10 Common Pug Ailments

While the Pug was created as perhaps the most perfect dog, it also has more than its fair share of maladies. The following are the most common pug related illnesses, along with their descriptions, symptoms and treatments.

Collapsing and Hypoplastic (small, narrow) Tracheas

As the name implies, it is a narrowing or collapsing of the trachea. This is usually a congenital affliction in Pugs. You may notice your Pug with a chronic cough sounding like a goose honk/child’s croup or difficulty in breathing during or after exercise. Diagnosis is made with an x-ray. This condition is most effectively treated with cough suppressants and bronchodilators; however, there are several surgical options for tracheal collapse.

Elongated Soft Palate (ESP)

It is the obstruction of the dog’s airway. While your Pug’s snoring is indicative of this when severe, you can hear them gasping for air. It can even block your dog’s voice box. They may gag in an attempt to clear their airway. When eating or drinking they may bring up frothy saliva. This condition is best diagnosed while the dog is under anesthesia. It is treated through surgery.


This is a defect where one or both eyelids roll inward and rub on the surface of the eye. It usually affects a Pug’s medial (inside) edge of the lower eyelid. Symptoms may include squinting or having weepy/watery eyes. Left untreated it can lead to loss of vision. The affected eyelid is treated surgically by turning the eyelid back to its normal position.

Everted Laryngeal Saccules (EVS)

This is the second most common airway obstruction in Pugs. This is a condition where tissue in front of the vocal chords is pulled into the windpipe obstructing airflow. This condition is usually secondary to an elongated soft palate or stenotic nares. It carries similar symptoms such as difficulty breathing and excessive noise when breathing. Everted laryngeal saccules are diagnosed under anesthesia and are corrected surgically.

Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (KCS)

Also known as Dry Eye Syndrome. It is a common condition that if not treated can lead to blindness. It is a severe decrease of tear production believed to be caused by an immune disorder. In about seventy-two percent of the cases it affects both eyes. Your dog can show symptoms such as pawing at his eyes to relieve discomfort, have conjunctivitis or have discharge coming from his eye(s). Diagnosis is made with Schirmer tear test strips which measure tear production. Treatment consists of drug therapy and/or surgery. Even with surgery your dog will be on lifelong drug therapy.

Luxating Patella

Also called a trick knee or a loose kneecap. In mild cases, the kneecap is positioned correctly on the groove of the stifle joint most of the time. In severe cases, the kneecap has slipped out of the groove almost all of the time. Symptoms can include the dog carrying the affected leg or stopping to stretch the leg backwards trying to pop the patella back in place. This condition can be genetic or brought on by excess weight. This condition can lead to arthritis setting into the affected leg. With severe cases it is best treated surgically.

Pigmentary Keratitis (PK)

This is a development of a brown film or pigment over the whites of the eye. It is the bodies attempt to toughen the cornea due to irritation or injury. It is diagnosed using a bright light. Mild cases may reverse themselves when the injury or irritation is resolved. Severe pigmentary keratitis can lead to blindness and will need to be treated surgically.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

This is a hereditary, degenerative disease affecting the retinas that eventually leads to blindness. Symptoms include progressively poorer vision, night blindness or even sudden total blindness. You may also notice the pupils more dilated causing them to shine. The lens may also become cloudy resulting in a cataract. Diagnosis is made with an examination of the retinas with an ophthalmoscope. There is no treatment.

Pug Dog Encephalitis (PDE)

As the name implies this condition is unique to Pugs. There is little known about this disease. It is basically an inflammation of the dog’s brain. This usually presents itself when the dog is two to three years old. Symptoms hit suddenly. They may include seizures, pacing in circles, loss of muscle coordination, lethargy, head pressing, agitation or even aggression. Of course, any of these symptoms could be related to other illnesses. That is why it is important to take your dog to the vet for a proper diagnosis. There are two forms of PDE, slow progressive and rapid progressive. With slow progressive, the dog will return to a normal state after an attack but the disease will progress. With rapid progressive there seems to be little to no recovery period between episodes. This disease can cause sudden death. There is no cure.

Stenotic Nares

Also called constricted or pinched nostrils. This is a common congenital disorder of the nose (nostrils) in brachycephalic breeds of dogs. The condition occurs when the nasal tissue is overly soft. What happens with stenotic nares is when the dog breathes it collapses its nostrils. Some symptoms include a foamy discharge when it breathes, noisy/labored breathing, blue gums or fainting. This is simple to diagnose by simply looking at the size of the opening into the nostrils. However, your vet may want to sedate your dog and examine them for other things such as an elongated soft palate or everted laryngeal saccules. These conditions tend to appear together and present with similar symptoms. Stenotic nares are corrected surgically.

