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  • Writer's picturePug Welfare

Martha's Story

Martha was a 6 year old, Yorkshire lass and although I found out little history about her past life, she had been an ex-breeding queen. She was kept outside in a shed for a great deal of her life and had little company.

I was told that she had been fed on greyhound kibble not a good pug food.Her last lot of puppies all died and she had a prolapse giving birth to them. As a result she could no longer be used for breeding and was “got rid of”. My sister told me about her and I went to get her from the neighbour, Martha was struggling to breathe from day one, as I am an asthmatic I recognised that Martha had a “wheeze”. She grunted and snorted, and I knew something had to be done. I took her to the vets and it was recommended that Martha had her nostrils widened and a section of the soft palate at the back of her mouth removed to help with breathing. It was Summer time when Martha saw the vet and I was advised to only do short walks and to have the operation for BOAS (Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome ) in the Autumn/Winter time when it would be cooler. If she had been in a great deal of distress I trusted the vet the carry out the surgery earlier. Martha also needed to be spayed and had runny eyes but I felt that her breathing was the most important thing at that time.

As I have said before ask your vet for an approximate cost of surgery, she needed blood tests before the operation and the total cost was in excess of £1000. As Martha was over four years old I could not find any insurer willing to take her on. Luckily the vet allowed me to pay in instalments of £250 per month. I was really worried about this operation as Martha was so small and fragile at that time. I kept myself busy all day and tried not to think about it until I phoned to see if I could collect her. From expecting a little drowsy pug, Martha ran out to see me as happy as ever. The operation was a success and despite some blood around her nose and some little blue stitches she was great. Martha has had no breathing issues since. The vet took a video of her before the operation, and after so we could compare. She is a different dog and bombs around the place without panting or needing to stop for breath.

Unfortunately Martha has since needed treatment for her eyes when she has developed an ulcer on three occasions. This is very painful for pugs and needs attention straightaway, I am always cautious when in long grass and tell her off when she chases the cats. She almost lost her eye on one occasion, but the vet saved it in time. She had eye drops made from the serum in her blood and was on a two hourly regime, I was shattered getting up in the night but it was worth it.

Martha now needs her anal glands emptying ever few weeks, I can tell she needs this doing, as she starts scooting or rubbing her bum on the floor, not very pleasant for her or us. She also has a distinctive fishy smell, “tuna bum” we call it, The vet has discussed removing her anal glands but this can lead to faecal incontinence so we have decided to bulk her diet with carrots and weetabix, This has made a small difference. If she needs more surgery then so be it. This will be another £800. She has already had her vagina tightened when she was spayed. She only needs some Botox and she will be a real Cheshire housewife. Yes, she has been expensive and will continue to be so. Would I change her, do I regret getting her, not for the world. Would I recommend getting a Pug ? Definitely, as long as you do your homework, and are prepared for unexpected costs. You will constantly be skint, not only from vet bills but pug merchandise. Worth every penny if you love your pug.

Finally I have decided to put together a few pug myths, this is from being a pug mummy, and is not based on any veterinary advice or recommendations, just some personal thoughts.

Pugs are lazy....... FALSE......are you kidding me, they love to be out and about, they are sociable creatures and love exercise. Mine love to walk miles with me. They go out with a dog walker daily, but are still ready for another walk when I come home. Mine also love swimming.

Pugs are greedy........SOMETIMES.....Oscar is on a strict diet, and although they will both eat anything and everything they can pile on the pounds which is not good for any brachycephalic breed as it will affect there breathing. I have spoken to quite a few pug owners whose dogs are very very fussy this will depend on the individual dog. Ask you Vet for advice

Pugs snore and fart really badly.......... TRUE......... The windpipe in pugs is often deformed and narrower so less oxygen is taken in. If they are struggling to breathe this is often heard when they are snoring. Again see your vet who will advise you if they need BOAS surgery, but always get a second opinion. Sorry, but Pugs are definitely not the sweetest smelling little dog, but this can depend on there diet so make sure they have a good quality dog food , Feeding RAW is popular at the moment.

They are prone to ill health.........They can be as Marthas story shows, but this depends on there background and breeding history. I am a great believer in adopt, dont shop. There are may pugs who have been bought only to be got rid off when people cant afford vets bills or realise they need special care, such as cleaning out there folds and ears daily. Never ever buy from sites such as Gumtree (Scumtree) or Preloved. Talk to people who know pugs. Do your research.

It is cruel to own a Pug........FALSE.........pugs always bring a smile to peoples faces when I am out and about with them. They are big characters in a small body, however there have been occasions when the public have felt they can approach me and have a pop at me about over-breeding and how cruel it is when they can't breathe. Despite informing them that this is not always the case I have been very upset in the past by peoples ignorance, and simply walked away.

Pugs struggle in hot weather...........TRUE.......... any brachycephalic breed (short nose) struggles. This is because dogs cannot sweat so regulate there temperature through panting. As pugs dont have a long muzzle they cannot do this as well and can overheat.

So there it is, but this is just my personal experience that Jakki has asked me to share with you. I am not an expert but happy to give out advice as a pug mum. I would always recommend that you see your vet if your pug is unwell. Good Luck.

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