What are Pug Dog Encephalitis?
Pug dogs are recognized worldwide for their pushed-in faces, globular, expressive eyes and sparkling personalities. While the breed standard includes silver and black Pugs, the most common coloration is fawn with a black mask and ears. This adorable, spirited breed makes a wonderful family pet, but unfortunately is associated with a rare neurological disease, Pug dog encephalitis (PDE). This disease is only found in Pugs, and is most likely fatal.
Encephalitis is the inflammation of the brain tissue that tends to strike adolescent Pugs between two and three years of age. PDE is idiopathic, meaning that the cause of the disease is not entirely clear. In many cases, PDE appears to strike dogs who are closely related, leading many veterinarians to believe that the disease is genetic and likely immune-mediated. An immune-mediated disease is characterized by an abnormal immune response, such as when the immune system mistakenly attacks normal tissue. In the case of this rare, fast-moving disease, the Pug’s immune system attacks the brain.
While PDE is a difficult disease to definitively diagnose, associated symptoms (such as seizures) will be neurological in nature. Seizure activity, though having a high incidence in the symptomology of PDE, may point to other medical problems such as epilepsy, a tumor, or toxic chemical or gas poisoning. No matter the cause, a seizure in your pet calls for an immediate veterinary visit.
Pug encephalitis (PDE) is a rare, neurological disease that typically strikes adolescent Pugs under the age of three. While the cause of the disease isn’t clear, PDE appears to have a genetic link.
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Symptoms of Pug Dog Encephalitis in Dogs
- Behavioral changes
- Neck stiffness
- Head tilt
- Pressing head against walls or object
- Disorientation or confusion
- Loss of coordination
- Walking in circles
This type features seizures and sometimes other symptoms preceding seizure activity. Seizures may last seconds or minutes. In between seizures, the Pug will likely resume normal behavior and be asymptomatic.
This type often, but not always, features more frequent seizure activity than in slow progressive PDE. In between the seizure activity, however, the dog does not return to normal, but continues to display PDE-associated symptoms. These commonly include disorientation, lack of muscle coordination, trouble walking, confusion, and signs of depression.
Causes of Pug Dog Encephalitis in Dogs
- The cause of the disease is not entirely clear
- PDE appears to strike dogs who are closely related
- The disease may be
- The disease ay be immune-mediated
- An immune-mediated disease is characterized by an abnormal immune response, such as when the immune system mistakenly attacks normal tissue
Diagnosis of Pug Dog Encephalitis in Dogs
PDE is extremely difficult to diagnose, primarily because PDE symptoms often mirror epilepsy, bacterial meningitis, effects of a tumor or some type of poisoning. There is also evidence that female, fawn-colored Pugs under the age of three are most affected by PDE. Unfortunately, since PDE is often fast-moving and the survival rate is low (either PDE kills the Pug or the owner opts to euthanize), veterinarians may lack the time to perform diagnostic tests such as CAT scans or MRIs.
Treatment of Pug Dog Encephalitis in Dogs
In the early stages of slow-progressive PDE, some owners pursue medical treatment for their Pug. Anti-inflammatory drugs such as corticosteroids may help to reduce inflammation of the brain and anticonvulsants such as phenobarbital aim to treat seizures (if part of PDE). Valium has also been used in veterinary medicine to reduce seizure activity. Based on personal experience, some Pug owners recommend trials of different alternative treatments, but such methods are not part of standard veterinary care for PDE. Ultimately, treatment should be given with a focus on the dog’s quality of life.
Recovery of Pug Dog Encephalitis in Dogs
Sadly, the veterinary community regards PDE as an invariably fatal disease. A significant part of a veterinarian’s job is to give the pet owner a realistic picture of the months, or years, that typically lies ahead. The most humane choice may be putting the dog to sleep, but a veterinarian will discuss all available options.
While current cases of PDE are heartbreaking, there may be reasons to be hopeful about the future. Veterinary research activity is expanding as Pugs become more popular with people around the world. Current signs point to a genetic link, a discovery that may provide veterinary researchers with a plausible lead.
Pug Dog Encephalitis Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
I’m currently watching a pug who’s owners are not available right now, they expressed a history of seizures and he hasn’t had any since I met him 6 months ago, I just woke up to him foaming at the mouth stiff legs on his side on the floor. It lasted for a few minutes, then he got up and paced around the house for 10 minutes, now he’s back to normal and even sleeping as of now. I don’t know what to do, I can’t take him in, and I’ve never seen this.
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Hello there i am not sure if my femel pug has PDE Or not i went to the vet copule of time i still didnt get any thing they are telling its a leg problem and she has sezhures but it really looks like PDE because in our contry we dong have good vets or docs so the internet is my only hope please help ! She is 20 month old she shakes alot she is very weak dosnt eat by hear own drinks a good amount of water she gets disy time to time and has a hard time walking or moving at all ive been feeding her with chiken breast and it all started a week ago and its geting worst and worst
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