Pug Rescue Story – Missy and Pugsley


Note:  These photos are after they both had 3 baths each.  One flea bath and then two medicated baths.  I did not get pics before I started treating them….I was more concerned for how miserable they were.

Missy came into rescue with Pugsly. She is a sweet girl who wants nothing more than to lay at your feet.  A severe flea infestation had her skin raw and oozing, as well as hair missing on the back part of her body.  At her vet visit Monday(8/8), she was found to be slightly anemic, severe skin infection and in need of a dental. She has some blindness in her left eye and it is our hope the eye meds we have her on may clear this up, but it is very possible this is caused by an accident or an underlying condition left untreated. Missy was heartworm negative and we will schedule her dental once the infections are cleared up.

Pugsley, aka My Lil’ Ole Man is a tiny boy who came in with Missy.  He is a sweet little boy who came to us in extremely poor health.  A severe flea infestation had his skin raw and oozing, as well as hair missing all over his body.  At his vet visit Monday(8/8), Pugsly was found to be very anemic, low thyroid (below .5), severe skin infection, and an urinary tract infection.  By a miracle, he was heartworm negative. He appears to be almost completely blind.  It is our hope the eye meds we have him on may allow him to regain a little sight, but it is very possible this is caused by permanent damage from either lengthy poor health, an accident or an underlying condition left untreated.  Pugsly is missing at least half of his teeth and what he has are rotten to the point of being green.  We cannot attempt to put him under for a neuter or dental for at least 4 weeks to get the various infections and his thyroid under control.  It is possible that once the infections clear up, his thyroid may even out some.

They spent their first two days in my care simply crying and scratching themselves until they was bleeding.  I spent those two days simply doing everything possible to keep him quiet and comfortable. 

At this point we are evaluating both Pugsly and Missy to determine rather they are bonded to a point that they need to remain in the same home or if they may be adopted separately.

As always, any and all donations to help offset medical bills for these precious babies are appreciated.  Every penny counts and it is because of YOU, that we can give these furbabies the life they deserve. 

Pug Rescue Stories – Maggie’s Story



Maggie had been rescued by a neighbor of her original owner.  Through mutual contacts a fellow pug lover found out about Maggie (formally Bella) and went to see this sweety for herself.  After seeing the pain this little girl was in, she immediately contacted MAPR for help.

From what we can tell, her human mother passed away and the husband was abusive to Maggie in that she was thrown against a wall, cigg burns on her head, etc.

Valarie, thank you for helping to save Maggie’s life and putting her on the road to a life she deserves.

Why You Should Foster

From Allyzabethe Ramsey

The biggest reason I hear for not becoming a foster parent is the fear of getting attached and not being able to let the dog go. I am the person who weeps over television shows, commercials, and the sad stories on our rescue page. I can’t even bear to look at the Rainbow Bridge page. I am what they so politely call in the South “sensitive,” but I can still muster the strength to be a foster parent. And if I can do it, anyone can do it.

You do get attached to the fur babies that come into your house. I won’t lie. It is hard. And it’s worse the longer you have them. My first foster pug was only with me for three weeks, but I sobbed when I let him go. And I will cry over every one that comes through my home.

My family all thought I would be an immediate foster failure, meaning that I would adopt the dogs I was fostering. That’s still a possibility, when the fit is right. When the right pug comes along, I’ll know it and my dogs will know it. The dogs I’ve had were not meant to stay with me and as a foster parent; you will know that, too.

I have two foster pugs right now, Quincy and Isabelle. They are a bonded pair, seniors with health issues. That has kept them on the adoptable list for over six months. Quincy, a lovable bowling ball with legs, is content to sleep on my feet or next to me on the couch. Isabelle, on the other hand, is not content. She was the top dog in her old home, and she’s not in my house. Isabelle loves men, and I can’t supply her with any. Her perfect home would include a man and no other girl dogs. So as much as I love her, it’s more important that she’s happy. And the path to that happiness is away from my home. I have to be strong for her, let her go to a home that will cherish and adore her and give her more than I can. I can let her go because I have only her best interests in mind, not my need to protect my heart.

