Ideal Weight For A Pug Made Simple: What You Need To Know


Pugs were bred for companionship, which makes their cuddling abilities second to none. However, being more docile and having an incredible love for food can lead to weight management problems for this breed. Proper diet and nutrition is a big part of their overall care. So, what is considered to be an ideal weight for a pug?

The average adult pug should ideally weigh between 14lbs and 18lbs. There are numerous health problems associated with being overweight or underweight, so it’s essential that it is managed properly. Diet, exercise, and disease management are key factors in controlling a pug’s weight.

Weight management for a pug doesn’t only mean preventing obesity. An underweight pug can be prone to health issues that are just as severe. By knowing the signs of a weight problem, owners can more easily determine the measures they need to take in order to set their pug back on the right track.

Pug Puppies: Growth Phase

During a pug puppy’s growth phase, they need to be eating once ounce of food per pound of their body weight. They are likely to have a huge appetites during the first 10 months, and they should ideally be gaining 13%-17% of weight during this period. Puppies need to be on a specialized diet that’s higher in calories and nutrition in order to grow at a healthy rate. This is crucial for their anatomical development.

Below is a helpful table that you can use as a guide to ensure that your pug is within an appropriate weight range at each age bracket.

AgeWeight Range
3 Months Old4 lbs – 7 lbs
7 Months Old9 lbs – 12 lbs
1 Years Old +14lbs – 18lbs

Puppy food needs to be nutritionally balanced to include the necessary amount of calories, vitamins, and essential minerals. They should ideally contain animal protein, and be free of specific ingredients such as soy and grains to help with digestion. Additionally, the puppy mix should be exclusive of chemical flavors, colors, and preservatives.

Roughly speaking, pug puppies should be fed 3 times per day, with healthy snacks given as a treat in between meals. Be sure to read the label, as each brand will have their own recommended feeding guide. You should also cross check this with your vet during your regular check ups.

How To Check If My Pug Is Overweight?

As mentioned, adult pugs should weigh between 14 and 18 pounds. But each dog is different, and some pugs may weight slightly less or more while remaining healthy depending on their lifestyle. There are several ways owners can check if their pug is overweight, including:

  1. Scale – Weighing your pug will produce the most accurate results. However, home scales may not be big enough to fit your pug, especially if they don’t sit still while on it. Instead, be sure to weigh your pug on a commercial scale every time you visit the vet for a routine check up.
  2. Feeling the ribcage – A dog’s ribcage can be a good indicator for whether they are overweight. By using your fingers to gently massage your pug’s ribcage in a circular motion, you should be able to feel a thin layer of fat between your fingers and their ribs. If this layer is thicker and you have a hard time feeling your pug’s ribs, then the chances are that your pug is overweight.
  3. Examining the waist – An overweight pug will have a lot of fat stored in their waist, making it wider. This is an eye test that you can perform by standing directly on top of your pug. Healthy pugs have small indents along their waists, and if you observe that your pug has a more rounded waist profile, then the chances are that they are overweight.

Reasons That Cause Obesity In Pugs

Pugs can be more prone to obesity than other dog breeds, and there are several factors that contribute to this thought. Some are within the control of the owner, while others may not be.

Overeating

This is a breed that loves to eat, and every pug owner will agree with this. They have a great appetite and don’t often realize when they are full. Even when satiated, they will come running for a taste if there is an opportunity to gorge some more. Pugs are continuously stimulated by the sights and smells of food, but it’s up to the owner not to overfeed their dog.

Offering a pug unhealthy snacks while cooking or feeding them table scraps during dinner should be avoided. Not only is this terrible for the dog’s waistline, but it may also promote begging behaviors. Your pug will bark and whine at every food opportunity, which can become quite frustrating. Owners need to stay disciplined themselves and not give in, as these foods are likely to be high in fats, salt, and sugar.

Lastly, owners need to be strict in following feeding guidelines that’s stated on the label. As mentioned, pugs will eat at every opportunity and beg for food even after they’ve had their daily fill. It can trick owners into thinking that their pug is not eating enough, thus making them think that they need to increase the portion sizes. Overtime, this can lead to weight gain and obesity.

Minimal Exercise

Pugs are a low-to-medium energy breed, and can be quite docile. If owners allow them to live a more slow-paced lifestyle, they will happily oblige. This might include snuggling on the couch, watching television, and napping all day. By not engaging in enough physical activity, it’s no surprise that this can result in a dog becoming overweight.

Owners should be providing 20-40 minutes of exercise per day for them to stay in good shape. Outside of lifestyle factors, this breed can encounter certain physical challenges related to their brachycephalic nature. Their short noses and narrower nasal cavities do restrict the airflow of oxygen going into their lungs, which causes breathing difficulties.

