how to care for pug's teeth
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The Silly Pug Smile

As a pug lover, I have to admit that I find pug smiles adorable. I love when their lower teeth protrude. When my baby sister was a toddler, she liked the movie Emperor’s New Groove and enjoyed making a “llama face”. She would suck in her upper lip, and extend her lower jaw revealing her lower teeth.

llama face

My baby sister was 9 by the time I brought my pugs home. She was well-past the “llama face” stage. I bet she doesn’t even remember it! I didn’t. The first time I saw one of my pugs with their lower teeth sticking out I exclaimed “llama face!”

pug underbite

I would quickly learn that they would often make the “llama face”. Pugs tend to have an underbite which is why you often see their lower teeth. 


Why Oral Care For Pugs Is Important

Oral care for pugs is particularly important because they are a brachycephalic breed, which results in them having a really small mouth. Their small mouths leave their teeth more crowded, which makes it easier for food and bacteria to stay trapped between their teeth and cause decay. 

Oral care for all dogs is important. It’s just that pugs are more likely to suffer tooth decay than other dogs with larger mouths.

Pug smile

Why Pugs Are At Risk For Tooth Decay

Pugs are at increased risk of tooth decay due to their jaw structure, small mouths and crowded teeth. Pugs also tend to breathe through their mouth which can dry out their mouth and allow bacteria to spread. 

It’s similar to humans in the sense that crowded teeth can cause more food to get trapped, and bacteria to build. Crowded or crooked teeth (as pugs often have) will have a harder time getting all surfaces touched while eating. Part of how dogs naturally remove plaque from their teeth is through chewing hard foods or treats. However, if their teeth are too crooked, some surfaces of their teeth may be missed as they chew. Pugs have 42 teeth in those little mouths! 

I remember when we first got the pugs, a pet company had sent me a variety of pet toys to give to them as a gift. Almost none of the toys they sent were small enough for them to fit in their mouths! Some of the toys even said they were designed for small dogs, or dogs around their weight. These size-estimates can be inaccurate for pugs because a 20lb pug is going to have a much smaller mouth than a 20-lb dog in most other breeds. 

pug underbite teeth

Plus, pugs tend to breathe through their mouths more often than their noses. The flatter their nose is, the less likely they are to breathe through their nose. Frank has a noticeably longer snout than Beans, and is able to breathe through his nose most of the time. Still, his nose is short enough that he pants more easily than many other dog breeds. Meaning, he still breaths through his mouth more often than other breeds. Beans has a shorter snout and breathes through her mouth most of the time, and also pants really easily. Both of my pugs do have noses that extend out of their face, at least. Some pugs have noses that are literally flat against their face. Others have noses that actually indent into their face, so their brow bone sticks out farther than their nose! Those dogs are very unlikely to be able to breathe well through their nose.

The more time dogs spend breathing through their mouths or panting, the more likely it is that their mouth will get dried out. Have you ever read about how having dry mouth can cause tooth decay in humans? That’s because our saliva has antifungal properties, neutralizes acids produced by plaque, contains phosphorus and calcium that helps rebuild enamel and protect against tooth decay, and more. Saliva is really quite an incredible thing! If our mouths dry out, we lose all of the benefits that saliva provides. 

Dogs can experience a similar effect if their mouths stay too dry, it contributes to tooth decay. 

smiling pugs

Why Tooth Decay Is A Big Deal

Many of us have owned dogs that have lost teeth and managed to eat, drink and go on about life just fine. So, you may be asking, if pugs can live without teeth, why does tooth decay matter? It’s certainly true that dogs can lose teeth or have teeth pulled and still live happy, healthy lives. 

The problem with tooth decay isn’t so much about how it can result in losing teeth. It’s more to do with how decaying teeth are infected, and that infection can hang around for a long time before teeth fall out. Dental infections can lead to heart problems or cardiovascular problems, among other illnesses.

Also, pain! 

Just like when people have dental infections, if your pug has a rotting tooth, it’s likely causing them pain. They may show no signs of being in pain at all, as many dogs don’t. They may eat at a normal pace, and may not whine otherwise communicate discomfort. That doesn’t mean they aren’t experiencing pain, though. 

how to care for your pug's teeth (even if they won't let you brush them!) #pugs

How To Care For Your Pug’s Teeth

Brush their teeth. If you get a puppy, starting with brushing their teeth from a young age will help get them used to the process. They make special toothbrushes and toothpaste for dogs. If you can train your dog to tolerate it, with a pet dental gel like Suchgood Natural Plaque Removal Gel is a great way to keep your dog’s teeth clean. 

Unfortunately, many pet owners find brushing their dog’s teeth really challenging. We got our pugs when they were 8 and 9 years old and they didn’t seem to be used to having their teeth brushed. They were both really comfortable with us touching their faces in general. We were able to clean the folds/creases in the wrinkles in their face, wipe mucus from their eyes, and clean their ears with little fuss from either of them.

However, neither of them were ever comfortable with us putting anything (besides food) near their mouths. We really tried to go slowly, use lots of rewards and not push too much, but after just one or two attempts, they’d be extra-suspicious of us when we tried to get close to their mouths. They even started reacting to just seeing the dog toothbrush. Ultimately, we just gave up as it was causing anxiety and we didn’t seem to be any closer to brushing their teeth. I felt guilty, because I know it’s best to brush their teeth. It just felt really impractical to actually get it done. I know I’m not at all alone in not managing to get it done. 

So…if you haven’t been successful with brushing your dog’s teeth, there are still lots of other ways to care for your dog’s teeth! These may not be quite as good as brushing, but they’re ways that I find more practical. 

SuchGood water additive dog dental care

Suchgood water additive. This is a liquid that you simply add to your dog’s water bowl. 1 cap per bowl of water each time you refill your pug’s water dish. The water additive will help clean the teeth, tongue and gums. It does this by working with your dog’s oral biome to fight against plaque and it can even help freshen breath. I love how it offers easy and effective brushless dental care for dogs, without having to cause them stress. The ingredients are all-natural and the product is made in the USA. 

Dental cleanings at the vet. When you take your dog in for their yearly checkup, have them get their teeth cleaned. Our vet would just look in their mouth and would let us know if he thought a cleaning was called for. Some years it was, and others it wasn’t. To do a dental cleaning, our vet puts the dog to sleep and then uses tools to remove plaque. If there is decay in a tooth, he was also able to remove the tooth while the dog was sleeping. This is great for keeping infected teeth from remaining in your pet’s body longer, but of course, using preventative measures such brushing or using Suchgood water additive is much better! 

Feed kibble. While “wet food” may get your pug more excited, kibble (aka dry dog food) is good for helping to clean your dog’s teeth. The pieces are harder which basically scratch the teeth as they eat, which can remove build up. Crunchy snacks like carrots can do the same thing. 

Dental treats or chews. There are several brands that make treats specifically designed to “brush” your dog’s teeth as they chew. These are usually hard treats that have various textures on the treat to rub up against your dog’s teeth in ways that can remove plaque. These work better on dogs who chew slowly. If your dog tends to inhale treats, they may not be as effective. 

Dental chew toys. Some brands make dog toys that are designed with textures designed to help clean teeth as your dog chews on them. 


SuchGood dog water additive

I’d love to hear your oral care routine for your pugs! Leave me a comment telling me how you take care of your pug’s teeth.

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