Finally, I take time to write about our precious Mimmi and her illness, Pug dog encephalitis/Necrotizing Meningoencephalitis.
Almost all pugs die from the disease and from the beginning we only knew of one other pug who survived and had a good life several years, as Mimmi. It is an American pug called Payton, which you can read more about here: http://pugnaciousp.blogspot.it/. Last year we also got to know another Swedish pug who fell ill and has survived since. (Also other breeds can get the disease, but I have only studied it in relation to pugs.)
We got Mimmi and her partner Nappe in February 2013. Mimmi turned three years in June that year and Nappe seven in November.
When we look retrospectively at the process we see that a couple of months before Mimmi fell ill, she stopped in a strange way now and then during our walks. She just stared ahead into the air and refused to move. One day when my husband had been out with the dogs in the morning, Mimmi stopped before the stairs and could not walk. She collapsed and Mats had to carry her up to our apartment. We called the animal hospital and they said that we should come immediately.
We had such luck that the vets suspected the correct diagnosis from the beginning, and did the needed examinations. A fast diagnosis is crucial since what happens with this disease is that the immune system attacks the brain. If this continues for long, there is no hope for the dog. Since she got the right diagnosis, they gave her immune suppressive medicines and cortisone to decrease the swelling of the brain.
The outer signs of Mimmi’s disease was that her right side had collapsed which resulted in “circling”. She also had a head tilt to the right, was shivering, and at rest she snored in an unusual way.
Mimmi stayed a few nights at the hospital and then we could take her home. The vets said that she would live a week or some months and as longest up to a year. She could die any time.
At the beginning, Mimmi took a very high dose of immune suppressives and cortisone. This gave her several severe side effects: she lost a lot of her muscles and she was extremely and sickly hungry. She rapidly got lots of plaque on her teeth. Furthermore, she got a wound on her right fore and hind legs respectively, which did not heal. We had to clean them and put bandages on them every day. There was also a very fast growth of a sort of mole all over the body (this later showed to be a skin disease and the moles are slowly growing tumors, not deadly).
She was very weak and had difficulties to walk. Our floors had become slippery to her so we had to put carpets everywhere in our apartment. (Later we changed the floors in the kitchen and the hall to a less slippery one.) She could not go over the curbstones herself, but we had to carry her. She could not go over roots on the paths in the forest. Now and then, she fell when we were out walking.
The medicines also eventually gave her gastritis with diarrhea, against which she got Losec. But after a while Losec itself also gave her gastritis. Then we decided that we were skipping the Losec and started to give her a very mild diet with rice, cooked and mashed carrots and white fish. This made her lose further weight and she was very, very thin, but it helped for the stomach. We started to give her some butter and yolk now and then, and it worked ok.
The immune suppressives made her susceptible to infections and she got several urinary infections. This made her pee indoors, on the carpets, which made us have to wash carpets every day. We also bought some pads, which we put in strategic places.
Two times, she got an infection in her right paw so that it was swollen as a balloon. At those instances, she had to go to the animal hospital to pure her blood and get antibiotics.
She was continuously week on her right side and dragged her right paw a little on the ground, which resulted in a wound on one of her toes. We looked for lots of solutions and finally found Pawz, a rubber sock that protected her toe.
During the time of recovery, about nine months, we slowly, slowly reduced the amount of medicines. As we did so, the side effects weakened. Also during this period, she got supplements, vitamins and minerals that I had customized to counteract the negative effects that the medicines had. At the beginning, we also used a homeopathic medicine to support her. We believe that she had not survived if we had not counteracted the negative effects of the medicines.
The medicines caused her to lose a lot of her fur. She lost the undercoat and it has never come back again. This means that she freezes a lot when it is cold. The supplements have made her get back much of her fur but she loses it again when we stop with it.
Today Mimmi is on a very low dose of medicine and she continues to take her supplements. After the first nine months of rehabilitation, Mimmi started to really come back to a happy life. She started to play with my slippers, which she had not done at all during the previous nine months. With the decreased amount of cortisone, she got more muscles again and could run and have fun like she had before she got ill. She is still weak on her right side but those who do not know that she is ill do not see it. Mimmi still lives and is happy, five and a half years after falling ill.
Mimmi has been an enormous blessing to our lives. She has brought so much happiness and beauty to us. She has an extraordinary personality, she does not obey anyone just because, she knows what she wants, she loves to cuddle, but also to be independent. She loves to eat raspberries in the summer, she wants things to happen, she barks when it is too boring. She has been a great challenge for us but that has made us learn so much!
If you want to know more about PDE/NME you can read about it in our breeding strategy here.