21 June 2013

Pug Dog Encephalitis ( PDE ) Treatment, Cause, Prognosis.

Pug Dog Encephalitis PDE

The Quick Facts, What You Need To Know.

1. What is Pug Dog Encephalitis? ( PDE ) and what is the cause of this disease ? : This is an inherited condition which is genetic in origin which affects young dogs of the PUG breed. The majority of the affected dogs are under three years of age.

2. What are the symptoms? : The symptoms are you would expect with an encephalitis are neurological in nature, these could include blindness, seizures, circling in an aimless fashion and an uncoordinated walk. Some of the literature reports head pressing against walls etc. as well.
3. How is it diagnosed? : This is a difficult disease to diagnose and identifying it accurately would normally involve excluding similar diseases such as epilepsy, bacterial meningitis and the effects of exposure to toxins.

4. What is the treatment? : This is pretty well always a fatal disease and many dogs will either die or be put gently to sleep during the first few months of this illness. Sometimes treatment can make the dog more comfortable in the early stages of this disease. Drugs used include :

A. Corticosteroids and other anti-inflammatory drugs may help reduce inflammation of the brain in the early stages.

B. Anticonvulsives such as Phenobarbital may be of use if seizures are a feature of the disease.

C. Some authorities suggest alternative treatments of various sorts, these can do no harm and many owners will try them but the jury is out on how effective they may be.

5. What is the outlook? { Prognosis } : Sad to say this is generally regarded as an invariably fatal disease with a time course of four or five months at most.

6. Prevention? Of course where you suspect this disease affected dogs and others in the blood line should not be bred from.


This disease is also known as necrotizing meningoencephalitis (NME) but it is one and the same thing as PDE. This is a fairly rare disease, some authorities state that the incidence is that around one in one hundred { 1% } of Pugs will die from this disease. This may seem a low risk but one dog affected is one too many from an inherited disease of this nature.

I have discussed the symptoms above and these are typical of many neurological diseases so it would be possible to confuse this with things like meningitis, brain tumours or some toxins but such symptoms in a Pug should surely ring alarm bells in the mind of the average vet.

We know that this is an inherited disease of Pugs but there would seem to some predispositions within the breed. That is to say some Pugs are more at risk than others. Fawn coloured female who are middle aged or younger are the group at most risk. I will put a link below for more information on the actual chromosomal defect. 

Unfortunately there is no real treatment but some drugs can make the Pug more comfortable in the early stages, but the time course for this disease and the progressive symptoms which will occur are very unpleasant for the Pug and often distressing for the owner. Many individual dogs are then put gently to sleep rather waiting for the end stage of this disease.

Clearly the resolution and eradication of this disease does not lie in treatment of individual dogs by such means as drugs and surgery but in a unified approach to test and identify carriers by the breeders who should make sure that suspect individual dogs are never bred from and new owners of such dogs are properly informed of the risks of PDE.

Further Reading 

Susceptibility to PDE : LINK

Detection of Autoantibody from dogs with PDE : LINK

The genetics and testing for PDE : LINK