Last night, a high-quality, well-managed breeding facility that I work with on occasion (performing wellness checks on new litters of puppies) emailed me with questions about “aseptic meningitis”. Apparently they sold an 8-week old puppy to a customer out of state, and now, a year and a half later, the young dog had recently been diagnosed with meningitis.

The customer of the ill dog was claiming that the kennel sold them a genetically-defective dog, and wanted to be either refunded in full for the purchase price of the dog, or a replacement. Even though the kennel owners would be more than willing to back up their guarantee, they also knew that there were zero cases of meningitis in any of their breeding lines. Furthermore, this particular dog’s bloodwork showed elevated liver enzymes and mild anemia, which are not generally symptoms of a genetically-induced disease.

Here’s what I told the owners of the breeding facility: meningitis simply means that the meninges (connective tissue that covers the brain and spinal cord) are inflamed but no known cause could be identified. Inflammation of the meninges can be caused by many factors, including vaccine reactions (vaccinosis), chemicals that were ingested (flea / tick products, additives in commercially-prepared pet foods, treats, viruses and bacteria that gain access to the nervous system, household cleaning products, medications, tainted water, even electromagnetic frequencies and stray voltage.

My point is this. There are so many factors to consider, that no one can point a finger or blame one particular “thing” as to the cause. Stuff happens. To both people and animals. We live in a world where there are so many “hidden” (undisclosed) toxins, pathogens, synthetic additives, etc. and the best thing we can do for our animals is to provide as healthy of an environment and diet as possible.

To blame a well-managed breeding facility for an illness that occurred a year and a half after the new owners acquired the dog isn’t right, in my professional opinion. Pet parents should take responsibility for making sure there is minimal assault to their animal’s body from common chemicals in the home and yard, feeding a quality diet, choosing vaccinations wisely and based on the animal’s exposure to disease, limiting flea and tick products to times of the year when risk is high, and using holistic therapies and products as much as possible.