Skin Irritation in Pugs

Your pug's skin is an ideal breeding ground for bacteria.
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Pugs are well known for their distinct appearance -- flat faces, wrinkly skin, and short and stocky bodies. These dogs are prone to skin irritation, which sometimes is a direct result of their wrinkliness. To prevent skin irritation from developing into a serious infection, always monitor your pug’s skin for any redness and inflammation. The conditions that cause skin irritation are usually treatable.

Skin Fold Infection

The folds of skin on wrinkly breeds such as the pug are perfect homes for bacteria. The folds around the face, armpit, groin and tail are warm and moist, making them particularly favorable to the spread of bacteria. The bacteria can lead to infection, which in turn leads to skin irritation. If your pug is overweight, this compounds the problem. Your vet will typically advise you to clean the skin folds every day using an antibacterial wash.

Skin Fold Dermatitis

Skin fold dermatitis dermatitis is caused by the skin friction that occurs in wrinkly dogs, such as your pug. Where skin is folded it has a tendency to rub, causing redness and soreness that lead to dermatitis. In pugs, the face and tail are the most frequently affected. In mild cases, your veterinarian might prescribe topical antimicrobial medication to keep this dermatitis from leading to more severe conditions, such as pyoderma. In severe cases, minor cosmetic surgery can relieve the problem by reducing the amount of loose skin on the dog’s body and therefore reducing the size of the skin folds.


Hypothyroidism is a treatable condition caused by an underactive thyroid that slows your pug’s metabolism. Symptoms can include weight gain, lethargy, hair loss and dry and oily skin. If the skin is particularly dry or oily, skin irritation is likely, leading your pug to scratch. This can lead to infections, especially if your pug breaks his skin while itching. Your veterinarian will typically treat this condition with a course of hormone replacement drugs that compensate for the low thyroid function.

Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis is an inherited predisposition to allergic reactions to environmental irritants such as food, fleas, dust, dust mites, grass and even perfume. Atopic dermatitis is characterized by irritated and inflamed skin and discoloration of the affected skin due to constant licking. Your pug attempts to relieve the itching by scratching, rubbing and biting the affected areas. Your vet might prescribe antihistamines to manage the symptoms, but there is no cure for the underlying predisposition to allergies. The most effective treatment is usually to limit your dog’s exposure to known allergens: for example, by eliminating certain foods, using flea-prevention medicine, and not using products that cause a skin reaction.

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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