Most purebred dogs come with their own breed-sensitive health concerns.
For Pugs, their short nose and prominent eyes can lead to more eye problems than other long-snouted breeds.
Although their sweet eyes are one of the Pug’s strongest selling points, they may be the breed’s highest area of maintenance. Pugs are brachycephalic, which means they have a wide, short skull, normally with a breadth measuring 80 percent of its length. Their adorable, flat faces, unfortunately, leave them more susceptible to injury. Their protruding eyes are also known to have other issues.
Keeping a close eye on your sweet Pug’s eyes is an integral part of a responsible owner’s duties. Your dog’s eyes should be regularly checked if they are:
- Red or Watery
- Squinting or closing
- Visibly marked on the surface
- Being rubbed frequently
When a problem exists, immediate attention is required to avoid permanent damage including blindness or loss of an eye. That said, don’t let this scare you away from the unconditional love and fun that’s standard equipment with a Pug. The majority of eye-related health issues are treatable. Treatment at the onset is always recommended.
Common Pug Eye Issues
The most common eye-related issues that occur in the Pug breed include:
- Cherry Eye
- Corneal Ulcers
- Dry Eye
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy
- Accidental Injury
Let’s have a closer look at each of these.
This issue is named for the look of a “cherry” protruding from your dog’s eye. Cherry eye is not always painful but should not be ignored.
Cause: weak tear duct (gland) loosens and protrudes.
Symptoms: redness, swelling, pronounced corner of the eyelid.
Treatment: possible tear duct surgery.
The membrane that protects the eyeball is the Cornea. Many factors can cause damage to the cornea including playtime with anyone, including another dog or cat or getting something in their eye. Minor damage to the Cornea, like a scratch or abrasion will normally heal in a few days. Ulcers require more attention.
Cause: membrane covering the surface of the eye wears thin due to trauma, foreign object, burn, or infection.
Symptoms: redness, pain, squinting or your dog may keep their eyes closed, frequent rubbing, light sensitivity, discharge, and a noticeable film over the eyes.
Treatment: antibiotic eye drops, painkillers, possible surgery in severe cases.
Distichiasis is a serious issue that should be treated. Lack of treatment can lead to more serious issues including corneal ulcers.
Cause: eyelashes growing in abnormal locations.
Symptoms: redness, discharge, frequent rubbing, and itching.
Treatment: professional eye exam including fluorescent staining to assess the degree of injury, prescribed lubricants, possible surgical lash removal.
Imagine the discomfort if your eyelid rolled in, scraping your eyeball with eyelashes. Due to the unique structure of a Pug’s skull, this is a common, treatable problem. Pug’s large eyelids can fold under pushing eyelashes into the eyes causing irritation and infection. This is common at around six-months-old.
Cause: eyelids fold under pushing eyelashes into the eyes.
Symptoms: eyelid distortion (up or inward), milky look, redness, swelling, and constant scratching.
Treatment: probable surgery to remove excess eyelid.
Dry Eye(most common ailment)
Unfortunately, dry eye, as with humans, is a chronic condition. It is likely that your Pug will need eye lubricants for the duration of their life if they are diagnosed with dry eye.
Cause: low tear production causing irritation and build-up of debris.
Symptoms: excessive blinking, redness, and thick discharge.
Treatment: prescribed oral medication, and possible eye drops.
The lens of the eyeball consists mainly of water and protein. The precise makeup of the protein ensures that the lens remains clear. At times the protein can clump, creating a clouded area called a cataract. Cataracts normally develop slowly, over many years. Influences such as spiked sugar levels due to diabetes can speed up the process.
Cause: diabetes, inflammation, trauma, genetic inheritance.
Symptoms: milky or cloudy look to the eyes, grayish film, noticeable vision loss, clumsiness.
Treatment: surgical removal with lens replacement or laser removal.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
Though serious, PRA is not a painful condition. Normally the condition is most common in senior dogs and rarely leads to blindness in the dog’s lifespan. PRA is an inherited condition and dogs diagnosed with it should not be used for breeding purposes. Enjoy your Pug, but don’t pass on this trait.
Cause: degenerating retina.
Symptoms: noticeable night blindness, clumsiness, shinier look to eyes, and abnormal pupil dilation.
Treatment: although studies have shown that dietary changes can slow disease progression, at the time of this writing treatment is not available and blindness will eventually result.
They call them accidents because that’s what they are; unplanned incidents. Pugs love to explore and play. Their lack of a sufficient snout may be an attractive characteristic but offers less protection for their eyes.
Cause: short snout.
Symptoms: signs of pain, irritation, rubbing, watering, or visible scratches.
Treatment: inspect the area to determine if professional intervention is necessary.
Responsible Pug Ownership
If you observe a change in your best friend’s behavior, such as any of the symptoms listed here, be sure to have a closer look. Seeking the professional help of a vet can mean the difference between simple treatment and a chronic eye problem. In the end, knowing your lovable Pug’s personality and unique characteristics is the best gauge of abnormal behavior.