Like most dogs, your pug will need to be washed, brushed, have their nails trimmed, have their ears cleaned. This article will give you plenty of guidance on how to do that, with a few Pug specific tricks and tactics
However Pugs have a number of problems unique to their breed, which must be monitored to avoid a vet visit, so it will also point out the Pug-specific problem areas checked.
Washing Your Pug
Pugs are rambunctious little creatures, and this could potentially lead them into trouble! If your pug charges through a puddle or rolls in something particularly foul, they will need a bath. If your pug isn’t a dirty little troublemaker, they may only need a few baths per year, while others may need to be bathed once a month. Before your pug gets himself into trouble, make sure you have all the tools necessary to give him a quick rinse.
- First, you will need somewhere to bathe your dog, such as a bathtub or shower with a removable showerhead attachment for rinsing.
- Ensure your bathing area has a non-slip mat to prevent possible slippage. Pugs are prone to hip dysplasia and luxating patella (kneecap dislocation), and an injury could cause or worsen these conditions.
- Finally, you will need a mild dog shampoo, or a baby shampoo. This will prevent skin irritation.
- Gently rinse your dog with warm water, lather with shampoo (avoiding the eyes), and rinse again. Towel dry after removing your dog from the tub.
Brushing Your Pug
Your pug should be brushed daily to remove dead hair, and after they have dried from a bath. Use a bristle brush, or a brushing hand mitt, to go over your dog’s coat. Gently but thoroughly remove any loose hair, brushing your pug’s back, sides, neck, chest, legs, and stomach. Pair this process with yummy treats, and begin practicing from a young age to acclimate your dog to standing still during the grooming process.
Clipping Your Pug’s Nails
Pugs are notorious for their ticklish feet, making nail grooming quite a hassle. Begin handling your pug’s feet while they are young, to desensitize them to grooming. For a full guide on desensitizing your dog to grooming, see “Desensitizing Your Dog to Grooming”. An unruly dog frequently requires restraint, which can be quite stressful for your pet. Stress is never good for your pup, but in pugs it can be even more dangerous.
Elongated Soft Palate and Stress
Pugs are prone to breathing problems, specifically an elongated soft palate. This condition causes the soft palate on the roof of the dog’s mouth to partially block the windpipe, causing difficulty breathing. Stress can worsen this condition, and avoiding stressful situations should be a priority with your dog. Some of the signs your dog may be suffering from an elongated palate include:
- trouble breathing
- gagging or dry heaving
To avoid having this condition worsen, or exacerbating the symptoms of an elongated palate, ensure that you desensitize your dog to grooming and clip his nails properly.
Steps to Nail Trimming
- Ensure your dog is comfortable and you have treats, nail clippers, or a nail dremel.
- Hold your dog’s paw with one hand, and the clippers/dremel with the other. You should hold firmly enough that your dog cannot easily pull their paw away, but gently enough to avoid discomfort.
- Carefully begin removing the excess nail tip using your clippers or dremel. Always begin at the very tip of the nail and work your way towards the quick in small successions.
- Stay away from the quick. Cutting into the quick (the blood vessel) of your dog’s nail hurts! The fastest way to teach your dog to hate having their nails clipped is to cut into the quick - don’t do it!
- Don’t be lazy, and don’t rush. If you clip too close to the quick for the sake of cutting your dog’s nails less frequently, your dog’s feet will be sore. Rushing through and injuring your dog is an easy way to undo all your training.
- Reinforce, reinforce, reinforce! This process is scary for your dog. Give them lots of treats to let them know that getting their nails trimmed is a good thing.
Cleaning Your Pug’s Ears
Another unpleasant experience, most dogs are squirmy while getting their ears cleaned and pugs are no exception. Pug’s folded ears trap dirt and bacteria inside, making them more prone to debris buildup or infection. Cleaning your dog’s ears should be part of your daily routine. Some guidelines on ear cleaning:
- Using a moist cotton pad, swipe the area around the entrance to your dog’s ear.
- Take care not to push the dirt down into the ear canal.
- Do not use Q-tips, which could damage the ear.
- If you notice your pug’s ears become red, smelly, or itchy, have your vet take a look.
Pug-Specific Grooming Concerns
Besides the usual grooming, pugs are prone to a number of pug-specific problems. To avoid discomfort for your pup, you should clean and check the following areas daily to prevent problems before they occur. Many of these issues can pose serious health complications for your dog if left unchecked for long periods.
Your pug’s adorable, mushed-in face is actually quite prone to getting dirty! Skin folds on the face – particularly above the nose, can get dirt trapped beneath them. This dirt must be removed daily to prevent skin irritation and infection. Use a moist cotton pad, or a baby wipe, and thoroughly clean beneath the folds on your pup’s face. Once they are clean, a tissue or cotton pad should be used to dry the area as moisture beneath the folds could also result in a fungal infection.
Another endearing feature on your pug is it’s huge, bugged-out eyes. These cute, bulbous peepers are quite easily irritated. As you can imagine, having half the surface of your eye sticking out unprotected can result in lots of dirt and dust contamination! Clean your pug’s eyes daily to prevent eye infections.
Pull out your cotton pads again, because we will need them for gently cleaning around the eye. Much of the debris will collect in the corners of the eyes. Gently and carefully remove any gunk that might have accumulated throughout the day. Use a new cotton pad for each eye, to prevent spreading infection from one eye to the other. Please do not touch the cotton pad to the surface of the eye itself.
Pugs, and most small breed dogs, are prone to dental problems. Unless otherwise directed by your veterinarian, feed your dog dry kibble rather than wet food. The texture of kibble helps rub away some of the plaque buildup on your pup’s teeth. Because pugs are particularly prone to dental problems their teeth will need frequent brushing. Steps for brushing your pug's teeth:
- Using dog toothpaste (not human toothpaste!) place a pea-sized amount on your pup’s toothbrush.
- Brush your dog’s teeth thoroughly, and attempt to brush for a full minute, even if your dog attempts to play with the brush.
- Praise heavily and reinforce after brushing, your dog will become more comfortable as you practice your brushing routine with them and reinforce.
Your pug is a unique dog, with a unique set of problems. The best way to avoid health issues with your pug is to carefully watch for any symptoms, and do your best to prevent them. Proper grooming can prevent some problems, but always make sure to do your research on all of the breed-specific health issues prone to pugs.
The best way to keep your pug happy, and healthy, is to do your research and stay informed. Start training your pug to tolerate their grooming today. Each time you practice with your dog, grooming will become an easier process, making you more likely to actually do it!