Are you worried that you may have a fat Pug?
Just like for us humans, bad habits and over eating cause Pugs to gain weight.
But carrying a few extra ounces or pounds can have health implications for your pup too.
Let’s find out what the healthy weight for a Pug is, and how to help a Pug who’s overweight.
Pugs‘ large eyes, shortened snouts and curly tails make these pooches easily recognizable.
However, many of these unique characteristics also give Pugs a few health problems.
Their short snouts, for example, cause many of them to experience breathing problems.
These conditions affect their ability to run, play, and generally be active.
Do Pugs Get Fat Easily?
Pugs are not known to be active dogs. Many would much rather lay around than do much activity.
This inactivity is mostly because of the Pugs’ structural difficulties.
The Pug’s shortened snout makes it difficult for them to breathe and get the oxygen they need.
Because of these difficulties, many Pugs tire quickly and can only handle short exercise sessions.
Even if Pugs don’t seem bothered by their disabilities, their owners often must restrict their playtime to prevent overheating or fainting.
In hot weather, it might even be impossible for a Pug to exercise at all. Often, the risks are not worth it.
This inability to exercise for extended periods can make the Pug gain weight quickly.
It is essential that their calories are restricted appropriately.
A cycle of weight gain
On top of this, a healthy weight is essential for a Pug’s health. If a Pug becomes overweight, it is often even harder for them to breathe properly.
This difficulty only makes them able to exercise less, which compounds their weight gain.
In this case, prevention and proper veterinary care are the best medicines.
But, if you do think your Pug is overweight, there is no reason to fret.
Is My Pug Fat?
Pugs typically weigh around 14 to 18 pounds. Of course, some Pugs might weigh more or less than this and still be healthy.
Instead of relying on the scale alone, we recommend looking at your Pug’s body for signs of obesity.
There are two easy ways to check dogs’ weight at home.
Step 1: Feel their rib cages on the sides of their chests.
You should easily be able to feel your Pug’s ribs under their skin.
There should only be a very thin layer of fat present, much like the back of your hand.
If it is difficult to feel their ribs, it is possible that they are overweight.
On the other hand, you should not be able to see your dog’s ribs when they are in a normal standing position.
This is a sign that your dog is underweight, which can cause all sorts of problems as well.
Step 2: Look for your dog’s waist.
Just like a human, your dog should have a waist around her stomach area between her ribs and hips.
The easiest way to check a dog’s waist is to look at her from the top down.
Pug waistlines are not as pronounced as other breeds. But Pugs should still have small indents on their waists.
If you Pug is more rounded, it is possible that they are overweight.
Visiting the Vet to Help Your Fat Pug
If you have done these two tests and suspect your Pug might have some extra fat, it is essential to take them to the vet.
This is to rule out any underlying health condition which might have caused weight gain.
This step is particularly important if the weight gain was sudden.
Your vet will also check your dog for subsequent health problems caused by carrying extra weight.
Because Pugs have many structural problems, extra weight can have a severe impact on their health.
It is vital that you get your Pug checked out by a vet before starting any exercise routine or changing the dog’s diet.
If your Pug is experiencing any underlying disorder, an increase in exercises can be detrimental.
Are Fat Pugs Unhealthy?
We have already touched on this quite a bit. But it is vital that you understand the effects that extra weight can have on your Pug.
Pugs are not very structurally sound, to begin with. They are brachycephalic, which makes it difficult for them to breathe normally.
They also cannot cool themselves down properly, which causes them to overheat very quickly.
Unfortunately, having a few extra pounds will only make these problems worse. As you might guess, a fat Pug will get hotter even faster.
And, combined with a Pug’s inability to cool herself properly, this can result in overheating very quickly.
The extra weight will also put more strain on the Pug’s back. This strain can worsen any existing spinal problems and cause arthritis.
When you add in extra fat, a Pug’s skinfolds often become larger and more pronounced.
This increases the risk for infections. Plus, it is also more difficult to notice an infection with so much extra fat hanging around.
Dogs aren’t healthy when they’re obese. But a Pug is even more affected than your average canine.
Obesity can have significant effects on health very quickly.
If your Pug is overweight, it is essential to get her to shed those extra pounds quickly and safely.
Helping Your Fat Pug Lose Weight
Luckily, helping your Pug lose weight is not complicated.
Just like humans, for your Pug to lose weight, you must create a caloric deficit. In other words, they need to burn more calories than they lose.
This deficit will cause the body to consume extra fat for energy. Over time, this will result in a skinnier, healthier Pug.
This is done in two major ways: diet and exercise.
If you feed your Pug treats regularly, your first step is to cut them out completely.
While it might be difficult to deny your adorable Pug, treats have little nutritional value and can tack on many extra calories.
Depending on how many treats you feed your Pug, this might be all you need to do. Some Pugs show improvement after treats are cut out.
Swap Fatty Treats for Training Treats
Next, you should switch out training treats for a healthier alternative.
Switch out any processed, unhealthy training treats or regular meals for something healthier.
Chicken is often a good alternative, as are many veggies if you can get your pooch to eat them.
Reduce meal quantities
Finally, begin cutting back on your dog’s regular meals.
Your vet will give you advice on how to do this in a safe way.
Typically it involves offering your Pug a third less food for a four-day period, and then checking their weight again.
Once the desired weight is lost, you might need to add a little extra food to help her maintain her new healthy weight. But you should still be stingy with treats.
Exercise if possible
Exercise can also be useful to help your canine lose weight.
However, due to a Pug’s difficulty exercising, it is often a better idea to focus on dietary change over exercise.
If you do decide to exercise your Pug, keep sessions very short and watch for signs of exhaustion and overheating.
Caring for a Fat Pug
As you might expect, allowing a fat Pug to stay fat will not improve her health.
The best way to help your pooch feel better is to help her lose the pounds she’s put on.
You want to attack the problem at the source?
Change and/or limit your dog’s diet with structured meals of diet dog food.
Get her up and active by running on a track or playing in areas where other dogs commonly are located.
A Happier Pug
By making these changes to your dog’s diet and exercise, it is likely that she will be more energetic and playful.
This means that she can interact and keep up with her family better.
Additionally, with the loss of weight, your dog will be able to maneuver around the home easier and with less assistance.
Because your dog will have lost weight, diseases and illnesses related to obesity will be less frequent and not as severe.
To help inspire others, feel free to share your Pug’s weight loss journey below.
References and Further Reading:
Liu, N.C., et al., 2017, “Conformational Risk Factors of Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (Boas) in Pugs, French Bulldogs, and Bulldogs,” PLOS One
O’Neill, D., et al., 2016, “Demography and Health of Pugs Under Primary Veterinary Care in England,” Canine Genetics and Epidemiology
Packer, R., 2012, “Normal for the Breed?” The Veterinary Nurse, Vol. 3, Issue 5
Roedler, F.S., et al., 2013, “How Does Severe Brachycephaly Affect Dog’s Lives? Results of a Structured Preoperative Owner Questionnaire,” The Veterinary Journal, Vol. 198, Issue 3, pgs. 606-10
Ryan, R., et al., 2017, “Prevalence of Thoracic Vertebral Malformations in French Bulldogs, Pugs and English Bulldogs with and Without Associated Neurological Deficits,” The Veterinary Journal