If you suspect your Pug is displaying any unusual symptoms, please get them examined by your veterinarian as soon as possible.

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pug_lady (almost 10 years ago)

I just found out my pug is blind in her right eye and going blind in the left eye. We found this out after she had surgery for bladder stones. Has anyone had their pug in for bladder stones? Now she is beginning to cough. She goes tomorrow to have her staples removed from her stomach so I will discuss the cause of her cough with our Vet.

MamaPugford (almost 10 years ago)

Hi pug_lady! Sorry to hear about all of the health issues with your pug. Our pugs have never had issues with bladder stones. Does it seem to be causing pain? Hope she feels better soon!

Pugsleigh (almost 10 years ago)

I am so sorry to hear about your little pug baby.
Please keep us updated.
i have never had a pug with bladder stones,
but I have had a pug with kidney disease.

pug hugs to your little pug.

junsbug (almost 9 years ago)

what is pde and all the other 's. i am new with a pug and dont know the deffinations, thanks June an Sophie

colemattson (over 9 years ago)

Our 7 year old pug recently woke up with a honking cough. He has never had any health issues to date and the cough is quite sporadic, but constant (about two bouts an hour or so). The cough does not seem to be exacerbated by exercise as he was able to run in the park with no issues. Also, gently pressing on the trachea does not cause a coughing fit. We are sure it is not kennel cough as he hasn't been around any other dogs other than his sister, who is symptom free. Does this sound like a collapsed trachea or possibly some sort of respitory infection?

Shpigford Staff (over 9 years ago)

@colemattson: My guess is it's some sort of infection, but I highly suggest taking in your pug to your vet to get him checked out.

Katie2001 (almost 10 years ago)

Our Katie has KCS and is not blind in her right eye but has decreased vision. She has to get two doses of auto immune in the right eye and one in the left eye everyday. We also use OTC artificial tears. She has never had bladder stones but she has at least one ear infection a year around the end of summer. she has allergies to. Pug-lady I hope your baby feels better soon.

Bailey n Cookie (over 9 years ago)

I think my Pug may have PDE. Does anyone have a pug with this disorder? She has epilepsy and its controlled with medication. Her sezuires usually arent too bad or too often. She had one approx 2 weeks ago and she just isnt the same. She seems to have every symptom listed here. My vet did a complete blood panel on her and everything is good. He said another way to check to see what is going on is through an MRI which is 1200.00 we cant afford. Im at a loss. She definately isnt in pain and Putting her down is not an option right now. I would appreciate anyones input who has experience with this disease.

RosienMikeysMom (over 9 years ago)

hi bailey n cookie....
i just sent you a private message, hope you can find what you are looking for. let me know if i can do anything else...
pug hugs,

kchc21 (over 9 years ago)

My 11 year old pug has had two bouts with bladder stones. He had surgery the first time and the second time we dissolved them with diet. He is on CD now and I have to monitor him to make sure he is passing urine when he goes outside. He was neutered early so never developed the habit of raising his leg to mark things. I can tell he is having problems if he stops to urinate multiple times while in the yard - normally he only goes once and is ready to come in.
All of my pugs have the chronic eye issues and have to be on optimmune to keep their eyes moist.
My female has chronic skin issues that are better when using fish oil in her food, but she is still an itchy dog.

rumccormick (over 9 years ago)

We rescued our Betsy about 6 months ago and are learning all about the breed. She was underweight when we got her but has gained about 6 pounds, She has been diagnosed with collapsing trachea and we are trying to get some weight off her but holy cow the girls loves her food. We are feeding her what the foster mom did which is 1/2 cup dry food with 1 tablespoon wet twice a day. She wasn't completly house broken when we got her so we used and still use small healthy treats when she goes potty outside.

She gets no people food ever.

Anyone have experience to share with getting a pug to lose a few pounds?

Thanks everyone![b]

sarahnchuck (over 9 years ago)

We went to the vet with Evie the other day and on to the specialist, they did some testing this morning to determine that my Evie is blind. She has Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration (SARD). This affliction can happen in humans as well, it is quick with no warning and painless. There is no treatment. It is disheartening watching her get lost in the back yard, not be able to fine her way around the living room, bumping into walls and everything else. The specialist recommended a training book for living and training a blind dog. I ordered the book as soon as we got home this morning. My Evie is only 3 years old I know that it will probably be harder for me to adapt than her.

