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208 Breeds, 422 Health Conditions  |  Find a Vet

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Granulomatous Meningoencephalitis




Condition Overview

Granulomatous Meningoencephalitis (GME) is a common brain disease in dogs. GME can affect all parts of the brain (the disseminated form), or only specific areas (the focal form). There is a rare ocular form that targets the optic nerves of the eyes.


The disseminated disease appears suddenly and progresses over a matter of weeks. It is characterized by incoordination, stumbling, falling, circling, head tilt, seizures, and dimentia.

The focal disease begins with symptoms such as those of a brain tumor. Behavior and personality changes may predominate. The focal disease progresses to the disseminated disease over a period of 3 - 6 months.

The ocular disease is characterized by sudden blindness with a dilated pupil. It progresses to the disseminated disease more slowly than does the focal disease.

Pug encephalitis often begins with seizures, confusion, and loss of memory. this form of the disease has also been seen in Yorkshire Terriers and Maltese.


The cause is unknown, however, female dogs of small breeds especially terriers, dachshunds, Poodles, and Poodle crosses are predisposed. Although GME can occur at any age, most affected dogs are 2 - 6 years of age.

A chronic form of GME called Pug encephalitis occurs as an inherited disease in Pugs between the ages of 9 months and 4 years.


GME can be suspected when a toy dog such as a Poodle inexplicably develops confusion, disorientation, seizures, or other neurological signs that progress rapidly over a matter of weeks.

A spinal tap with analysis of cerebrospinal fluid helps confirm the diagnosis. A CAT scan or MRI is useful in determining the form and location of the disease.


Corticossteroids and immunosuppressive drugs may slow the progression of GME and provide temporary relief for several months. However, GME is almost invariably a progressive and fatal disease.


There is no prevention for this condition.


Please contact your veterinarian with questions regarding this condition.

Show Sources & Contributors +


Dog Owners Home Veterinary Handbook

Publisher: Wiley Publishing, 2007

Website: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/

Authors: Debra M. Eldredge, Liisa D. Carlson, Delbert G. Carlson, James M. Giffen MD

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