Maybe it's Prince's soulful eyes that attracted you to him, but those bulging baby-browns could be the cause of medical woes. Pugs' protruding eyes make them more susceptible than other dogs to injuries like scratches and ulcers, but the breed is prone to some other conditions that cause blindness.
Pigmentary keratitis is a condition that is so prevalent in pugs that in December 2011, veterinary ophthalmologist Amber Labelle began putting together a study to determine the cause and hopefully find a preventative solution to it. When a pug is afflicted with pigmentary keratitis brown pigment grows on the cornea, blocking light and interfering with the dog's sight. If you notice dark spots on the inside corner of your pug's eye, talk to your doctor about treating him for PK. Early detection and treatment with eye drops or even surgery could save Prince's sight.
Degenerating retinas in pugs can cause blindness in dogs as young as five years. There is no cure and although pugs are a breed that are prone to inheriting it genetically, not a lot is known about how it is passed. Discuss progressive retinal atrophy with Prince's vet, especially if either of his parents has the condition. The vet can keep an eye out, so to speak, for any abnormalities in your pug's eyes and you can watch for symptoms that his sight is changing, such as bumping into walls or not seeing where you throw his ball.
Prince's eyelids can be the source for irritating conditions that can lead to blindness. One issue stems from two rows of eyelashes and causes problems when some of the lashes are pressed against the eye, causing scratches and irritation. Another condition is caused by eyelids that fold in toward the eye, rubbing against the surface. If left untreated, both conditions can result in blindness so always consult your vet if you notice your pug is squinting, his eyes are tearing excessively or they seem to be irritated or painful.
Only a small number of pugs are affected by pug encephalitis but it is an inherited disease that can result in blindness, among other conditions and including death. Contact your vet immediately if your pug seems depressed, stumbles or otherwise walks abnormally, develops seizures or seems to be having trouble with his sight. He may want to treat Prince with anti-seizure medications, steroids and possibly antibiotics.
- The Complete Idiot's Guide to Pugs; Liz Palika
- University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine: Wanted: 300 Pugs to Help Find Answers to Perplexing Eye Problem
- Puggles: Everything About Purchase, Care, Nutrition, Behavior, and Training; Andre Calbert and Chelle Calbert
- UC Davis Veterinary Medicine: New Test Assesses Risk of Pug Dog Encephalitis
- DogChannel.com: Pugs
- College of Veterinary Medicine: Encephalitis in Dogs & Cats
Elle Di Jensen has been a writer and editor since 1990. She began working in the fitness industry in 1987, and her experience includes editing and publishing a workout manual. She has an extended family of pets, including special needs animals. Jensen attended Idaho and Boise State Universities. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications.