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Pug Dog Summer Care


If you live in an area that experiences four seasons, when springtime comes around, you know that summer is not far behind and when you have a Pug, that means it’s time to prepare. Or maybe you live in an area that is warm or hot all of the time; this will have challenges as well in regard to caring for your Pug puppy or dog.

Either way, one thing is clear: If ever there was a dog breed that needed special summer care, it is the Pug dog. 

This brachycephalic breed with his compressed skull and face (and therefore compressed breathing passages) and his short, barrel shaped body needs assistance in making it through hot weather.

The temperature in summer, of course, is of concern, yet there are many elements that occur in relation to that, that all owners should be aware of. 

In this section, we are going to go over all of the steps you should take to care for your Pug in the summer heat. When we prepare in advance, have the needed care items and are ready to take action when needed, it can be a great summer, full of fun and without any issues.

Summer Care Tip #1 - Helping a Pug Dog Deal with the Heat

The Pug breed cannot handle summer heat as many other dog breeds can. Unable to sweat through the body as humans do, dogs do sweat a bit from their paws, but it is not enough to compensate during hot weather. 

Therefore, the main method that canines use to cool themselves off is by panting. This presents a problem for Pug dogs. 
Being a brachycephalic breed, the head is compressed; the nasal passages, the breathing airway, all internal tissues and structures are shortened and compacted. Even in ‘normal’ weather a Pug can have trouble with breathing. And if stenotic nares (narrowed nostrils) and/or elongated palate are present (as it is to some degree with many Pugs), the problem is compounded. 
side profile of Pug dog
Billy, at 11 weeks old
Photo courtesy of Miss Emily Bristow
As the Pug heats up, he begins to pant... but he struggles with this. There is strain on the body, his panting cannot keep up with rising body temperature, he tries even harder, panting is now mixed with grunts, huffs, groans and more stress occurs. 

For this reason, it is very important to not allow a Pug to become overheated in the first place. Since staying inside and inactive is also not healthy, owners need to find the fine balance during the summer. And it can be done.

Here are some helpful tips:

1. Plan daily walks to be during the coolest parts of the day. It is very important for this breed to receive daily exercise, as he is prone to becoming overweight. Exercise has other benefits as well, such as allowing a dog to release excess energy (which leads to a better behaved dog once back inside), allows a dog to maintain muscle, is good for the heart and is vital for helping a Pug become (and stay) well socialized. 

On hot summer days, early mornings and late evening (about 1 hour before sunset) is the best time to take a Pug outdoors. If your Pug is used to getting a walk at other times, you can compensate by offering some indoor play and then making sure to go out at those 2 times to allow for all of the benefits. 

2. When outside for extended times in your yard, implement a kiddie pool. Being emerged in water is an excellent way for dogs to cool off in the heat. The Pug is not the best swimmer (though some can learn if given the chance), but with a small children’s pool, your expense is low and the fun level is high.
Place it in the shade if possible and add a few toys. Most Pugs will jump right in and in this way, you will find you can spend quite a bit of time outdoors barbecuing, gardening or doing other summer related things while your Pug stays happy and cool. 

3. When driving with your Pug in the summer, do be sure to turn on the car about 20 minutes before you plan to leave. Roll down the windows to first allow heat to escape and then run the car’s AC. In the summer, a Pug dog will need to both a rolled down window and AC in the car, and do be sure to have him in a certified canine car seat that will not only protect him should an accident occur, but will also give him a boost so that he can see out the window, which helps prevent car sickness (it is common for this to be bad if the weather is hot). 

In addition, you may find the use of car sun guards to be very helpful. These are commonly used when a baby is in a car, to block strong rays of the sun from shining right in the baby’s eyes. And these work great for dogs as well. Strategically placed, these can offer enough shade (while still maintaining a view), to make car travel much more comfortable. 
4. A canine cooling bandana, is a very inexpensive method to help a Pug dog stay cool in the summer. You can make one yourself, by simply soaking a bandana in cool water and then tying it LOW around your Pug’s neck (you want it to rest on the shoulders) or obtain one specifically for canines, to ensure a good fit. 

5. A canine cooling mat, by far, is one of the best summer care items you can get for your Pug puppy or dog. These are amazing at keeping a dog comfortable and cool. You’ll want to look for a self-cooling mat, which works on its own without having to be plugged in. These contain a special gel that absorbs excess body heat. If you place your hand upon it, you may not feel anything at all, however when a dog lies down on it, the gel gets to work. 

A quality cooling mat for a Pug will work for 3 to 4 hours. After that, it will recharge itself, able to be used again in 1 to 2 hours.

