Why Is My Pug Wheezing? Should I Worry & How To Help

If you’ve noticed your Pug wheezing more than usual or experiencing breathing difficulties, you’ll undoubtedly be worried about your little friend.

Whilst Pugs are known for having breathing problems, it’s important to know:

  • why is your Pug wheezing,
  • is it serious
  • what you can do to help them

Before we get started, let’s cover some of the key essentials.

What does wheezing sound like?

A continuous whistling sound.

Which dogs are more prone to wheezing?

Flat faced dogs like Pugs.

Is wheezing a cause for concern?

It can be, so always check with your vet.

Can I treat wheezing from home?

In mild cases yes, otherwise visit your vet.

Why is My Pug Wheezing?

Most dogs, not just Pugs, will wheeze from time to time. This is the result of sensitivity to the airways. When the airway becomes inflamed it causes varying degrees of blockage in the windpipe or bronchi. The result? Wheezing.

Just like for us humans, a dog’s respiratory health is of utmost importance to their well-being. Any respiratory blockage should be taken seriously.

Some breeds are more prone to wheezing than others, and Pugs are one of these breeds.

Pugs are a brachycephalic breed, meaning they are prone to respiratory difficulties.

Brachycephalic breeds like Pugs are prone to respiratory-related abnormalities that affect their upper respiratory system as a result of their skull shape.

This is called Brachycephalic Airway Obstruction Syndrome (or BOAS) and can have a direct impact on the quality of a Pug’s breathing.

Note: reverse sneezing is not the same as wheezing. Reverse sneezing is perfectly normal and can be differentiated from wheezing by its sound.

Reverse sneezing usually produces a honking-like sound. Wheezing, on the other hand, usually sounds more like a whistle.

What Are The Common Causes of Pug Wheezing

As well as the genetic predisposition of brachycephalic breeds like Pugs, there are many other factors that can contribute to labored breathing.

Everything from allergies to Asthma. Below we’re going to walk you through some of the most common causes of Pug wheezing.

1. Allergies

Just like us, some dogs get seasonal allergies. Airborne allergens like pollen can cause Pugs and other canines to wheeze, or gag.

When Pugs are suffering from allergies they often display other behaviors such as scratching, licking, and chewing.

As well as this, allergic reactions may result in the following accompanying symptoms:

  • Watery discharge runs down from the eyes
  • Discharge from the nose
  • Excessive scratching (sometimes to the point of bleeding)
  • Ear scratching
  • Sneezing

If you suspect that your Pug’s wheezing is the result of seasonal allergies then try to limit their contact with anything you already know triggers their response.

If pollen is the culprit, it can help to avoid taking walks in the morning or evening when pollen counts are at their highest.

Likewise, it’s worth wiping your Pug down before returning indoors to keep all those excess allergens at bay.

Some Pug parents even choose to invest in an air purifier for inside the home.

If that still doesn’t seem to help then it’s time to visit your vet. They will be able to recommend anti-allergen shampoos and treatments or prescribe a course of medications to help your little friend feel better again.

2. Obstruction From a Foreign Body

Wheezing can also occur if a foreign body obstructs the windpipe. Sometimes when our pets play and chew and explore they get a bit too curious. In some cases, they may inhale something that obstructs their airway.

This can cause severe respiratory distress and must be treated immediately. The obstruction will need to be removed by a vet immediately.

The best way to prevent this from happening is to avoid letting your Pug play with objects that can splinter or fracture easily.

Anything that is a potential choking hazard (including fine meat bones and trash) should be avoided. If your Pug is playing outside try to accompany them as often as possible.

3. Asthma

It’s not just humans that suffer from asthma. Sometimes if a dog is overexposed to smoke, mold, pollen, or other airborne particles they can develop asthma.

This happens when the airborne allergens trigger a mucus response. When too much mucus is produced, it blocks the respiratory passages and makes it harder for your Pug to breathe.

An asthmatic Pug wheezes more heavily and may open their mouth very wide in order to try to get more breath.

Because of this your Pug will be fatigued, and may also experience a loss of appetite.

Asthma can be prevented by keeping your home free from smoke, dust, excess pollen, and other harmful substances such as burning candles and household cleaning products like air fresheners.

4. Canine Influenza

In the wintertime, it is not unusual for dogs (especially those with light coats like Pugs) to catch a cold.

Just like us, this can cause a range of symptoms including wheezing, fever, coughing, and ocular discharge.

5. Over excitement

If your Pug is wheezing only after a period of over-excitement then you’ve probably got nothing to worry about.

Pugs are easily excitable animals and after a bit of running around in circles, it’s not unusual for them to wheeze a little. Just make sure that it stops after a period of rest.

Should I Worry About My Pug Wheezing

As a general rule, you should always visit your vet if your Pug’s wheezing is accompanied by any one (or more) of the following symptoms.

These are all signs that your Pug may need further treatment.

  • Wheezing + gasping for breath

If your Pug is gasping for breath as well as wheezing it could mean that they are struggling to breathe.

