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Care Tips

Top 15 Pug Dog Care Tips


This is an amazing breed with a unique appearance and an outstanding personality. But, with a Pug, comes challenges. 

With the Pug being a brachycephalic breed and having a stout barrel shaped body, this means that you’ll have to follow certain care tips that relate to activity, overheating and breathing issues. 

And being a toy sized breed (though the Pug is the largest of all toy dogs), means that you’ll have to follow care tips relating to what his size and abilities. 

Since this breed is prone to carrying excess weight, this brings in the care elements of both eating a healthy diet and following an appropriate exercise schedule; though this can be tricky, since Pugs must be exercised with care in regard to both duration and intensity.

For this reason, we’ve rounded up the top 15 Pug care tips that all owners should follow. 

#1: Puppy-proof the home, no matter how old your Pug is.

While many owners do this as part of the excitement and preparation of bringing a new pup into the household, this is something that should be done on a regular basis.

Dogs mouth objects simply to answer the question of ‘What is this?’, so all sorts of things can be accidentally swallowed even if they could never be mistaken for food. 

In addition, dogs love to chew (and will do so more when home alone); if you take that along with a high level of curiosity that can come about the moment an owner’s head is turned, even a Pug that never chewed at non-toy items in the past, may do so at any time.

The types of objects swallowed by canines and removed via surgery includes some pretty crazy things including fishing line, rolls of tape, needles, small light bulbs, Popsicle sticks and socks. Lots of socks.
Some of the things that Pugs can ingest can cause terrible injury and/or stomach or intestinal blockage; this can lead to emergency surgery or even be fatal. 

This is not even to mention all of the possible toxic things a Pug could get into that can lead to poisoning.

Go through the entire house, picking up any small objects that could possibly fit in a dog’s mouth or be chewed at.

Do this at least once a week and have a household rule that nothing is left on furniture or on the floors. Place electrical cords out of reach or use cord concealers. If there’s even a chance that your Pug could be alone in the kitchen or bathroom, even for a minute, place child-proof locks on lower cabinets. 

#2: Perform grooming on time.

Lots of things can happen if a Pug is not regularly or properly groomed, including but not limited to yeast infections, skin fold dermatitis and other issues such as dry skin and bad odors. Pugs need a bath once every 3 weeks (even if they do not look dirty). 

The coat should be brushed well 2 to 3 times per week. Wrinkles on the face should be inspected and cleaned on a regular basis, at least 3 times per week. Use a quality canine wipe for the wrinkles. 
If you spot any rashes, red irritated skin or if there is a particularly bad odor, you can try a quality medicated shampoo and if you do not see results, bring this to the attention of the veterinarian. 

If it is a matter of a yeast infection, this can be treated, in some cases, from home with an anti-bacterial, anti-fungal shampoo/treatment. Nails need to be trimmed every 3 weeks or so. 
A Pug's eyes are vulnerable to having debris caught in them, as well as an overall sensitivity to issues. Be sure to wipe the eye area with a gentle canine eye wipe on a regular basis. 
Pug with large Boxer dog
Alfie at 14 weeks old, pictured here with his friend Boxer dog, Millie (7 yrs, 79 lbs.)
Photo courtesy of Susan
So much fun! A Pug dog themed Monopoly game!
Too cute!

#3: Keep your Pug free from harm.

Trauma is one of the leading causes of death for all puppies, the Pug breed included and is a top concern for Pugs of all ages. Many instances of severe injury and death can be prevented by following some simple care tips.

If your Pug has trouble navigating stairs (most applicable to puppies and seniors), block these off with a gate. When outside, never allow your Pug to be off leash. Never allow your Pug to be in the yard unsupervised.

If you have a puppy, do not allow anyone to handle him unless they have been shown proper handling techniques. Have young children stay on floor level to play and do not allow them to carry your Pug. 

Always be aware of where you are walking, especially at night, so that a Pug is not accidentally stepped on or tripped over. Whenever you take your Pug into the car with you, place him in a certified canine car seat or use a certified canine belt restraint. 

#4: Never use a leash and collar.

Being a brachycephalic breed, most Pugs have some level of stenotic nares and/or elongated palate, which already interferes with breathing. If a Pug has the added tension, force and pressure of the leash being connected to a collar around the neck, this can severely impede breathing AND lead to collapsed trachea.

Always use a harness instead. 

#5: Use proper bedding.

This is another care tip based on the Pug’s breathing issues but also related to the knee and hip issues that this breed can develop. 

Making sure that your Pug has a high quality, orthopedic bed can go a long way in both allowing him to attain a comfortable sleeping position to breathe good at night and also can alleviate pressure on joints. 

If a Pug snores, the use of a small pillow to allow the neck to stretch out can help.

#6: Keep your Pug on a healthy diet. 

What a Pug eats plays a huge role in his overall health and his ability to maintain a healthy weight. Never just grab a bag of food from the supermarket shelf; most brands in those types of stores are cheap foods, packed with fillers.

We recommend Orijen and if you do choose for something else, do your research first to find out what star rating the food has. Take time to plan which snacks to give to your Pug; impulsive treat-giving often leads to the wrong types of foods. 

Pugs have a healthy appetite and you do not need to deny your Pug enough food if you offer high-quality meals and snacks. 

#7: Make sure that your Pug drinks enough water, but not unfiltered tap water. 