Look for one that is durable enough to be used both inside and outside. The great thing about these is that they are portable, it can be placed over your Pug’s bed cushion, on the living room floor or even on the grass outside. You can take it with you in the car and use it anywhere. As soon as a Pug first uses it, he will learn that he finds relief from the heat and will, in most cases, seek it out without needing any prodding. 
Pug eyeball
Dervish, at 4 and 1/2 months old
Photo courtesy of Bhanu Raman - Bangalore, India

Summer Care Tip #2 - Hydration is Key

When a dog gets hot, his body more rapidly loses water. Some is lost via the paws (sweat) and a good majority is lost via the panting that we spoke about. The heavier a dog pants, the more water is lost. For this reason, a Pug at any time during the year is at risk for dehydration. However, in the summer during hot weather, the risk is higher than ever.
cute little Pug puppy named Snowball
Photo courtesy of May Grew
Even just a 2% loss of water will cause a slight dehydration that puts additional strain on the body. This can soon spiral for a Pug. He is a bit weaker. He is reacting a bit slower. His focus is slightly affected. This in turn, causes more struggle with handling summer temperatures…and there is nothing else he can do other than pant more, which causes him to lose even more water.

So, as you can see, this can be a vicious cycle and the best thing that you can do to help avoid this particular issue is to actively make sure that your Pug is drinking enough so that this issue does not develop in the first place.

How much water does a Pug dog need in the summer? The amount will vary on the exact temperature, his level of activity, the type of food he eats and his size. Normally, a dog needs anywhere between 8.5 to 17 ounces for every 10 pounds of body weight. In the summer, this is usually increased by 10%.

Pug’s weight in pounds / Amount of daily water in the summer

5 pounds: up to 9.5 ounces (1.18 cups)
10 pounds: up to 18.7 ounces (2.33 cups)
15 pounds: up to 28.05 ounces (3.50 cups)
20 pounds: up to 37.4 ounces (4.67 cups)

So, as you can see if you have a full grown adult Pug that is fairly active in the summer, he may need to have almost 5 cups of water to stay properly hydrated. Luckily, he does not need to drink all of that, as water can be ingested in other ways. Here are some drinking tips in general:
1. In the summer, water may not stay as cool as it would otherwise, particularly if the bowl is kept where the sun is shining in on it. You may want to block that sun via a shade and do take care to clean out and refresh the water bowl more often. 

2. Bring a canine water travel container with you whenever you leave the house with your Pug. Choose one that keeps the water cold (you can also add a few ice cubes) and the type in which the lid serves as the drinking bowl are helpful (less to carry). Stop every 10 to 15 minutes and offer your Pug both a break and a drink. 

3. Offer fresh or frozen fruit that has a high water content. Both watermelon and strawberries are safe for canines to eat and contain 92% water. Both blueberries and raspberries are also safe for dogs and contain 87% water. These can be given as snacks and/or mixed into your Pug’s main meals. 

4. If your Pug needs some extra encouragement, a canine water fountain can work great. The moving water attracts a dog to investigate and the filter offers the bonus of clean water. 

5. Ice cubes are a good method as well. Teething puppies do great with these, as they help to soothe sore gums, but dogs of any age will enjoy chomping on ice for fun, flavor and to cool down. If you give it to your Pug on a slippery floor, you’ll have fun too as you watch him chase it around! You can flavor the ice by mixing water with apple juice (100% pure) and then freezing that in an ice cube tray. 

Summer Care Tip #3 - Protect Your Pug's Paws and Nose

These are the two areas on a Pug that will suffer from what the summer season doles out. 

Your Pug’s Nose: A dog’s body (like our own) has 5 layers of skin. The nose, on the other hand, only has 3 layers. So, while the nose may appear to be ‘sturdy’, this is a huge misconception and it is very vulnerable to the summer sun. Skin cancer is always a concern, as Pug dogs and Shar Peis have a higher incidence of mast cell tumor than any other dog breeds. Mast cells are cells that reside in the connective tissues, especially those vessels and nerves that are closest to the external surfaces (skin, lungs, nose, mouth). 

The other concern is a drying of the nose due to the summer sun, which can very quickly turn from simple drying to peeling and then to cracking.

What to do: You may want to routinely use a quality canine nose butter, which will protect your Pug’s nose from the outside elements and keep the nose leather moisturized and healthy. Any time that you are planning to take your Pug out for 20 minutes or more, apply some 10 minutes before leaving. If the nose is already dry, peeling or cracking, a good nose balm will heal as well. Please note that in cases of open cracks, infection is always a possibility and that is best treated by a veterinarian. 
Your Pug’s Paws: It’s very important to pay attention to your Pug’s paws in the summertime. Many owners overlook this, assuming that a dog’s paws are ‘invincible’ however, this is not true at all. The paws are made of thick skin; however, being skin they are vulnerable to burns. Summer paw burns are common because us humans are wearing shoes and do not realize just how hot outside surfaces can be. 

