What problems do pugs have? Pug Health Guide


Your pug is a special dog breed! He’s your companion, your best friend, and a source of joy and unconditional love to you and your family. You probably chose him because you love pugs and expected him to have certain qualities that unquestionably suit your lifestyle. Pugs are small but sturdy, they have a playful personality, they’re outgoing, they need minimal exercise, they require minimal grooming, they’re even-tempered, they’re adaptable to a wide variety of environments, and are a brilliant family dog breed that loves human companionship.

Unfortunately, no dog breed is certainly perfect. As you may have noticed, pugs also have some negative traits too. Although pugs are independent and strong-willed, they shed a lot, they can be stubborn, they make a lot of snorting, and have a few health problems. Breathing problems, Allergies, Sensitive Eyes, Dental Issues, Cancer and more. So is it worth it all? Of course it is! Pugs have a unique personality and you definitely love him for that despite their health problems.

There’s no doubt that you care so much about your pug and you want to take good care of him. That’s essentially why we’ll discuss, in-depth, the health concerns that might affect your pug. We may not be able to cover every possible health concern here, but we’ll cover the most common health issues found in pugs. You should also be on the lookout for any unusual signs and symptoms.

Are Pugs’ Health Concerns Genetic?

Many diseases and health conditions that are likely to affect your pug are genetic. In other words, these diseases are related to the pug dog breed. This, however, doesn’t mean that your pug will suffer from these diseases. Instead, it means that he’s more at risk to suffer from these genetic diseases than other dog breeds.

Are Pugs Allergic to Anything?

Just like humans, pugs can suffer from hay fever, which is fundamentally an allergy to pollen, mildew, mold, dust or anything else. When affected by allergies, your pug will get itchy typically in the face, feet, and ears. In worst case scenarios, the itchiness can affect the entire body.


Your pug’s good overall health can keep his immune system strong. This can in turn help mitigate his chances of developing allergies. On the contrary, allergies that mostly affect pugs have strong genetic components that may be out of your control as a dog owner. Simply put, your pug may suffer from allergies not because of anything you should have or should have not done. Nonetheless, the general health of your pug should help you manage any type of allergy. 

Signs of Allergies

Like other conditions, the signs of allergies may or may not manifest themselves. As noted above, itchiness is the most prevalent sign of allergies. Other symptoms of potential allergy include rashes, skin irritation, hair loss, and moist dermatitis (commonly known as hot spots). Another underlying sign of a serious allergy problem is recurring ear infections.

Classifications of Allergies

There are two main categories of allergies that may affect your pug: food aversions and environmental allergies.

Environmental Allergies – These types of allergies include dust mites, fleas, grasses, trees, and pollen. Such types of allergies tend to be more troublesome to pugs or dogs in general in some areas than others. You should, therefore, be on the lookout when you move from one place to the other with your pug.

Environmental allergies can be diagnosed through an intradermal skin test or serum test. This should be followed by hypoallergenic shots that contain tiny amounts of the offending allergens. Although your vet should advise you on how to dispense these treatments, it’s generally advisable to give your pug these shots every few days but in slow increments.

The main idea here is to gradually pacify your pug’s immune system to the allergens until the allergens are no longer an issue. It’s also crucial to note that intradermal skin tests and serum tests can only work perfectly on environmental allergens and not on food aversions. In short, food aversions can perfectly be diagnosed through food trials.

Food Aversions – Most food allergens that affect pugs are almost exclusively derived from protein dishes. While your vet should recommend a specific diet to feed your pug, you should consider a hydrolyzed protein diet. The allergies should disappear if you strictly adhere to the appropriate diet. Basically, you should avoid any type of diet that causes allergies to your pug.

Treating Allergies

The best way to deal with allergies is to treat them symptomatically. You can treat allergies in conjunction with direct treatments or exclusively. Some of the best supportive treatments to consider include medicated baths, steroids, antihistamines, fatty acid supplements, acupuncture, chiropractic, and of course appropriate diet changes. Remember that all treatments must be done in full consultation with your vet.


