Pug Dog Encephalitis

Pug Dog Encephalitis, also called necrotizing meningoencephalitis (NME), is an inflammatory disease of the brain affecting Pug dogs of either sex. The disease used to be considered unique to the Pug breed. However, similar disease has been reported recently in the Maltese, Pekingese and Yorkshire Terrier. The condition can last from several days to 6 months or more and usually starts in its acute, rapidly progressing form. Female, fawn-colored Pugs younger than 7 years of age are more susceptible to developing NME than older, male and non-fawn colored individuals.1 Because Pug dog encephalitis may cause seizures, dogs of less than 1 or greater than 5 years of age who suffer from persistent seizures should be thoroughly examined and tested for this neurological disorder. What causes this disease is still unknown. It is believed to be a genetic condition, as littermates and closely related dogs are often affected, although the disease also occurs in Pugs born from non-related lines. There is no cure.


Signs may include seizures, depression, abnormal gait, vision loss, staring off into space, and pressing head against the wall or furniture. Affected dogs may have difficulty walking and lack coordination. They may also circle, have a head tilt, and show signs of pain in the neck area. These signs progress rapidly, and within 5 to 7 days, a dog develops uncontrollable seizures, is unable to walk and becomes comatose.3 Pug dog encephalitis is hard to diagnose since its symptoms often relate to other central nervous system diseases. Seizures may be caused by many other underlying conditions such as hypoglycemia, canine distemper, rabies, toad poisoning, chemicals, and toxic plants ingestion.

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Sometimes it is possible to make the correct diagnosis using the magnetic resonance imaging of the brain (MRI), or analyzing the white blood cells from the spinal fluid. But most often the disease is diagnosed after the dog dies. Although Pug dog encephalitis is always fatal, treatment may control seizures and reduce the inflammatory process in the brain and severety of seizures with corticosteroids, immunosuppressive agents, and phenobarbital for a short period of time.2 In severe cases, dogs survive for only a few weaks, with a maximum survival of less than 6 months from the time of the onset of seizures.3


  1. Susceptibility to Pug Dog Encephalitis (PDE)
  2. Somes, Stacie A. Meningoencephalitis of unknown etiology in a 4 year old Maltese
  3. Richard W. Nelson, C Guillermo Couto. Small Animal INternal Medicine.

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