Friday, June 20, 2014

5 ways to protect the health of an active pug

Liam the pug sitting on my foot

Pugs are the undisputed winners of sites like Pinterest, and often, the photos I see there show these silly dogs doing something pretty sedate, like wearing a costume or sitting on the couch like a human. Many photos show these little guys eating. (Check out my Pinterest page to see tons of these photos. I'm addicted!)

But, pugs can also be remarkably active, and if you don't give them an outlet for that energy, they can also be really annoying. Without the proper toys and treats, they tend to destroy their beds, dig holes, bark and otherwise make a real nuisance of themselves.

At the same time, these guys also don't breathe all that well, so it's hard to keep them as active as they need to be.

I can't say that I have all of the answers, but here are a few things that have worked for me.

1. Keep your pug trim. 

Pugs love to snack, and that means they can pack on the pounds in no time at all. Each added pound makes it harder for these guys to haul their bodies from place to place, and that means they tucker out on walks much faster than they should.

By keeping an eye on their weight, and doing strict portion control (including limiting treats), many of these weight problems can be avoided.

2. Take your pug with you, and watch what you wear. 

Pugs can overheat when the weather gets warm, so it's best to watch over the clothes you're planning to wear before you head out on a walk. If I feel like I can wander out on a walk wearing just a tank top and shorts, it's probably too hot for Liam. But, if I'm all bundled up, it's safer.

Pug and human selfie
We're both quite comfy.

3. Watch for pug heavy breathing. 

All dogs pant when they get a little too hot. But Liam (and most pugs) can take panting to a whole new level when they get overheated. They stick their tongues out really far, and they make horrible noises both when breathing in and breathing out.

I've seen more than one pug owner write these noises off as simple pug noises, but it can be really dangerous to let your dog struggle to breathe. The noises might seem silly or comical, but they really can be dangerous.
Liam the pug sitting by a tree
Getting a little hot after a long walk.

I watch Liam's tongue length, and when he gets that tongue way out there and I can't get him indoors in a hurry, I douse him with water. It's not something he loves, I'll admit, but it is a quick way to help him cool off just enough so I can get him to safety.

4. Pug practice makes pug perfect. 

Just as you wouldn't head out on an 8-mile run without doing some training first, pugs shouldn't be forced to go on long treks on a sporadic basis. They need to work up to long walks, so they can handle the activity without collapsing.

A daily walk can help your pug stay in good condition for almost any activity you might choose, but if the weather is too hot, a run around the yard when the sun goes down might do the trick.

And remember, if you have to keep your pug indoors for long periods of time due to the summer heat, don't celebrate the return of fall with a long hike. Build up slowly in order to stay safe.

Pug and Boston terrier resting in the sunshine
"Resting after exercise is awesome, too!"

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