This is a medical emergency and could be potentially life-threatening. Sometimes this happens if an animal has suffered a heart condition or a serious allergic reaction to something.

  • Wheezing + coughing

If your Pug’s wheezing is accompanied by coughing then this is a sign of an upper respiratory infection.

It could also indicate kennel cough, lower airway disease, or an obstruction to the trachea.

  • Wheezing + gagging

When wheezing is accompanied by gagging it’s usually a sign that there is something stuck in the animal’s windpipe.

This is an emergency as it could restrict your pet’s breathing. Visit your vet immediately to get the obstruction removed.

  • Wheezing + blue gums and/or tongue

If your Pug’s tongue or gums has turned blue it means that they are not getting enough oxygen into their lungs and you should visit your emergency vet right away.

  • Wheezing + fast breathing

If, as well as wheezing, your Pug starts to breathe faster than normal then this also needs seeing to.

It could be a sign of chronic bronchitis or a range of other diseases. Your vet will need to assess your pet and make a diagnosis based on their symptoms.

  • Wheezing + loss of appetite

Loss of appetite in the presence of wheezing is an indicator of infection and a range of other more serious medical conditions.

  • Wheezing that does not stop

Finally, if your Pug’s wheezing is persistent and does not go away naturally then make sure you take them to the vet for an assessment and diagnosis.

My Pug is Wheezing: What Can I Do?

If your Pug is wheezing excessively, the first thing you should do is visit your veterinarian to eliminate any serious conditions.

Aside from this, you can also take preventative measures to help your Brachycephalic pet breathe more easily and more comfortably.

1. Moderate room temperature and humidity

Try to keep room temperature between 68 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit (or 20-24 degrees Celsius). Pugs struggle to cope with extreme temperatures, so keeping an air conditioner on in the summer months and keeping things toasty in winter is a must.

You can also regulate humidity by aiming for a humidity level of between 35% and 45%. When the air is overly dry or moist it can impede breathing.

Depending on the climate where you live, it may be worth investing in an air humidifier/ dehumidifier to control the humidity levels in your home.

2. Be mindful when going for walkies

Pugs, like all dogs, need regular exercise. But Pugs do not require excessive physical activity.

In fact, too much exercise can be harmful to these little dudes – especially in extreme temperatures. About 20-30 minutes per day is more than enough.

During the hotter months, remember to be mindful of the temperature. Pugs are unable to regulate their body temperature efficiently. Splitting walkies into two short chunks during the cooler hours is the best way to go.

3. Always use a harness – never a collar

A traditional collar and leash setup can impede a Pug’s breathing. It is much safer to use a harness for brachycephalic breeds like Pugs. Leashes exert too much pressure on a Pugs windpipe and can actually impede their breathing.

This will cause wheezing, panting, and could seriously hurt your pet. Harnesses distribute pressure across the back and chest as opposed to the neck, meaning that your Pug’s airways will be kept nice and clear.

4. Limit over-excitement

Now, we don’t want to be the party poopers, but someone’s gotta say it. Sometimes Pugs get…well… a bit too excited.

And, whilst this is super cute it can actually lead to exhaustion on their part. Too much excitement can lead to excessive panting and breathing problems.

So, try to keep your Pug cool, calm, and collected.

5. Make sure your Pug is a healthy weight

Ensuring that your Pug is within a healthy weight range is extremely important not only for their overall health but for their breathing specifically.

Pugs can easily become overweight. But this excess weight can exert pressure on the lungs, heart, and trachea, making it harder for oxygen to move around the body effectively.

Maintaining a healthy diet and exercise regime for your Pug is one of the best (and simplest) ways to protect them from respiratory-related problems.

6. Reduce exposure to irritants

It’s impossible to eliminate all airborne irritants and allergens, but we can try our best.

If your Pug experiences breathing difficulties during times of high pollen count, then try walking them at alternative times of day (or avoid high pollen days altogether).

Likewise, try not to use any synthetic irritants such as air fresheners (or aerosol products of any kind) and candles in the home.

Make sure that you are not smoking around your pet (or where they hang out), and ensure that you’re dusting regularly.

7. Check how your Pug sleeps

Last but not least, it’s worth checking how your Pug sleeps. Pugs like to sleep in a wild array of positions and not all of these are conducive to easy breathing.

If your Pug is sleeping in a very awkward position this could be exerting pressure on their airways, resulting in wheezing, snoring, and labored breathing.

Try to encourage a healthier sleeping position by getting your Pug a more appropriate bed.

The best dog beds are round or rectangular in shape with raised sides that can support your Pug’s head.

Pug Wheezing: Final Words

Whilst it’s true that brachycephalic dogs like Pugs are prone to some breathing difficulties from time to time, excessive Pug wheezing should always be taken seriously.

If your Pug is showing signs of respiratory distress, visit your vet immediately.

In most cases, you can monitor mild Pug wheezing and make lifestyle changes to keep your Pug breathing easy.