Wrinkle Infections in a Pug

So ugly they're cute.
i Barking Pug image by Megan Lorenz from Fotolia.com

That little wrinkled face is the hallmark of a pug, and the reason many people say they are “so ugly they're cute.” Those wrinkles are endearing, but they also harbor bacteria. Owners must take special care of a pugs skin folds in order to prevent infections.

Signs of Infection

There are a couple of early warning signs you can look for. If your pug starts to scratch its face more often or begins rubbing his face on the carpet, you might want to take a look inside the skin folds. Your pug's face might also produce a stinky or musty odor when an infection starts to set in. More advanced signs of infection include slimy skin, redness, swelling, bumps and sores.

Types of Infections

Pug wrinkles can become infected when moisture and debris, mainly food, are allowed to sit in the folds of the skin. The moisture allows bacteria to grow, which leads to infection. The first stage of infection is known as dermatitis, or inflamed skin. From dermatitis, a pug can develop a pyoderma infection. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, pyoderma literally means “pus in the skin.” Pug wrinkles can also contract a staphylococcus, or staph, infection.


At the first sign of infection, call your veterinarian. Until your vet can see your pug, keep the area clean and dry. Your vet will look at the skin and determine what type of infection is present and how far the infection has progressed. Veterinarians will usually prescribe an antibiotic, and sometimes a steroid and topical cream. Your vet will discuss the length of treatment and directions for administering the medication.


The best way to treat a skin issue is to prevent it. Clean out a pug's wrinkles daily with a soft wash cloth or cotton ball. Use just enough warm water to dampen the cloth or cotton. Open the wrinkle with one hand and gently wipe away any dirt with the other hand. It is important to keep the folds dry, so you might want to wipe the fold again with a dry towel. The entire process shouldn't take more than a few minutes once you and your dog get into a routine.

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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