It’s important for this breed to stay properly hydrated and this is particularly true in the summer and during the winter when the air is dry. Pugs need to drink 1.5 to 2 ounces of water per pound of body weight, per day. 

But plain, unfiltered tap water in much of the U.S. contains shocking amounts of chemicals and toxins. Attached a filter to the tap in the kitchen or use a canine water fountain. 

#8: Use the right bowls. 

Since raised bowls can increase the risk of bloat (a dangerous and deadly twisting of the stomach that can be caused by rapid ingestion of food or water), use floor level bowls. 

Never use plastic, as these easily harbor bacteria, often slide around and can leak dyes into food and water. Stainless steel is best. To help a Pug eat slowly, use a slow-feeder bowl or use a portion pacer. 

#9: Clean food and water bowls on a regular basis.

When saliva and tiny food particles mix into water, this creates a slimy film in the dish, which can lead to a dog avoiding it. This in turn, can lead to dehydration; just a 1 to 5% loss of normal body fluids can result in loss of focus and lethargy.

With food bowls, if food is caked inside – even tiny amounts – those particles will rot. There can be a buildup of bacteria and even mold. 

Make it a habit to wash both dishes with hot water and soap each day, in the evening after a Pug’s last meal of the day is usually the easiest time.

#10: Follow exercise guidelines.

Making sure that a Pug receives enough exercise can be a bit tricky. Too much exertion can lead to issues such as breathing difficulties or overheating. Too little is bad as well, leading to loss of muscle mass, possible weight gain and increased irritability due to lack of being able to release pent-up energy. 

Pugs should be walked twice per day for 20 to 30 minutes.  

#11: But beware of seasonal exercise restrictions.

Summer is the most challenging time to care for a Pug. With hot weather and humidity making it difficult to be outside for this breed. Walk early in the morning and then again right before the sun sets, to avoid the hottest part of the day. 

In the winter, issues with the paws is common; use a high quality paw wax to protect the paw pads. Dress your Pug for the weather on days that it is below freezing.  

#12: Have the right toys for your Pug.

It’s much better to have a smaller collection of effective toys than to have 30 that are ignored or do not offer a Pug what he needs.

Puppies need proper teething toys to help with pain and itching. Adults need chew toys, toys to help combat boredom and some to help with separation anxiety.

As your Pug transitions from adult to senior (around the age of 9), it will be time to offer some senior dog toys, which are softer and easier to accommodate weaker jaws and softer teeth.

Routinely check your Pug’s toys for those that are worn or torn, throwing out old ones before they present a choking hazard. 

Clean toys at least once per month in hot soapy water. 

#13: Don’t skip the vet.

Most owners are really good about bringing their Pug for visits during the first few months when vaccinations are needed and then tend to drift away. But, bringing your Pug for wellness checks is an important part of care. 

There are many health issues, such as worms and diabetes to just name a couple, that can be devastating if left untreated for months or years, but are manageable when caught early. 

Once a year visits should be scheduled and kept, for the vet to perform a full evaluation. 
Pug dog at playground
Rufus, at 2 years old
Photo courtesy of Angelica G.
Which nootie spritz does your Pug have? A great way to keep a Pug smelling fresh!

#14 Provide at-home dental care. 

A build up of plaque can lead to terribly painful infections, tooth loss and more. Good dental hygiene care includes brushing your Pug’s teeth with a quality brush and effective paste (never use human paste) and healthy dental treats. This applies to puppies as well, since infection of milk teeth can affect adult teeth that are waiting to emerge. 

#15: Prepare for a ‘Lost Dog’ scenario, no matter how careful you are.

We always think it’s going to happen to someone else and not us but a study by the ASPCA revealed that 15% of owners reported their pet had gone missing in the past 5 years. Of those, 15% of the missing dogs were never recovered. 

The American Humane Association estimates over 10 million dogs and cats are lost or stolen in the US every year. Only about 22 percent of lost dogs that found their way into animal shelters were reunited with their owners. 
The very moment that your Pug becomes lost, it’s too late to attach that ID tag… And should your Pug run off, you want to jump into action to find him, as opposed to scrambling to find what you need. 

Make sure that your Pug has a sturdy, durable ID tag made of stainless steel so that it will not erode and engravings will not fade. Every now and then, double check that the connecting clasp is not cracked, worn or otherwise compromised. If you really want to play it safe, there are dog tags with QR codes and even GPS tracking tags. You may want to consider having your Pug micro-chipped as well, as dogs with chips are returned to their owners at a much higher rate than those without. 

Even with precautions, be ready should your Pug become lost: 
  • Have current photos of your Pug.
  • Immediately contact your local animal services and all shelters within a 20-mile area. If your Pug is found but there is no room at a local shelter, he may be transported to one farther away and not all shelters communicate with each other regarding recovered dogs. 
  • Create posters that have a clear, updated photo, your Pug’s name, your information and importantly, a reward. Not much of a reward is needed, even $50 can motivate someone to look around more than they normally would and then follow through by contacting you should they spot your dog. Set up these posters around your neighborhood, at least in a 5-mile radius
  • Set up fliers in all animal clinics and pet shops within at least a 15-mile area. Dog owners who visit these places may live close to you.
Did you find these care tips for Pugs to be helpful? If so, you will love The GIANT Book of Pug Care, available in both hard copy and eBook.
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