Treating and Managing Pug Encephalitis How to Offer Support to an Affected Pug

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Pug encephalitis is a fatal neurological disease found only in the Pug dog breed. Although this disease is deadly, supportive treatments are available. Learn what these options are here.

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 alive.

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., epilepsy).

Diagnostic testing typically includes:

  • A physical examination and review of your dogโ€™s medical history
  • 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 corticosteroids.

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 dogโ€™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 Pugโ€™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 condition.

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 bodyโ€™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 years.

Symptoms of Pug Dog Encephalitis

Because PDE affects the brain, most of the symptoms are neurological, and include:

  • Behavioral changes
  • Seizures
  • Neck stiffness
  • Head tilt
  • Pressing head against walls or objects
  • Disorientation or confusion
  • Loss of coordination
  • Walking in circles
  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Blindness

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.

More on Pugs

About Pug Dogs
Obedience And House Training for Your Pug
The Best Dogs for Children

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.

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