However, it’s not enough of an excuse to completely disregard exercise. Instead, owners just need to keep things light, provide plenty of water, and rest under shade when necessary. Pugs love to play and have fun, so with a little bit of motivation, your dog will be shedding any excess weight in no time!

Metabolism

As a dog ages, their metabolism generally slows down. Senior pugs can suffer from weight gain because of this, especially if they continue to have the same appetite. Eating the same amount, while not burning through and completely utilizing those calories can be detrimental and lead to obesity.

Being neutered can also cause a dogs metabolic rate to slow down and become overweight. The slower speed at which their body is able to convert food into energy can cause a pug to pack on the pounds. This is especially the case when combined with a poor diet and a lack of exercise.

Household Dynamics

Research has shown that pugs that live with other pets tend to consume more food or eat their meals more quickly than those that live by themselves. This is a social response that often happens when a pug is dominant in the relationship. It’s an instinctive trait inherited from their ancestors living in the wild. Each canine needs to eat their fill as quickly as they can, since they won’t know when the next meal will present itself, and to ensure no predators show up to steal their meals.

Conversely, pugs that are the only pet in the household tend to get spoiled with more treats than if there were multiple pets in the family. Since there is less love to share around, it’s possible that owners may reward their pug with too many treats. Switching to healthier alternatives like fruit or vegetables can be a better option to prevent excessive weight gain.

Medical Conditions

Your pug could also have some severe underlying conditions that could be causing them to feel extremely hungry and thus eat more. If you suspect that your pug’s obesity is because of a health issue, then the best step would be to take them to a veterinarian. Some of these can include:

  • Diabetes – is a metabolic disorder that results in blood sugar imbalances, affecting the amount of insulin released. Diabetic dogs have higher chances of developing excess body weight compared to those that aren’t.
  • Cushing’s disease – is an endocrine condition that often affects middle-aged or older dogs. It results from the pug’s body releasing excessive cortisol hormones. Cortisol is responsible for metabolism and could cause your pug to experience increased appetite, thirst, and loss of muscle tone.
  • Hypothyroidism – Thyroid problems is the most common condition associated with weight gain in dogs, and it’s often accompanied by lethargic behavior, greasy or oily skin, and a dull coat.

The Negative Effects Of Obesity

An overweight pug can lead to many obesity related disease that are detrimental for their health. Below is a list of some common conditions that they can face.

BOAS (Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome)

As mentioned, brachycephalic dogs like the pug can develop breathing problems due to the excess tissue present in their upper airways. This obstructs airflow, and when combined with their short noses and smaller nostrils, it forces them to rely on panting to get enough air into their lungs. Being overweight intensifies this condition, making it even harder to breathe naturally.

Various symptoms such as labored breathing, and excessive snoring while asleep, awake or resting will be more noticeable. Obese brachycephalic dogs may have difficulty exercising since they don’t get enough oxygen into their lungs, which alternately affects their respiratory processes. This problem often intensifies when they are exposed to warm or hot weather.

Dogs generally pant to regulate their body temperature, and overweight pugs may have difficulty losing heat, especially in overly warm weather. This could cause them to experience heatstroke, which in extreme cases could be fatal. The impacted pug may collapse as a result and become hypoxic. Hypoxia is a term where there is insufficient oxygen at the tissue level, and you may notice the tongue turning blue or purple, before losing consciousness. When this occurs, you’ll need to rush your dog to the emergency room for immediate action.

Arthritis

Dogs that develop arthritis as they age is usually the result of continuous impact on their joints over the course of their life. For instance, repeatedly jumping on and off the couch while they’re young will eventually wear out the cartilage in a pug’s joints. This condition often worsens if your pug becomes overweight since the extra weight adds more pressure to the joints, leading to more wear and tear.

When arthritis is developed, it can really put a lot of strain on a pug’s day-to-day life. One visible symptom is limping and favoring one leg over another. This may be due to the inextricable pain that’s being experienced, and they may even struggle to stand up, especially after lying down for extended periods. Fatigue, irritability, and licking of the affected limbs are some other signs of arthritis.

Anesthesia Risks

Obesity also increases the risk factors when your pug gets taken into surgery and has to be put under anesthesia. Their heart and lungs will have to work more than they usually would in such instances. They may have difficulties breathing since they’ll need to work twice as hard to expand their chest. In addition, they could end up not sleeping deeply enough, too deeply, or take longer to wake up.

