Pug Dog Encephalitis (PDE) – Causes, Symptoms, Treatment – Pug Problems

Pug Dog Encephalitis (PDE) – Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

Pug Dog Encephalitis (PDE) is a serious brain inflammation condition that is exclusive to pugs. Approximately 1.2% of pug dogs die of this condition. Vets think that this condition is hereditary since it often strikes dogs that are closely related to one another. With that said, read on to learn about the causes and symptoms of this condition.

Overview of PDE

Clinically, PDE is described as a nectrotizing meningoencephalitis and is invariably fatal. It usually affects pugs between 6 months and 7 years. However, the majority of pugs affected are between 9 and 19 months of age. The disease can last from several days to 6 months or more and usually starts in its acute, rapidly progressing form.

Additionally, PDE is very difficult to diagnose since most of its symptoms often relate to other central nervous system (CNS) diseases. Therefore, in most cases it is usually diagnosed after the Pug dog dies.

Apparently, there are actually two classifications of PDE which include:

  1. Slow ProgressiveSlow progressive features seizure activity which last anywhere from just a few seconds to a few minutes. The seizure activities are sometimes preceded by the additional symptoms. More so, the seizures usually come back in as little as a few days or few weeks. Under this classification, the pug normally will return to normal in between these seizures and demonstrate no symptomatic characteristics related to PDE at all.
  2. Rapid progressionSeizure activity in this classification is usually more frequent although not always. Unlike, the slow progressive, the pug does not return to normal, but instead it normally demonstrates symptomatic characteristics such as having difficulty walking, depression, disorientation and even bewilderment.

Unfortunately, the end result of both classifications is the same. Therefore, whether this condition strikes your pug in the slow progressive form or the rapid progression form, your pet will eventually die.

What Causes PDE?

The cause of Pug dog encephalitis is not known. However, because it tends to strike pugs that are closely related, experts suspect that it’s hereditary and autoimmune. However, this does not mean if your pug is not related it cannot get PDE. It is also worth noting that female pugs are more likely than males to succumb to this disease.

Symptoms of PDE

In most cases, symptoms of PDE usually progress in a matter of days or weeks and result in sudden death. However, in other cases, your pug can live a while longer but only with the help of proper drugs to control seizures.

The primary symptoms of pug dog encephalitis include seizures, pacing in circles, lethargy and loss of muscle coordination.

  • SeizuresSeizures occur every few days or weeks or more frequently depending on the rate at which disease is progressing. However, seizure activity in pugs does not necessarily mean PDE is the cause. This is because pugs can also suffer seizures from exposure to toxic gases or chemicals, epilepsy and for other unknown reasons.
  • Pacing in circlesThis is a fairly common symptom of PDE. The pug will pace in a circular motion over and over for quite a long time.
  • Lethargy and loss of muscle coordinationThese two symptoms do but don’t always seizure activity caused by PDE. What’s more, neither of these two symptoms definitely indicates PDE is the cause. Lethargy is a symptom to nearly all illnesses that can strike a pug dog while the loss of muscle coordination can indicate other problems such as neurological issues.

Other symptoms to watch out for include:

  • Depression
  • Disorientation or confusion
  • Pressing their heads against the walls, furniture or other solid surfaces
  • Neck stiffness and pain
  • Intermittent screaming
  • Weakness
  • Staring off into space
  • Behavioral changes- which include agitation or aggression
  • Pugs dogs with encephalitis may also appear to be blind, have trouble walking and stagger

Always see your veterinarian immediately if your pug displays any of these signs and symptoms.

How Can You Prevent PDE In Your Pugs?

You cannot prevent encephalitis as it is probably genetic in origin and what causes this disease is still unknown. The only prevention would be not to breed the parents who are the carriers of the disease. Therefore, if your pug dog develops this condition, ensure you inform the breeder from whom you purchased the dog.


While Pug Dog Encephalitis is always deadly, treatment can help manage the symptoms especially during the final weeks of his life. It is therefore recommended that your pug gets regular vet check-ups, particularly in their early stages of life to make sure this does not become a complication for your pug.