As a pug owner, you should keep in mind that the best way to deal with allergies is through chronic management. This is basically why you should always look to keep your pug’s expenses as low as possible. All in all, you should ensure that your pug is comfortable and happy even if he’s allergic to certain environmental factors and foods. The best solution is to avoid situations that your pug is allergic to. 

Is Cancer Common in Pugs?

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death of pugs, especially when they’re above 10 years old. Pugs are prone to oral melanoma (skin cancer of the mouth) and mast cell tumors. The best way to cure 50% of all cancers in pugs is through surgical removal of cancers. Others can be treated through chemotherapy.

Generally, early detection is of great importance. This can be done by taking your pug for examination, as well as periodic blood tests to look for bumps and lumps. You should be cautious if your pug is overweight given that obesity is a risk factor for some types of cancer.

How common is Cancer in Pugs?

Cancer has become pretty common in dogs. 50% of older dogs (aged 10 years and above) are likely to suffer from cancer at some point. The most common type of cancer in pugs is mast cell disease. This is a type of cancer that attacks mast cells. Given that mast cells are available in various tissues of a dog’s body, mast cell disease can affect your pug’s skin, lungs, nose, mouth, digestive tract, and conjunctiva of the eyes.

Mast cells are strong purple granules that can only be seen under the microscope. They’re part of the body’s immune system and play a critical role as part of the defense against allergies and worm infestations.

Pugs are one of the dog breeds that are susceptible to mast cell cancer, particularly in the skin. If your pug has suffered from mast cell cancer once, chances are very low that he’ll develop another mast cell cancer over his life. Generally, mast cell cancer can affect pugs in middle age or when they get older but can also affect young pugs as well.

What are some of the Signs of Cancer in Pugs?

The most common warning symptom of cancer in pugs is almost similar to those in humans: bumps or lumps. Other symptoms can include a wound that doesn’t heal, weight loss, loss of appetite, difficulty in eating and swallowing, offensive odor, loss of stamina, difficulty in breathing, urinating or defecating, enlarged lymph nodes, any kind of swelling, abnormal bleeding, and lameness in the bone. In some cases, there may be no early signs but your pug may be just unwell. It’s important to bring anything weird to the attention of your vet.  

How do you know if a Lump or Bump on Your Dog Might be Cancer?


You should be worried if your pug has a lump or bump that doesn’t heal. The lump or bump may turn out to be nonthreatening but you shouldn’t ignore it especially if it grows under your pug’s skin. You should immediately contact your vet and find out if the lump is cancerous.

What is the Average Cost of Treating Cancer in Your Dog?

Any form of cancer in a pug can be treated either through surgical procedures or chemotherapy. The treatment procedure begins with diagnostic testing, which can cost you between $200 and $1,000. The treatment itself can range from $1,000 (if cancer is discovered early) and can go up to $15,000 if it’s something complicated and requires chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery. In fact, some treatment procedures can include bone marrow transplants especially if your pug has lymphoma, and that can be quite costly.

What Can You Do to Help Prevent Your Pug from Getting Cancer?

Cancer in pugs can be genetic and there’s little you can do to prevent your pug from getting it. However, there are still cautionary measures that can help you mitigate cancer.

Spaying your pug before the first heat can reduce the chances of mammary cancer that can be caused by hormonal influence. You can also take good oral care of your pug to reduce oral cancer. In essence, preventing cancer is almost impossible since the real causes of cancers are still unknown. It’s, therefore, crucial to prevent your pug from cancer by identifying it early and treating it as fast as possible.

Do Pugs Lose Hair?

Besides shedding that pugs are known for, pugs are certainly prone to losing hair or baldness. Unlike shedding, the hair falls out and doesn’t grow back just like it happens in balding men. Although it won’t cause itchiness in your pug, it can make his skin dry especially in affected areas. Hair loss in your pug will most likely affect the throat, belly and chest areas, as well as on the insides of the leg.