 This is the way I see it. Without me and all the other foster parents out there, these pugs would not be rescued. These pugs would be dumped at shelters or on the street. My temporary heartache and loss means that one more pug is rescued. One more pug has a safe place to live, a warm bed to sleep in, nutritious food to eat, medical care. One more pug saved from a kill shelter or a puppy mill or the streets. One more pug that can find the right family, the best home for their needs. One more family that is completed by a rescue pug.


We know when we get a pet that they won’t be with us forever. Understanding that heartbreak in our future doesn’t stop us from getting a pet. And we love them with our whole hearts and grieve when they pass. As a foster parent, you have the opportunity to rescue these dogs from a bad situation, love them for a while, and then help them find the ideal home. The sorrow at losing them is made easier to bear by knowing that they have a new home. The unfortunate situation is, it won’t be long until you have another foster pug, and you will be focused on helping the newest member of your family.


There are reasons you shouldn’t foster. Your housing situation may not allow it. Your dog may not get along with other dogs. Your family may not be supportive. You may have too many already. But don’t let your fear of getting hurt be one of those reasons. You’ve already opened your heart to a pug, open it a little more for a foster.

For more information on fostering with MAPR, visit our website at http://www.midatlanticpugrescue.org/pdf/vol_foster.pdf.

From Suzanne S –

Those of us who have fostered a whole pack of pugs and pugs mixes over the years know that we do not always fall in love with all the pugs and pug wannabees who come into our homes. A lot of people do not understand that you can love a foster every bit as much as you would a dog you had intentionally picked out to be your companion. I know I have cared for and about all the pugs and pug mixes who have come to my home. But only a very special few have totally stolen my heart. Most of those that stole my heart were older pugs who I knew were going to be with me for a while. I must confess that it has been mostly the older pugs who have that special gentle patient nature who have most often captured my heart. A couple of persons have asked me about Aiko and when I explained that he had been with me only about 15 months because he was surrendered from a difficult home situation, there response was,”Oh well, he was just a foster.” That has really bugged me. Aiko was not “just a foster,” he was a very special old man who was wise, loving, gentle and so very patient. Aiko was the oldest pug that I ever had. He had well earned his soft bed in the patch of morning sun that he always loved. So I suppose we should lift a toast to all those older pugs who steal our hearts and make us really cry when they leave us.

Mary Dike had an old pug who was a great friend of a old pug of mine who died several years ago, named Clarence. The two would pal around together and sit in the corner together like two old men nodding and commenting on the state of the world. Not all seniors have the chance to hang out with other senior pugs. We should find ways for our senior pugs to find other seniors whose company they can enjoy. That is a gift that many would certainly enjoy.

About Pugs – Mast Cell Tumor Disease

About Mast Cell Disease

Mast cell tumors are a cancer of the mast cells. Mast cells normally reside in many tissues in the body, especially the skin, lungs, mouth, nose, conjunctiva of the eyes, and digestive tract. Mast cells are characterized by their intensely purple staining granules in the cells when examined under a microscope. Mast cells are part of the body’s immune system. They play an important role in allergies and defense again worm infestations.

Pugs seem to be on of the dog breeds that are especially susceptible to mast cell cancer, especially in the skin. About 20% of skin cancers are mast cell tumors. Once a pug has had one mast cell cancer, there is about a 15% chance that the pug will develop multiple mast cell tumors over his/her lifetime. Generally the tumors occur in middle aged or older pugs, but mast cell cancer can occur in young pugs as well.

When you find a lump or swelling on or in your pug’s skin, there is no one characteristic finding which will tell you if the lump is a mast cell cancer or a benign tumor . Sometimes the lumps are pigmented or bleeding. Sometimes they are rapidly change in size from day to day. The only way to make the diagnosis is by simple aspiration biopsy of the lump.

