Although Pugs live long lives, common health issues and diseases exist among the breed.

Courtesy of Jesse Kunerth 

Pugs enjoy relatively good health. Yet, like other breeds, they have some  health issues that are common to them. These diseases can be broken down into several categories:

What are Some Health   Issues Common to Pugs?

  • Eye Problems 
  • Respiratory Issues
  • Bone Disease
  • Ear Problems
  • Skin Problems
  • Seizures
  • Courtesy of Daniela Jakob

    Eye Problems

    Due to the complex nature of the eye, and its location, it represents many of the health issues found in this little dog. It is important that you are knowledgeable of the various diseases and conditions that could affect your pet’s eyesight. Armed with this information, you can then seek the proper diagnoses and treatments that will result in minimal complications, eye problems, and vision loss.

    These little dogs are susceptible to entropion. This is a condition where the eyelashes grow inward, scratching the eye. Symptoms include excessive blinking, and chronic eye irritation. The lid and the lashes constantly rub the eye. As the disease progresses, your pet could have difficulty seeing. In some incidents, blindness occurs.

    Surgical removal of the skin below the eyelid corrects the problem. Surgery causes scar tissue to develop. This scar tissue pulls the eyelid outward, reducing the rubbing, and irritation.

    Some members of this breed have a second, incomplete row of eyelashes. This causes eye problems in which chronic irritation, excessive blinking, and abrasions to the eye occur. The condition, distichiasis, occurs more frequently in the lashes of the upper eyelid. One treatment involves plucking the extra lashes. In another, the veterinarian makes small incisions in the lids and then, removes the lashes.

    Abnormal placements of normal eyelashes make the Pug vulnerable to a condition called trichiasis. In this condition, the lashes constantly rub the eyes, causing irritation of the cornea. The dog constantly blinks its eyes to relieve the pressure.

    As the lashes continues to rub the eye, corneal abrasions occur, and pigmentation develops. Surgery returns the lashes to a more correct position. Continuing eye problems necessitates addition surgery either to decrease the nasal fold or to remove it altogether.

    Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca or KCS occurs in adult Pugs. This disease, sometimes called Dry Eyes, results from a decreased ability to produce tears. Your pet looses the normal moisture in its eyes. Sometimes, a brown film covers all or part of the eye. The insides of the eyelids become thick and red. A crusty matter accumulates. In its advance stage, KCS lead to eye abrasions.

    This breed’s number one eye disease involves pigments on the corneas. This condition, Pigmentitis Keratosis, is also known as pigmentary keratitis or PK. PK is the secondary result of other eye problems, such as entropion and ditichiasis. Usually, the tear ducts produce either very little or no tears.

    A brown, opaque pigment or film forms in the inner corner of the eye. It varies from slight to severe. If left untreated, the pigment spreads until it covers the entire eye. PK is easily diagnosed. You can be see it with the naked eye. This pigmentation can develop at any age.

    How is PK either treated or controlled?

    The best treatment for this Pug health issue is prevention. You should have your pet’s tear output tested. If there are signs of pigmentation, start your pet on medication. The disease, once started, cannot be eliminated. Medication helps to control the spread. If your pet experience any blindness, removing the pigment can halt farther spread of the disease. Pigmentation leaves a scar on the cornea.

    Your pet’s eyes are vulnerable to many injuries. These injuries cause abrasions and scratches, and often damage the cornea. Cornea ulceration occurs. Prompt mandatory treatment prevents additional damage and health issues.

    An increase in tearing, excessive blinking, and sensitivity to light, and great pain are symptoms of cornea ulceration. The animal also refuses to open the affected eye. Treatment ranges from antibiotic drops and ointment, to surgery that creates a third eyelid or a flap. Eye problems usually involve more than one specific disease process.



    Courtesy of Viorel Sima


    Respiratory Problems

    The Pug's flat face makes him prone to numerous upper respiratory problems and health issues. These problems range from a single sneeze, to trauma in the chest that causes breathing difficulties.

    The majority of the respiratory problems could become serious problems if left along. Most of them require immediate attention. Pug health issues include: physical obstructions preventing air intake, chest injury, pneumonia, tumors, heart failure, a collapsed windpipe, or a torn diaphram.

    One common disease, Stenotic Nares causes breathing difficulties. Stenotic Nares is a birth defect. It produces too soft nasal tissues. Each time the Pug takes a breath, the tissue collapses. This forces the animal to breathe through its mouth. Symptoms include foamy discharges when breathing. Surgery corrects the problem.

    Another Pug health issue centers around an elongated soft palate. This condition plagues many of this breed. A much too large soft palate overlaps the airway passage. This reduces the normal airway passage, and causes the animal to cough and to have difficulty breathing.

    Other health issues occur in middle age to older members of this breed. The trachea often collapses. This causes the cartilage that forms and supports the trachea to weaken, reducing the diameter of the airway. The animal suffers with a dry honking cough.

    This condition worsen during exercise, excitement, on hot days, or if the animal is overweight. Treatment involves using a mild sedative and cough suppressants. It also helps to put your pet on a diet.

    Postnasal drip causes reverse sneeze syndrome. Although a non-life threatening condition, this condition frightens pet owners, because it sounds as if the animal is chocking. No treatment exists for this condition. Since reverse sneeze syndrome may be linked to allergies, some Pugs take antihistamines for the postnasal drip.

