Caring for a Pug: Common Health Problems, Risks & Symptoms


The Pug is a breed that, on average, has excellent health and vitality, and they often live long into their mid-to upper-teens. However, similar to other dog breeds, pugs may suffer from a number of different health conditions. Obesity is a prevalent issue with pugs, and as a result, maintaining a healthy weight for the dog is essential to ensuring that he maintains his general health.

Because Pugs are of the brachycephalic breed, they should never be left outside alone. Because of the flatness of their features, this breed is particularly vulnerable to the effects of extreme heat and humidity. It is important to keep them cool and exercise with caution during the warmer months since they may have respiratory difficulties otherwise.

In addition, those who have the brachycephalic condition could have their nostrils squeezed or have an extended soft palate. Snoring to an extreme degree and struggling for air are indicators of this condition.

Additional health concerns include, but are not limited to:

Pug Brains

  • PUG DOG ENCEPHALITIS (PDE) 

This is a condition that is specific to Pugs and makes those of us who know and love them terrified. PDE is an inflammatory brain illness that is deadly. We’re not sure why Pugs acquire it. We have no idea how to handle it. It can only be tested in the brain tissue of deceased canines. Pugs that are impacted are often young. Seizures, circling, blindness, coma, and death will occur in the dogs within a few days to a few weeks. There seems to be a hereditary component since it tends to run in families.

After many years of research, researchers and veterinarians have developed a DNA test to assist breeders in breeding better.

Written by UC Davis Veterinary Medicine:

Approximately 1.2% of Pug dogs die of necrotizing meningoencephalitis (NME), also known as Pug dog encephalitis (PDE).  NME is an inflammatory disease of the central nervous system that is usually progressive and fatal. Symptoms of NME include seizures, depression, ataxia, abnormal gait and blindness (1).   Female, fawn-colored Pug Dogs younger than 7 years of age are more apt to develop NME than older, male and non-fawn-colored individuals (2). Recent research has revealed that susceptibility to NME is associated with the dog leukocyte antigen (DLA) region of dog chromosome 12 (3).  The association is at or near the region containing the DLA class II genes. Dogs that  have two identical copies of the NME associated markers in this region, have an observed risk (OR) of 12.75% for NME in their lifetime over Pugs that have only one or no copies of these markers (OR 0-1.08).

Results reported as:

N/N  –  No copies of the NME-associated markers (homozygous for normal). These dogs have a low risk of developing NME. N/S  –   One copy of the NME-associated markers (heterozygous for susceptibility). These dogs have a low risk of developing NME.   S/S  –   Two copies of the NME susceptibility associated markers.  These dogs are 12.75% times more likely to develop NME in their lifetime. Outcomes of matings based on NME test results: Detailed Information

  1. N/N x N/N = all puppies will have two copies of the low NME risk markers (N/N) and will have a significantly reduced risk of developing NME during their lifetime.
  2. N/N x N/S = One half of the puppies will have two copies of the low NME risk markers (N/N), and have a significantly reduced risk of developing NME during their lifetimes. One half of the puppies will carry one copy of the susceptibility markers (N/S), but will also be at low risk for developing NME.
  3. N/S x N/S = One fourth of puppies will be N/N and at low risk for NME; one half will be N/S, carry the susceptibility marker, but will also be at low risk for NME;  one fourth will be S/S and will be at high risk for NME.
  4. N/S x S/S = One half of the puppies will carry the susceptibility marker (N/S), but will not be at increased risk of NME; one half of the puppies will have two copies (S/S) of the susceptibility marker and be at high risk of NME.
  5. N/N x S/S = All of the puppies will carry one copy of the susceptibility markers (N/S), and be at low risk for developing NME.
  6. S/S x S/S = All of the puppies will carry two copies of the susceptibility marker (S/S) and be at high risk for NME.

Notes: This is not a diagnostic test for NME in Pug Dogs or for NME disease or risk in other breeds.  The test is only to determine risk for developing NME in Pug Dogs and for selecting matings that will produce puppies that are at decreased risk (N/N, N/S).  Although a significant proportion (11%) of Pug Dogs is S/S, only about 1 in 8 of this group will develop NME during their lifetime. Also, breeders are advised against breeding out the S genotype, because 40% of Pug Dogs have the S genotype in a heterozygous (N/S = 29%) or homozygous state (S/S = 11%).  Eliminating the S genotype will lead to a considerable loss of genetic diversity.  Therefore, breeders should carefully select matings that do not produce S/S puppies.  The NME report includes DNA types for a panel of 8 markers selected from the International Society of Animal Genetics (ISAG) canine parentage panel.  These markers provide individual identification for each sample tested.References:1. Talarico LR, Schatzberg SJ. Idiopathic granulomatous and necrotizing inflammatory disorders of the canine central nervous system: a review and future perspectives. J Small Anim Pract 2010: 51: 138–149.2. Levine JM, Fosgate GT, Porter B et al. Epidemiology of necrotizing meningoencephalitis in Pug dogs. J Vet Intern Med 2008: 22: 961–968.3. Greer KA, AK Wong, H Liu, TR Famula, NC Pedersen, A Ruhe, M Wallace and MW Neff. Necrotizing meningoencephalitis of Pug Dogs associates with dog leukocyte antigen class II and resembles acute variant forms of multiple sclerosis. Tissue Antigens 2010: 76:110-118.