Skin Diseases

An overweight pug can also be more susceptible to various skin diseases, such as lip-fold pyoderma. This is a condition that occurs on the skin folds present in their lower jaw region. Especially when overweight, the extra skin can hold more moisture, thus creating a perfect environment for bacteria and yeast to thrive. The infected area is likely to be red, painful, and smelly.

Obesity in pugs could also lead to a condition known as Mange. This is a condition where Demodex, a mite that lives on a dog’s hair follicles, infests your pug’s fur. In extreme conditions, it leads to lots of other secondary infections. If you notice that your pug has dry, hairless, irritated lesions, then that’s sign for you to take your pug to the vet to check for a skin infection.

Preventing such diseases is possible with proper grooming and care. Ensuring that your pug’s coat is moisture free each day is key, and this can be done by giving their skin folds a daily wipe. Washing your dog with a prescribed shampoo and using antiseptic wipes can also help fight skin infections. Your vet will be able to examine and treat each condition accordingly.

How To Help Your Pug Lose Weight

1. Treat Underlying Health Problems

If you suspect that the cause of the weight gain is due to an underlying health condition, then you should take your pug to the vet for a clinical examination. Especially in the case where the dog is following a good diet and getting proper exercise, then this is more likely to be the case. Medical issues can cause hormonal and metabolic changes that affects a dog’s weight, e.g. diabetes. After the treatment is prescribed, you’ll need to monitor their weight closely,. If there is no change, the vet may advise to take other potential measures.

2. Proper Diet & Nutrition

Pugs need to be fed a high-quality diet that is rich in nutrients and vitamins. Low quality kibble that is full of fillers will not be sustainable, and the pug will constantly beg for more food. This can trick owners into overfeeding their pug with more than what’s necessary. If you plan to change your dog’s food, ensure that you consult with your vet beforehand, so they can approve the new diet.

Having a feeding routine for a pug is also very helpful in controlling their weight. For instance, owners can feed their dog twice a day (morning and afternoon), and then provide treats in between meals if necessary. We find this beneficial because it helps satisfy the dog in a sustainable way throughout the day.

The other method is free-feeding, where all of the dog’s food is given at once. While cats may be able to ration their meals throughout the day to keep satiated, dogs are more likely to eat their fill in one go. With pugs being food lovers, we don’t recommend this method. They are likely to be more full initially, but will eventually go hungry and beg for more food. This is an easy way for a pug to gain weight.

Lastly, treats are a great way for owners to show their dog affection. However, too many treats in between meals can cause weight gain. Especially if they’re being fed table scraps, these foods will likely be unhealthy and high in calories. Look for healthier alternatives such as vegetables and fruits when rewarding your pug with treats.

3. Exercise

Most dogs love taking walks and playing; however, weight gain can make a pug become more docile. If this is the case for your pet, try and encourage them by scheduling in some form of exercise each day. Initially, you may need motivate them to get off the couch, but once they get going, they’ll likely enjoy it.

Starting slow and gradually building up their stamina cam help avoid straining your pug. Remember that the best time to exercise your pug is early mornings and late evenings when the weather isn’t too hot. There are various activities that you could do interchangeably to help your pug get more active.

These include taking them to the dog park where they can play with other dogs, going on a hike, playing fetch, and engaging in a bout of tug-of-war. It’s important for dogs to stay active in order to burn energy, calories, and reduce the risk of obesity related diseases.

How To Check If My Pug Is Underweight?

Similarly to the ways in which an owner can check whether their pug is overweight, it is possible to do utilize the same techniques to check if they are underweight. Obviously, you would be looking and feeling for different things, but the process remains similar.

  • Scale – Weigh your dog on a commercial scale every time you take your pug to the vet for their routine check up. If your pug weights less than 14lbs then they are likely to be weighing less than they should.
  • Rib examination – Open your hands and move your fingers along the dog’s ribcage. If healthy, you should be able to feel their ribs quite easily under a bit of padding. An underweight pug will likely have their ribcage visibly sticking out, and when felt, there will only be a thin layer of skin covering the ribs.
  • Overhead inspection – Healthy pugs will have small indents along their abdomen when viewed from above. If you notice that your pug’s ribcage is protruding, then the chances are that they may be underweight.
  • Profile analysis – Naturally, a dog’s abdomen should be higher than its ribcage. Looking at your pug from their side should show an inclined underside that ascends as you go towards their rear. If your pug has a steep incline, then it means that they are underweight. The best way you could do this is by lowering yourself to the same height as your pug.

What’s Causing A Pug To Lose Weight?

Being such foodies, it’s less common to see an emaciated pug. However, when this does occur, it is usually due to some form of medical condition. It can be more concerning than being overweight in some cases, since the dog may be malnourished. As a result, it’s crucial to get a veterinarian diagnosis if you suspect that it could be any of the following issues.