In most cases, hair loss in your pug can be caused by treatable problems such as insufficient thyroid hormone. On the contrary, it can be difficult to treat your pug if it suffers from alopecia. This type of hair loss is incurable and can only be mitigated through supplements of a specific hormone.

What are the Common Eye Problems in Pugs?

While the cute, big and bulging eyes of the pug are adorable, they are prone to a number of health problems. Most eye problems that can affect your pug can occur because he has a distinctive head shape and bulging eyeballs. Some eye problems to look out for include:

Cherry Eye

This condition can infect and inflame your pug’s tear duct gland. It’s very painful and can turn the glands in your pug’s eye extremely red or pink. The third eyelid can slip out of position and stick out of the eye corner. This disease can affect one or both eyes but it’s very rare to affect both eyes at the same time.

This problem can be treated with antibiotics or anti-inflammatory eye drops. You can also consider surgery to put back the tear duct into its correct place.

Dry Eye

This is one of the most common eye problems in pugs. It occurs when the tear duct doesn’t produce sufficient liquid to lubricate the eyes and they become extremely dry. Without enough eye lubrication, debris can build up and irritate the eye.

If your pug’s eye is red and he’s blinking more often than normal, it could be a sign of dry eye. You can simply treat this problem by using lubricating eye drops that can keep his eyes moist.

Corneal Ulcers

This painful condition can occur if the corneal (transparent membrane) of your pug’s eye is damaged or infected. This can be caused through a chemical burn, eye trauma or some kind of infection.

Some of the symptoms of corneal ulcers include squinting, your pug rubbing the eye frequently or keeping it closed. Your vet can treat this condition through pain-relieving medication, antibiotic drops or in worst cases; surgery.


This is an eye condition that occurs when the eyelid folds and starts rubbing the surface of the eye. This is caused by the pug’s large eyes and eyelids. You’ll notice the eyelashes being pushed into the eye leading to irritation and constant scratching of the eye. This can be treated by surgically reducing the size of your pug’s eyelid.


This is a condition in which the lens of your pug’s eye becomes opaque thereby causing blurred vision. It can be inherited or caused by inflammation, trauma or diabetes. This condition is very painful and in worst cases, can lead to complete loss of vision. This condition can be removed through surgical procedures.


This condition can occur when your pug’s eyelashes grow where they shouldn’t, especially from the parts of the eyelid. These eyelashes can make the eye red and cause irritation and may even lead to corneal ulcers. You can treat this condition by removing excess eyelashes through surgical procedures. You can also use topical ointments to lubricate the eye.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy

This condition affects older pugs and can gradually make them blind. In most cases, it starts with your pug losing his ability to see at night and in dim light. Although it’s not a painful condition, you should get worried if your pug starts bumping into things. This condition has no cure, but your vet can recommend supplements to slow down the condition.

Eye Trauma


Pugs are a brachycephalic breed. They have a cute flat faces and big eyes that stick out. Unfortunately, it’s very easy for things to stick or prick their eyes when they’re out and about. 

Do Pugs Suffer from Respiratory Distress Syndrome?

Also known as brachycephalic syndrome, respiratory distress syndrome affect dog breeds with short noses such as your pug. Although your pug has the same amount of tissues in his nose and throat as other dogs, there’s not enough place to hold all these tissues. As such, the soft palate located in the soft part at the back of the roof of the mouth is extremely long and blocks the airway. The pug’s windpipe is also narrow and undersized and the nostrils are too small.

These issues can make your pug’s breathing difficult. You should, therefore, watch out for bluish gums, loud breathing, exercise intolerance, fainting, and coughing. Your pug’s short nose can also develop other problems such as pneumonia from aspirating food, heat stroke, and turgidity from excessive air intake.

You should be cautious when exercising your pug particularly when the weather is hot and humid. Your pug’s breathing problems can also increase if he’s overweight and so it’s important to keep his weight in check.

