Tuesday, November 17, 2015

5 ways to help your pug live longer

Liam the pug in his dog bed in a sunny window
Liam the pug has the sweetest little face. He always has. His sweet and slightly worried expression is one of the best things about him. But lately, I've noticed something a little different about his face. He's gone silvery grey on the chin and cheeks.

Check out how he looked just a few years ago.

Liam the pug in his bed with his pig dog toy
His muzzle is almost black in this photo. He doesn't look anything like this now.

So he's growing older. And that's inevitable for most pugs. But that doesn't mean Liam has to grow old without a fight. In fact, there's a lot I can do to ensure that he has the longest life possible. Here are just 5 ways in which I can help.

1. Fix the breathing.

The pushed in face of a pug can lead to super-small nostrils, and that can make breathing really tough. The condition is called "stenotic nares," and Liam had it when he was a puppy. His nostril bubbled and frothed when he got excited, and I could hear him breathing even when he was calm. I had the issue corrected with surgery (which I wrote about in this super-old blog post), which really improved Liam's ability to breathe. Now, he can run and jump and play without putting great strain on his lungs and his heart. And that's sure to lengthen his life.

2. Mind the temperature.

That short face can lead to significant heat intolerance. Pugs can't run hot air through long nasal passages to cool it down, so they tend to heat up much faster than do their long-nosed counterparts. Air conditioning is absolutely vital for a pug, as a result, and I also keep a close eye on weather reports before summertime walks. (More on that in this blog post.)

3. Head out for expert help.

There's a lot I can do at home to keep Liam safe and healthy. But sometimes, I need the help of someone with a little more experience. If Liam develops skin lumps, pain or some other sign of illness, I need the help of a veterinarian. And I never hesitate to go.

4. Do vaccine research.

I've taken Liam to at least one veterinary clinic that pushed a plethora of vaccines that Liam doesn't really need (like leptospirosis). And this team wanted to give him all of the shots at the same time. That approach could be devastating to a dog's immune system, and it could end up costing me a great deal of money in health treatments down the line. Whenever anyone wants to give Liam a shot, I ask what the vaccine is for, how prevalent the disease is within the community, and how urgent the shot is. If Liam is at risk for multiple things, I make multiple trips for shots, so he doesn't get them all at once.

5. Pay attention to nutrition.

What a dog eats has a great deal of influence on the dog's overall health. That's why I spend up on Liam's diet, and I supplement his food with vitamins, probiotics and pumpkin (have you entered our sweepstakes yet?). The more good food he eats, the better off we all will be.

So that's it! Did I miss anything? Leave me a note in the comments, and let me know!

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