Posts Tagged ‘respiratory’

Pugs and Respiratory Issues

Saturday, June 19th, 2010

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

Pugs are brachycephalic (literally “broad headed”). The upper respiratory system of Pugs is not as efficient as that of mesochephalic (normal) or dolichocephalic (“long headed”) dogs, and many of the breathing problems Pugs are prone to are due simply to the inability of air to travel smoothly from the outside atmosphere to the lungs. Our job as Pug lovers is to make that journey as smooth as possible, and thus minimize breathing issues as much as possible.

Pugs often have stenotic nares, meaning their nostrils are smaller and not as fully open as other dogs’ nostrils. They have a shorter snout which means they also have a shorter, more compressed sinus system. Their soft palate, which is behind their hard palate, or roof of their mouth, is longer than that of other dogs, and also goes back farther into their pharynx. The soft palate may cause no problem at all, or may interfere with breathing by blocking the opening to the lower respiratory system. Often their laryngeal saccules (small membranes near their larynx, or voice box) may be inverted, which could be a primary issue or secondary to chronic negative pressure due to the other respiratory issues.

All of these will at best make your Pug a snorer, a snorter and a reverse sneezer, and in the worst cases will cause respiratory issues that can be very serious.

Some of the issues Pugs face are potentially surgical. If your Pug has stenotic nares, a veterinarian who does nasal surgery (usually a general practitioner) can reshape the nostrils under general anesthesia to create more comfortable air flow. If this is done at a young age, often secondary problems of elongated soft palate and everted laryngeal saccules can be avoided. If these also are problems (your veterinarian can check for you), they can also be surgically corrected, either by a general practitioner or a board certified veterinary surgeon.

Weight management will be the number one variable you will be able to control in keeping your pet’s respiratory system healthy.  If your Pug is fit and at a healthy weight, he or she will be better able to deal with the shortcomings of the respiratory system. Your Pug will be even more heat-sensitive than other dogs, so be over-protective in warm weather.  Exercise is important, but watch carefully for any signs of discomfort and let him our her rest or discontinue an activity that is causing respiratory distress. Keep him or her cool and well hydrated.

Control what you can, and have treatable problems treated. Keep your Pug at a healthy weight, and be very watchful for respiratory discomfort. May your snoring, snorting, reverse-sneezing Pug always be completely healthy and fully oxygenated.

Stephanie Alford’s Typhoon