The sidewalks and roads that you walk your Pug on are most likely comprised of asphalt, cement or a mixture of these two. In the summer, these surfaces can heat up to as much as 122 degrees hotter than the air temperature. How hot they get depends on the exact outside temperature, duration of sun exposure and even how long the day happens to be (with the longest day being during the summer solstice, which occurs between June 20 and June 22).  

This means that on a 90 F day, the sidewalk can be as hot as 212 degrees F. Can this burn a Pug dog’s paws? The answer is a huge yes. A surface of only 131 F can fry an egg in 5 minutes. A surface of 125 F can burn a dog’s skin in less than 1 minute. 

What to do: Using a quality paw wax can protect your Pug’s paws quite well in the summer. If you use a good one, it will be a barrier that guards against heat and in addition, can be great to repel those tiny little pebbles that can get stuck between a dog’s paws. 
Pug outside in the summer
Matilda, at 1 year old
Photo courtesy of Gemma
As a side note, paw wax is also great in the winter, to protect from ice melt chemicals, road salt and tiny ice/snow balls that can get stuck in the paws. Look for a quality wax that is quickly absorbed and lasts for 3 to 4 days. You’ll also want a semi-permeable type that shields while allowing for perspiration to escape through the toes. 

Extra Summer Care Tips for Pugs

There are some other things to keep in mind as you enjoy your summer season with your Pug.

1. Take care around outdoor fires. Dogs that are used to fetching may inadvertently chase after sticks that are thrown into fires. While dogs will have enough instinct to not run into a fire, they can, however, stop just short of it where there can be intense heat and smaller twigs that have fallen out but are piping hot. 
Pug in the water cooling off from summer heat
Pug (that's his name!), 3 and 1/2 years old
Photo courtesy of Dawn in Rhode Island
2. Never allow your Pug to be outside unsupervised. Even if you have a fenced in yard, it’s a risk to let a Pug outside by himself when it’s hot out. You may get a phone call or be otherwise distracted by something that comes up, leading him to stay outside in the heat for too long.

3. If you suspect that your Pug is suffering from heat stress, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Early signs are excessive panting (often hard to determine with the Pug breed), excessive drooling, weakness, decreased urination, rapid heartbeat and reddened gums. If not treated, it can lead to sudden acute kidney failure and even death. You will want to immediately bring your Pug into an air-conditioned house. If you cannot reach the house, bring him in to the shade. Do not place ice on him. Wet, cool towels placed on the dog works best. Fans work well in addition to this. Call the vet, keeping in mind that you may be instructed to bring down his body temperature before you bring him to the clinic. 

4. Plan for a power outage. If your Pug was home alone in the summer and the power cut out, leaving him there without air conditioning, what would you do? Plan for this in advance. You may want to give a key to a friend or family member that lives close enough to reach your Pug, but far enough away that a power outage in your neighborhood may not affect their home. For times that you are home with your Pug, if the electricity went out, have a plan for this as well. If it is short-term the canine cooling mat will come in very handy. 
5. Beware of summer bugs. There are 2 concerns here. First, would be venomous stinging insects such as bees, wasps, hornets and yellow jackets. Many make nests at ground level or right under the ground with exit holes in the grass… these are areas that your Pug dog may walk over or sniff at. These sorts of insects start to emerge in the spring, are highly active in the summer and stay until the fall. If your Pug gets stung, there is always the possibility of being allergic. Any facial swelling, difficulty breathing, or odd behavior are signs of this and should be considered an emergency. This can occur up to 45 minutes afterwards. 

With 1 or 2 stings, and without any signs of allergic reaction, baking soda and water (or vinegar and water for hornet or yellow jacket stings) can help the pain when dabbed onto the site for 15 minutes. Benadryl is often given as well, but do consult your vet. Any more than 5 or 6 sting is concern for toxic buildup and is reason to bring your Pug to the vet ASAP. 

The other concern is mosquitoes, as this pesky bug is very active it the summer. We suggest avoiding anything that contains DEET and instead opting for a natural mosquito repellent that contains organic oils. 

A Final Word

Pug dogs definitely need specialized care in the summer, to help protect them from the season’s elements and to better handle the heat. However, with a bit of planning and by following care guidelines, a Pug can make it through the summer both comfortable and happy.  
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