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Encephalitis in Dogs - Symptoms And Treatment

By María Besteiros, Expert veterinary assistant and canine/feline hairdresser.. Updated: May 2, 2019
Encephalitis in Dogs - Symptoms And Treatment

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Encephalitis in dogs refers to an inflammation or infection of the brain. The different types of encephalitis in dogs include infectious and/or idiopathic encephalitis. The different types of encephalitis vary depend on the root of the cause. If you notice any of the below mentioned symptoms, we recommend consulting a veterinarian as soon as possible. Treatment of this dog brain disease will depend largely on its diagnosis.

For more about encephalitis in dogs, its symptoms, causes and treatment, keep reading here at AnimalWised.

Encephalitis in dogs: symptoms

What is encephalitis in dogs? Encephalitis defines an inflammation of the brain or encephalon. The most common symptoms of encephalitis in dogs include:

  • Fever
  • Apathy
  • Changes in behavior and personality (increased aggressiveness)
  • Uncoordinated wandering
  • Seizures
  • Stupor
  • Coma

If you notice any of these above symptoms, you should contact your vet immediately. Keep reading to discover causes of encephalitis in dogs.

Encephalitis in Dogs - Symptoms And Treatment - Encephalitis in dogs: symptoms

Encephalitis in dogs: causes

The most common cause of encephalitis is canine distemper, a life-threatening viral disease that is fortunately decreasing in presence thanks to vaccinations. Rabies in dogs, which has also been eradicated in many countries thanks to vaccines, is another viral cause of encephalitis. Canine herpesvirus is also capable of causing encephalitis in newborn puppies less than two weeks of age.

Other more infrequent causes of canine encephalitis are fungal infections caused by fungi, protozoa, rickettsiae or ehrlichiosis. In addition to the brain, a dog’s spinal cord can also suffer damage. Lead encephalitis, can be triggered in dogs that ingest lead materials, such as some paint or plaster. These occur more often than not in puppies. In these cases you may also notice symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea or constipation.

For more about these above mentioned encephalitis causes, we recommend reading our following articles:

Brain inflammation in dogs: bacterial encephalitis

This type of encephalitis in dogs is caused by bacteria that reaches the brain through the circulatory system. This encephalitis type spreads from the nasal passage or an infected abscess present in areas such as the head or neck.

Brain inflammation in dogs: post-vaccinal encephalitis

Post-vaccinal inclusion body encephalitis in dogs occurs after the use of modified vaccines or modified viruses. This encephalitis type is more likely triggered when both the distemper vaccine and the parvovirus vaccine are given to puppies less than 6-8 weeks old.

Meningitis and encephalitis in dogs

Meningitis is defined as inflammation of the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord. Its origin is usually rooted in an infected bite, located in the area of the head or neck. In addition, bacterial infections that reach the brain from places like the nose or the ear can also lead to meningitis. The meningitis type, known as aseptic or viral meningitis, often has an unknown origin and affects larger breed puppies under the age of two.

For more, we recommend reading our article where we discuss everything you need to know about meningitis in dogs.

Necrotizing encephalitis in dogs

Necrotizing encephalitis in dogs (NE) is typical of small-sized dog breeds such as pugs or Yorkshire terriers. It is hereditary and affects younger dogs under the age of four. This encephalitis type can attack the whole brain or only specific areas. Even though rare, it circumscribes the optic nerves and can cause sudden blindness. Unfortunately, this disease is progressive and has no treatment. Drugs can, however, be prescribed to slow down its progression.

Encephalitis in dogs: treatment

A diagnosis of encephalitis and meningitis in dogs requires an analysis of a cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) sample, which is extracted by a spinal tap. In addition, a veterinarian will have to perform various test to discover its underlying caused. Treatment and elimination will be based on the specific cause, with the aim of controlling its symptoms.

Corticosteroids may be prescribed to reduce brain inflammation. If the dog is suffering from seizures or convulsions, it may require anticonvulsants. Antibiotics can also be administered to treat encephalitis in dogs, if the cause is rooted in a bacterial infection.

Encephalitis in dogs: sequelae

The added problem of encephalitis in dogs is that, even once recovered, they can have sequelae such as seizures and other neurological symptoms.

Encephalitis in Dogs - Symptoms And Treatment - Encephalitis in dogs: treatment

Encephalitis in dogs: contagious

The only contagious form of encephalitis and meningitis in dogs is that caused by the canine distemper virus. However, more often that not, canine encephalitis is NOT contagious.

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Encephalitis in Dogs - Symptoms And Treatment, we recommend you visit our Neurological diseases category.

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1 comment
Kenney Brumfield II
I believe my dog has Encephalitis. What is the best trearments that I can get him> We took him to the emergency vet and they gave us steroids and anti biotics
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi,

You have already provided the best care by taking them to the veterinarian. Is there any reason you think their treatment plan is insufficient?

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