Every dog breed was originally bred for a different purpose, and they all have their strengths, their weaknesses, and their unique looks. Purebred dogs are also prone to certain diseases and other health issues, and which ones they depend entirely on the breed. The Pug is a much-loved dog breed all over the world, but it is also one of the breeds that are plagued by hereditary diseases.
Difficulty breeding is perhaps what the breed is most known for, but unfortunately, it isn’t the only issue they are known to have. If you already have a Pug at home, the best thing you can do is to prepare for what might come and to learn to recognize the signs to catch problems in an early state.
One of the first things that come to mind when hearing about Pugs are – of course – their unusually large and bulging eyes; eyes that make them resemble the adorable alien E.T from the cult movie, and that makes them surprisingly hard to resist. They have the ultimate puppy eyes, but as adorable as they may be – their eyes are also likely to cause them several problems.
Perhaps the biggest problem for pugs is the risk of running into something and physically harming the eyes, and while this may sound a little funny – it is a real issue. Other dog breeds will logically hit an obstacle with their snout first, but Pugs don’t have much of a snout, which puts their bulging eyes at risk. The best way to protect Pug eyeballs is by removing anything sharp and/or any furniture with sharp edges down on their level, and to stay vigilant when outside.
Other eye problems Pugs are prone to are loss of eyesight, irritation caused by allergies or foreign agents, eye discoloration and more, and if you do notice any of the above – make an appointment with your local veterinarian to have it checked out. Many eye problems can be helped with medication or other treatments, provided it is diagnosed in time.
Pugs are known for suffering from numerous respiratory issues, which is due to the shape of their skull and their short snouts. It is sometimes the nostrils themselves that are too narrow for air to flow freely, and sometimes the obstruction is due to excess soft tissue blocking the airways.
The most common symptoms are difficult to breathe during exercise and physical activity, and you will usually notice by seeing your Pug gasping for air even after a moderate workout; your Pug might seem to be struggling for air when your other dogs act completely normal.
If you notice signs of respiratory issues, you will want to contact your vet right away, to see what your options are. Some Pugs are good candidates for surgery, where their airways are cleared and widened, and others may benefit from medication or certain alterations to their daily routines.
Respiratory issues in Pugs is one of the main reasons to why the breed has become so controversial in recent years, as it seems to be more common for a Pug to have trouble breeding than for it to be healthy, and this has raised the question as to whether breeding on Pugs is the ethical thing to do.
Preventing these types of issues may be impossible due to the breed’s disposition to be born with it, but you can lower the risk of it affecting your Pug’s life by keeping your fur friend at a healthy weight, as obesity is known to worsen respiratory problems.
Bone & Joint Disease
The Pug is unfortunately also prone to Luxating Patella and other bone- and joint problems, which can be both painful and inconvenient. Luxation Patella causes the knee to dislocate, and conditions like Hip Dysplasia can make it difficult for the dog to jump up on furniture, run and even walk if the case is severe.
It can be corrected with surgery, but not all Pugs suffer from their conditions if they have them, provided they are kept from becoming obese. Excess weight puts more stress on bones and joints – increasing the probability of pain – so it is in your dog’s best interest to get exercised regularly throughout his whole life.
You should try to prevent a Pug from jumping down from higher levels, as there is a risk of injury to both bones, joints and to the spine, especially since Pugs can be a little reckless and act first and think later (if ever). A better solution is to purchase a pet staircase for them to use to get up on the couch, the bed or wherever you would want your Pug to go, to reduce the risk of them hurting themselves.
Pyoderma is one of the conditions that will often affect Pugs, due to their sensitive skin and the wrinkles in their (oh so adorable) faces. It shows itself as small blood-filled blisters, pimples, and red bumps, and it usually develops in places where it is easy for the bacteria to grow – such as in a Pug’s skin folds. Because of this, it is highly important to keep the folds clean, and a Pug will usually require more frequent cleaning, especially if they have very deep wrinkles.
Bacterial skin infections aren’t the only thing Pug owners need to worry about, as Pugs are also prone to skin allergies of different kinds. A skin allergy can cause bald spots, itchy skin, dandruff and more, and it is often caused by a food allergy or an allergy to something environmental. Talk to a veterinarian to see if they can diagnose your Pug and consider switching to a limited ingredient dog food to see if it reduces the symptoms.
Related: Dog Food Allergies
Epilepsy and other conditions causing seizures are also somewhat common in the breed and something that needs to be brought to the attention of a vet. If your pug has anything resembling a seizure – especially if they have never had it before – it is time to make an appointment. Pug Dog Encephalitis (PDE) is also something Pugs might have to deal with; it is a brain inflammation that is inherited, and it mostly affects puppies and young dogs.
Many of the diseases and conditions that can cause seizures can be treated with medication, which gives your Pug the chance to live a happy, long and carefree life. A medical diagnose is not automatically a death sentence, but it is always better the sooner you can start treating it.
So, Do All Pugs Get Sick?
If you have a Pug, the bad news is that he or she is very likely to have some type of health issue down the line, but the good news is that it does not have to be serious. Not all Pugs struggle to breathe and not all Pugs have allergies, so don’t write your furry friend off just yet, and just use this information to learn to spot the signs.
Your Pug is probably your best friend, and an informed dog owner is the best friend a Pug could possibly have. If you can catch a medical condition in the early stages – your Pug will have a much bigger chance to pull through and get better.
Give your Pug a quality dog food that sees to all their nutritional needs, plenty of breed appropriate exercise and set up a good skincare routine to avoid allergies and itchy skin. The breed itself is prone to many health issues, but there is also plenty you can do to prevent serious problems.