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What is Pug Dog Encephalitis?

What many people love about the Pug breed is their friendly personalities and their adorable, wrinkled faces. Unfortunately, Pugs are prone to a very serious brain disorder called encephalitis that can develop quickly and is often fatal. To protect your Pug against this dangerous disease, learn the warning signs and symptoms.

Overview of Pug Dog Encephalitis

Encephalitis is inflammation of the brain and it is generally caused by an allergic reaction or an infection. Pug Dog Encephalitis (or PDE) is a specific type of encephalitis that only affects the Pug breed. What makes this form of encephalitis different from others is the fact that it is idiopathic – the cause for the condition is unknown. PDE is a deadly disease that usually manifests in Pugs between the ages of 2 and 3 years, though it can develop as early as 6 months or as late as 7 years.

Though PDE is still being studied, researchers have noticed that the disease tends to strike Pugs that are closely related – this has led them to suspect that the disease may have a genetic component and it may be immune-mediated. The term “immune-mediated” refers to conditions that are characterized by an abnormal immune response where the dog’s immune system starts to recognize healthy tissue as dangerous and launches an attack. In the case of Pug Dog Encephalitis, the immune system attacks the healthy tissues in the brain.

Symptoms and Treatment Options

Because PDE is a brain disorder, most of the symptoms afflicted dogs exhibit are neurological. Some of the most common symptoms for PDE include the following:

  • Changes in behavior
  • Seizures or convulsions
  • Head tilt or stiff neck
  • Pressing the head against a wall
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Loss of coordination
  • Lethargy or depression
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Loss of vision

Unfortunately, PDE is a disease that can progress very rapidly. In many cases, symptoms develop and worsen over a period of several days or weeks, often culminating in a severe seizure that results in sudden death. Some Pugs are able to recover to some degree with the help of anti-convulsant medications but all affected dogs die from the disease eventually, usually within a few months after the original onset of symptoms.

Although there is no cure for Pug Dog Encephalitis, your veterinarian may be able to prescribe medication or other therapies to make your dog more comfortable. It is very important that you seek veterinary attention at the first sign of symptoms. Keep in mind that seizures in Pugs can be caused by a number of different conditions so make sure your vet performs the necessary tests to rule out other potential causes. If it turns out that your dog does have PDE, your vet will start him on supportive treatment immediately.

Pug Dog Encephalitis is a very severe and life-threatening condition that, unfortunately, has no cure. If you suspect that your dog may be suffering from this disease, do not delay in seeking veterinary care. You may not be able to cure your dog, but you can at least make him as comfortable as possible.

Photo credit: tjortenzi2012/Flickr