Pug encephalitis is a fatal neurological disease that is
unique to Pug dogs. It is characterized by an inflammation of
the brain tissues, and while the specific cause is unknown,
some research suggests that it may be hereditary because it
tends to strike related Pugs.
All Pugs affected by encephalitis will succumb to the
disease, and treatment options are limited to supportive care
that can make your dog more comfortable while they are still
Treatment for Pug Encephalitis
If your dog is showing symptoms of encephalitis, you should
take them into the
veterinarian immediately for diagnosis. Diagnosis will be
carried out to positively identify encephalitis and exclude any
other diseases that can result in similar symptoms (e.g.,
Diagnostic testing typically includes:
- A physical examination and review of your dog’s medical
- CT Scan or MRI
- Cerebrospinal fluid analysis
- Biopsy of neural or muscle tissue
Once encephalitis has been identified, supportive treatment
options will be discussed. There is no cure for encephalitis,
and most Pugs will succumb to the disease within months of the
onset of symptoms. The goal of supportive treatment is to make
the dog more comfortable and reduce the frequency of seizures
in the final weeks or months of their life.
Supportive treatment options for Pug encephalitis include:
Anticonvulsants: Seizures are perhaps the most
common symptom of Pug encephalitis. To control or prevent them,
anticonvulsants such as Primidone or K-BroVet may be prescribed.
Steroids: Corticosteroids such as Triamcinolone or Dexamethasone may be prescribed to
reduce inflammation of the brain tissues.
At-Home Care: Once your Pug returns home from
the vet, offer them plenty of fresh water, a clean and
comfortable place to rest, and some peace and quiet. Your
veterinarian may also subscribe pain medications to help with
any head or neck discomfort that is not relieved with
Depending on the severity of the condition, some owners may
choose to put their Pug to sleep rather than put them through
the pain and seizures that may punctuate the rest of their
days. You can discuss this option with your veterinarian if
your dog’s days are just too unpleasant.
Can You Prevent Pug Encephalitis?
There is no way to prevent Pug encephalitis. However, because
some research suggests that the disease may be hereditary, many
veterinarians recommend avoiding breeding Pugs that have been
diagnosed with the disease or who show symptoms such as
seizures or other neurological problems. If you purchased a Pug
from a breeder and the Pug develops encephalitis, you should
inform the breeder so that they can stop breeding their dogs
and contact the owners of your Pug’s littermates to make them
aware of the condition.
In addition, if your Pug has been diagnosed with encephalitis,
you can offer to donate their remains to veterinary science
after they have died so that the disease can be studied
further. With luck, more research will shed light on the causes
of this mysterious condition and how to prevent it.
Causes and Symptoms of Pug Dog Encephalitis
The adorable wrinkly Pug makes
a wonderful family pet, but unfortunately, some of these dogs
fall victim to a neurological disease called Pug dog
encephalitis (PDE). Encephalitis refers to an inflammation of
the brain tissues that causes pain, seizures, and ultimately death.
Read on to learn about the causes and symptoms of this serious
Causes of Pug Dog Encephalitis
Unlike other forms of encephalitis that can be linked to
infections, PDE is unique in that it is idiopathic, meaning
that the cause is not known. However, because it tends to
strike Pugs who are closely related (e.g., littermates), many
veterinarians suspect that it is hereditary and
immune-mediated. Immune-mediated diseases are those
characterized by an abnormal immune response in which the
body’s immune system is tricked into seeing normal tissues as
dangerous, and then attacks them. In the case of PDE, the
immune system would attack the brain.
Regardless of this widespread theory, there is still no
definitive answer for what causes Pug dog encephalitis.
PDE usually strikes pugs between 2 and 3 years of age, though
it can be seen in Pugs as young as 6 months old and as old as 7
Symptoms of Pug Dog Encephalitis
Because PDE affects the brain, most of the symptoms are
neurological, and include:
- Behavioral changes
- Neck stiffness
- Head tilt
- Pressing head against walls or objects
- Disorientation or confusion
- Loss of coordination
- Walking in circles
In many cases, the symptoms of PDE will progress rapidly (in a
matter of days or weeks) and result in sudden death, usually
due to a seizure. In other
cases, a Pug may be able to live a while longer with the help
of anticonvulsant drugs to control seizures. Ultimately, all
affected Pugs will succumb to the disease, usually within
months after the onset of symptoms.
When to Seek Help for PDE
You should contact your
veterinarian at the first appearance of symptoms.
Because PDE is not the only cause of seizures in Pugs, your dog
will likely be examined for other diseases such
as epilepsy, intracranial
tumor, and poisoning. If
PDE is found, supportive
treatment will be started immediately.
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This information is for informational
purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the
professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your
veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been
verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.