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Can A Pug’s Eye Actually Pop Out?

Pugs have large, very round and prominent eyes, and this is one of their most striking features; it helps to give them the unusual appearance that tends to polarise dog lovers into those that find it endearing and those that find it unappealing.

Pugs are sometimes depicted in cartoons and on TV with their eyes actually protruding or popping out of the sockets, and a lot of pug owners (and dog lovers in general) have heard tales of pug’s eyes actually doing this in real life.

But can a pug’s eyes actually pop out of their sockets, or is this a myth? No, this can really happen.

This article will tell you more about the truth behind pugs and those “eyes popping out” rumours. Read on to learn more.

Can a pug’s eye pop out of the socket?

Sadly, yes and this is called proptosis. While uncommon, it is a risk for dogs with very prominent eyes (caused in turn by their abnormally flat faces) like pugs.

Proptosis in the pug may also be referred to as eye displacement, and while it isn’t something that happens every day, neither is it the urban legend or scaremongering nonsense that many pug owners assume it is, and it is  real condition and something that all pug owners should be aware of, particularly those whose dogs have very exaggerated features.

What is proptosis in the pug?

Proptosis or ocular displacement is the term used to describe a situation in which the eye of the pug suddenly protrudes or pops from the socket, or orbit. Whilst this isn’t something that happens every day in the life of the pug, it is one of the most common pug eye emergencies and so, something that vets see regularly.

When the eye does suddenly pop out or protrude like this, the dog’s eyelid gets trapped behind it, which is painful and very uncomfortable for the dog (who will understandably show significant signs of distress). It also quickly causes the lids to become swollen and inflamed. The cornea of the eye too is quickly and acutely affected, and can quickly dry out, which in turn can lead to ulceration and scarring of the eye and permanent vision loss.


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What causes a pug’s eye to pop out?

Generally proptosis or the eye popping out in the pug is caused by a trauma to the head (usually the back or sides) or face around the eyes that is significant enough to jar the eyeball, already not as snugly held in the socket as that for breeds without flat faces, from the socket.

This might happen if your pug hits their head, something strikes them, or in any other way that jars or knocks their skull, and such a trauma or injury might be surprisingly mild – so much so that it would be shaken off without pain by another dog.

Glaucoma, or any other eye condition that causes a building of pressure behind the eye can also cause proptosis in the pug, and once more, this will not need to be as acute as it might be in any other dog to result in the eye popping out.

Ultimately, it is the pug conformation and their already bulging eyes – the degree of which can vary depending on how exaggerated the dog’s facial features are – that places pugs at risk of proptosis when this is far less likely to occur in dogs with normal-length muzzles.

What should I do if my pug’s eye pops out?

Proptosis in the pug is a veterinary emergency, and requires prompt intervention. If your pug’s eye pops out, it will not go back into the socket or re-site itself properly on its own, nor can or should you as the dog’s owner manipulate it back in.

Call your vet immediately and prepare to be told to bring your dog to the clinic, and try to keep yourself and vitally, your dog calm, and to stop them from pawing at or otherwise bothering the eye in question.

Can you prevent proptosis in the pug?

If your dog’s conformation predisposes them to proptosis (which is the case for all pugs but particularly for very flat-faced ones) this is not something you can change. It is very important therefore to ensure that you take special care to protect your dog and avoid them taking a knock to the head, which may cause proptosis.

As mentioned earlier, the head impact that causes proptosis in the pug need only be a mild, glancing blow, and the dog might not be bothered by this knock at all – and this happens suddenly when it does occur, rather than the eye working its way out of the socket over time (which may occur rather more slowly if glaucoma or pressure behind the eye is the cause of the proptosis).

Choosing a pug with more moderate features, being a longer muzzle and less prominent eyes, will reduce their chances of proptosis and other heath issues, so bear this in mind when you view litters if you’re in the market to buy a pug.


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