As with any breed, the Pug is not without problems, and many of these are directly related to the dog's structure. The shortened muzzle (referred to as brachiocephalic) can cause breathing problems and air gulping, which can give him gas and cause problems in hot, humid climates. Signs of distress include difficulty in breathing, wheezing and heavy panting. Pugs in heat distress should be cooled with cold water and taken to a veterinarian as soon as possible. A cold water enema may be necessary to bring the internal body temperature back to normal. Some pug owners keep a child's throat ice collar - an ice bag for a small throat - on hand in case of heat emergency. Air conditioning in summer is a must for pugs.
The Pug's eyes bulge somewhat and can easily get scratched, and he can have eyelid or eyelash abnormalities. Tooth and gum problems are also possible with this breed because of the slightly undershot jaw. Owners should examine the mouth of a growing pup to make sure baby teeth are not retained and to watch for mouth tumors. Brushing the teeth is strongly recommended to prevent gum disease.
The following is a partial list of potential medical problems associated with the Pug breed. Not every Pug will have one, or any of these problems. It is imperative that when obtaining a puppy that you do so from a responsible, reputable breeder, and then have the puppy checked by your vet.
Known MedicalProblems in Pugs:
1. Stenotic Nares : In lay terms Stenotic Nares is narrow or restricted nostrils. This restriction puts a strain on the dog's system and can lead to an enlarged heart. Some of the indications are that the dog tends to mouth breathe or a foamy nasal discharge. Surgical correction can enlarge the nasal opening alleviating complications related to this condition.
2. Entropion : In lay-terms entropion is the inward rolling of the eyelid(s), usually resulting in the eyelashes or hair rubbing the surface of the eye. This rubbing can cause irritation, ulceration, or minor scratches. This condition is serious. The irritation can cause swelling which further complicates the condition, therefore early treatment is critical. Surgical correction is the most common course of action.
3. Elongated Soft Palate : The soft palate is a continuation of the palate forming the roof of the mouth. If a dog is born with this structure being too long, it can restrict the airflow into your Pug's lungs. This condition can be evaluated under anesthsia by a veterinarian. This condition can frequently be surgically corrected.
4. Slipped Stifles (patellar luxation) : The patella (kneecap) is a small bone which guards the knee joint. The patella sits in a grove in the femur, and is held in place by a combination of ligaments and muscles. This bone can slip out of position due to injury, poor alingment, weak ligaments, or insufficient grove in the femur. Generally the dog will limp, carry the leg off the ground, or hop when running. If the problem is severe it can necessitate surgery. Patellar luxation can be either hereditary or due to injury.
5. Dry Eye (Keratoconjunctivitus sicca) : While normal dog eyes are lusterous - dogs with dry eye have eyes lacking in luster and appear textured. This condition is caused by the lack of tear production. This can be due to lack of nerve stimulation of the tear glands, failure of the tear glands, or blockage of the ducts that carry the tears to the eyes. Full diagnosis can only be performed by a Veterinarian to determine the cause. Treatment will be dependant upon the cause and severity of the condition.
6. Bilateral Cataracts : Cataracts in dogs can be identified as opaque spots on the lens of the eye. These spots may cause total or partial loss of vision. Some cataracts are hereditary while others are not. In some cases surgery may help the dog recover.
7. Corneal Ulcers (aka indolent ulcer, recurrent corneal erosion, or ulcerative keratitis) : Any scratch or injury to a dog's eye can result in an ulcer. Ulcers must be treated by a veterinarian immediately or there will be some loss of sight. Only a veterinarian can determine the best treatment or combination of treatments for your dog. Some lines of pugs appear to have more eye problems than others.
8. Demodectic skin mites (Demodectic mange) : Pugs have a high incidence of demodectic mange, especially when they are still puppies. Mange does require a veterinarian to treat it. When demodectic mange occurs it may take one of two forms. The localized, squamous form usually occurs in dogs under one year old. It causes small (about one inch diameter) patches of hair loss exposing healthy looking patches of skin. These patches often occur on the face or forelegs. Hair loss around the eyes may also be seen, The hair loss appears gradually, and after the patches have reached their maximum size, hair begins to regrow in about a month. It is imperative that caution is exercised : localized Demodex and ringworm may be confused, and
some cases of localized Demodex progress to the generalized form. Generalized cases of demodectic mange may occur in dogs of any age. Instead of a few small patches of hair loss, as is seen in the localized form, the loss becomes a large area and the exposed skin often becomes infected with bacteria. Generalized demodectic mange can be extremely difficult to treat and in some cases can be fatal. Professional veterinary help is needed if you suspect your dog might have this type of mange.
9. Distichiasis : Some dogs have a double row of eyelashes. These double eyelashes normally occur on the lower eyelid. Their presence causes irritation of the eye similar to that of Entropion. Surgery is required for correction.
10. Encephalitis (PDE) : Encephalitis is the medical term for inflammation of the brain which can cause seizures. This is a very serious condition and should only be diagnosed and treated by a veterinarian.
11. Generalized Progressive Retinal Atrophy : PRA is a hereditary eye disease causing the breakdown of the cells of the retina. The breakdown is gradual leading to mid-life (age 5-7) blindness. Many breeders have their dogs screened for this condition.
12. Hip Dysplasia : The hip joint is a ball and socket connection. If the joint is malformed the head of the femur will not properly align with the cup of the hip socket. This misalignment can range from mild to severe. In mild cases, with proper diet and exercise the animal can lead a full and active life. In more severe cases surgical correction or euthanasia are the only alternatives. The most common indications of hip dysplasia, in small dogs, is when the dog is older. Generally with this late-life onset surgical correction is never required. Your veterinarian can X-ray your dog's hips for evaluation.
13. Pigmentary Keratitis : At the onset it looks like a small black or dark brown glob of pigment that begins on the white of the eye in the inside corners. It will gradually grow and spread across the eye completely covering it, the brown pigment blocks the vision and the pug cannot see through it - rendering the dog blind.
14. Legg-Calve Perthes Disease : This condition is due to improper blood flow leading to the destruction of the femoral head (ball head) in the hip joint. This condition frequently occurs between the ages of six months to one year. Surgical removal of the femural head is the most common treatment.
15. Trichiasis : Trichiasis is ingrown eyelashes of the upper eyelid, causing irritation of the eye. This condition can be surgically corrected.