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Pug Wrinkles

Pug dog with deep wrinkles


While many short haired breeds require little grooming from the owner, the Pug does need attention given to certain elements. One will be the wrinkles.

Without proper cleaning and care infection can settle into the creases of the wrinkles: This is due to the debris, dirt and moisture buildup that is the perfect breeding ground for germs. The wrinkles can become infected with yeast or bacteria.

The most common problem with wrinkles are:

Odor - Yeast infections have a distinct musty smell and bacterial infections may also have a bad odor. Accumulated food particles will begin to smell terrible as well. 

Itching - The creases of the skin folds can become exceedingly itchy without proper care. This can cause a great bit of discomfort to a Pug. A puppy or dog may rub his face against carpeting and other abrasive surfaces or paw at his face.
Swelling, irritation - Tiny particles of debris and/or infection will cause the thin skin in the folds of the wrinkles to become inflamed. The skin may do one of two things: Become dry and crusty or become so moist that it puckers, often appearing pink and swollen.

Why do Pug Wrinkles Get Infected?

This type of deep crevice of skin is the perfect environment for bacteria. Germs thrive in warm, dark and moist places. Any food particles or debris becomes easily trapped in the wrinkles. 

Once they are there, they remain, blocking healthy air flow which causes even more of a moisture buildup. Unless an owner purposefully cleans each fold, the problem will only compound.

If not cleaned, this will be happening out of sight. You won't notice that anything is wrong or that infection has taken hold until there are the clinical signs of odor, severe itching, discomfort, swelling and possible skin cracks. 

How to Help Prevent Infection

Keeping the wrinkles free from infection is relativity easy; what owners struggle with a bit is the time element. However, by making the care of the wrinkles a normal part of your routine, you'll soon find that a few minutes a day will help eliminate a lot of potential problems.

1) Owners should properly clean the wrinkles at least once per day to rid these sensitive areas of dirt, debris, moisture and food particles. 

2) Keep the wrinkles dry. They will of course become wet after a bath time; however as a Pug drinks water, droplets will splash onto the face and find its way into the crevices of the face.

How to Clean a Pug's Wrinkles

Each day, you should inspect the wrinkles and provide a cleaning whether or not there is visible debris. It's best to clean the face after each meal; at the very least you'll want to do this once a day. 

Owners should not wait until there is visible foreign matter; by then irritation and germs will have already built up. Cleaning should be done to prevent a buildup, not to just take away the stuff once it is in there. In addition, this sort of routine grooming will include keeping the folds dry, regardless of their cleanliness.   
Products for Cleaning - There are several different types of products that you may use:

• Canine facial wipes - * Top recommended option. If there is no infection and you simply want to keep the wrinkles in good shape, one of the best wipes to use is a quality canine eye wipe. These are designed to be super gentle and very effective with the proper PH balance to keep the delicate skin of crevices healthy.
• Baby wipes – Hypo-allergenic and sanitary, this is a good choice. Packages contain many sheets and just one container should last about a month. The price for a packet is usually low and they are easy to dispense.
• A soft thin wash cloth – Not our first pick, this is better than nothing and can be used if you run out of canine facial wipes. Do keep in mind that if you opt for this, you will need to properly wash them using warm or hot water and dry on a hot cycle to keep them clean and bacteria free.

• Cotton balls – Also, not our top pick, loose cotton (or Q-tips) may be used; however with this option, do be sure to use something other than a Q-tip for drying, as using these will often be just fine for swiping out matter, but not absorbent enough for properly drying the wrinkles. So, if choosing this, do use a soft cloth or gauze afterward.

• Gauze – This is similar to the above and works well if you obtain those which are sterilized. 

• 50/50 mixture of your Pug’s shampoo & water (only needed if you opt to use a cloth, cotton or gauze to clean; canine facial wipes & baby wipes are pre-moistened). 

• For drying – A soft, clean, dry thin washcloth or gauze. 
Two Pug dogs on lawn looking up

Step-by-Step Instructions

1) Use your fingers to gently and carefully spread apart each fold, one at a time…inspecting and thoroughly cleaning each one before you go on to the next.

2) First take a look for any signs of irritation: redness, swelling, rash, a bad odor. You will want to take note of this, because if any of this is present and does not look improved by the next day, it should be checked out by the veterinarian. If there is an infection, prescribed mediation may be needed such as topical antibiotic gel and/or mediated wipes.

3) If you are using a baby or canine wipe you will not need to add any solution to it.
4) If you are using cotton or a dry cloth, do not use rubbing alcohol – while you do want to prevent dampness, this can be too dehydrating to the sensitive skin and can cause aridity problems (peeling, etc.). If you are not using a pre-moistened wipe, it is best to use a 50/50 mixture of water and a quality canine shampoo. Just a cloth and water may be too abrasive for the sensitive skin of inner wrinkles. 

5) Gently swipe down into the fold, reaching all the way down. Try to make one sweeping motion. Repeat until the wipe comes out clean without any colored matter on it.

6) Once you are satisfied that the fold is completely clean, it will be time to dry it. Any water droplets or dampness left inside can cause problems. So, your goal will be to swipe through the wrinkle until you are satisfied that it is dry. 

Infections in the Wrinkles

Even with proper care, wrinkles may become infected. Sometimes just a very small amount of moisture can cause a problem. Also, with so many wrinkles to clean, once in a while a certain area may be overlooked and infection can set in fast.

The most important element is to take time to look over your Pug each day so that you can spot a problem before it develops into a severe issue. Most conditions can be quickly resolved if caught early enough. 
The signs of infection are: 

Swelling – This may or may not occur, however if it does you may notice that one side of your Pug’s face appears to be swollen… Or just a certain fold may look puffy.

Redness – When you go to clean your dog’s face and you separate the folds, it may be then that you notice red skin. 
This may affect the entire inside fold, it may be just one small patch or you may see red bumps.

Discharge – Not always present, however some types of infection can cause the skin to produce a fluidly discharge. This is often clear or white and when it happens, it will be very noticeable. 

Odor – Which some types of issues, particularly fungus infection, there can be a strange, odd odor.

Itching - A Pug may rub his face against any surface that provides some sort of relief.  

How To Clean Pug Wrinkles That Are Infected

It's always a good idea to have an infection checked out by the veterinarian. This is because he/she will be able to determine what type of infection has settled in, whether this be yeast, bacterial or a combination of both. You won't want to waste time treating a yeast infection at home if the problem is a bacteria that needs an antibiotic.

With this said, if your Pug has had wrinkle infections in the past and you are familiar with the symptoms, you may opt to first treat this with OTC medicated wipes. 

Some wipes are both anti-fungal and anti-bacterial. If there is no improvement after swiping the folds 2 to 3 times per day for 1 week, it will be time to have the vet diagnose things further.

Professional Diagnosis and Treatment

By taking a visual look and a swipe of the area to collect a sample to be tested, the vet will be able to determine if the infection is yeast, bacterial or in some cases, a staph infection.

Most cases are treated with a topical antibiotic gel and/or oral antibiotics. For moderate to severe cases and if your Pug is very itchy, a topical steroid cream may be prescribed for short term use.

Most infections will clear up in 1 to 2 weeks.

If a Pug has reoccurring wrinkle infections, this may be due to a lowered immune system, and this is something that the veterinarian should explore. 
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