Give Your Pug a Spa Day: 8 Dog Grooming Tips


Your pug is wonderful from his (sometimes stinky) little face folds to down to his curly tail, smelly butt, and Frito feet. But of course, there are times when your little friend may need to be spruced up. Most dog grooming tips apply to pugs too of course, but we all know pugs are a special (read: high maintenance) breed.


Plus, we all deserve pampering now and again, right? So, if you want to give your pug a special spa day, here are the dog grooming tips you need for your pug.


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Clean their Folds


First of all, your pug doesn’t care about fancy sheet masks (but here’s one for you, if you want to throw yourself a pug-themed spa day). Your pug can get all sorts of funky stuff in his or her facial folds, though. Without regular cleaning and drying, they can become a breeding ground for yeast and bacteria.


Every day you should very gently clean your pug’s face. Use a very soft unscented baby wipe to clean the folds, then a tissue to dry them thoroughly. Watch for any signs of infection or inflammation in the folds and take them to the vet right away if they seem uncomfortable or itchy.


During your spa time with your pug, you can wash their folds in the sink or tub (with the rest of their body, of course). Be sure that you are gentle and let the folds dry thoroughly. Moisture can cause major issues with folds.


You may also notice your pug gets occasional blemishes. These often appear near their folds or on their chin. If you’re using plastic water dishes or food bowls, this may be the culprit. Switch to stainless steel whenever possible. Plastic, rubber, and nylon toys can also cause breakouts. So it might be time to cool it on the chew toys for a while. Never pop or squeeze a blemish on your dog. Don’t use human acne creams either, as they can be toxic. Simply keep your pug’s face clean with water. Blemishes usually clear up fairly quickly, once you stop using the offending bowl or toy. If it’s not going away, or you’re concerned about a cyst or lump, get your pug to the vet right away.


Don’t Neglect Pugs’ Velvety Ears


Pug ears are so soft and velvety. Plus, how cute is it when one ear gets flipped up? All pug lovers, universally adore these soft little ears. Pugs (and other brachycephalic) dogs can suffer from ear issues, however. Unlike Frenchies and other flat-faced breeds, pug ears are floppy, which makes them a perfect place for dirt and infection. With flat faces and sinuses, your pug doesn’t have a lot of facial real estate for ear drainage.


Use a soft cloth or tissue to clean your pug’s ears. Because of the shape of the ear canal, you can go pretty deep without worrying about hurting your pug (but use common sense and be careful). It’s always best to ask your vet to show you the proper ear cleaning technique the first time you give dog ear cleaning a shot.


Your vet may recommend some ear cleaning drops that can be squirted right into your pug’s ears. Your pug will then shake his head (spraying ear drops everywhere, so be prepared). While this can be a bit of a messy process, the drops work wonders for addressing bacterial infections lurking in your pug’s ears.


Inspect the ear area for redness or inflammation. Give it a sniff as well. Your pug’s ears should smell clean (not yeasty or funky). If you notice anything amiss, get your pug to the dogtor right away. Ear issues can cause permanent damage if left unchecked. They can also make your pug miserable and even cause issues with his or her balance and depth perception.


Addressing Nose Funk


Pugs have adorable noses. Often their facial folds and nose floof practically hide their nose from view. While this is super cute, it also makes it tough for your pug to breathe. Your pug may also have easy access to licking his or her nose, constantly.


All of this goo and nose activity can make for a very crusty nose. Again, brachycephalic dogs struggle with respiratory issues. These issues can be compounded by allergies. Just like your nose hurts when it runs often, pug noses become dry, crusty, and sore if too.


First of all, never pick your pug’s nose crust. It can be tempting to pick at their nose, especially if it seems dry, crusty, or “funky.” But unfortunately, picking off the protective thick crust can lead to infection and soreness. Instead treat your pug’s nose, like chapped lips. Keep it clean, make sure your pug stays hydrated. Address any allergies with your vet. Apply a little bit of coconut oil and/or petroleum jelly to your pug’s nose regularly. Some owners also like to use Bag Balm but always check with your vet first.


If your pug is really struggling to breathe through their nose properly they may need stenotic nares surgery, which is a procedure to enlarge their nasal passages. Your vet will help you determine if this step is necessary. In our three pugs, only one has required the surgery, but it helped him breathe much better.


Pugs Shed...A LOT


If you’ve had a pug for longer than five seconds, you’re well aware that pugs shed prolifically. Your clothes, couch, car seats, and towels will all be covered in a constant layer of “pug glitter.” Is there anything you can do to prevent your pug from shedding constantly? Well, yes and no.


Brushing your pug regularly will help alleviate shedding quite a bit. We recommend using a Furminator deshedding tool. This sounds like a fancy vacuum-style Flowbee (remember the Flowbee from 80s infommercials!?) but it’s not. A Furminator is really just a genius non-scary brush that magically removes all the dead undercoat from your pug.


When you brush your pug, it may shock you at how much hair your pug can lose in one brush. If you haven’t brushed him or her in a while, you may want to do the job outside. Be gentle as your brush. There’s no reason to tug or pull. You will remove plenty of hair by softly brushing your pug on a regular basis. Be careful around sensitive areas like their stomach, tail, and face.


If you want to cut back on shedding, you should brush your pug every few days or at least once a week. This simple process (which only takes a few minutes) will greatly reduce shedding, especially during the warmer months. It’s also a good idea to invest in plenty of lint rollers.


Bathing Your Pug


About once a month your pug will need a bath. If you wash your pug more frequently, his or her skin can become too dry. Of course, check with your vet and follow their recommendations. If your pug has a skin condition or another concern, they may require bathing more or less frequently.