Are there any members that have experience with this disease or with a blind puggie? I really received very little guidance and an looking for some. Is there something I can do now to make it easier for her not to get lost in the yard? to find her water bowl in the kitchen, to keep her brother Vader and sis Zoe from running her over as she is trying to navigate in the house?

devonator (over 9 years ago)

Sarahnchuck, I sent you a private message. I hope it helps. Just know that it does get easier for you both and the bumping into the walls actually helps her learn to navigate through the house.
My Maggie has a history of bladder stones. She would have urinary frequency and at times have blood in the urine. The vet put her on a special food specifically for kidney/bladder, which by eating this, would get her to drink more water. This is really important for all dogs, especially those with kidney or bladder issues. The food also has special enzymes which helps to dissolve the stones. Luckily, she hasn't had them badly enough to have surgery. Pug lady - Do they think maybe her blood pressure increased during or after surgery to affect her vision? It sounds like it may be unrelated but anytime anesthesia is involved, you just don't know. Please keep us updated on how she does.
Rosie (she's passed 2 years ago from a brain tumor) joined our gang when she was around 8 or 9. I found her wandering the streets. She had severe KCS, to the point that her eyeballs were actually crusted over. The day we brought her home, we took her to the vet and immediately started her on Optimmune twice a day and eventually she had to have a compound solution made that had a stronger percentage than Optimmune. She lost some of her vision from the KCS, so if left untreated, blindness will definitely set in.
Rummcormick - how much does Betsy now weigh? Mine are from 21 to 23 pounds and I feed them each 1/2 cup dry kibble twice a day with a small bit of chopped boiled chicken breast mixed in. They maintain the weight pretty well on this. If she weighs less, you may want to cut back to maybe 1/3 cup twice a day, especially if using the wet food too. Just a thought.

devonator (over 9 years ago)

One thing Oreo is very prone to, as I'm sure others have experience with their puggies, is Corneal Ulcers. Due to the eyes protruding, a scratch on the cornea can happen so easily and develop into an ulcer. This needs to be treated ASAP. If left untreated, it can ulcerate into the layers of the eyeball and cause permanent damage. You'll notice tearing, squinting of the eye or pawing at the eye. It's very painful for the dog.

Abbydog3 (almost 9 years ago)

My problem is just like the one Posted on Dec 30, '08 at 2:02AM by:Bailey n Cookie.  Abby is eight years old, it is uncommon for pugs to get PDE at a later age, but all test are pointing that direction.  I am very scared for her.  She can not take the seziure medicene due to a bad reaction she had which made it where I had to keep Abby in a crib for a week to keep her from falling and hurting herself.  I'm lost, I'm hurt for her.  I don't know what to do next except to pray that Abby has the time for me to save the money for the MRI.  I just spent my xmas money while she was the pet hospital last week. 

RedRoss9 (almost 9 years ago)

One of the pugs we brought into the rescue had been so severly abused that he had to have both eyes removed.  He was only about a year or two old.  I felt awful for him.  It was hard watching him bump into things and even worse trying to keep him from falling down stairs.   However, since he has been adopted he has adapted.  It took him a few months, but now he bumbles around just like the other pugs and seems to use his ears to navigate.  His brothers and sisters also help him get around, and even my Molly will head him off at a pug meetup if it looks like he's going to get into trouble.  That little blind puggy has learned to use the doggie door and go down the ramp into the back yard for a good romp or a bathroom break.  He doesn't feel sorry for himself so I won't let myself feel sorry for him.  Eeyore is one cool dog. 

My advise about dealing with a blind puggy is to keep everything in the house in the same place (as much as you can) and block off any areas of the house that could be dangerous, such as steps.  Your little puggy will learn to navigate, and hopefully the other puggies will learn that they have a very special sibling that needs a little help every now and then.  It might help to take Evie on leashed walks around the house, inside and out, so that she can learn where everything is again and have you there for confidence and guidance. 

That's my two cents worth.    Best of luck with your precious little puggy!

craftykim 2009 (almost 9 years ago)

i have eddie who is now 9 years old recently he had to go to the vets as i noticed a deformaty on his back a swellinh, later on it effected his power in his back legs, i was worried so off to the vet.

he had some xrays which showwed a touch of arthritus in his knees joint. my pugs when hot then to spread thier bodies on the floor with thier legs streached straight oout the back of them !

the vet said that thier was a coomon deformaty in pugs of the spine! it was concerned with the alignmnet of thier curley tails!

i have never heared of this! and thoought he has injured him self by trying to jump up into a chair or whatever

any how the power in his legs is now more affected and now and then he has the odd Accident with his wee wee etc!

he is currently on a trial of steriods which make him into a wild eating, barking pug never mind the sex fustration, wuith the loss of power in his leggs and weakness he cant "make love to the blanket" like he usuallly does!

has any one else heared of this condition in pugs?

he is due his MRI scan this wednesday so all will be revealed, i hope, and we might have to consider surgery, i do want another fewyears fro him as he is such a lovable puggy! it would cramp his style if he had to waer a set of wheels!

will be interesed in your comments

crafty kim Dundonald Northern Ireland

schott (over 8 years ago)

my pug is 3 years old and has a black spot in his eye its around the rim of his eye and around the black spot there is foggy gray stuff can anybody help me identify it? is he going blind?


