Keep Your Pug Healthy

Keep your pug healthy with regular vet visits

Word has it that smaller dogs generally live longer than larger dogs because they don't suffer as many serious skeletal and cardiovascular diseases. They don't break down as quickly because their bones and joints don't need to support as much weight. In addition, their heart doesn't need to pump blood through a huge body, so it doesn't wear out as quickly.

Even with this in mind, a pug puppy is prone to a myriad of genetic health issues and may require more veterinary care than the average small breed of dog. Listed below are some health problems known to the pug breed. For detailed information on any one of these problems, please complete your research on the internet or contact your veterinarian. This list is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for proper veterinary care.

Allergies - Dogs can have the same allergies as humans and become allergic to things they inhale, eat, or come in contact with (many pugs have been known to have an allergic reaction to the leptovirus and coronavirus shots - before inoculating your pug with these two shots, please do some research).

Cervical Disc Disease - cushioning discs between the spinal bones (vertebrae) in the neck are malformed or are degeneration.

Collapsed Trachea - cartilage rings that make up the windpipe are malformed and tend to collapse easily.

Corneal Dystrophy - an abnormality of the surface of the eye (cornea) normally seen as shallow pits in the surface.

Corneal Ulcer (superficial) - an erosion of the outer membrane and surface of the eye (cornea). Severe corneal ulcers occur when superficial ones are ignored and they expand and grow larger and deeper.

Cystitis and Cystic Calculi - cystitis is an infection of the bladder which often leads to formation of bladder stones (abnormal mineral deposits called cystic calculi).

Demodicosis - a skin disease caused by microscopic demodex canis mites living within the skin layers and thought to be triggered by an immune system deficiency (also referred to as demodex, puppy mange and red mange).  This disease is more common in puppies from 6-12 months of age.

Dermatitis Atopic - inflammation and subsequent infection of the skin due to atropy

Dystocia - complications of the birth process (difficult birth). Very common in pugs and can lead to caesarian section births, still births, and loss of bitch.

Dry Eye (keratoconjuctivitis sicca) - dogs with dry eye normally do not have shiny, glistening eyes, but rather have dull and rough-looking eyes.  Dry eye is caused by the lack of tear production.

Elongated Soft Palate - the soft palate is abnormally long, extending into the throat and causing breathing disorders.

Encephalitis - an inflammatory condition of the brain causing signs of central nervous system dysfunction and epilepsy (seizures). A unique form of encephalitis, which is fast acting and fatal, has been found in the pug breed and is called Pug Dog Encephalitis.

Entropion - the eyelid rolls in or under, unto the eye itself.

Epilepsy - a disease characterized most commonly by convulsions or seizures.  It can also be characterized by the occasional loss of consciousness.

Facial Fold Dermatitis - an infection of the facial skin caused by unusual or excessive skin folds.

Hanging Tongue - a syndrome where the tongue does not retract into the mouth properly, due to neurological or anatomic defects.

Hip Dysplasia - a developmental malformation of the hip joints causing severe hip pain. With small dogs, the onset of problems may not occur until the dog is older, and may never require surgical correction. X-rays can show you the structure of your pug's hips.

Hypothyroidism - an endocrine disease where the dog produces abnormally low amounts of thyroid hormones. There is also hyperthyroidism where the dog produces abnormally high amounts of thyroid hormones.

Keratitis Sicca - when one or both eyes do not produce a normal amount or type of tears. Cause of Dry Eye.

Legg-Calvé-Perthes Disease - estruction of the femoral head (ball head) in the hip joint due to an improper blood supply. Normally seen between the ages of six months to one year of age.

Malocclusion -  the structure of the mouth is out of alignment so the teeth do not meet properly.

Pannus - an eye disease characterized by abnormal growth of tissue over the cornea.

Patella Luxation -  the knee caps slide in and out of place on a dog, often first noted when a dog is running and for one or two steps will 'carry' the bad leg so the knee cap can slip back into place.

Pigmentary Keratitis - inflammation of the cornea characterized by abnormal pigmentation. The pigmentation is deposited on the eye surface in an effort to protect it from some other issue that is irritating the eye.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy - a genetically inherited disease where the retina slowly deteriorates producing night blindness. Should be tested for after age two.

Spondylosis - misshaped or malformed spinal bones (vertebrae).

Stenotic Nares - the openings of the nose (nares) are too small for the dog to comfortably breathe causing stress on the heart, lungs, and trachea.

Syncope - a brief period of fainting or collapse. NOT a seizure.

Tail Fold Dermatitis - skin infection caused by abnormal tissue folds or wrinkles around the tail.

Teeth Abnormalities - problems with the teeth including out of alignment, missing teeth, retained puppy teeth, etc.

Ulcerative Keratitis - an inflammation of the cornea characterized by the formation of ulcers.

