meningitis of the Brain in Yorkshire Terriers?

Considering that meningitis affects the central nervous system of the Yorkie, it means the disease originates from other parts of the body and spreads to the meninges. Some of the pathways infection can use to reach the nervous system include vertebrae, inner ear, sinuses, or traumatic injuries.

In most cases, these infections result from fungi, parasites, viruses, or bacteria attacks. These infections might also result from autoimmune or toxins that tend to weaken the Yorkies’ natural immune system and ability to fight infections. Some of these infections include:

  • Bone infection in the spinal area, commonly known as a vertebral osteomyelitis
  • Inflammation of the vertebral disks, commonly known as discospondylitis
  • Distemper
  • Rubies
Cute dog in a sofa bed
  • Lyme disease
  • Nasal passage infection
  • Bacteria infection in wounds and injuries
  • Eye infection
  • Sinus infection
  • Ear infection

How Does a Vet Diagnose Meningitis of the Brain in Yorkies?

If you report that your Yorkie shows symptoms similar to those of meningitis, the vet will conduct a thorough physical examination, blood count, chemical blood profile, and urinalysis. The tests help reveal reduced white blood cell count, indicating infections that might be leading to brain inflammation.

The vet will then help evaluate the brain structure of your Yorkie through CT scans, ultrasound, and magnetic resonance imaging systems. After the tests show a possible meningitis disease, the vet will conduct the ultimate diagnostic test using the cerebrospinal fluid.

How Is the Meningitis of the Brain in Yorkies Treated?

The treatment of meningitis of the brain in Yorkies primarily depends on the infection causing it. Depending on how severe the disease is, it can be treated through the following methods:


If the infection causing the meningitis disease results from protozoa and bacterial infections, it can be treated with antibiotics. In most cases, the treatment starts with a broad spectrum of antibiotics, and then they are narrowed down depending on the cerebrospinal fluid culture results.


If your Yorkie is suffering from steroid-responsive meningitis that affects both the walls of the arteries and the central nervous system, it might respond well to steroid therapy. In most cases, the steroid therapy will involve the administration of a high dose of prednisone.

Antiepileptic and Anticonvulsant Drugs

If the meningitis of the brain has significantly progressed and the Yorkie is suffering from seizures, the vet might prescribe some antiepileptic and anticonvulsant drugs. Such a dog will also require a lot of supportive care, including providing it with a comfortable place to rest at home.

Yorkie lying down in the sofa

Related Questions

Can Meningitis of the Brain Cause Permanent Brain Damage to Yorkies?

Yes, meningitis of the brain can cause permanent brain damage to your Yorkie if not treated during the early stages. Usually, meningitis of the brain caused by bacterial infection is more life-threatening as it progresses rapidly.

How Long Do Yorkies Take To Recover From Meningitis of the Brain?

Most Yorkies will show significant improvements within 1 to 3 days of medication. However, the corticosteroid treatment will continue for about 9 to 12 months with gradual dosage tapering after around 6 to 8 weeks.

Final Thoughts

Yorkshire Terriers might suffer from brain meningitis after bacteria, parasite, virus, or fungi infections. Although this disease can cause permanent brain damage and death, Yorkies can fully recover if the disease is detected, diagnosed, and treated early enough.