Pugs are terrific companion dogs, especially for apartment dwellers. They are sociable, good natured and generally very calm pets. However, prospective pug owners should be aware of some common pug problems with it comes to the health of these little dogs.
Pugs may develop Pug Dog Encephalitis (PDE), a fatal inflammation of brain tissue. PDE usually results in the death of the dog within 6 months. PDE has no cure and very little is known about possible causes. Symptoms include seizures, staggering, changes in temperament and the appearance of a stiff neck. PDE will typically manifest by the age two, but in rare cases can take as long as seven years.
Pugs may also develop hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is a very painful condition caused by abnormal development of the hip joint. Dogs will generally begin suffering from hip dysplasia between 2 – 3 years of age. Although hip dysplasia is a chronic condition there are several treatments available: surgery, pain medication, heating of the dog’s bedding, light exercise and careful attention to the dog’s weight.
Another condition affecting the joints is luxating patella. Luxating patella happens when the knee becomes dislocated. While uncomfortable for the animal, luxating patella can often be treated. A visit to your veterinarian will determine whether the joint can be put back into place or if surgery is required.
Like all short-muzzled dogs, one of the common pug problems is over-heating. It is very important to make sure your pug has lots of water and is never left unattended in a car during a hot day. Some owners have even taken to placing an ice-collar on their animal to maintain healthy temperature during hot weather. If your pug appears to be over-heating (panting, listlessness, etc.) you should submerge the dog up to their neck in a bath of cold water.
Due to the shape of the pug’s eyes, they are susceptible to several eye problems. Among these are dry eyes. If untreated the drying of the eye ball can lead to infection, retinal scarring and even blindness. Regular check-ups should catch dry eyes early enough to prevent this, as there are drops that can be used to add moisture to the eyeball.
Another common condition that affects the eyes is Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA). At onset PRA manifests as night blindness in young dogs. As the degeneration advances, the dog’s eyesight will steadily decrease until eventually it is blind.
This sounds like a lot to deal with but there are ways you can lessen the chances of dealing with any of these pug problems. Purchase your puppy from a respectable breeder. Ask the breeder if you can see the parents to determine their level of healthiness. As long as you care for your pug, you will have a great companion for a long time. These little dogs have a lot of character and are great to have around.