What Health Problems Do Pugs Have?

what health problems do pugs have

Health problems in pugs are more common than in many other breeds. Some of the issues with pugs are caused by their adorable shaped face. 

Respiratory Issues

Pugs are brachycephalic (flat-faced) dogs, which can cause more health problems than in other breeds. Brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS) can occur in certain pugs which makes it difficult for them to breathe. This is due to the shape of their head. Their long soft palate, large tonsils, swollen larynx, and their small closed nostrils cause limited airflow to the lungs. 

Pug Eye Problems

Their big eyes means they can have drier eyes, which can cause ulcerations from trauma or infection. Irritation to the cornea (surface of the eye) can hurt the pigment which can obstruct vision called pigmentary keratopathy. Since their eyes stick out far they can more likely prolapse (pop out) from trauma. Entropion is when the eyelid turns inward and ectropion is when the eyelid turns outward which can also occur.  

Skin Disorders

Pugs are prone to interdigital cysts. This is caused by trauma to the paw, but can sometimes form without cause.  You can tell when they have this issue if they are favoring one paw over another. Also, look for discomfort, discharge or enlargement. If the cyst does not heal within two weeks contact your veterinarian. 

Pugs can have itchy skin due to allergies. Their wrinkly skin also traps dirt and moisture which can cause pyoderma (bacterial skin infection). Symptoms can include pimples, small red bumps, and blood blisters. Usually this occurs near the lips, feet and skin folds. Contact your vet and they may prescribe a mediated shampoo or a change to what they eat. 

Bone And Joint Problems 

Luxating patella in dogs is a common issue in several small and large breed dogs including pugs. They genetically have shallow stifle grooves (knee grooves) and their patellas (knee caps) move outside (lateral luxating patella) or to the inside (medial luxating patella). Mild cases usually only need to be monitored. Joint supplements or anti-inflammatories can be used for moderate cases. Severe cases require surgery to prevent arthritis. 

Pugs are prone to spinal disease caused by hemivertebrae. The gene that creates their curly tail also causes an abnormally shaped vertebrae. The vertebrae can put pressure on the spinal cord causing back pain. Sometimes it can cause paralysis and incontinence. If it is severe, surgery is required to remove the pressure.

Mobility may be an issue and a dog wheelchair may be beneficial to help your dog stay active. It can help reduce the pressure and pain in the knees and allow for easier movement. It can also be beneficial after recovery from a spinal surgery. 

Ear Infections

what health problems do pugs have

It is common for pugs to experience (otitis externa) ear infections. Signs include discharge from the ear including bleeding, odor from the ear, swollen ears and redness in the ear canal. Your dog may shake their head or scratch at their ears, which is a sign they are in pain. You should clean your dog's ear during bathing. If your dog seems to be having problems with their ears then visit your vet. They will probably prescribe an antibiotic.  

Neurological Conditions

Pugs can suffer from seizures caused by epilepsy and it is best to contact your veterinarian if your dog ever has one. They can be controlled with medication and regular visits to your vet.

Pug dog encephalitis (PDE) can be a fatal neurological condition which is one of the pug genetic problems that could occur. It is inherited from a pug's parents. It is an inflammation of the brain which is caused by the immune system attacking the brain tissue. It can happen from 6 months to 6 years of age. Symptoms can include depression, head and neck pain, blindness, changes in behavior and seizures. 

Some of these pug health issues are more common than others. However, most pugs live a long and healthy life. 

About The Author

Performance Dog Wheelchairs wants you to know that physical limitations are not the end to mobility. Our purpose is to give others and their dogs the ability to seek new adventures and overcome physical challenges with one of our dog wheelchairs. We have small, medium and big dog wheelchairs

We offer a front support dog wheelchair which is also referred to as a dog quad wheelchair or four wheel dog cart, a rear support dog wheelchair and the patented SitGo Dog Wheelchair. This is the only affordable dog wheelchair that allows your dog to go from standing to sitting without having to remove it. 


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