Older Pug Breathing Problems [Triggers & Solutions]

Senior Pugs are a treasure. Somehow, Pugs get cuter with age. As they get older they may become slower, but they also become even sweeter. There isn’t much that can beat an older Pug when it comes to top-notch companionship.

Unfortunately, like many dog breeds, certain health issues can pop up in older Pugs that weren’t around when they were younger. Pugs are notorious for snuffling, snoring, and snorting, So you might wonder, do older Pugs have more breathing problems?

Older Pug Breathing Problems

Breathing problems can pop up in Pugs as they grow older. Like many health issues in Pugs, obesity usually plays a big role. That said, your Pug has likely had breathing issues all along, but they just become more pronounced as they become older.

older Pug breathing problems

What Causes Breathing Problems In Older Pugs? 

Often, seniority doesn’t play as big of a role in why your Pug is having trouble breathing as you might think. Your pup may have had breathing problems when they were younger, but the problem becomes more pronounced as they age. 

Some issues, like joint pain, cataracts, and hearing problems, can be linked to old age. 

On the other hand, Breathing problems are more likely due to the physical characteristics that all pugs have. 50% of pugs will have some sort of breathing issues during their life. 

Pugs are what is called brachycephalic, which translates to “short-head.” This refers to their smaller skulls and shortened snouts. 

Brachycephaly, sadly, comes with some frequent physical malformations. These can include, but are not limited to:

  • Stenotic Nares: which are pinched nostrils.
  • Hypoplastic Trachea: It is a smaller than average windpipe.
  • Elongated soft palate: This is a longer than average roof of the mouth.

Any one of these malformations can impede breathing, and it isn’t rare for Pugs to have multiple of these issues simultaneously.

Breathing issues stemming from physical deformities associated with brachycephaly are called Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome, or BOAS. 

BOAS can show up in Pugs of all ages, but there are a few contributing factors that could cause it to appear suddenly in your senior Pug.

Lack Of Exercise 

In their golden years, Pugs aren’t going to show much interest in exercise. Can you blame them?

Since Pugs, like any older dog, are prone to slowing down with age, it is extra important to keep your Pug fit and healthy when they are younger. That way, when they age, they’ll have the best chance of staying trim.

Even though Pugs are usually associated with charming rolls and lapdog demeanors, it is very important for Pugs to exercise. Most people don’t realize that Pug exercise looks a bit different from other dogs’ exercises. 

One example is that Pugs need to be wearing a harness when going on walks or doing any sort of physical activity. 

With their shortened skulls and squished snouts, the pressure a collar puts on a Pugs neck can cause severe breathing issues. Harnesses are the way to go!

Another thing to consider is that Pugs have more in common with the Turtle than the Hare. Fast, intensive exercise can cause breathing issues with even the youngest, healthiest Pugs. A much safer and Pug-approved exercise is a long hike in the cool, shaded woods.

Why is it so imperative that Pugs venture into old age fit as fiddles? 

Obesity is the culprit in so many health issues in older pugs. If your senior Pug is very overweight, they will most certainly have trouble breathing.


So you are the proud owner of a fit, active, and healthy young Pug. That’s great! He goes on hikes with you in the morning, and when you two return, he’s starving from all the exertion. 

For his meal, your Pug gets his high-quality, calorically dense food that replenishes all the energy that he burnt during his hike. This is also great! Active dogs need good fuel.

This only becomes problematic when active younger dogs become less active senior dogs. That high-calorie dog food that was the best choice when the Pug was younger may now be too much for an older dog.

Since older dogs aren’t moving around as much as younger dogs, they are not burning many calories. If their food is too calorie-heavy, it can cause them to become obese quickly!

As your Pug ages, it’s essential to ensure you’re feeding them the proper foods. If your Pug isn’t as active as they used to be, then consider making a switch to dog food for senior Pugs.

When you change foods, your Pug might not be thrilled. We all know that food is serious business to Pugs. With the new food, your Pug might feel hungry more often. 

There are a few yummy additions you can add to your Pugs meal to make them feel satisfied longer. Some of them are:

  • Green beans. Fresh, frozen, or canned sodium-free.
  • Carrots. Fresh, Frozen, or canned sodium-free.
  • Pumpkin puree, no sugar added. NOT pumpkin pie filling.

When your Pug gets older, it might be time for a diet change. There are dozens of great senior-specific dog foods that will give your older Pug all the nutrients they need without the added risk of making them overweight.

As I said before, being overweight can make any breathing problems worse or even make new ones crop up where there weren’t any before. 

Obesity is very hard on a pugs body. Besides breathing issues, obesity can cause joint problems, mobility issues, and lethargy. 

Even though your Pug might be resistant at first, a correctly fed pug is a healthy pug!

How Can I Keep My Older Pugs Breathing Problems Under Control?

If your darling senior Pug is suffering from some minor issues breathing, there are a few ways to minimize the chances of those little problems becoming something more significant.

Where your Pug may have been the stair master when they were younger, they may need help up and down the stairs with age. The effort they may have to expend climbing stairs can trigger heavy breathing. 

Why don’t you give your Pug a hand and carry them up and down the stairs? It also might be good to buy some gates to place at the bottom of the stairs. So your senior isn’t attempting to venture up or down them without your supervision. 

Another physical activity in the home that might cause heavy breathing, leading to breathing issues, is jumping up on sofas and beds. 

No worries! There are a ton of dog-specific ramps and stairs available to give your Pug some assistance in getting to their favorite nap spot.

Lastly, keep that air conditioner on! A hot Pug who pants constantly is more at risk of having problems breathing. All that panting can stress your Pug out and irritate their throat and lungs.

Final Word

With their frosted faces and sweet, snuggly dispositions, it’s no wonder people worry about new health issues affecting their senior Pugs. They are angels who must be protected!

If you have kept your Pug healthy throughout their lives, their golden years can be a breeze. 

As long as you know what to keep an eye out for and talk to your vet about any issues that worry you, you can sit back and have some cuddles with your older Pug, confident that you are ready for anything!

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