The pug is the UK’s third most popular dog breed, but this small, loving and very comical little breed also comes with a range of potential health problems that have become prevalent across the breed as a result of conformation defects and breeding for overly exaggerated features.
Many of these issues affect the dog’s eyes, and there are quite a few ocular conformation defects found across the pug population as a whole that can be painful and irritating for your dog.
One such condition is called entropion, which causes the dog’s eyelashes to grow unusually and irritate the eyes themselves, which can lead to pain, irritation, ulcers or sores and general discomfort. If your pug has entropion, your vet may recommend a corrective surgery on the eyes to resolve the issue – and learning that this is the case can be quite worrying for pug owners.
If your vet has told you that your pug could benefit from entropion surgery or if you have just learned that your pug has entropion, it is a good idea to learn about what the surgery involves, how it can help your dog, and what happens next.
In this article we will explain entropion surgery for pugs in more detail, so that you will know what to expect if your vet recommends this course of action. Read on to learn more.
Entropion is a chronic condition that occurs due to a defect with the conformation of the eye itself, and this condition is more common in pugs than most other breeds due to their brachycephalic faces. Pugs have short, flattened muzzles that affect the construction of their inner nose, mouth and soft palate, as well as the eyes. When the dog’s muzzle is more flattened than the norm, this serves to make the eyes more prominent, and can lead to subtle flaws in their shape and construction that can cause problems.
Entropion is more common in pugs with highly exaggerated features than it is in more moderate examples of the breed, which is something to bear in mind if you are shopping around for a new pug puppy.
Entropion occurs when the dog’s eyelid is constructed in such a way that it folds inwards towards the eyeball. It may affect either one or both eyes, and occur on the upper or lower eyelids – although the lower lids are more commonly affected.
When the eyelid tilts in towards the eye in this way, it can cause the eyelashes attached to the lid to poke and rub on the eye itself – which will make your dog feel as if they have something in their eye that they cannot remove. This is naturally very annoying and irritating for your dog, and can also damage their eyes by causing ulcers, or because such an issue will make your dog more prone to pawing or bothering at their eye.
Your pug should see their vet at least once a year for a check-up and their annual booster jabs, during which time your vet will give your dog a thorough examination to identify any potential problems. Your vet will be able to recognise entropion quickly upon examination of the eyes, but there are also symptoms of entropion in pugs that owners should keep a lookout for at home.
These include permanent or regular squinting of the affected eye, a tendency to bother at the eye (by pawing at it or rubbing their head against furniture), and either overproduction of tears as the eye attempts to clear the foreign body, or even a discharge if the eye is irritated or infected.
You may also be able to see from the shape of the eyelid and the position of the lashes that one or more lashes are rubbing against the eye.
An untreated entropion or one that develops quite acutely may also lead to redness and inflammation of the eye, which can result in ulceration or scarring of the cornea over time.
If your vet diagnoses entropion in your pug, they will probably recommend a surgical procedure to correct the issue and resolve the pain and potential complication that entropion can bring.
Some general veterinary practices will be able to carry out the procedure in house, but it may require treatment at a specialist veterinary referral centre where an eye specialist is available and experienced in carrying out the procedure.
Surgical correction of entropion is called blepharoplasty, and this is performed under a general anaesthetic. Blepharoplasty involves surgically incising a small section of the problem eyelid so that it no longer curves inwards, and the lashes no longer grow into the eye itself. Generally, entropion surgery in pugs is only performed in adult dogs over the age of one, to ensure that the correction is permanent and effective.
However, if your pug puppy suffers from very acute entropion, your vet may want to use a more short-term solution in the meantime, which involves placing small, temporary sutures in the eyelids to prevent them from turning inwards. Whilst this procedure usually means that the dog in question will still need a full blepharoplasty when they are fully grown, in some cases, suturing the lids to change the angle they hold respective to the eyeball can actually correct the improper curvature of the eyelid, resolving the issue for the long term.
It is also important to note that the conformation defect that causes entropion in pugs is hereditary, and so an affected pug will pass this predisposition on to their own young – which means that pugs with entropion or that have had entropion surgically corrected should not be bred from.