10 Common Pug Ailments and Diseases

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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