Pugs are one of those versatile breeds that are small in stature but love activity and can hang with the big dogs. Pugs are social and energetic and tend to get along with all sizes and types of dogs, cats and people. Their wide range of compatibility means they are up for almost anything. Although their paw pads seem as rough and tough as their big personalities, different temperatures, activities and terrains have the potential to cause real problems in the pads on those little feet.
Soreness and Mild Swelling
One of the most prevalent problems in pug's paw pads is soreness. Treated right away, you can stop it from leading to anything more serious. A change in terrain, like a new dog park with gravel instead of grass or a longer than usual trek as the weather improves, could cause the paw pads to be red and a little inflamed. Rest will usually do the trick, but a warm compress or a soak in Epsom salts at the first signs of pain can help your pug feel better right away. It also can help around the house to try some socks or soft booties. Then keep walks brief for the next few days and stay on soft grass. The problem should be gone after a few days.
Cuts and Foreign Objects
The pads on a pug's feet can sustain cuts, abrasions or stuck with foreign objects anywhere. They are curious and adventurous little dogs, equally ready to go for a hike in the hills, a jog on the beach or a walk downtown on a nice day. They will run around with human or canine pals anywhere and can easily get cut by a protruding branch, shell or piece of glass. These cuts tend to bleed a lot but can be easily stopped with pressure. For a foreign object, once the bleeding stops, you can apply a cotton ball soaked in a one-to-one mixture of water and hydrogen peroxide. If you can see it and safely remove with sterile tweezers, do so and then flush again. Even if the object does not appear to come out at first, it should work its way out in a few days. Pat dry gently. Apply some antibacterial medicine with pain relief and keep the foot bandaged and as dry as possible. Keep a close eye on it and if it does not get better or the object is still there after five days of rest, check with you veterinarian.
Burns and Blisters
Pugs are tough and great in almost any climate. But severe weather can still cause problems with the pads on their paws. Hot sand, pavement and the rock salt used in winter can all cause painful burns on their pads. These conditions make the size of the pug a big advantage because you can carry them if need be. Some booties or a coat of Vaseline will also help, especially in winter. Avoidance is the best method to prevent these problems, but sometimes even the most diligent owner cannot avoid these surfaces. Exposure will usually just cause tenderness and redness, but even a short time subjected to any of these conditions can result in blisters. The best way to treat this problem is to thoroughly clean the area on all four paws. Apply a cold compress and then some pain relief antibacterial ointment. Bandage and cover with a soft sock. Inspect after 48 hours and if there is no improvement or colored discharge, check with your vet.
Dryness and Allergies
Some pugs, especially those in dry or colder climates, may be more amenable to problems when their pads dry out. Pugs are also prone to skin allergies that can extend to the paws or just make the pads more sensitive. Keeping them moisturized will help significantly. There are a number of balms and lotions made just for this purpose. Stick to moisturizers made for dogs. Human lotions may have ingredients that irritate the pads or that are not safe to be licked off. Booties can help with these issues as well, preventing the dryness and reducing exposure of allergic or sensitive pads to potential irritants.
Prevention and Care
Pugs are very resilient and will try anything more than once. They are playful and social and relatively undaunted by new situations or weather changes. The best way to take care of their paw pads is to be diligent and aware. Invest in some booties for bad weather. Pick them up when you can and avoid extreme weather whenever possible. It's still likely that one way or another, they will have a paw problem. Take care of it when possible with first aid and rest. If bleeding will not stop, swelling does not subside, you are not sure of the cause and/or the condition persists after four or five days, see the vet.
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.
Kat Toland has worked with animals for over 20 years. She's been employed in the pet industry, but more significantly has been involved in all aspects of rescue, working with cats, dogs, horses, even spending time with rescued wolves. She currently volunteers with a group that runs with shelter dogs.