Once the diagnosis of mast cell tumors has been made, the cancer is are divided into four stages depending on how far the cancer has spread or if there are multiple tumors:

  • Stage I – solitary tumor confined to the dermis (skin) without lymph node involvement.
  • Stage II – solitary tumor with regional lymph node involvement.
  • Stage III – multiple dermal tumors with or without lymph node


  • Stage IV – any tumor with distant metastasis or recurrence with


    Prednisone therapy (dosed at 1mg per kg per day) is recommended before surgical excision of mast cell cancers. Apparently about 70% of dogs will respond with a reduction in the size and volume of the tumor. (J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2008 Jan 1;232(1):53-62.) This makes excision of the tumor easier.

    Surgical excision is the treatment of choice for Stage I tumors. There is not further treatment needed. New tumors may come up, and you have to keep an eye out for them by examining the skin of your pug regularly. All surgical excisions should have a wide margin (about 1.5 cm) of disease free skin taken at the time of the surgery.

    What is done for Stage 2, 3, and 4 is the matter of some debate. If the tumor is on an arm or a leg, then that limb might be amputated and/or radiation therapy given to the area. Radiation is use to try to “sterilize” the area of stray cancer cells. My pugs never seem to get tumors in areas that are easily treated. Suppressive treatment with prednisone has been recommended in the past but prednisone seems to have no benefit in improving long term survival. More about treatment will be discussed below.

Suzanne Sauter, MD 1 December 2009

One of the important factors in determining treatment and survival with mast cell cancer is a determination of how nearly normal the mast cells from the tumor look when examined under a microscope. This is called the histiologic grade. Mast cell tumors are graded using a system developed by Patnaik as to the grade of the tumor (Vet Pathol. 1984 Sep;21(5):469-74. Expert Rev Mol Diagn. 2009 Jul;9(5):481-92.).

  • Grade I – well differentiated and mature cells with a low potential for metastasis.
  • Grade II – intermediately differentiated cells with potential for local invasion and

    moderate metastatic behavior

  • Grade III – undifferentiated, immature cells with a high potential for metastasis

    Grade I tumors are benign. Grade II tumors, which seem to be the most common in my experience, can behave either benignly or can be more aggressive. There is considerable variation in their biological activity. That is some tumors rarely spread or recur while other Grade II tumors tend to spread and recur. Grade III tumors are very malignant. Unfortunately there is not always a lot of agreement among pathologists as to the grade of a tumor.

    Because of the variable behavior of mast cells graded as II, a number of other tests have been developed to try to sort out which tumors will be more aggressively. For example, one test is a silver (argyrophilic stain of nucleolar organizer regions or AgNOR score) stain of the mast cells. The black dots in the nucleolar region of the cell are counted. This information can be helpful in predicting survival. The higher the AgNOR score generally the poorer the prognosis because there is a greater likelihood that the mast cell cancer has or will spread. Another marker studied by immunohistochemistry is the marker Ki-67. Again, the higher the Ki-67 count, the poorer the chances are for survival. (Vet Pathol. 2007; May 44(3): 298-308.) Other markers are being studied and used, such as c-KIT since it has been observed that mast cell tumors with c-KIT mutations are associated with recurrent disease and death.

    Before determining further treatment for the mast cell cancer, the veterinarian will have to do a careful physical examination palpating for enlarged lymph nodes. Splenic and other biopsies may need to be done to see if the cancer has spread to the spleen or bone marrow. Lymph nodes may need to be biopsied. All these are done with needle aspirations and not open surgery, but they do require anesthesia. Sometimes the search for splenic or liver involvement can be done with ultrasound which is then followed by biopsy. (J Vet Intern Med. 2009 Sep-Oct;23(5):1051- 7.Epub2009Jul28.) Pugswhohavemastcelltumorintheirliverandspleenliveforamuch shorter period of time than dogs who do not have tumor in their liver and spleen. Buffy coat smears used to be recommended to look for the presence of mast cell in the peripheral blood. This test is a waste of money. Most dogs with mast cells in their blood have worms or parasites and not mast cell disease.

