The Pug is a small brachycephalic breed (short muzzled) dog. They have Chinese origins and early Pugs may have been the predecessor of today’s Pekingese.
Pugs are alert and are good with children, making them good family dogs. They can also be good watchdogs.
Because of their short muzzle and inherited anatomical problems, many Pugs are unable to breathe properly or efficiently. They are not as efficient as other dog breeds to regulate their body temperature through evaporation from the tongue.
Therefore, Pugs should be kept cool and indoors on hot summer days because the heat may cause breathing difficulties. For the same reason, Pugs should not be allowed to exercise too much in the summer.
If you are thinking of getting a Pug, you need to know about the common health problems that may affect this dog breed.
Of course, not all Pugs will be affected by the common health problems as described below, but keep in mind that they are more predisposed to these illnesses.
Pug Dog Encephalitis (PDE)
One of the many pug health problems is “pug dog encephalitis”. PDE is chronic inflammation of the brain and is an inherited disease in Pugs, affecting Pugs from 9 months to 4 years of age.
Initial symptoms include seizures, confusion, and memory loss.
There are three forms of this disease:
- Disseminated Form – This form of PDE affects all parts of the brain.
- Focal Form – This form affects only specific areas of the brain.
- Ocular Form – This form affects the optic nerves but is rather rare.
Signs of the disorder can happen very rapidly or progress slowly.
There is no cure for this fatal disease although progression may be slowed down by the use of
certain drugs such as steroids.
Pug Health Problems – The Eyes
There are quite a few Pug health problems that are related to the eyes, because Pugs have large bulging eyes:
Dry eye (keratoconjunctivitis sicca) is a disorder of the tear glands in which there is inadequate tear production and a resulting dry cornea. As a result, the affected eye becomes irritated, and the conjunctival tissues becomes red.
A thick, stringy, mucoid discharge covers the eye. The cornea eventually will become dry and brown. Blindness can result.
Entropion is a condition where the bottom eyelid rolls inward toward the eyeball, causing the eye lashes to rub against the cornea, resulting in pain, tearing, and inflammation. Both eyes may have this problem, which fortunately can be corrected by surgeries.
Pugs have big bulging eyes, so it is easy for them to sustain injuries to their eyes. Corneal abrasions and ulcers are injuries to the cornea caused by trauma, such as scratches.
Ulcers are deeper wounds that involve the middle and sometimes even the inner layer of the cornea.
Corneal ulcers are very painful and cause severe tearing, squinting, and pawing at the eye. A Pug with a corneal ulcer usually avoids the light.
Prompt treatment is essential to avoid complications and even loss of the eye. Therefore, if your Pug shows the above symptoms, take him to the vet immediately.
Pug Health Problems – The Joints
Luxating patella is a congenital disease in which the alignment of the bones and joints of the hind leg is abnormal, resulting in a displacement of the patella to the side of the joint.
The main symptom of luxating patella is an intermittent hopping on the limb when the patella pops out of place. Depending on the severity of the problem, dogs with luxating patella may need surgical correction.
Hip dysplasia is a genetic disease characterized by an abnormal development of the hip joint. The typical sign of hip dysplasia is limping and bunny hopping.The condition can range from “mild” to “severe”. Treatment includes medical therapy and/or surgery.
Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome
Brachycephalic breeds (short muzzled breeds such as the Pug, Shih Tzu, Pekingese) commonly suffer from this condition which affects various locations of the respiratory tract. If left untreated, this will result in chronic breathing problems.
Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome includes the following conditions:
Stenotic Nares (Collapsed Nostrils)
This is a birth defect rather commonly found in pugs. It is characterized by overly narrow
nasal openings and soft nasal cartilage, causing the nostril to collapse when the dog breathes in, obstructing the airway.
Depending on the extent to which the airway is obstructed, stenotic nares can result in noisy breathing (snorting, snoring). It may also cause gagging and coughing.
Stenoic nares can be treated by surgically enlarging the nasal openings.
Elongated Soft Palate
This is anatomical problem in which the soft palate is elongated, partially obstructing the airway during breathing. This results in gagging, snorting, snoring, and gurgling, especially during and after exercise.
An elongated soft palate is treated by surgically shortening the palate.
This condition occurs primarily in older dogs. Obese dogs are especially vulnerable to this health problem.
Tracheal collapse occurs because the tracheal rings do not possess normal rigidity resulting in the collapse of the trachea wall as the dog inhales. The collapse of the trachea wall leads to a narrowing of the windpipe.
The typical sign of this problem is a goose-honk cough, sometimes accompanied by gagging and harsh breathing, and made worse by stress and exertion. Coughing may also occur when the dog eats or drinks.
Mild to moderate symptoms can be treated by bronchodilator drugs and a low-stress routine that avoids situations that trigger coughing episodes.
In severe cases, surgery may be necessary. To protect the dog’s throat and keep pressure off the airway, using a harness instead of a collar is important.
Other Pug Health Problems
Other Pug health problems that we need to pay attention to include:
Hydrocephalus is a condition caused by an excessive accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid around the brain. Hydrocephalus tends to affect most puppies before they reach 9 months of age, although some dogs may not show symptoms until they are older.
Hydrocephalus causes seizures, partial or complete blindness, dementia, and eventual death, although some dogs are able to live with a mild case of hydrocephalus throughout adulthood.
Treatment involves the use of corticosteroids and diuretics to reduce the production of cerebrospinal fluid. Sometimes surgery is necessary.
Pugs usually live a sedentary life, and as a result are prone to obesity. Be sure to give and balanced healthy diet and enough exercise to your pug to prevent obesity.