General Health Information
While Pugs tend to be a healthy, hearty breed that can easily live into the mid and upper teens, there are some health problems you should be aware of and some health problems you can prevent to help your Pug live the longest, healthiest life possible. This guide is meant to introduce you to some of the common health problems seen in Pugs. It is not intended as a guide for home diagnosis or treatment and is not a substitute for regular veterinary care. We’ll start with some general health considerations, and then break down some specific health problems by type, such as eye problems, skin problems, etc.
As mentioned, Pugs tend to be a healthy breed. Probably the number one problem seen by veterinarians is overweight or obese Pugs. Pugs will eat till they burst and always “act” hungry, even if they are well-fed. A recent study by Purina showed that lean dogs live an average of two years longer than overweight dogs and the lean dogs have far fewer health problems. There are many wonderful foods on the market – the key is to feed the proper amount. You base the correct amount on what your dog looks like, not what the bag says or how much the bowl holds. You should just be able to feel your dog’s ribs and be able to see a waist.
General upkeep of your Pug should include keeping his nails short, either by cutting them or perhaps grinding them with a rotary grinder, like a Dremel Mototool. You need to pay special attention to your Pug’s ears and clean them regularly with an ear wash. It is time to see your vet if you notice any redness, heavy discharge, odor, or head shaking. You also need to clean your Pug’s nose roll and wrinkles. You can use some of your ear wash if you are careful to keep it out of the eyes. Some Pugs need their faces cleaned daily, while others can go several days or longer. Sometimes the nose roll gets infected and requires veterinary care.
Pug mouths tend to have a lot of teeth in a small space and they are crowded and crooked. It is hard to visualize the teeth, let alone brush them but you should try and do your best. Your vet may have some products that are easy to use and pointers on keeping the teeth nice. Getting your Pug to chew on nylabones or other special bones can help keep the amount of tartar down and there are special foods made to help as well.
With their short, pushed in face, Pugs can have trouble breathing, especially if there is high heat and humidity. They must be kept cool and exercised with caution in the summer. Part of the short-faced or brachycephalic syndrome can involve having pinched nostrils and an elongated soft palate. Your vet will need to examine your Pug to see if the nostrils are too tight to let air flow freely. There is a surgery to correct this problem. If you notice your Pug snoring excessively or gasping to breathe, it could be that his soft palate (at the back of his mouth) is too long and is in the way. Again, there is a surgery to help correct this problem. While overheating is the biggest weather-related problem, Pugs should also not be exposed for very cold temperatures for long periods of time. They were bred to be house dogs and companions.
Although Pugs were not bred to do any specific work to help out man (except provide wonderful companionship!), Pugs are very trainable. Pugs compete in every sport which they are eligible for, including obedience, agility and tracking. There are wonderful training books and videos available and training classes are offered all over the country. Check around for an experienced trainer who uses positive, motivational methods.
Many people get a female Pug and decide perhaps they should breed a litter or get a male and decide to use him at stud. Both of these decisions require much thought, research, time and money. There is no benefit to the female to have a litter. Pugs frequently need caesarian sections to deliver their puppies. Any time a Pug is used for breeding, extensive health testing should be done first to ensure no health problems might be passed on. In spite of the growing popularity of Pugs, or perhaps because of it, there is also a growing need for Pug rescue across the country. Unwanted Pugs are surrendered every day and if you let your Pugs reproduce, you are responsible for any pups produced for the rest of their lives. You must be willing to take any dogs back that are no longer wanted, for whatever reason. Dogs will live healthier, longer lives if they are spayed or neutered, so it is highly recommend this be done.
Dry Eye Syndrome
Dry Eye Syndrome is a quite common and potentially blinding condition, which develops due to the decline of tear production in the eye. Treatment consists of drug therapy and surgery.
Bilateral Cataracts is recognized by dense spots on the lens of the eye These spots may cause partial or total loss of vision In some cases surgery may help.
Entropion is a problem caused by the Pug’s eyelashes irritating the surface of the eyeball. This should be treated since it might lead to more serious problems.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
PRA is the deterioration of the vessels around the retina. This condition usually begins with night blindness in younger dogs, but as their vision deteriorates it can lead to blindness.
Since Pugs have such a short nose and such bulky eyes, they can easily scratch their corneas or even puncture their eyeballs. Therefore, try to keep them away from sharp objects at all times!
Tracheal Collapse is a narrowing of the windpipe. Symptoms include a cough (especially after exercise) harsh breathing and gagging. Treatment consists of conservative therapy or surgery.
Elongated Soft Palate (ESP)
ESP is the obstruction of the dog’s airways. Excessive gasping for air and the blocking of the Pugâ?™s vocal box are some of the signs. ESP can be corrected with surgery.
Steno tic Bares
Steno tic Bares is a birth defect where the nostrils are too small and the Pug puppy has difficulties breathing through his nose. This condition puts a strain on the pugs entire body and can lead to an enlargement of the heart, tracheal collapse and chronic bronchitis.
Leg and Knee Problems
Hip Displace (HD)
Hip Displace can be described as a bad fit between the two bones of the hip joint and is caused by malformation of one or the other. HD often causes stiffness in the hind legs, substantial pain and in more severe cases, lameness.
Patellar Luxation or kneecap dislocation occurs when the kneecap slides out of its groove. A Pug with Patellar Luxation can sometimes limp or walk on three legs. Surgery is often the treatment of choice here, since it is a serious health condition.
Pug Dog Encephalitis
Pug Dog Encephalitis or PDE is an inflammatory disease of the brain that often causes seizures. If your Pug is experiencing seizures, he or she should definitely be tested for this disorder.
Lots of Pugs get Demodectic Mange, a parasitic skin disease caused by a mite and which can cause hair loss and irritation. Demodectic Mange does require veterinary treatment, but it is usually easily cured with a shot and ointment.
Portosystemic Shunt (PSS)
A PSS is an abnormal vessel that allows blood to bypass the liver. As a result, the blood is not cleansed properly. Symptoms may include, but are not limited to, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, hunger for nonfood substances, depression and intolerance of protein-rich food.
- Heat Stroke
- Skin allergies
- Back problems
- Heart disease