Have you heard of Granulomatous Meningoencephalomyelitis, more commonly known as GME? I haven’t until recently. And I consider myself fairly knowledgeable about dogs. There is also an even more severe from of this called Necrotizing Meningoencephalitis or NME.
What it is in Layman’s terms is an autoimmune disorder that affects mostly small dogs. Which is why we as Chi parents need to be aware of this. It can be deadly.
Margaret’s Story of Cricket
I first learned about this issue through one of our Facebook group members Margaret Ditty. She has a precious little Chihuahua named Cricket who has had very rough time of it since she developed GME and NME. Margaret and her husband Rich have spent thousands trying to get help for their little girl. It’s been a long tough road for the Ditty’s and I admire their dedication to their fur baby Cricket.
You can read Margaret’s entire story of Cricket and leave a donation too if you want to help them with her medical expenses here.
Causes of GME
GME is an inflammatory disease of the central nervous system. It usually won’t develop in older dogs over the age of 10.
Most vets will tell you that they really don’t know the cause of GME but there are some that believe it is caused by repeated vaccination. Did you know that the same amount of a vaccine given to a 120 pound dog is often given to a 5 pound dog? That is just crazy!
Since I am not a doctor, I will let you watch Dr. Becker here in this video explain about this condition:
Symptoms of GME (your dog may have some of these symptoms or all of them)
- Head Pressing: Dog will press their head against things
- Weakness in legs
- Behavior changes
- Head tilting
- Unsteady walk or gait
It is imperative that you get your dog in to see your veterinarian right away if you suspect GME or are seeing these symptoms in your dog. Without treatment, dogs can die within a day or so after the symptoms start.
How GME is Diagnosed
A basic blood panel and urinalysis and a spinal tap (done under anesthesia) is required. Also sometimes a MRI is needed.
Treatments for GME
Depending on what areas are affected, treatment may consist of:
- Corticosteroids (prednisone)
- Radiation therapy (if the GME is localized)
- In severe cases, hospitalization will be required
Dr. Becker also believes in some alternative therapies to speed up the healing process. She had a consultation with Margaret Ditty and gave her some ideas of what she could do to help Cricket and she also gave Margaret permission to share the call. You can listen to it here:
How to Prevent GME
While some dogs just seem to predisposed to this condition, repeated vaccinations seem to bring it on or make it much worse. So before your dog’s next vaccinations, you might want to have your vet do a titer test to see if your dog still has the antibodies for the disease the dog would be vaccinated against. If there are antibodies present, there is no need for the vaccine.
While the titer test can be expensive, Dr. Becker believes you should call around and find a vet who will do the test at a cheaper price. You can read more about the titer test here.
Margaret also suggests that you should be prepared for this or any other pet emergency in advance by getting pet insurance while your pet is healthy and applying for Care credit which is used specifically for veterinary bills and doesn’t have to be paid back right away. That way if an emergency should arise, you can use the Care credit until you are reimbursed from the insurance plan. Then you would pay the Care credit bill. Of course, it would also be a good idea to start an emergency savings fund and save the money yourself.
If you or someone you know has a dog with GME and/or NME and would like support, you can join the Pet Parents Fighting NME & GME “Educate, Encourage, Share” group here.
I want to thank Margaret and Rich Ditty and Dr. Becker for providing me with much of the information for this article. I pray that it helps save doggy lives. As Margaret says “Educate, Encourage and Share”.