Parasites

Your pug will lose weight regardless of how many meals you feed them if they have parasitic organisms living in their digestive tract. While this is not a fun idea to entertain, it is one of the most common reasons for weight loss in dogs.

Parasites are tiny organisms that can be found in your pug’s digestive tract. They steal your pug’s nutrients, leaving them weak and malnourished. If this condition is left untreated for extended periods, it may lead to other conditions that could end up being fatal.

Hookworms and roundworms can be treated with medication containing pyrantel pamoate. Tapeworms can be eradicated with another over-the-counter treatment that’s known as praziquantel. Whipworm infestations will require a visitation to the vet, as treatment involves a prescription drug called fenbendazole. Irregardless of the type of parasite, you should take your pug to the vet for a check up to ensure that the right treatment is given according to the diagnosis.

Diabetes

Diabetes could be another reason why your pug may be underweight. This condition often comes about when your pug doesn’t produce enough insulin or when its cells fail to utilize the insulin that’s produced. Often this leads to extreme hunger, thirst, urination, and even weight loss. It is an expensive condition to manage; however, the good news is that the condition is treatable, and your pug will be in good health as long as you’re consistent with it.

Diet Imbalances

Pugs shouldn’t just be fed anything, they need to be nourished. Their dog mix should be one that is high quality with a rating of 4-5 stars. Try and look for “meat meal” under the ingredients list, as this contains a higher percentage of protein than water. Avoid anything with “whole meat” as this is mostly made up of water and fillers.

By not meeting their nutritional needs, they will never be fully satiated. This is another scenario where they will always feel hungry, and continue to beg for food. Additionally, providing your pug with food from unregulated and unrecognized companies could lead to various digestive and allergic reactions that could cause them to lose weight and develop health complications.

Dental Problems

Your pug could also lose weight if they have dental issues. For instance, if your pug develops tooth decay, painful abscesses, or inflamed gums, they may have a hard time eating their meals. This will consequently lead to weight loss. Good oral hygiene needs to be part of their grooming routine in order to prevent such issues. Aim to brush your pugs teeth every 2-3 days for optimal results.

Disease

There are lots of conditions that can cause a pug to be ill and lose weight as a result of it. Many can be treated, as long as they’re diagnosed and treated early. If you notice any behavior changes or signs of an underlying health condition, it’s best to check your pug into a veterinary clinic for an examination. Successful treatment of a disease will tend to result in your dog regaining any lost weight.

Tips To Help Your Pug Gain Weight

The first thing you’ll need to do is to take your pug to a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis. The veterinarian will then explain what the problem is and how you could go about solving it. Treatment should involve following a detailed plan that may include specific medications prescribed to your pug, as opposed to home remedies that may not be as effective.

If your vet rules out any underlying issues, then they may recommend some simple changes that you can make at home. For instance, switching to a high-quality dog food to help meet their nutritional requirements. It may even be a prescribed diet that is higher in nutrients and calories to help them gain weight and become healthier.

Remember to feed your pug small meals spread out throughout the day. This will give your pug a chance to digest the food and absorb the nutrients. You could also supplement the meals with healthy, weight-gainer snacks to help speed up the process.

Exercise might sound counter intuitive since it’s usually recommended for weight loss, however this can help promote muscle growth and increase their appetite. Obviously, you’d want to keep things light since they may already be feeling weak from malnourishment. But ultimately, it’ll help stimulate them physical and mentally, while improving their overall wellbeing.

Related Questions

How much should a Pug weigh in kg? A healthy adult pug should weigh between 6-8 kilograms, which is approximately 14-18 pounds.

At what age is a pug full grown? Pugs will fill out between 9-12 months old. Usually, they will reach their maximum size by 1 years old.

How fast do pugs lose weight? This depends on their size and how overweight they are as the starting point. Ideally, when aiming to lose weight, owners should aim for their pug to lose between 0.5% and 2% of their body weight per week. Speak to your veterinarian for a more detailed weight loss plan.

References

Firecrest, 2020. Body Condition Score – Pugs.

Liu, N.-C.et al., 2017. Conformational risk factors of brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS) in pugs, French bulldogs, and bulldogs.

MedicAnimal, n.d. Signs and symptoms of worm infestation.

Pubs Club, n.d. Fat Pugs: Discover All Of Their Causes And Consequences!

Veterenarians, 2018. The Pug: Everything You Need to Know.

Wag Walking, n.d. How to Train Your Dog to Not Eat Other Dogs’ Food.

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