Is Luxating Patella (Knee Problem) Common in Pugs?

Pugs are prone to luxating patella or knee problems. You might notice that your pug’s kneecap can sometimes slip out of place and he may start skipping or hopping. Your pug might need normal arthritis medication if the problem is mild. However, you should consider surgery if the problem is severe. You should also consider rehabilitation and special exercises.


Pugs are known to suffer from viral and bacterial infections such as rabies, parvovirus, and distemper. You can easily prevent these infections by ensuring that your pug is promptly vaccinated.


Your pug’s body can also be invaded by all kinds of parasites including ear mites, fleas, and ticks. There are also whipworms, roundworms, heartworms, and hookworms, which can get into your pug’s system if he drinks unclean water, eats or steps on feces, and if he’s bitten by mosquitoes.

It’s important to take your pug on regular tests. You can also consult with your vet for the best preventive medicine.

Skin Infections

Pugs are prone to a specific skin infection known as pyoderma. This infection can occur if your pug’s skin at the base of his tail or behind his nose folds and becomes moist. This moisture is a breeding ground for bacteria and can redden and become smelly and painful.

You can consider using ointments and antibiotics to treat this condition. But if the symptoms are severe, you can consider having them surgically removed.


Obesity is a very serious health problem in pugs. They tend to be overweight given their compact body structure and of course their love for food. So even you are tempted to spoil your pug with lots of food, just know that it’s dangerous and could possibly lead to his death. In fact, obesity in pugs is known to cause other serious diseases such as cancer, arthritis, heart disease, and back pain.

Is it Advisable to Neuter or Spay Your Pug?

One of the greatest things that you can actually do to your pug is having him neutered (or spayed if she’s female). Having your pug’s testicles or ovaries surgically removed is advisable because they decrease the likelihood of your pug getting certain types of cancer and diseases associated with reproductive systems.


Spaying and neutering can also eliminate the possibility of your pug producing unwanted puppies. This process means that your pug has to undergo anesthesia, which can also give your vet the chance of evaluating some diseases that are likely to develop in your pug. 

So how can You Take Care of Your Pug at Home?

There’s no doubt that you want your pug happy and healthy. Basically, taking good care of your pug revolves around using common sense. Pugs are susceptible to obesity so it’s vital to watch his diet and get him to exercise regularly but without over exercising him.

You should also brush his teeth, ensure that he’s vaccinated accordingly, and take him for regular check-ups and tests. Additionally, do not hesitate to call your vet whenever you notice something unusual. More importantly, make sure that you sign up for pet health insurance. This will give you peace of mind should anything happen to your lovely pug.

That being said, here are some of the things to do:

  • Give your pug high-quality dog food that’s appropriate for his age.
  • Avoid over treating your pug especially by giving him human food.
  • Exercise your pug regularly without overdoing it.
  • Brush your pug’s teeth at least three times a week.

There are also a lot of signs to look for. You should immediately call your vet should the signs appear in your pug:

  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Weight loss or weird weight gain
  • Hair loss
  • Gums that are not pink
  • Appearance in pot-belly
  • Lameness or limping
  • Mental dullness
  • Change in appetite
  • Moles, lumps and bumps and any other abnormal sign.


You definitely know that pugs are sweet, cuddly, affectionate, and low energy. You’ve always dreamt of owning one or you probably own one. Unfortunately, this lovely pooch is prone to a lot of health problems that you should be aware of. We’ve highlighted most of them and their symptoms and we believe you’re now at a much better place when it comes to taking good care or your pug.


The most important thing is to look for any abnormal sign and ensure that you contact your vet immediately. You should also ensure that your pug is timely vaccinated and taken for regular check-ups. Pet insurance is fundamental and should be one of your top priorities in terms of taking good care of your charming pug.

Related Posts

Begin typing your search term above and press enter to search. Press ESC to cancel.

Back To Top