Brain Tissue Inflammation and Death (Breed Specific) in Dogs

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Breed Specific Necrotizing Encephalitis in Dogs

Necrotizing encephalitis is inflammation of the brain with concurrent necrosis (death) of brain tissue. It is seen only in a few breeds of dogs, including pugs, Yorkshire terriers, and Maltese. It is also occasionally seen in chihuahuas and shi-tzus. Symptoms vary in different breeds.

Symptoms and Types

Symptoms depend on the area of the brain that is affected, but may include:

  • Abnormal behavior
  • Seizures
  • Circling
  • Blindness


The exact cause for this condition is unknown.


You will need to give your veterinarian a detailed medical history, including a background of the symptoms, time of onset, and the frequency of the symptoms present. After taking a history, your veterinarian will examine your dog in detail. A complete blood profile will be conducted, including a chemical blood profile, a complete blood count, and a urinalysis. The laboratory tests are usually within normal ranges. Radiographic studies, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and a computed tomography scan (CT-scan) also typically give non-specific results.

A more conclusive diagnosis may be made using a sample taken from the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), the protective and nourishing fluid that circulate around the brain and spinal cord. The sample will be sent to laboratory for a further evaluation. The results of the CSF testing may reveal an increase in the leukocytes (white blood cells or WBCs) count, an abnormal condition referred to as pleocytosis. The laboratory tests may also indicate inflammation, infection, or the possible presence of a tumor. However, a brain biopsy (taking a small sample of brain tissue for analysis) is the only way to conclusively determine the cause for the brain disturbance.

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An in-depth examination of the properties of urine; used to determine the presence or absence of illness


A condition of dead tissue


The process of removing tissue to examine it, usually for medical reasons.

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