Is it Normal for Pugs to Breathe Heavily?
There’s arguably nothing cuter than a pug. They’ve been called “clowns of the dog world” given their comical and fun characters. Pugs have an adorable bond with their human companions, and that’s why they’ll often follow their owners from room to room. In addition to their fun characters and unwavering allegiance to their human companions, pugs have become so loveable and are one of the most popular dog breeds in the world because of their squashed noses, protruding eyes and wrinkled, flat faces. However, their shot noses and flat faces is a recipe for the serious breathing issues that they tend to suffer from.
Many people who have interacted with pugs at their homes or in the park often ask; is it normal for pugs to breathe heavily? Heavy breathing in pugs is relatively common within the breed. They often have difficulty in breathing in certain situations given that their breathing passages are shorter and compact. However, pugs tend to have some serious breathing issues that should never be ignored.
There are a lot of questions that dog lovers often ponder about before buying and bringing a pug into their homes. Despite being a lovely dog breed, their breathing problem can be a major concern. However, that shouldn’t prevent you from acquiring a lovely pug if you want to. All you need to know is how to manage the situation.
This article, therefore, looks at the facial structure of the pugs and why it’s a problem when it comes to breathing. By doing this, we’ll look at the pugs’ respiratory problems and how to distinguish between normal breathing noises and problematic ones. We’ll
also look at what you can do when your pug is struggling to breathe and solutions that can help you mitigate these breathing issues in your day-to-day home living. At the end of this article, you’ll know how to take proper care of your pug and if you’re a prospective pug owner, you’ll make the decision whether it’s the breed type that you really want and can take proper care of.
Do all Pugs Breathe Heavily?
It’s a proven fact that pugs have more difficulty in breathing than other dog breeds. Therefore, all pugs will breathe heavily and make various noises including; gulping to catch their breath, have reverse sneezing, snoring and even passing gas. On the contrary, it’s not normal for pugs to burp, pant and have loud breathing. As a pug owner, these types of noise become a normal part of living with your lovely pug. In other words, you should expect pugs of all ages to make loud breathing sounds, albeit to a given extent.
Differently, there will be times when you’ll notice your pug breathing heavily, fast and with some signs of distress. It’s under such circumstances that you need to take action. This is because it’s a sign of a medical problem, which may require you to call your vet. However, we’ll discuss some quick-fire measures and solutions that can help you correct these issues before calling for the vet.
Why do Pugs Have Breathing Problems?
In order to give you a clear picture of why pugs have heavy breathing problems, it’s important to look at a dog’s general respiratory system. Our canine friends have a respiratory system made up of the nares (the nostrils), the sinuses, the nasal cavity and the
pharynx, which is a membrane-lined cavity connecting both the mouth and the nose to the esophagus. There’s also the trachea (windpipe), the larynx (the voice box), the bronchi (outlets of the trachea, which extend to the lungs) and the lungs.As you can imagine, any defect in any of these components will leave your dog struggling to breathe properly. Again, all dogs have the following three main types of skull and muzzle shapes:
- Mesocephalic – These types of skull and muzzle are almost equal in length and are considered medium-sized heads. This is because they offer enough space for the nasal cavities and all other components of the outer respiratory system. These types of dogs include the Golden Retriever and the Beagle.
- Dolichocephalic – These are thin and rounded skulls with a relatively long snout. Just like in mesocephalic skulls, this type of skull allows for adequate room for nasal cavities and can sufficiently accommodate other components of the upper respiratory system.
- Brachycephalic – These types of skulls are short, compact and contracted. The distance between the forehead and the muzzle is virtually non-existent and is quite short. In essence, the upper respiratory system is compressed to fit into this inadequate frame.
Evidently, such skulls are abnormal and can lead to various breathing issues. Some of the dog breeds in this category include the Bulldog, the French bulldog, American Pit Bull Terrier and our little friend, the pug. However, the pug is sometimes categorized as an “extreme brachycephalic” since its muzzle practically disappears into the head, giving it a flat face!
Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS)
Given their type of brachycephalic skull, which literally compresses the upper respiratory system together, pugs are known to suffer from a condition known as Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS). According to studies, dogs with muzzles measuring less than half their head length or dogs with thicker necks have increased chances of suffering from BOAS, and pugs definitely fall under this category.
Symptoms of BOAS
Some of the signs of this condition can range from minor snoring to severe breathing problems. Again, animals suffering from this condition can struggle during exercises, are prone to overheating and can even collapse due to lack of sufficient air! This is because they tend to have nose problems and windpipe issues given that the entire respiratory system is lumped together. Other additional symptoms of this condition include rapid breathing, snoring, frequent panting and even difficulty in gagging and swallowing.
What are other Respiratory Problems that might lead to Heavy Breathing in Pugs?
In addition to the BOAS condition, pugs are known to suffer from other respiratory problems including:
Pug Reverse Sneezing – Ever noticed that your pug sneezes so much? Well, it could be suffering from what’s known as pug reverse sneezing, which is basically caused by having an elongated palate.
