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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.

Pug Dog Encephalitis Average Cost

From 543 quotes ranging from $200 - $3,500

Average Cost

$1,600

Symptoms of Pug Dog Encephalitis in Dogs

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

Types

Slow Progressive

 

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. 

Rapid Progressive

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.

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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
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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.

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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.

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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.

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Pug Dog Encephalitis Average Cost

From 543 quotes ranging from $200 - $3,500

Average Cost

$1,600

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Pug Dog Encephalitis Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Pug

dog-age-icon

6 months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Seizures,Walking In Circles,Off Balanced

My pug had a seizure one day and afterward was fine like nothing happened. About 4 days later she had 3 in a row in a 4 hour period. I took her to the vet where they did blood work that came back normal, then sent us home with Phenobarbital. She's been taking ever since and has not had a seizure since. Can this be PDE?

July 9, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello, SO sorry to hear about your dog. PDE is very rare. Your vet can test your dog for this disease with genetic testing to see if that is what is causing this. This is more likely epilepsy and your dog will need to be on seizure medication for the rest of her life. I hope your dog continues to do well.

July 9, 2020

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Pugsley Addams

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Puggle

dog-age-icon

2 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Seizure

2 year old male fawn pug. I woke up in the middle of the night and noticed that Pugsley had peed the bed in his sleep. He did not get up to pee or ask to go out, so it really scared me. He did not shake or display physical signs of a seizure - he was sleeping with me, and I would have felt it if he was shaking. He sometimes shakes in his sleep, but always stops when I wake him up, so I’ve always assumed he was just having puppy dreams. But now, I’m worried that he had a small seizure in his sleep, and that the seizure made him pee. He was shaking & shivering after I took him outside and cleaned him up, but otherwise, he was acting normal. Could he have had a seizure in his sleep, causing him to pee? Does any of this sound like encephalitis?

Sept. 2, 2018

Pugsley Addams' Owner

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Louis

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Pug

dog-age-icon

2 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargy
Panting
Inflamed Back

2 year old pug. I've noticed he's been sleeping more lately. About 2 days ago he jumped into my car and screamed as he did so (he has never ever screamed before nor ever when he jumps into my car which isn't high) after that he was afraid to jump out the car or for me to even carry him. I did end up carrying him out though. Later that night he kept hiding under the bed and sitting and panting hard. I eventually got him out and he slept w me but would still wake up and pant and sit sometimes. Took him to the vet the next morning and he said it's his back and it felt inflamed. He gave him a cortisone shot and also did X-rays, which he said looked normal. The rest of the day he seemed fine but tired. Took him for a walk later that evening and he semi rolled in the grass (normally he will do full roll overs) and seemed good but again very tired and panting again later on during the night. So I took him back to the vet the next morning to get blood test. Waiting for those results. But after googling I am petrified that he could have PDE. Why is his back inflamed? Is that normal if he some how pulled a muscle? He can be rambunctious sometimes. Should I do an MRI ?!?!?!

Aug. 17, 2018

Louis' Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

Pug Dog Encephalitis is more likely to affect female fawn coloured Pugs than male non-fawn Pugs; however you should wait for any test results to come back and make a decision with your Veterinarian about the next diagnostic steps. There are genetic tests available, but these only show susceptibility not actual disease so not really reliable (more useful for breeding). Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 17, 2018

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Pebble

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Pug

dog-age-icon

2 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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3 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Blind
Blue Haze
Eating Reduction

I went to the vet today and they diagnosed Pebbles with severe dry eyes and prescribed me an ointment. I been researching and it has me worried that she may have encephilitis... She doesn't have seizures but her food and drinking habits habe slowed. Shes still a super energetic pug with a great personality and wanna stay stuck up your tail end. I just would wanna know now before it gets worse off if she does.. The other day she developed blindness... The blue haze... out of no where... there's no scratches... or injuries to the eyes.. I mean ive had pugs all my life. Ive had her great great great grandmother. She will be the last of her family because I had her spayed and her babies were also spayed and put into beautiful loving homes. The thing is... They never had problems until they got old and it was always something scratching their eye and injuring it. I tried everything to prevent her from going blind so thats why I am tripping especially seeing her in so much discomfort..

June 5, 2018

Pebble's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

KCS, or 'dry-eye', is not related to encephalitis, but is very common in pugs. If that is what Pebble has been diagnosed with, it would be best to follow your veterinarian's advice, and treat her for that. If you are not sure, you are always able to call your veterinarian and ask for more clarification.

June 5, 2018

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Freddie

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Pug

dog-age-icon

4 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

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2 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Seizure

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.