When you bath your pug, we’ve found the following process works quite well:

Put a small handtowel down in the bathtub (preferred to a utility sink or shower, as it will help your pug feel more secure).


Fill the tub about 4 inches with warm NOT HOT water. Test the water--you should be comfortable putting your whole hand in the tub and leaving it there indefinitely. Your pug’s bath water should be about the same temperature you would use for a baby. Err on the side of cooler over warmer. Turn the water off.


Spread natural, dog safe (no artificial sweeteners) peanut butter on the side of the tub. About a tablespoon should be plenty if you spread it thinly.


Calmly talk to your pug in a soothing voice. Pick them up gently and set them down in the water on the handtowel. Show them the peanut butter which should hopefully keep them very busy.


Use mild baby shampoo to lather up your pug. Avoid their face and eyes. Be sure to clean their paws, nether regions, and pits.


Use a cup (we like to use a big plastic mug) and gently pour clean water over your pug to rinse. If you need more clean water, turn on the tap softly. Fill up the cup and rinse over and over until no soap remains.


Lift your pug out of the tub and onto a towel. Drain the tub once your pug is out.

Dry your pug thoroughly. Prepare for them to get the zoomies, shake water everywhere and run around like crazy.


Brush their Teeth


Pugs need to have their teeth brushed regularly. How often is regularly you might ask? Well, to be honest, we brush our pugs’ teeth daily. It’s become part of our nighttime routine. After dinner, they get a quick toothbrush and then they each get a Greenies dental treat.


Because we’ve made it part of their routine, brushing their teeth has become no big deal. They used to HATE it, but after paying hundreds of dollars for dental cleanings and extractions at the vet, we decided we needed to make it a habit. Like people, dogs need regular teeth cleaning and they need to follow their vet’s dental recommendations.


Again with brachycephalic, flat-faced dog breeds, anesthesia is particularly risky. Anything you can do to lower the incidence of your dog needing surgical interventions is worth the extra effort.


For a step-by-step guide on teeth brushing, please check out our post on Pug Pearly Whites.


Anal Glands...DIY?


When it comes to anal glands, every pug owner knows that this may be the least pleasant part of your pug. Some pugs struggle with anal gland issues. If the glands get clogged or “leak” you may find weird rotten-fish-smelling brown stains on your clothing, upholstery and yes, emanating from your pug. Your pug may also bite at his backside, or scoot along on the carpet. This is a sign that their glands may be clogged.


Some pugs rarely if ever have anal gland issues, while others experience a constant struggle. Expressing the glands is challenging. It requires gentle pressure on the glands (which are small dots on either side of your pug’s anus--this is why your dog’s butt smells so fascinating to other dogs). If you miss-apply pressure, you may end up being squirted by an extremely unpleasant substance, at best, and at worse, you can rupture or damage your pug’s anal glands (leading to less control and more leakage).


So, in short, only trust a vet or a very experienced dog groomer (we personally, only have it done by our vet) to express the anal glands of your pug. If you’re a daring DIY-er, have your vet show you how it’s done.


One of the best ways to combat anal gland issues is to make sure your pug’s diet contains enough fiber. When their poop is bulky enough the glands are naturally expressed when they poo. Adding a spoonful of canned, 100% pure pumpkin to their food every few days is a great way to keep things moving along. You may also try banana if your pug’s not a pumpkin fan.


If you notice any situation with your pug’s butt, get him or her to the vet, who can address the issue before it becomes a concern. For more on this pleasant topic, please check out our post: Pug Butts: Anal Gland and Poo Questions Answered.


Why Your Dogs Feet Smell Like Corn Chips


Ever wonder why your dog’s feet smell like corn chips, popcorn, or Fritos? First of all, it’s totally normal. It’s caused by a bacteria/yeast that is often found on the feet of dogs. Unless the smell is unusually pungent or your dog’s paws look red and irritated, it’s rarely a concern.


What can be a concern are cuts, injuries, and of course, keeping pug nails trimmed. Now, pugs notoriously HATE their nails trimmed. They also pretty much universally hate wearing booties and footwear, but their poor little feet need to be maintained and cared for.


When it comes to protecting your pug’s feet, it’s important to realize--if it’s too cold or hot for your feet, it’s likely too cold or hot for theirs. Now, pugs do have thick skin on their paw pads, which can withstand SOME temperature fluctuations. So, a quick walk outside on a hot or cold day will probably be okay but use common sense. Ice, in particular, can be hard on your pug’s feet (and many kinds of icemelt are toxic to dogs). Keep walks short, clear a path of snow whenever possible, and thoroughly wash off their feet when they come back indoors. Pugs are indoor dogs and they’re just not built to live outdoors for long periods of time in cold or hot weather.


When it comes to nail trimming, start young and do it regularly. Most pug owners find that their dog will tolerate a nail grinder over a nail trimmer (the guillotine-style clippers can cause injury and bleeding, so avoid using them). Be sure to have styptic powder on hand, in case. If you’re unsure, ask your vet for a lesson so you learn exactly where the quick is, and how to avoid injuring (and traumatizing) your pug.


If you’re ready to pamper your pug, treat him or her to a grooming day at home. With a little planning, grooming day can be fun for you and your furry BFF. Once you’ve groomed your pug a few times, you’ll get used to the process and can avoid the expense (and worry) of dropping your pug off at a groomer.


Get out the fluffy robes, put on some music, and treat yourself and your pug! You (both) deserve it!

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