Pugs and Eye Care

Originally Written for Pug Partners of Nebraska – Please visit their website to find out how you can help Pugs!

Some of the features that make Pugs the cutest also predispose them to health problems. Chief among them are their adorable bug eyes.  The biggest problem with Pug eyes is that, because of their anatomy, they are not as protected as those of other dogs.

Pugs have eyes that protrude more than other dogs. The bulbs of their eyes are not always adequately covered by their eyelids, causing incomplete blinking some or all of the time. The bones of their eye sockets are set farther back than other dogs. Their muzzles are short, providing very little mechanical protection in comparison to longer-muzzled dogs.

The conformation of Pugs predisposes them to proctosis, or an eye popping out of the socket. As alarming as this condition appears, it is usually treatable when dealt with right away.

Exposure keratitis is a problem most Pugs deal with on some level. Their corneas adapt to excess exposure caused by incomplete blinking and sometimes inadequate tear production by allowing pigment to form where their corneas should be clear.  This is non-painful and is not a problem unless the pigment migrates over the area where their pupil is, obstructing sight.

Many Pugs suffer from keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS) or “dry eye.”  This is a problem of inadequate tear production exasperated by excess exposure to the air.  It is treatable but is a lifelong condition.

Because Pugs are unable to blink as efficiently as other dogs, and their eyes are anatomically more vulnerable than most, they are at a bit of a higher risk to corneal scratches and ulcers. Scratches and ulcers are diagnosed with an examination and special stains.

Pugs are also prone to conjunctivitis, an inflammation of the soft tissue surrounding the eye. It is similar to “pink eye” in us, but not contagious. The signs are identical to other painful/itchy eye conditions.

Signs that indicate your pet should be seen by your veterinarian include excess blinking, inability to open an eye completely, ocular discharge and pawing at the face.

Healthy Pugs without eye disease may be kept comfortable with rewetting drops that can be bought over the counter, and they may help with certain eye conditions, but check with your veterinarian before using any eye drops. One over the counter medication that may seem benign, Visine (tetrahydroziline), is dangerous and never indicated for dogs.

Many eye diseases are treated with eye drops or ointments prescribed by your veterinarian. He or she will be able to show you how to effectively administer medication. Often these medications provide some level of instant relief, and if accompanied by a treat, may not cause your Pug distress, which is good, because they often need to be administered several times a day!

If you are at all concerned about an eye issue, the best course is to get your Pug to his or her veterinarian as soon as possible, as eye diseases are often painful and can progress rapidly.

Stephanie Alford’s Typhoon

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