  • EPILEPSY

Not all Pugs who have seizures have PDE. We see a number of Pugs who have idiopathic epilepsy, or seizures for no known reason. Many of these dogs can be controlled quite well on anticonvulsant medication, such as Phenobarbital or Potassium Bromide. The goal of therapy is to decrease the severity and frequency of the seizures. You will need to work closely with your vet to determine the correct drug and dosage for your pet.

  • NERVE DEGENERATION

This syndrome of older Pugs doesn’t have an official name and little is known about how or why Pugs get it. Owners of affected dogs may notice their Pug dragging his back toes, staggering in the rear quarters, and having trouble jumping up or down. The back sometimes gets progressively more arched and the dog may become incontinent. The dogs don’t appear to be painful and they often get worse very slowly. Often, the front half of the dog is still in good shape and is strong and some of these dogs can do well with a special cart for their rear halves. Anti-inflammatory medications don’t seem to change the course of the progressive weakness. Luckily, Pugs are portable, easy to pick up and easy to pick up after, so owners can often help maintain a good quality of life for these dogs.

Pug Eyes

Pugs have huge, expressive eyes, but they may also have significant visual disorders that need the care of your veterinarian and, in rare cases, a veterinary ophthalmologist. Everyone has heard of a one-eyed Pug, so if you feel your Pug has an eye issue, get expert help right away.

  • CORNEAL ULCERS

If you see your Pug squinting or the eye seems red or weepy, he may have a scratch or ulcer on his cornea (the clear part of the eye). Your vet may want to put a special stain on the eye to observe the ulcer and will send home medication. Ulcers can deepen quickly and the eye can rupture so you should seek veterinary care right away.

  • DRY EYE (Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca or KCS) and PIGMENTARY KERATITIS (PK)

These two disorders are often, but not always, encountered in Pugs. Some Pugs suffer from KCS because they do not generate enough tears to keep their eyes wet. Excess mucus and redness in your Pug’s eyes are possible. A Schirmer Tear Test may be performed by your veterinarian to discover whether your Pug is impacted. If he isn’t making enough tears, drugs that encourage the tear glands to create more are available. Excess mucus must typically be washed out of the eyes as well. Owners of PK dogs may see heavy black patches on the cornea or transparent region of the eye, particularly in the corner near the snout. There is often a little amount towards the inner corner, but some Pugs have the pigment blanket their corneas and are blind. Medications may help keep the eyes moist and the pigment dispersed. Both of these issues need lifelong treatment.

  • DYSTICHIA

These are additional eyelashes that brush against the eye, causing discomfort and, in rare cases, ulcers. Some dogs need surgery to have the problematic lashes removed.

  • ENTROPION

This is a condition in which the lower eyelid folds like a window shade. This causes the hair on the lid to rub against and irritate the eye. To fix the rolling lid, surgery is available.

PROPTOSIS – Because Pug eyes protrude, they are more easily pushed from the eye socket than those of other breeds. If a Pug is bitten close to the eye, the eyelids may be forced forward. Although nerves and muscles keep the eye in position, it is often too damaged to be sighted. This is a medical emergency since prompt treatment may allow for surgical replacement and the preservation of some sight.

Pug Skin

Pug skin is covered with TONS of hair that seems to be constantly shedding, which is typical. However, Pugs seem to be predisposed to some skin issues.

  • ALLERGIES

Seasonal allergies may occur in certain Pugs. They are often itchy and may gnaw their feet. This might begin around a certain time of year, but it can also spread to issues all year. Antihistamines, steroids, and special shampoos are sometimes required. A veterinary dermatologist may test your dog to determine which compounds are causing the problem and provide customized allergy injections to desensitize your dog. Food allergies are uncommon, but your veterinarian may recommend a trial on a hypoallergenic diet.

  • DEMODECTIC MANGE

This mange, caused by the Demodex mite, mainly affects young Pug pups and presents as patchy hair loss in one or more regions. The skin may be pink at times, and there may be an odor. This sickness may be linked to a secondary bacterial infection, which may make the condition irritating. A deep skin scraping is used to diagnose it. It is not believed to be communicable. There are several therapy options available. Because it is supposed to “run” in families, dogs with the condition should not be bred, particularly if they have more than one or two tiny patches as pups. Demodex may arise in elderly dogs, although they often have weakened immune systems or other disorders.

