Case Studies

Encephalitis in a Dog

Young dogs, primarily but not exclusively small breeds, can occasionally develop encephalitis. Most people think of encephalitis as being infectious in origin, such as the much-publicized West Nile Encephalitis virus. Infectious encephalitis does occur in dogs, but at a much lower rate than in human beings.

A more common form of encephalitis in dogs is immune-based. This means the body's own white blood cells (the cells that normally fight infections) are attacking the normal brain. Commonly called GME (granulomatous meningoencephalitis), this type of immune encephalitis has a "bad rap". The veterinary literature portrays this disease as fatal, but this is often not the case. For example, the dog in the MRI below was treated effectively and cured of the disease.

Common clinical signs of encephalitis are confusion, bumping into things, imbalance and stumbling. Or, the dog just isn't acting right, forgetting who the owner is or where the dog's food or bed is located. The MRI combined with examination of spinal fluid can provide an accurate diagnosis and lead us to corrective treatment.

Granulomatous meningoencephalitis (GME). T2 axial images reveal multifocal hyperintense lesions throughout the cerebrum and thalamus.