Common Health Problems in Pugs

Pugs' compressed noses often cause respiratory problems, which must be treated surgically.
Pugs' compressed noses often cause respiratory problems, which must be treated surgically. (Image: Chris Amaral/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Pure-bred pugs are small dogs that have wrinkly, compressed faces, bulging eyes, and a curled tail. The breed has Chinese origins and has become a popular breed in Europe and North America. Pugs often develop a variety of different health conditions that must be treated with surgery or therapy.

Vision Problems

Pugs are susceptible to a number of different eye problems. One common problem is dry eye syndrome, which occurs when tear ducts around the eye fail to produce tears. Entropion is a condition in which the border of the eyelid turns against the eyeball, causing irritation around the eye. More serious conditions include progressive retinal atrophy, which is a deterioration of vessels around the retina, and bilateral cataracts. Both conditions cause permanent eye damage and, in some cases, blindness.

Respiratory Problems

Many pugs develop respiratory problems that are evident when the dogs cough, wheeze, gag or breathe harshly. Respiratory problems are considered serious and can be corrected with surgery. Two common problems are tracheal collapse and an elongated soft palate (ESP). A tracheal collapse occurs when the pug's windpipe narrows, causing difficulty breathing. An ESP is the obstruction of the dog's airway and is common in short-muzzled breeds. Pugs are also susceptible to stenotic nares, or pinched nostrils, which occur because the dogs' nasal tissue is too soft.

Mobility Problems

The short, stout bodies of pugs cause well-documented mobility problems, including hip dysplasia and patellar luxation. Hip dysplasia is used to describe an improper fit between two bones in the hip joint. It causes stiffness and significant pain in the animal. Patellar luxation affects the knee joint and occurs when the kneecap slips out of its groove. Symptoms of this condition are limping and walking on three legs. Both conditions must be corrected with surgery.

Other Health Issues

Pugs are susceptible to pug dog encephalitis, which causes brain swelling and seizures. Another serious condition is portosystemic shunt, which is an abnormal vessel that allows blood to bypass the liver, resulting in the blood not being filtered properly. Symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and depression.

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