  • STAPH INFECTIONS

Staph bacteria is a kind of bacterium that is typically found on the skin. If their immune systems are challenged, some dogs may develop pimples and inflamed hair follicles. Because the lesions cause hair to stand up on the pimples, they might resemble hives. Lesions in non-haired regions may resemble ringworm, with a circular patch with a crusty leading edge and occasionally a dark core. Oral antibiotics and medicated shampoo are frequently prescribed by your veterinarian.

  • YEAST INFECTIONS

If your Pug smells like filthy feet, is itchy, and has darkened, thicker skin, he may have a yeast infection. This condition is often found in dogs who have previously had a Staph infection and were treated with antibiotics since the medicine eliminates the bacteria and allows the yeast to take control. The most prevalent areas are the armpits, the foot, the groin, and the bottom of the neck. A yeast infection in the ears is characterized by a foul odor and an abundance of light tan or golden wax. Skin scrapings and ear swabs will be required by your veterinarian. Special anti-yeast medicines and shampoos are available.

Pug Orthopedics

While Pugs are generally strong tiny dogs, they may suffer from major bone and limb disorders.

  • HEMI-VERTEBRAE

This is a disorder characterized by malformed or misshaped vertebrae or spine bones. It is widespread in all short-faced breeds such as Pugs, Bulldogs, and French Bulldogs. Some animals will have a few unusual vertebrae but otherwise, be quite normal. Others will begin to have issues between the ages of 4 and 6 months. The puppy’s walk may be stumbling, uncoordinated, and feeble. Others pups deteriorate with time, and some become paralyzed. A research on this issue is being undertaken in England, but we don’t know much about why some dogs have difficulties with it and others don’t. Spine surgery is recommended by certain physicians to stabilize the damaged region, however each case must be carefully reviewed.

  • HIP DYSPLASIA

Pugs are second only to Bulldogs in terms of hip dysplasia prevalence (approximately 62 percent ). Many variables, including genetics, environment, and diet, contribute to this hip joint malformation. Switching to adult food early in a puppy’s life (12 to 16 weeks), avoiding supplements, and keeping the dog slender as it grows have all been demonstrated to reduce the puppy’s risk of being harmed. Despite the fact that many Pugs are afflicted, most are able to live regular, healthy lives despite the condition, unlike certain huge and enormous breeds, who need surgery to move about comfortably.

  • LEGG-PERTHES

This is also another hip joint ailment that affects numerous toy breeds. The blood flow to the head of the femur (the major rear leg bone) is weakened in this condition, and the head of the femur that links to the pelvis begins to disintegrate. This is commonly visible in pups between the ages of 4 and 6 months when they begin limping and developing muscular atrophy in the leg. The puppy’s operation entails removing the damaged head of the femur, which is no longer linked to the pelvis. Scar tissue produces a “false joint,” and the puppy is normally pain-free.

  • LUXATING PATELLAS

This affects the stifle or knee joint of several toy breeds, as well as some bigger ones. The patella, also known as the kneecap, normally rides up and down in a groove on the front of the knee. The kneecap slips to the side (typically the inside) and the joint becomes unstable in this situation. When the kneecap comes off, the dog may limp and drag the leg. The dog may often extend his leg back and pop his patella back into place. Some canines are normal when they are young and get this as they grow older. Many dogs survive with this condition, but others need surgery to deepen the groove and reposition the patella so that it remains in place. It is possible that one or both legs will be affected.

   ðŸ˜ These are popular items for Pug owners, maybe you need them too? Click images & check them out! ✅

 ðŸ¥° This Dog Harness Protection Vest has removable spikes to protect the pug from other aggressive animals. The spikes are made of hard plastic so they won’t hurt your pet. The adjustable waist belt and collar help to use for different dog shapes and sizes. Check out the video to see how to measure your pet.

🥰 This Pet Travel Carrier For Small Dogs is allowed on most airplane flights. You can put the carrier under the seat in front of you with the wheels removed. It has excellent ventilation with mesh windows and a full zipper for easy access. Check out the reviews to avoid returning.

🥰 This Water Fountain For Pet is made of stainless steel water bowl and filter tray, making it durable. It is convenient for your pug to drink the water from the dish without getting its nose into the water, unlike other fountains. Also, it is easy to fill and clean. Check out the reviews before making your decision.

 ðŸ¥° This durable Dog Feeder allows a quick setup with the LCD screen. You can set the time to let it automatically dispense food on the right time up to 4 meals a day while you are asleep or on vacation. The tray and food tank can be removed for cleaning. Click the reviews to get tips about setting the feeder.

 ðŸ¥° This Black Dog Waste Roll Bags contain 30 rolls and 6000 bags. The bag can hold water for 30 days and controls the odor. Click to check the reviews before purchasing.

🥰 This Stuffed Toy For Dogs comes with a snuggle puppy, 3 heat packs, a puppy blanket, a toy and a teething aid. This kit reduces barking and anxiety for your pug, enhancing their sleep and crate and kennel training. The puppy blanket gives extra warmth and comfort. Click to see the reviews to see if your pug will like it too.

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