    Courtesy of Chris Lorenz

    Bone Diseases

    Pugs develop Legg-Calve Perthes, often referred to as Perthes or LCP. This disease causes the head of the femur to die and disinergrate. LCP usually appears between 6 and 12 months of age.

    Some symptoms include limping, pain, and later in its development, arthritis. The only known treatment involves surgically removing the head of the femur.

    Younger dogs are susceptible to Patellar Luxation. This condition is the partial or complete dislocation of the patella, or kneecap. Showing up in younger dogs, Patellar Luxation has several stages of severity.

    Over half of the Pug population suffers with hip dysplasia. Most pet owners are only aware of the problem when it reaches a severe level. This painful condition causes lameness in one or both hind legs.

    Although genetics plays a role in the onset of this disease, other factors such as overfeeding, contribute to this problem. To insure good Pug health, do not overfeed your pet. Mild cases of dysplasia responds well to aspirin. In severe cases, your veterinarian may recommend surgery.

    Another common health issue in this breed is Hemi-vertebrae. Hemi-vertebrae causes the animal to be unable to walk. Some dogs have malformed vertebrates and have no problems at all. Others start showing signs of this disease around the age of five months. There are no known cures for this disease. Eventually, the Pug must be put down.




    Courtesy of Joopang


    Ear Problems

    Pugs often have problems with their ears. The ear becomes inflamed. This condition is known as otitis externa. The inflammation can occur in either or both ears. The ear canal becomes red, and swollen. Sometimes there is bleeding and either a brown or a black pus-like discharge.

    Otitis externa is  a difficult disease to cure. Antibiotics help to control it and to eliminate some of the pain. Surgery to permanently open the ear canal maybe needed to offer some relief.


    Skin Problems and Diseases

    Most Pugs suffer with skin problems or skin disorders at some time. These health issues are often difficult to diagnose. Many of them are the results of a poor immune system, parasites, hormonal disorders or trauma.

    One common Pug health issue, Pyoderma, is caused by a bacterial infection. The dog breaks out in either small red bumps, pus-filled pimples, blood –filled blisters, or a rash. The skin in the affected area becomes dry and crusty. There may be hair loss, weight gain, excessive thirst, or signs of feminization in male dogs.

    This disease usually develops along the facial folds, lips, and between the toes. Cleansing the area with antiseptic soap sometimes controls the spread of this disease. Antibiotics, hypoallergenic diets, medicated shampoos, and whirlpool baths also tend to help. When the causes are identified, and the affected animal responds well to treatment, the condition may never occur again.

    Young Pugs often suffer with canine acne. Small to moderate pimples form on and around the chin area. Over-the-counter acne cleansing pads seem to help to clear up the area and to prevent additional outbreaks.

    Courtesy of Cathie King


    Epilepsy and seizures occur in many of this breed. In most cases, if your pet suffers from epilepsy, he can still live a long life with the proper medication. A veterinarian can diagnose the disease and prescribe medication.

    Pugs of all ages can suffer with epilepsy. The causes are unknown. Blood work and fecal samples can rule out organ failures and internal parasites. Medication controls the condition. The animals need annual check-ups to insure that the medicine is working properly and that there are no additional complications.

    Another Pug health concern is Pug Dog Encephalitis. Pug Dog Encephalitis, a very rare disease, is "breed specific". Whereas other breeds may suffer from encephalitis, the type that occurs in Pugs is unique. Instead of attacking just the brain, when this disease occurs in Pugs, it produces inflamation in both the brain and its outer membrane. It is also inherited. A series of causes such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi have been identified. Other causes are unknown.

    The symptoms include seizures, weakness on one side of the body, neck pain, lethargy, and blindness. Some dogs press their heads against an object and turn in the opposite direction. It is as if they are trying to alleviate the pressure.

    Treatment involves giving the animal doses of prednisone. This may give some relief. There are no know cures, and the outcome is fatal.

    Pugs do not adapt well to hot weather. They can easily suffer from hyperthermia. Symptoms include rapid, excessive panting, vomiting, hemorrhages, seizures, and collapsing. It is important that you reduce your pet’s body temperature immediately. Prolong periods with a body temperature of 105 degrees or more, could result in either permanent damage or death. Knowing first aid would be beneficial.

    Courtesy of Isselee


    Pugs like any other breed, get cancer. Cancer generally occur later in life, but can also affect younger Pugs. Early diagnosis of this disease is important. All Pugs over seven years old should have an annual preventative veterinary examination.

    Treatment varies, depending upon the type of cancer. Surface tumors and testicular cancers usually have a successful treatment rate, if caught right away. Other cancers may be put in remission with combinations of chemotherapy and radiation.

    As a responsible pet owner, examine your pet for any strange bumps or lumps. If any exist, have your veterinarian check them. Do not take any chances and wait for the possibility of cancer, pet health issues, or disease spreading. Early diagnosis makes treatment more successful.

    Pugs also suffer from digestive problems and obesity. Rarely do they suffer from any difficulties resulting from neutering and spaying. It is your job as a responsible pet owner to know your pet. If he seems to be having any health problems do not hesitate to visit your veterinarian.

    › Some common Pug health Issues