‘Health is Wealth’, whether it’s your health or your pet’s!
You will have pleasure in keeping a pet and you will have more pleasure when your pet is healthy. It saves you a lot of money and a lot of trouble making expensive trips to the vet’s when your pet is sound and happy. This is absolutely true when your pet is a pug dog.
As an expert on dog breeds states, dogs as pets have been artificially bred into the most diverse animal on the planet. He blames the breeders of ignoring the ethics by following unsuitable inbreeding practices to retain the traits that are just whimsical… like low hind part in German shepherds and the stubbed snouts in bulldogs and pugs.
Of the 350 to 400 dog breeds in existence, some hundred breeds are more popular and those hundred breeds have the worst health issues that they carry with them forever.
Though pugs are surely one of the breeds that changed the pet dog world with their outward appearance, they have the most genetically inherited disorders which they pass on to their offspring.
An expert on pug dogs has gone up to saying that pugs, the designer dogs, are the ‘victims’ of selective breeding.
There are some general health issues in every dog breed and as those issues occur in the natural process, such as parasitic infections, wounds, allergies, etc., the dog has its natural power of resistance, or those can be rectified with minimum outside efforts. However, the genetically inherited diseases, or rather disorders, are the ones that cannot be rectified at all unless there are drastic changes in the present day breeding process.
Most scientists sympathetic to this sensitive issue of inbreeding to retain the much preferred traits in some fancy breeds are up in arms about this issue and are demanding governments and recognised kennel clubs to ban the fancy breeds altogether, and are also requesting the breeders to cross-breed small-sized dogs with normal-sized dogs to relieve the fancy breeds of their misery of living with genetically inherited diseases and disorders!
However, as pet dog owners, we have little say in these matters, but we can at least give much needed attention to our fancy pet dogs to make their lives more bearable and, in turn, get the least worrisome relationship with our pets.
There’s no denying that pugs are the perfect examples of how harmful selective breeding for fancy appearance of dogs can be.
The most common genetic disorders a pug is subjected to have are: obesity, difficulty in breathing, dislocation of bone joints, food and skin allergies, eye diseases, along with the common diseases such as indigestion, aging, overheating and exhaustion.
Though we the pug owners cannot change the traits (in fact, we own a fancy breed because we adore those fancy traits), we can at least take some precautions so as to make our pugs more comfortable and less expensive.
The following are some suggestions, not any sort of authentic medical prescriptions or sure-shot remedies, which might help the new pug owners in rearing their pugs with less bother and expense.
1. Obesity and Over-feeding:
Pugs are prone to become obese as they eat and eat and eat until they are bloated… they live to eat; not eat to live! And the heavier a pug is, the more complications he has.
As pugs have a double coat and get hot very easily, vets warn pug owners against giving very rigorous exercise. Therefore, the only alternative is to feed your pug sensibly… feeding more by look and touch than by love and affection. Measure your pug regularly, keep a chart noting the sizes over a considerable period of time, and if you feel your pug is putting on extra weight, cut down on his feed, and if you notice that there are some signs of losing weight, give extra feed. Of course, if there is no change or improvement even after taking this precaution, see a vet and follow his advice.
Pugs are known to run their owners around as they are of the royal descent. It’s not uncommon to hear a pug owner saying: ‘I don’t own my pug, he owns me.’ This is because pugs look so pitiful with their comical face that even expert pug breeders fall for it! Pugs are known to ‘act’ hungry all the time. They beg for food in such a way that you cannot resist feeding it even when you are aware that he’s already had his fill, and pugs make use of our weakness and keep begging every one of the family members by turns, and get a sumptuous serve from each one. Yeah, they look clownish but they are devilish when it comes to eating.
Giving some mild exercise regularly keeps your pug in a good shape. I feed my pug Dexter, 100% raw diet comprising of chicken, beef, rabbit, ofal and a very tiny bit of boiled vegetables. I will write another post about the benefits of raw diets for dogs.
2. Difficulty in Breathing:
As they have a very narrow and short nasal cavity because of their stubbed snouts, pugs experience great difficulty in breathing.
There are cases where pugs died of this problem because the owners are ignorant of this disorder.
Species of dog family naturally pant and drool in order to keep themselves cool. Unfortunately, pugs can’t pant as much as they need to because of the narrowness and shortness of their muzzle.
This genetically inherited disorder of difficulty in breathing is so prevalent and serious that Dr Gerhard Oechtering, a German veterinary professor and surgeon, is known have said after concluding a two-hour nasal surgery on a pug: It’s unbelievable that we need invasive surgery just to repair the basic needs of the dog. Breathing is the most basic need and this is no way acceptable from any ethical point we have today.
