Diagnosis, symptoms and treatment of encephalitis in dogs

Encephalitis in dogs is an inflammatory brain disorder. This lesion is caused by an infection or an infectious-allergic process.

It is not uncommon for a combined brain lesion with its membranes or spinal cord. Damage to the brain with its membranes is called meningoencephalitis. Damage to the brain and spinal cord is called encephalomyelitis, and if at the same time, the meninges are also involved in the inflammatory process, they speak of meningoencephalomyelitis.

Causes of encephalitis in dogs

Depending on the causes of the occurrence of primary and secondary encephalitis in dogs. Primary associated with the introduction of viruses (plague carnivorous, rabies, infectious peritonitis), protozoa (Toxoplasma), bacteria (Listeria) and prions. Secondary encephalitis develops as a result of the complication of other diseases, such as sepsis, purulent otitis, trauma, bacteremia.

Some dog breeds have a genetic predisposition for certain types of encephalitis. In Bern bouvier and bigley, meningoarteritis is common, in pugs meningoencephalitis, in Maltese and Yorkshire terrier necrotizing encephalitis.

Symptoms and clinical signs

Encephalitis in dogs is very diverse in the clinical picture due to the variety of reasons for their occurrence. In general, pathological changes in the locomotor function are observed: paresis, ataxia, paralysis. Ataxia occurs when damage to the spinal cord and brain. Then there may be a neurological deficit of the cranial nerves.

It is determined by the violation of the functions of these nerves:

  • violation of the pupillary reflex,
  • blindness, nystagmus,
  • development of facial paralysis

A lesion of the motor branch of the trigeminal nerve can also be observed and the innervation of the chewing muscles is disturbed. In a dog, sensitivity in the muzzle area decreases or disappears, although the functions of the facial nerve can be maintained. Often encephalitis accompanied by epileptiform manifestations, impaired consciousness.

It is possible to develop partial or complete loss of sensitivity on the body and limbs, hypo- and hyperreflexia. These symptoms indicate parenchymal damage to the brain and / or spinal cord. The dog loses coordination when walking, it "puts in", it can restlessly circling on the spot. On the body may appear tremor (especially in lapdogs), warp neck. Obvious signs of stress: the animal loses interest in toys, does not respond to people.


Observation of the symptoms of encephalitis makes it impossible to correctly diagnose the disease, understand the extent of brain damage, and prescribe adequate treatment. Therefore, if an encephalitis is suspected, an X-ray examination of the head (craniography), contrast radiography (myelography and ventriculography) are necessary.

Myelographic examination of the cervical spine, which may indicate brain swelling. Magnetic resonance imaging allows you to clearly see brain damage.

A number of laboratory tests (tests for dogs) are also needed: biochemistry, clinical analysis, bacteriological inoculation, blood microscopy and serological research, research on cerebrospinal cerebrospinal fluid and bacteriological inoculation of cerebrospinal fluid.

Encephalitis treatment

With the bacterial nature of the disease, antibiotic therapy is carried out with drugs that penetrate the blood-brain barrier (isoniazid, rifampicin, pefloxacin, co-trimoxazole, chloramphenicol). The choice is made based on a certain sensitivity. Also it is necessary to choose broad-spectrum antibiotics, which have the lowest toxicity and bactericidal properties. For example,

  • ceftazidime,
  • cefepime,
  • meronem
  • tienam
  • peflox-qing

Their doses should be 40-50 mg / kg (intravenously twice a day). Depending on the degree of neurological disorders, corticosteroid therapy is prescribed: methylprednisolone (15 mg / kg, intravenously four times a day) for three days, then the dosage is reduced.

It is also necessary to use drugs that lower intracranial pressure (diacarb, mannitol). The remaining medications are prescribed depending on the symptoms. When treating encephalitis in dogs of any etiology, the use of immunostimulants is contraindicated.



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