Encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain in dogs; Encephalitis In Dogs. When a dog’s immune system attacks its own brain, it causes inflammation. Encephalitis can occur alone or in combination with meningitis, which is defined as inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord, or myelitis, which is defined as inflammation of the spinal cord itself.

A young adult or adult dog is most likely to have Encephalitis In Dogs. Encephalitis In Dogs can occur on its own, but it can also be a sign of other brain and spinal-cord illnesses, such as a viral or bacterial infection. Encephalitis In Dogs can afflict any breed at any age, although young and middle-aged dogs are the most vulnerable.

A puppy with encephalitis placed on a slab receiving treatment

Causes of Encephalitis In Dogs

The causes can be grouped into two places, (1) Infectious and (2) Non-infectious

Infectious causes of brain inflammation aren’t as common as they once were. Bacteria, viruses, fungal infections, protozoa, rickettsia, vaccination problems, and parasitic infections are among them.

  • Diseases transmitted by ticks,
  • Canine distemper is an example of a viral disease.
  • Toxoplasma gondii and Neospora caninum are single-cell parasites.
  • Bacterial infections, such as Cryptococcosis
  • Fungal infections, such as Cryptococcosis
  • Infection caused by external objects,

Inflammation of the brain caused by non-infectious sources is far more common. Some of them are idiopathic, which means they have no known etiology. All of these conditions are autoimmune illnesses, which occur when the immune system fights itself.

  • Immune-mediated diseases
  • Idiopathic (unknown cause)

Symptoms of Encephalitis

The signs and symptoms of brain inflammation differ depending on which part of the brain is involved. The start of symptoms is abrupt, and they progress quickly. Encephalitis In Dog symptoms usually begin unexpectedly and worsen quickly. They are an indication of a medical emergency, so take your dog to the vet if you fear he or she has encephalitis.

  • Uncoordinated movements
  • Excessive Circling
  • Fever
  • Pain
  • Seizures
  • Reduced pupil size
  • Unequal pupil size
  • Behavioral changes
  • Depression
  • Loss of balance
  • Stumbling
  • Blindness
  • Reduced responsiveness
  • Tilting head
  • Face paralysis


A physical examination, a chemical blood profile, a complete blood count, and a urinalysis will be performed by the veterinarian. These tests will reveal possible infectious causes of brain inflammation, beginning with a low white blood cell count, which indicates infection.

MRIs and CT scans will be used to assess your dog’s brain structure and function, and cerebrospinal fluid may be taken and sent to a laboratory for expert examination. The atypical density of white matter in your dog’s brain, as well as any asymmetry, will be revealed by MRI. These tests will usually suffice to confirm a positive diagnosis of brain inflammation; but, in some situations, a brain tissue sample analysis may be required to confirm the diagnosis.

A young pup with encephalitis in the vet clinic


Treatment for brain inflammation will vary, but the primary goal will be to reduce the severity of the symptoms. For stabilization, your dog may need to be admitted to the hospital and receive critical treatment. When an infection causes brain inflammation, the underlying cause is treated separately, frequently with tailored medications.

The drug used to treat brain inflammation is aimed to reduce inflammation and inhibit the immune system. Your dog’s treatment will be determined by the sort of encephalitis they have and their overall condition. Some dogs respond to medicine well, while others do not or have relapses.

Options for treatment

  • Steroids to treat inflammation
  • IV fluids and supportive care, depending on the dog
  • Antibiotics and antifungals to treat infections of any kind
  • Anticonvulsants to treat seizures


A older dog with encephalitis receiving treatment

Always get unexpected symptoms, like changes in behavior, evaluated by a veterinarian. Make sure your dog’s vaccines are up to date to protect him from infections like the canine distemper virus. It’s critical to protect your dog from ticks, especially if you live in an area where ticks are common. Diseases like Tick-Borne Encephalitis (TBE) and Lyme disease can be transmitted by ticks. Dogs are more prone than humans to come into contact with sick ticks due to their inquisitive nature and low-lying bodies.


Kehinde Ezekiel is a freelance writer who has covered many topics, including home improvement, gardening, pets, tech, and parenting.

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