When I was researching pugs, about 10 years ago, one of their major selling points involved their relative health. Where breeds like Boston terriers were prone to life-threatening problems like cancer (which I learned about firsthand), pugs were prone to things that I considered minor.
Pug skin problems were common, I learned all those years ago. And I remember thinking that skin problems were super minor and super easy to handle. I felt certain I could take control of skin problems. I didn't think I'd have anything at all to worry about.
As it turns out, pug skin problems can run the gamut from mild to major. But there are a lot of things you can do to help. These are my top 3 tips:
1. Don't be afraid to give frequent baths.Many breeds of dogs develop dry skin, which means their skin cells flake away when they're dry. Dogs like this can't be bathed too frequently, as a bath strips away vital oils and leaves a dog's skin dry and itchy.
Pugs are different. Their coats tend to be oily, and they're prone to fungus-based problems. These are issues that are brought on by a combination of too much liquid and too little cleanliness. Baths help with both problems.
Recently, my veterinarian put Liam on a two-time-per-week bath schedule, due to outbreaks of fungus I've been seeing on his skin. I use a gentle dog shampoo (like this one), but he has those baths faithfully two times per week. It works well for him.
2. Inspect the skin regularly.Pug skin problems can be sneaky. Liam's skin might look lovely one day and then look absolutely horrible the very next day. That means I need to keep a close watch over every inch of skin on his body, and I need to step right up with a solution if something goes wrong.
Liam knows all about skin checks and he will show me his belly with very little prompting.
I look him over once per day, just so I am acquainted with what's happening with his skin. And then I follow up those checks with a few scratches and belly rubs. He likes those, so the sessions are a little more rewarding for him.
3. Stay in touch with your veterinarian.Skin problems can move from bad to worse in a heartbeat. And some skin problems that look minor can be caused by major illnesses, including cancer. Having a close relationship with a veterinarian can be vital. I can send my doctor photos of things on Liam's skin that worry me, and he can tell me whether or not those problems merit an office visit. I can also bring remedies I've used for prior skin problems with me to appointments, and in some cases, I can use them again.
Skin problems in pugs really are chronic conditions, so it's worthwhile to have a close veterinarian ally who can help you to keep those conditions under control.
While it can take some time and effort to work with tricky pug skin, it's easier to deal with this issue than it is to deal with another issue. I still maintain that pugs are overall very healthy and a good option for people who don't want to deal with life-threatening problems day in and day out. But I hope I've made it clear that pug skin can be fragile and it requires monitoring. Do that, and your pug can live for ages.
Do you have a pet with sensitive skin? I'd love to hear what you do to help. Leave me a note in the comments!