Inflammatory diseases of the central nervous system, including encephalomyelitis, are important causes of seizures in dogs. These diseases are considered when a dog with seizures has persistent neurological disturbances, suffers an onset of seizures at less than 1 or greater than 5 years of age, or shows signs of systemic illness. Encephalomyelitis is inflammation of the brain and/or spinal cord that damages myelin, the protective covering of nerve fibers, and white matter. It often follows viral infection or, less often, vaccination against viral diseases. Young dogs or dogs with weak immune systems can develop encephalomyelitis from the distemper virus infection. Such dogs experience seizures, general weakness and rigidity, as well as "hardpad." Since distemper is largely incurable, prevention through vaccination is vitally important. Other signs may include vomiting and, in severe cases, visual loss in one or both eyes, weakness even to the point of paralysis, and poorly coordinated gait. Encephalomyelitis can also result from protozoal infections caused by Neospora caninum and Toxoplasma gondii leading to neosporosis and toxoplasmosis respectively. Animals with neosporosis show poor movement coordination and progressive hind limb paralysis.


  1. Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis (NINDS)
  2. Farrar MD, Miller DL, Baldwin CA, Stiver SL, Hall CL. Eastern equine encephalitis in dogs
  3. Patitucci AN, Alley MR, Jones BR, Charleston WA. Protozoal encephalomyelitis of dogs involving Neospora caninum and Toxoplasma gondii in New Zealand
  4. Thomas WB. Inflammatory diseases of the central nervous system in dogs

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