Part 2 in our series on pugs and food.
This is a very hot topic generally and it’s one that I take very seriously. Hands down, the biggest health challenge we see in the rescue is obesity in the dogs who come to us. Many rescues get dogs that are too thin, but we tend to get dogs who need to lose weight, often significant amounts of weight.
The breed standard for pugs says they should be 14 to 18 lbs. However, it is more common for us to see dogs who are heavier than that in their ideal weight. The point of this blog won’t be “your dog should be 14 to 18 lbs”, but your dog should be whatever their ideal weight is. My pug is within the breed standard at 15 lbs and is, admittedly, leaner than many, but I also do sports with her, hike with her and adjust her food intake pretty regularly.
One of the things that I think confuses people is that pugs in the show ring often are very heavy. Judging notes for pugs say “no waist, no tuck up”. In my not so humble opinion, that makes for a fat dog. So if all you’ve ever seen are pugs in the show ring, then it makes sense that you think that fat is how they should look. There are lots of words used to dodge the “fat” moniker…cobby, heavily muscled, square shaped. But it all essentially ends up being fat if the dog has no waist and no tuck up.
When we get in an obese pug, it also means there are a number of veterinary care items we cannot do until the dog loses some weight. Anaesthesia is significantly riskier with a fat dog of any breed, but especially a brachycephalic breed. As a result, vet care is slowed way down while we get the weight off.
Much as we’d like to believe that pugs are just adorable couch potatoes, we do them a massive disservice, shorten their lives and create joint issues when we let them get fat. And yes, as anyone who has ever tried to lose weight knows, it is way easier to pack it on than it is to take it off. But the basics are the same…..control intake and exercise.
And exercise doesn’t mean you have be out there doing Parkour, but your dogs does need to get regular exercise. Hiking in the many green spaces around Ontario is one way. Classes in agility are another. Fetch and tug and doing regular little work outs in the house all help. I am also going to say that I am a big fan of having dogs that are not only not fat, but are also fit. I like to see muscle on my dogs, not just an absence of fat. There are so many options for keeping dogs fit and trim these days.
Do be aware of what you feed and how much and what the fat content is in the food you feed. You CAN use treats with your pug and not have them get fat. I do a lot of training with my dogs and it always involves a food reward. What I do is make sure they are getting small treats (about half the size of my baby finger nail) and I tend to use single ingredient treats - organ meat, fresh fruit and vegetables (do check that whatever you are using is safe for dogs) and if I’m in a heavy training rotation, I reduce food portions for their meals. I do think feeding twice a day is a better option than once a day. Waiting to eat for a 24 hours is a long wait.
I take my dogs to the vet five or six times a year just to weigh them. I know that because I see them every day, I can fail to notice if they are getting chunky. So if this an option for you (and I know with the pandemic this option is not available all the time), please do it. It also gives your dog a nice visit to the vet where nothing dramatic or scary happens and can help to turn your dog’s attitude around about going to vet (if they are worried about it).
Take a good look at the Body Condition Scale posted below and it will give you an idea of where your dog should be. Bottom line, you SHOULD be able to feel your pug’s ribs without the use of sonar.