If you're a pug owner, you'll know that your pug doesn't eat to live; he lives to eat. This gourmand of the dog world also happens to be prone to health issues relating to his weight, so a healthy diet is all important to prevent him from developing problems.
Pug Health and Weight
Pug genetics make him prone to gaining weight, and obesity is a fairly common pug health issue. Your pug is also not the most energetic dog, so keeping weight off him takes self-control on your part, because he has none. Carrying extra weight can create a range of health issues for any dog; for the pug, it presents at least two specific problems. First, it puts his breathing under extra pressure and is connected to the airway obstruction issues common to most brachycephalic dogs. Also, the pug is the second-most at-risk breed for hip dysplasia, and keeping the pounds off is an important part of managing this condition. The same goes for arthritis and luxating patella, a condition of the knee joints.
According to the American Kennel Club breed standard, the ideal weight for male and female pugs is from 14 to 18 pounds. If your pug is more than a pound or two above this range, it's time to start cutting back. Discuss appropriate portion size with your vet and gradually reduce the size of his portions over several weeks until he slims down. Offer him low-calorie snacks such as carrots between meals, rather than higher-calorie doggy treats. Getting him used to smaller portions and fresh vegetables can play a significant role in maintaining his weight once he's lost the extra pounds.
What Type of Diet?
Some pug owners advocate a home-cooked diet as being the best for a pug's health. A raw food diet is also worth investigating, as this can help control a pug's allergic tendencies. Vetinfo recommends using organic meat products. You can buy the meat at the butcher shop, which often offers a dog-food blend of raw meat and ground bones, or you can buy a commercial, organic raw food brand, usually in the form of frozen meatballs or chubs, at a pet store. Whether raw, cooked, canned or kibble, a grain-free diet is also suggested as a way of controlling allergies, particularly skin problems. A number of grain-free brands include fruit and vegetables to replace the carbs missing in a grain-free diet. If you're switching your pug to a new diet, do it gradually so that he doesn't have stomach upset or diarrhea.
Dietary supplements can also keep your pug healthier. Canine glucosamine is known to help with arthritic joints. Fish oil and digestive supplements are recommended for maintaining all aspects of your pug's general health, such as his coat and skin, as well as preventing digestive problems. Chewing on a pig's ear or a bully stick is a good way of helping his digestion, keeping him busy and restraining his food consumption. Because a pug has very strong jaws, be careful about what you give him to chew on. For example, a rawhide chew is a poor choice for a pug, who can easily rip off a large chunk, swallow and choke on it.
Based in London, Eleanor McKenzie has been writing lifestyle-related books and articles since 1998. Her articles have appeared in the "Palm Beach Times" and she is the author of numerous books published by Hamlyn U.K., including "Healing Reiki" and "Pilates System." She holds a Master of Arts in informational studies from London University.