Many pugs have extremely long palate tissues that block their airways. This then leads to excessive sneezes, wheezes, and gasps. Again, this endless sneezing could be a sign of a bacterial build up in your pug’s nose. Pugs have stuffy noses, which tend to hold up moisture at all times. You should however not panic when you notice that your pug is on a seemingly endless sneezing spree. All you have to do is clean your pug’s nose area on a regular basis.
Similarly, having an elongated soft palate can block your pug’s vocal box and can be noticed through severe honking and gasping for air. In such a situation, you can correct the elongated soft palate through surgery.
Pug Breathing Problems at Night – If your pug has the tendency of breathing and snoring heavily at night, this could be a sign of narrow nasal passages
Just like in human beings, snoring shouldn’t cause you any panic unless it’s hampering air intake and causing other issues such as distress.
You can consider talking to your vet on the corrective procedure to this issue so as to prevent it from becoming severe or leading to other respiratory problems. Given their conditions, pugs are highly sensitive and can negatively react to various situations. For instance, they’re likely to react to smoke or other forms of allergic reactions.
Struggling to grasp enough Air – Your pug can also struggle to grasp enough oxygen and may struggle to breathe properly. This can cause rapid breathing and respiratory distress. This is likely to occur when you’re walking your dog or when engaging her in an activity. You should always remember that pugs are NOT outdoor animals and shouldn’t be left outdoors unattended. Their shorter and narrower breathing passages make them susceptible to extreme temperatures such as heat.
For this reason, you shouldn’t overexert your pug during hot or warm weather. It’s advisable that you stop whatever you’re doing and let her rest. It’s highly likely that the pug will calm down, catch her breath and grasp enough air accordingly. If the situation worsens, and the breathing attack is severer than normal, you should immediately take your pug to the vet and have her checked out.
Stenotic Snares – This is a general birth flaw found in dog breeds with squashed noses such as the pugs. This occurs in dogs with excessively soft nasal tissues. When they breathe, the nostrils tend to collapse, leaving them to breathe through their mouths.
Collapsing Trachea – Pugs are known to suffer from collapsing or narrowed tracheas. As a result, they can suffer from chronic honking, which may lead to difficulty in breathing especially during exercise. The most common way of diagnosing this condition is through radiographs or through the use of cough suppressants and bronchodilators since it’s almost impossible to correct it surgically.
Home Care Prevention for Dealing with your Pug’s Breathing Problems
Needless to say, you should ensure that your pug lives in a comfortable environment where their breathing isn’t made more difficult than it already is. Here are some of the perfect solutions:
Use a Dehumidifier – Using a dehumidifier can help remove excess moisture from the air. This can help you avoid poor air quality, which may affect your lovely pug.
Minimize Allergies – Pugs are a highly sensitive breed and may be affected by various issues such as smoke. For this reason, you should understand the types of allergens that your pug may be sensitive to and ensure that they are completely removed.
Do not over exercise your pug – As noted earlier, pugs aren’t outdoor animals and may be severely affected by hot and cold temperatures. You should, therefore, keep them in air-conditioned rooms and in pleasant temperatures. You should also avoid walking your pug in sunlight or in extreme temperatures.
How can you deal with your Pug’s Breathing Problem when out on a Walk?
Take some rest – Even though pugs aren’t outdoor animals, a little exercise here and there is very important for their overall well-being. However, they’re prone to overheat, which can trigger breathing problems when out for a walk. The ideal way to deal with this issue is to stop exercising and take enough rest. By doing this, you’ll realize that your pug will start breathing normally. In essence, do not over exercise your pug as this can activate breathing problems.
Carry some water – You can keep your Pugs cooler and hydrated during walks by giving them enough water.
Opt for an appropriate Harness – Pugs are known to suffer from collapsing trachea, and so it’s not advisable to use a collar lead when walking your pug. Instead, opt for a suitable harness that can offer better weight distribution and reduce the force on both the neck and throat areas.
Figure out the best time to go for a walk – It’s important to come up with the best time to take your pug out for the daily walk. You should choose a suitable time that can help work off the calories without straining your lovely pug. It’s advisable to walk your pug early in the morning or early in the evening when the temperature is cooler.
Should Breathing Problems Discourage you from getting a Lovely Pug?
It can’t be denied that breathing problems in pugs are a common phenomenon that you should always keep in mind when choosing this breed as your canine friend. In fact, it will be impossible to stop your pug from developing these breathing issues because it’s a universal defect associated with the breed.
However, the breathing problem is not as bad as it has been made to be. Snoring, snorting, wheezing, sneezing and panting are a normal part of a pug’s life, and shouldn’t be much of an issue as long as they aren’t severe. All you have to do is know how to
control the breathing problem and provide relief, and you’ll be able to deal with your pug’s breathing problem.