Furthermore, a kitchen is off limits to a pug. Pug owners are advised to keep their pugs out of their kitchens or fireplaces that burn coal or wood or when some deep-frying is going on in the kitchen as the smoke from the fire or the frying may be harmful for the pug.
So, keep a vigil on the way your pug breathes. If his snoring is normal, it’s ok, but if he seems to be gasping for breath or the nose part is runny, you’re required to take him to a vet without delay.
In addition, owners who smoke tobacco, especially cigars, in closed confinements where there is no proper ventilation are advised to avoid keeping their pugs close to them while smoking or, even better, to remove them from that place so that the smoke doesn’t bother these poor breathers!
3. Joint Dislocation:
Another very prominent disorder in small dogs, especially in pugs, is the bone joint dislocation. The more commonly heard complaints are ‘Luxating Patella’, ‘hip dysplasia’, hemivertebrae and Legg-Perthes Claves disease.
Luxating Patella, also known as ‘trick knees’ or ‘kneecap dislocation’, is the dislocation of the small movable bone in the knee called Patella. In some fortunate cases, the bone dislocates and falls back into place on its own, but in some unfortunate cases, the bone has to be set in place by a veterinarian with more chances of success; however, in some extra-ordinary cases, the only way to set it right is by a very expensive surgery, often with mixed results. The common symptoms associated with this are that your pugs limps and sways a little while walking favouring the affected leg. Though the pugs with this ailment do not limp, you can see a slight skipping in their hind part.
A pug is born with Hip Dysplasia, also known as hip joint dislocation. And this inherited disorder doesn’t show up for years. This is found in the hind legs of the pug… the ball, the head of the femur (the large bone in the leg) doesn’t fit into its socket because either the socket is too shallow to accommodate the femur’s head or the ‘ball’, the femur’s head, is so misshaped that it doesn’t fit into the socket. The common symptoms associated with this are that your pug walks with a sway and looks as if it were swinging its back part. And in some cases, the pug walks as if it were drunk.
Hemivertebrae is known be found in small dogs, especially in French bulldogs and pugs. This is the result of the deformed vertebrae in the spinal cord (the small bones or bone segments that make up the spinal cord or the backbone). Though it’s not confirmed what causes this congenital disorder, most people believe that this disorder is connected to the much favoured trait of the screw-tail of the pug! If the rear vertebrae are affected, the noticeable symptoms are staggering and lack of coordination while walking, and if the front vertebrae are affected, you will notice that your pug holds his head in a stiff and low position.
Legg-Perthes Calves Disorder affects hip joints and back legs. The cause of this disorder is the result of the lack of growth in the nerves that supply blood to the thigh bones and as a result, the bones deteriorate for lack of blood supply. The pug with this disorder shows signs of lameness.
Therefore, when you notice any change in your pug’s walking, changes such as slowing down, leaning on to one side, preferring one leg, swaggering, swaying, limping, swinging, skipping gait or inability in jumping up on to sofas and chairs, you are advised to immediately consult your vet and brace up for paying heavy bills as, most often, most of these disorders are set right only by expensive surgery.
4. The Eye:
Of all the senses, eye-sight is the most important, especially for such dog breeds as the pug, who doesn’t have the senses of smell and hearing well-developed.
A pug’s eyes are more susceptible to injury and infection as they protrude very much looking as if the eye sockets are too shallow to hold them in place.
You will find more on the ‘eye problems’ of your pug in a separate article which will be posted soon.
5. Heat Stroke:
Toy dogs, especially pugs, are prone to be affected by heat. As your pug doesn’t show any signs of heat stroke, it doesn’t mean that he isn’t affected.
Unlike other breeds, pugs and other stub-nosed breeds of dog can’t pant and cool themselves naturally. And as they have a double coat, pugs tend to become hot very easily. Though the ill-effects of constant exposure to heat may not be apparent, there is severe internal damage done to your pug in the form of ‘kidney and heart failure’.
Therefore, senior pug owners warn the newcomers to be aware of this fact and to take it seriously.
6. Aging & Nervous Disorders:
Nothing can be done to stop your pug from aging.
(People spend millions in the hope of staying young but to no avail. We get old and so are our pets.)
Just like people getting grumpy as they grow old, the pets get grumpy too. The most common disease in old pugs is nervous disorder. Though the front part of the body looks relatively healthy, the hind part becomes affected and the pug shows signs of staggering, and in extreme cases, drag its back legs after it as if he were crawling.
The best remedy for this disorder is, according to some dog experts, to buy a special cart that is fit to the hind part of the pug so that the pug walks freely with the front legs and the cart rolls with it carrying the hind part.
So Love they pug as thy child!