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Like many other pet lovers, I am captivated by the endearing faces and loving, playful personalities of Pugs, Pekingese, Bulldogs and others of what we veterinarians call “brachycephalic” breeds of dogs (and a couple of cat breeds, too, most notably the Persian). In fact, my daughter, Vetstreet dog trainer Mikkel Becker, has two Pugs, and my wife and I love them so much we call them our “grandpugs.”
But as a veterinarian, I am sadly too aware of the many health problems these breeds have, and if you own one of these dogs — or hope to — you need to be aware as well.
My Vetstreet colleagues and I have written before about brachycephalic syndrome, the tendency of these poorly designed (but undeniably cute) dogs to have such severe breathing difficulties that they may need surgery to live a somewhat normal life — or even just to live at all. The same pushed-in faces that make breathing a challenge also put these pets at high risk for serious eye injuries. Many times these dogs suffer with chronic, painful eye problems that their owners never really notice, or assume are normal for the breed.
When you have a short-nosed pet, you need to be sure you’re doing all you can to help him not only survive but also thrive. The place to start is with a full veterinary checkup to review and address the special needs of these health-challenged pups.
Dogs with extremely flat faces don’t have much room for normal eye sockets: Their eyeballs are so shallowly placed that they actually protrude. The most alarming problem with this arrangement is that it’s not uncommon for an eyeball to pop out.
Even with immediate attention from a skilled veterinary surgeon, the eye may not be able to be secured in the socket again. While losing an eye isn’t life-threatening, it is a very scary thing for a pet lover (not to mention a pet) to experience. There are many, many less shocking health issues that are far more dangerous to life but few that will stir the emotion in the way seeing your pet with a dangling eyeball will.
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