1guesswho6 (over 6 years ago)

my problem is i have a 12 weeks old pug. the vet hesitate to vaccinate him due to clogged nose. the vet gave him canicef for 10days medication (1.44ml) evry 8hrs and robitussin dm 2ml for 10days also. we're on 7th day already but my puppy still have difficulty in breathing. he eats a lot. drink water ang keep on peeing. he still love to play. i'm really worried about his condition. please help...

MaggieMaePug (over 6 years ago)

Give the medications the full 10 days to work (unless it gets worse-in that case call the vet).  They are just holding off on vaccinations to be safe-not to introduce anything into his system that can wait a bit. When you get a shower-let him sit on the bathroom floor and breathe the warm humid  air in the room just a few minutes while you are in there. Keep him out of any cold wind and don't let him play real hard till he is breathing easier.

butterflijen (over 6 years ago)

My little man had to get surgery on his knee because he had the luxating patella. He was only 1 1/2. Since he was so young he recovered very quickly. The surgeon was so surprised when we brought him back in for his xray to see if we could begin rehabilitation. She said, "He's healed!" We didn't understand what she meant but she said he can have regular activity, just keep an eye on how he behaves and slow down if he shows he needs it. It was hard keeping him in his crate for 3 weeks for him to recover, but it was well-worth it when we found out he was healed!

kimmycub14 (almost 6 years ago)

so im pretty much freaking out after reading all of this. the night before last i woke up to my pug foaming at the mouth at the end of by bed. then tonight he gave himself a huge hotspot and would not stop panting and was hot all over to the touch i took him outside to try and cool him off and it worked a little bit but he immidately started panting again. and his tail has been uncurled the entire time. he also does the rubbs his face on everything thing. im extemely worried but people think im being a over reacting pug mom should i take him to the vet or should i just calm down and wait?

alwaysbusybarb (about 5 years ago)

Hope all is well with your pug. My pug, Rocky, had bladder stones and surgery when he was 6 years old. Had two different types of stones which is unusual and is on a special diet that has caused him to gain six pounds. He was a big sturdy pug to start but now he's 28 pounds. Vet says he can eat vegetarian to help prevent new stones--I keep an eye on how he's urinating to make sure there's a good flow and there has been for the last year and a half. Now he has KCS, dry eye, plus he's been coughing but vet can't find any cause of the coughing. I had pugs many years ago and they never had any health problems, female lived until 17, male until 15. Poor Rocky also developed an inflamed salivary (sp?) gland under his chin. Was on antibiotics but it still hasn't gone down all the way. All this along with health problems for my papillon and my silky terrier that I won't even go into.

smegspug (about 5 years ago)

Warning>>>........ our darling pug, was 8 years old. Got her from a breeder she had 55 puppies. 'We loved her and nursed her back to health. Took her to our vet she had a slight bit of arthiris in her front leg. Vet gave us some rhymidal for pain. 5 pills later she died. congenetial heart failure. the pills caused it, she was in almost perfect health at the time. Be careful with rhymial its dangerous to pugs because it can affect their breatheing. Ours died on the way to a week end clinic because our vet wont work on week ends. SUCKS...............I don't mean to sound mad but I guess I still am....Bed careful we have 3 more thank God.

anoushka (about 4 years ago)

My almost 10 yrs pug Tweety's gums have swollen, almost all of her teeth have broken too.. She's no more active.. She gave birth to 3 puppies when she was 7, the VAT said it would help her but she has become slow and unhealthy.. Is anyone pf these a bad symbol??? If is, then can I do to prevent it? I really hope none of these are... but thanks.. ^_^

jjmunchkinrun (over 3 years ago)

Would pre cause a 8 yr old to attack a 8 month old and kill it? My old guy has never shown any aggression towards my other pugs till Monday before last when he started in on our 8 month old we split them up and nothing again ( we were home) left for 3 hrs, got home to the baby dead on the floor and my old guy covered in blood-- can anyone help me understand this,
I'm afraid to leave the other 2 alone with him, I've been closing him in a different room when no one is home, but I'm having a real hard time with the lose of one and not knowing what to do with the other one.
My heart is breaking Help

Dixiesmom (about 3 years ago)

I have 7, 3week old baby pugs. All are doing great accept for one that seems to labor for breath, specially if we pick him up or after he eats. Like it takes everything to pull in air and he almost seems like he can't see or focus.... He is the smallest one and didn't start out that way...