May 22, 2018

Freddie's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

It sounds like Freddie had a seizure. If he recovers normally, it may not be an emergency - seizures are emergencies if they occur back to back and aren't stopping, or if they continue for more than a minute or two. It would be best to call his owners as soon as they are available and let them know what is going on with him. I hope that he is okay.

May 22, 2018

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Olive

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Pug

dog-age-icon

19 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Depression
Circling
Lethargy
Head Tilt
Loss Of Balance

My little olive sadly passed away early hours in hospital 29/5/19, I’m absolutely devastated. She went from being a little off to being critical in less then 48 hours. When she started showing worrying signs of being seriously ill I rushed her to the vets and was informed it was neurological, it was not looking good they said they would take bloods and give her fluids, I got a phone call in the morning to she had passed away, they said without an mri that it was impossible to say for sure but said the thought it was encephalitis. I can’t believe how quick this took over my little girl I never saw any seizure before hand, the first symptom I noticed was her being a little more tired than usual. I’m still trying to process how this happened so quickly.

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Betty

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Pug

dog-age-icon

16 Weeks

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Shaking Crying

Is it possible for a black female pug age 16 weeks to get PDE Not drinking much. Quiet Was told by a vet that she had a fit and died from PDE. Is this even possible. I just thought they were older than this and predominantly fawn

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Sammy

dog-breed-icon

Pug

dog-age-icon

1 Year

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Seizures
Loss Of Balance In Hind Legs
Inability To Swallow

My pug named Sammy just turned 1 on the 2nd April. On that morning he had a epileptic seizure and showed signs of discomfort in the hind part of his body. The vet said he had dsplasia and gave medications. The next evening he had 3-4 stong seizures in 3 hours where his body was arched in inverted C position and his limbs went stiff. We went to the vet at 11 pm scared to death. He informed that it’s a neurological problem and we should consult the speacilist ; he gave him injections of Phenobarbitone, diazepam and dierriphyllin so he could sleep through the night. The next morning we took him to the speacilist and he was diagnosed with Pug Dog Enciphilitis(PDE). Started him on 30mg Gardenal tablet twice a day with Epicare for sedation and controlling seziures. That night he has 7-8 seziures and had lost his motor-coordination, ability to swallow.It looks like he has no control on his body movements. The jerking and twitching of right side of his body also started. Next day we took him to the vet and he administered Propofol IV . We were told about the dangers of using this drug and what could go wrong but it was the only option. He initially adjusted to the drug but had a seziure and suffered a cardiac arrest. All of this within three days and the first day was his birthday. My boy is Zen My boy is heaven Love you Sammy. Forever in our ❤️

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Myrte

dog-breed-icon

Pug

dog-age-icon

4 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Seizures

My 3 1/2 female fawn pug was acting a little strange on Sunday and refused to come upstairs to sleep in her bed but stayed on the couch. She went out to pee the next morning and was sitting on her bed in my office but around 10 I looked back at her and she was on her back shaking and panting. I picked her up and ran downstairs, the shaking and panting stopped and she was running around all over the place but did not act distressed Ate a couple bites, came back up stairs with me laid down for a few minutes and then the seizures started again and did not stop. On the way to ER Vet it as continuous one right after the other. She lost her ability to gag on the way and also wet all over me. The ER Vets were wonderful and told me they were almost sure that it was PDE and that the damage from the continuous seizures had caused her to lose her gag reflex, she was no breathing on her own, they ahad to put tube down her throat. Seizure medicine did not help so they sedated her until they spoke with us. She was have much difficulty breathing and they suspected that she had also developed pheumonia and one of her eyes had turned back in her head. We made the very hard decision to have her put to sleep. We could not anticipate and watch this happen again. WE bought her from a lady who had given her as a gift to her kids at Christmas and decided they did not want her three months later. She did not have papers so we are not sure where she was breed or by who. The Vet said she most likely came from a Puppy Mill. God Rest her soul until we meet again.

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Frank

dog-breed-icon

Pug

dog-age-icon

1 Year

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Loss Of Balance
Loss Of Appetite
Blindness
Walking In Circles

About 2 weeks ago my pug Frank became unwell, he started with looking all depressed not his bouncy self, we monitored him closely.. 3 days ago we took him vet as he started to go off his food, he was struggling to walk. Today my 1year old fawn coloured male pug was put to sleep... he had rush bloods done yesterday and we was told the devesting news he had PDE. Within 3 days he went from a depressed pug to a pug that went blind, loss complete movement on his right side and even struggled to get up. We have never heard of this disease and we are devestasted.

Pug Dog Encephalitis Average Cost

From 543 quotes ranging from $200 - $3,500

Average Cost

$1,600

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