Eye Problems With Pugs

This unique look comes at a cost.
i Santa Pug image by wingsinmoonlight from Fotolia.com

Of all the breeds we know, the pug arguably has the most unique and characterful face. His flat muzzle, large eyes and folded ears make for a quirky, loveable expression. Sadly, pugs are prone to a number of eye problems arising from the size and shape of their eyes.


Characterized by a cloudy, blueish tint to the eyeball, cataracts will eventually lead to blindness if left untreated. Fortunately, your vet can quite quickly correct a cataract with a simple surgical procedure.


Pugs have large eyelids. In some cases, the lid is so large it folds at the lash. When it folds, the lid turns inward. Although this affects both lids, when it occurs on the top lid, the eyelashes push into the eyeball, causing irritation and possibly leading to infection. There are rarely lashes on a dog's lower eyelid, although lower lid entropion still causes discomfort and requires treatment.

If your dog is constantly pawing at his eye, has red eyes or appears to be in general facial discomfort, gently examine his eye. Entropion is typically apparent at around six months of age. In some cases, your vet may simply remove the offending eyelash to see how things progress. If the problem returns, the vet will most likely remove a small portion of the eyelid to shorten it, preventing it from rolling.

Cherry Eye

Cherry eye causes the tear duct gland to become red and inflamed, making it look like a cherry. In severe cases, the duct may become so inflamed that it will slip out of place. However, despite the rather unpleasant appearance this condition gives the eye, it isn’t particularly painful or severe. Your vet will attempt treatment in the first instance with eye drops. Failing that, he may suture the tear duct gland back in place. In more severe cases, he will simply remove the duct and prescribe a course of eyedrops to keep the eyes moist.

Dry Eye

Dry eye is quite common in pugs. It is caused when the tear ducts fail to create sufficient fluid and the eye dries out and becomes sore. Without sufficient fluid, irritants and debris will collect on the surface of the eye. If your pug has red eyes and is constantly blinking, the cause is likely to be dry eye. Your vet can treat this with an oral medicine that stimulates the tear ducts to produce more moisture.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy

This is an untreatable, inherited disease that ultimately leads to blindness. It causes no pain or discomfort. Your pug’s eye will eventually stop reacting to light. However, this is a slow-developing disease that begins late in life. For this reason, many pugs will have passed away before the disease fully develops.


Due to the shape of the face, the size of the eyes and the inquisitive nature of the breed, pugs are quite prone to eye injury. Rosebushes, sharp corners and any sharp surface or object at eye level poses a risk. Ensure that your dog’s environment is free from eye hazards to reduce the risk of eye trauma.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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