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The pug dog breed is one of the most popular small dog breeds here in the UK, and these small, comical-looking dogs are great company, being friendly, fun-loving and well suited to living in smaller spaces. However, the pug’s brachycephalic face – that signature flat-faced appearance with a short muzzle and prominent eyes – can be the cause of a number of problems for many dogs of the breed, particularly if their features are very exaggerated.
Because pugs have large, prominent eyes that in some dogs, protrude from their faces to a reasonable degree, pugs have a higher risk of injuring or damaging their eyes too, such as by getting a scratch to the eye itself. This can in turn obscure your dog’s vision and cause pain, as well as potentially leading to secondary problems arising.
In this article, we will look at how pug owners can help to reduce the risks of corneal scratches in their dogs, and how to treat and handle scratches if they do occur. Read on to learn more.
Pugs’ eyes are large and round and prominent in their faces, which makes them more vulnerable to getting scratched or injured. The same is true for some other dog breeds with large eyes and brachycephalic faces too, like the French bulldog, again generally in dogs with exaggerated features.
Exaggerated features, also sometimes referred to as ultra-typed or overtyped, refers to a degree of flattening of the face and protrusion of the eyes that is considered extreme even within the breed, and may also make it harder for the dog to breathe normally due to associated narrowing of the nostrils too.
The more the eyes protrude, the greater the risk of a scratch or injury occurring to them at some point.
The cornea is the outer surface of the eye itself, the clear area that covers the lens of the eye and protects it from dirt and damage. This makes it the part of the eye that is most likely to come into contact with something external, and so, the most vulnerable part of the eye for damage.
If your pug has scratched their eye, you may never find out for sure how it occurred, but walking through brambles or undergrowth, play, and rough and tumble with other dogs, and a poorly-placed swipe from a cat’s paw can all cause corneal scratches, as can a range of other things too.
A small particle of grit or dirt that gets into the eye can cause a scratch as well, even if you don’t realise it at the time.
A small scratch to the cornea can be hard to spot, and so often, it is your dog’s behaviour that will inform you that something is amiss. Your dog is likely to keep their eye closed or appear to squint, and the eye may be watering a little, or producing a small discharge.
Your dog is also likely to paw at their eye and potentially, try to rub it against your hand or your furniture to relieve the irritation, and their eye may become sore-looking and inflamed too.
Scratches can also lead to infections, which will produce pronounced inflammation and possibly, a yellow or greenish discharge as well.
Picking and buying a healthy pug is the key to reducing the risks of all manner of congenital defects and hereditary health issues, which means buying your pug from a breeder that produces dogs with the intention of improving the breed and weeding out health problems.
Ask any breeder you might be considering buying from if their dogs are tested prior to breeding to identify the presence of any genetic health defects, and check the results before committing to a purchase.
Additionally, be selective about the type of pug you buy, and avoid purchasing a dog with an exaggeratedly flat face and very prominent eyes.
Corneal scratches might seem like a minor issue but they can lead to the development of further, more acute problems too, such as ulceration of the cornea, which is very painful.
In the first instance, try to keep your dog from pawing at or bothering their eye, and try to get a look at what is wrong, although this won’t always be possible.
Book an appointment with your vet as soon as possible so that they can examine your dog’s eye properly, assess the problem and deal with it – and if your dog appears to have something in their eye, leave it alone and wait for your vet to check it out, without trying to remove it yourself, which can cause more damage.
Corneal scratches usually heal on their own in a few days if your dog leaves them alone – and so your vet is likely to suggest using a buster collar on your dog to prevent them pawing at their eyes, and potentially, prescribe antibiotic eyedrops too to treat any infection present, or prevent an infection from developing.
For more serious lesions or damage that has caused a secondary problem, your vet may need to run some more tests or treat your dog at the clinic before allowing them to return home.
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