How To Tell If Your Pug Has Breathing Problems?

Do you sometimes worry that your Pug seems to be struggling to breathe? If you have been thinking about calling your canine veterinarian to ask if Pugs ever have breathing problems, you are not alone. I have experienced this with my own beloved Pug dog and decided to share what I’ve learned with other Pug lovers here.

How to Tell If Your Pug has Breathing Problems

What can you do to tell for sure that your Pug is having trouble breathing? There are three main ways to figure out if your Pug may be struggling to breathe.

  1. The first way to tell is by learning the symptoms that indicate a dog is having problems breathing.
  2. The second is learning the types of health conditions that can cause troubled breathing in Pugs.
  3. The third is by scheduling a veterinary visit to have your dog checked out by your canine vet.

Symptoms That Suggest Your Pug Is Struggling to Breathe

Not all Pugs have breathing problems, but as a pet parent it’s important to know how to spot the signs.

how to tell if your pug has breathing problems

Here is a list of the main symptoms to watch for that tell you your dog is having trouble breathing well.

  • Snoring at night or during naps.
  • Waking up suddenly and coughing or gagging.
  • Overheating easily.
  • Panting when at rest or even after light exercise.
  • Rapid breathing.
  • Gasping.
  • Noisy breathing (especially when inhaling).
  • Open mouth breathing.
  • Increased flatulence (gas).
  • Nostrils are moving visibly as your dog breathes.
  • Sleeping sitting up or standing up.
  • Holding their neck stretched out and up with front legs splayed.
  • The gums and skin are pale blue or whitish.
  • Rapid, noisy, erratic or distressed breathing for no apparent cause.

Most Common Symptoms

Every dog is different and will show different signs, however, after owning a Pug for 16 years, my Pug displayed these signs the most often.

Plus, I’ll share some tips on how to bring your pooch relief.


Most people think that it’s adorable when their Pug snores the afternoon and night away. However, this is one of the signs that your Pug is having difficulty breathing.

The best thing you can do for your pooch is to give them a comfy dog bed that allows them to rest their head higher than the rest of their body. While it won’t necessarily stop the snoring problem, it can help reduce it.

Rigorous Activity

This small dog requires just 30 minutes of exercise on a daily basis. It’s totally normal for them to struggle to breathe after they’ve been active.

If your pooch is struggling to breathe after exercise, it’s totally normal. Stop the exercise until your pup starts breathing normally again. It’s important to exercise these dogs in the morning or the evening when the sun is not very hot.

Normal Walking

Yes, at one point my Pug was extremely overweight and had difficult breathing whenever she walked. I put her on a diet and fed her a high quality dog food.

This helped her get rid of the excess weight that was causing her to struggle to breathe. If your pooch is carrying around extra weight, you should talk to your veterinarian about putting her on a diet.

Excess weight is not only bad for their breathing but can cause joint problems as well.

Hot Weather

The environment your dog lives in can cause havoc on their breathing. Pugs don’t do very well in the heat. If your pooch is struggling to breathe in the hot weather, you want to provide them shelter or take them inside to an air conditioned house.

Make sure they have fresh cold water to help them cool down quickly so they can start breathing normally again.

Unfortunately, these are the 3 main reasons your Pug will struggle to breathe her entire life. However, you can take some steps to keep your Pug comfortable and avoid exposing them to the conditions that can cause this problem.

What Health Conditions Can Cause Pug Breathing Problems?

pug and breathing problems

There are two main reasons why Pugs can sometimes have breathing problems. The first is genetic and the second is environmental. Let’s take a look at some reasons for each now.

Genetic (heritable) breathing problems in Pugs

Pug dogs have a short muzzle type. It is this short, flat face that gives your Pug dog such an adorably cute expression. But dogs with a short muzzle can also have breathing problems because there is not as much space in your Pug’s face for everything to fit.

Pug dog breathing problems can range from quite mild to severe. At the mildest level, your Pug may simply start breathing hard after a period of intense play.

At the most severe level, your Pug may develop a condition known as BOAS. BOAS stands for brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome. BOAS is caused by narrow nostrils that make it hard for your Pug to breathe in fresh air.

But the short muzzle type isn’t the only reason your Pug may be having a little more trouble breathing.

Environmental breathing problems in Pugs

I have written a whole article about five main reasons why Pugs can suffer from breathing problems that are not due to BOAS or their short muzzle type.

Other reasons include being overweight and even just getting older (yes, “old age” is a thing with Pug dogs too!). I hope you will also find this article to be a handy reference.

Is There a Way to Fix Pug Breathing Problems?

The first step on the path to fixing your Pug’s breathing issues is to get a firm diagnosis. Never try to diagnose or treat your Pug’s breathing issues on your own. If they seem bad enough to worry you, it is the right time to ask your vet for help.

When you know for sure what is causing your Pug to struggle to breathe, your veterinarian can help you brainstorm treatments. You may find that more than one thing will be needed to help your Pug breathe easily again.

Even if your veterinarian diagnoses your Pug with BOAS, there are surgeries that can help correct too-narrow nostrils and get the air flowing well again. But it might also be something much more simple, such as allergies or a bit of extra “muffin top.”

My Pug Is a Puppy and Is Breathing Heavily – Help!

my Pug is panting heavily
Pugs are prone to panting and heavy breathing more than other breeds.

Like all puppies and even human babies, Pug puppies can take up to a year or more to develop a strong immune system. This means Pug puppies are more at risk to develop respiratory disease that can cause fluid around the lungs.

Here are some of the respiratory problems that can affect a Pug.

If your Pug puppy seems to suddenly start having trouble breathing, it could be for various reasons. That said, if it’s your first time having a Pug, never wait. Just take your puppy to your veterinarian or the nearest urgent care veterinary center right away.

Remember, your Pug’s veterinarian is your ally to help you give your Pug the best quality of life and keep your pup breathing easily.

Final Word About Pug Breathing Issues

All brachycephalic dogs will have breathing problems. Most of the time, there’s nothing to worry about and your pooch will return to normal breathing on their own.

Of course, if you notice your your Pug’s breathing issues becoming worse or you’re just worried, you should contact your veterinarian.

It’s better to be safe than sorry, especially, when it comes to the safety of your furbabies health!

References And Further Reading

PDSA – People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals – Pug Breed Information

Vets Now – What Should I Do If My Dog Has Breathing Problems?

Black Pug Site