Dog Flu

In 2004, a virulent form of canine influenza surfaced at greyhound racing parks in Florida. In that outbreak, it infected 24 greyhounds and killed 8 more. The contagion has since been confirmed in seven states, having killed greyhounds at tracks in Florida, Massachusetts, Arizona, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Texas and Iowa. It is highly contagious, with the uninfected picking it up from the infected via shared items or human contact (kennel workers have carried the virus home with them), in addition to dog-to-dog encounters.

The virus that has been felling greyhounds is an H3N8 flu closely related to an equine flu strain. It is not related to typical human flu or to the H5N1 avian flu that has killed about 100 people in Asia.

Dr. Ruben Donis, chief of molecular genetics for the influenza branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, confirms the flu jumped from horses to dogs, "a very rare event of considerable scientific interest" and adds "at this point, there is no reason to panic." How that jump occurred is either not known at this point or is not being commented on, so the e-mail's assertion that the eating of raw meat was to blame should be regarded as speculation rather than as fact. While there is always the possibility the virus might again jump species, this time to humans, this strain of flu has been present in horses for more than 40 years yet there are no documented cases of humans catching it or the related canine flu. A vaccine for the equine flu already exists, and a vaccine for the canine version is under development.

Many readers have been confused (and unnecessarily frightened) by the difference between the terms "morbidity rate" and "mortality rate." The morbidity rate describes the percentage of animals that will contract the disease after being exposed to the virus, but despite its name the term has nothing to do with the death rate associated with the flu. (Nearly 80 percent of dogs exposed to the canine flu virus will contract only a mild form of the disease which mimics kennel cough, a type of canine bronchitis that is rarely serious.) The mortality rate, which describes the percentage of animals that will die after contracting the disease, is in the much lower range of 5 to 8 percent, according to Dr. Cynda Crawford, the veterinary immunologist who first isolated the canine flu virus: The mortality rate is around 5 to 8 percent, says veterinarian Cynda Crawford at the University of Florida's College of Veterinary Medicine in Gainesville.

"I want to stress that despite the rumors that are out on the Internet and other such sources, this disease is not as deadly as people want to make it," Crawford said. She says she receives more than 30 calls a day from concerned veterinarians.

Dr. Crawford describes the contagion as producing in dogs "a moist, productive cough that ends in a gagging response, that will persist for one to four weeks, despite treatment with antibiotics or cough suppressants. Some dogs develop a thick, yellow discharge from the nose. A very few dogs will spike a high fever, between 105 to 107 degrees Fahrenheit. They become lethargic and weak, with rapid, shallow breathing. This is likely to progress to pneumonia." Other veterinary experts have estimated the potential death rate as between 1 and 10 percent, with the higher percentage applying to very young, very old, or infirm dogs.

Presence of the virus in dogs can be confirmed only through blood tests performed at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. Results of such blood screens take as long as two weeks.

Dr. Crawford recommends keeping dogs showing symptoms of respiratory disease at home and away from other dogs for up to two weeks. The CDC, which is tracking the disease, issued no official recommendations.

Because the symptoms of this as yet unnamed virus somewhat mimic bordatella, a less virulent illness commonly known as kennel cough, it is hard to ascertain how widespread the flu has become. On the flipside of that confusion, vets in various parts of the country have been thrown into a panic when encountering run-of-the-mill kennel cough in any of their clients, fearing they are instead confronting cases of the new flu.

The Animal Health Diagnostic Center at Cornell University inserted a caution against such hair trigger diagnosis within a larger advisory about the potential for the flu to have spread to the state of New York: "One should not lose sight of the fact that all respiratory infections in dogs are not due to canine influenza virus. Adhering to the 'band wagon' approach could result in the failure to appropriately treat dogs with infections previously known to cause respiratory problems in dogs."

We found this good advice for vets and dog owners in our inbox one day:

PLEASE DO NOT PANIC, and do NOT assume that every cough is Canine Influenza. Kennel Cough from parainfluenza and Bordetella is more common. However, the Animal Health Diagnostic Center at Cornell is interested in receiving samples from dogs that appear to have kennel cough.

Clinical Signs: Since this is a new pathogen in dogs, there is currently no natural immunity present in the unexposed canine population. Almost all exposed dogs will become infected, and nearly 80% have clinical signs. In the mild form the dogs will have a cough that persists for 10 to 21 days. The cough may be soft and moist or dry. Many dogs will have a nasal discharge from a secondary bacterial infection and low grade fever. The nasal discharge responds to broad spectrum antibiotics.

In the severe form with pneumonia there is a high fever (104-106 F) and respiratory difficulties. X-rays may show consolidation. These dogs often have secondary bacterial infections and have responded to broad-spectrum antibiotics and supportive care including intravenous hydration.

The incubation period is two to five days and dogs may shed virus for seven to 10 days. The disease can spread rapidly throughout a boarding kennel. Dogs that are coughing SHOULD NOT BE BROUGHT TO SHOWS or Performance EVENTS.