What Causes This
As of the present time, the exact cause of Beagle Pain Syndrome is not known. Researchers have discovered that it is the body that sends out an immune response, however they do not know what the trigger to that is. When the Beagle’s body sends out that response, it results in a severe inflammation of the blood vessels that are in and around the lining of the brain and the neck. The dog’s body then attacks its own cells.
How This is Diagnosed
As of this writing, there is no diagnostic test for BPS; it is diagnosed by looking at a dog’s symptoms and ruling out other health conditions including bacterial meningitis, diskospondylitis, spinal tumor, Lyme disease and cervical disc disease. Once these have been ruled out, x-rays should be taken and blood analysis should be done to look for anemia, leukocytosis, neutrophilia, hypoalbuminemia, and alpha2 macroglobulinemia. A spinal tap may show certain changes in the number of cells and proteins. Sometimes an MRI will show severe the disease as progressed.
How This is Treated
This can often be cured with high doses of corticosteroids (explaining the term ‘Steroid Responsive Meningitis’). Studies have shown that the best course of treatment is to start off with a rather high dose of prednisolone or prednisone and then wean down after 1 week... with the ending result of 5 mg, twice per week. This is then given for at least 2 months.
Many Beagles show improvement after just 3 days and a good number have a complete remission after 2 weeks. There are side effects to this type of dosing, including increased hunger and thirst (resulting in excessive urination and weight gain), lethargy, panting and increased risk of infections such as UTI’s and respiratory infections.
At this point, an evaluation will be done. Some dogs can wean off the medication after the initial 20 days. For others, there will be a need to stay on a low dose indefinitely.