    Adjunctive therapy is usually given when there is evidence that the mast cell tumor has spread or if it has a higher histiologic grade. Therapies that are considered more traditional chemotherapy which have been studied include the following:

1. Chlorambucil and prednisone ( J Small Anim Pract. 2009 Jun;50(6):284-9. J Am Anim Hosp Assoc. 2009 Jan-Feb;45(1):14-8.)

Suzanne Sauter, MD 2 December 2009

  1. Vinblastine and prednisone (J. Vet. Internal Medicine. 1999 Sept; 13(5):491-7. J Vet Med Sci. 2006 Jun;68(6):581-7. Vet Comp Oncol. 2008 Jun;6(2):111-9)
  2. CCNU (or Lomustine) and vinblastine (Vet Comp Oncol. 2009 Sep;7(3):196-206.)
  3. CCNU (or Lomustine) and prednisone (J Am Anim Hosp Assoc. 2009 Jan-Feb;45(1):14-


  4. Vinblastine, cyclophosphamide, prednisone (Vet Comp Oncol. 2007 Sep;5(3):156-67.)

All these therapies have some toxicity and adverse events. All seem to improve survival when compared with dogs who received no adjuvant therapy. There is not enough current information to tell if any of these regimens is superior.

In additional to “traditional” chemotherapy, more targeted therapy for mast cell cancer has been developed. These new drugs bind to receptors on the cancer cell and on the blood vessels which feed the tumor. So both the cancer and the blood supply that feeds to cancer is killed. One, toceranib or Palladia, received FDA approval in June 2009 for use in treatment of mast cell cancer in dogs. This is a receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor and should theoretically be superior to other chemotherapy agents. In the one published trial, about 40 % of dogs responded to tocernib. ( Clin Cancer Res. 2009 Jun 1;15(11):3856-65. Epub 2009 May 26.) Of those that responded, one-third had a complete response and two-thirds had a partial response. The drug is administered on an every other day or a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule. The side effects include loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea and bleeding from the digestive tract.

In addition to toceranib, another tyrosine kinase inhibitor has been shown to be effective in the treatment of mast cell disease, masitinib (Masivet) (J Vet Intern Med. 2008 Nov-Dec;22(6):1301- 9. Epub 2008 Sep 24). Masitinib has not received FDA approval as of Decemberr 2009. [Masitinib is also used in humans and is being studies for the treatment of refractory rheumatoid arthritis. It is also being studied for use in other inflammatory diseases and cancer.]

I give my pugs who are diagnosed with mast cell disease diphenhydramine 25 mg and famotidine 5 mg every day twice a day to counter the histamine released from the mast cells. And I continue this for life though there is no published research evidence that this is effective.

Before any biopsy of masses that may contain mast cells, I would recommend talking with you veterinarian about pre-medicating your pug with diphenhydramine (Benadryl) 25 mg and famotidine (Pepcid) 5 mg (or cimetidine, Tagamet) because histamine can be released just from the biopsy procedure. I usually give the medication at home about 30 minutes before the procedure is done.

Cimetidine which blocks histamine 2 or H2 receptors is used primarily for treatment of acid reflux (heartburn) and gastric ulcers since it inhibits stomach acid secretion. It has also been noted to have some anti-tumor properties which included inhibiting metastasis of some cancer cells and well as the growth of cancer cells. ( Int J Oncol. 2006 May;28(5):1021-30.) For a pug, the dose would typically be a 50-100 mg three times a day (usually dosed at 5-10 mg/kg). It is not known if other histamine 2 receptor blockers have a similar anti-tumor activity. Remember no over the counter medication such as cimetidine or famotidine should be given without prior

Suzanne Sauter, MD 3 December 2009

consultation with your veterinarian or veterinary oncologist.

Suzanne Sauter, MD 4 December 2009

About Pugs – General Health

General Pug Health

Obesity: Pugs are so sweet and loving, it can be easy to give in to that and over-treat them. They can act like they’re hungry when they’ve just finished eating. You should watch the type and amount of food your pug is consuming. He should just be able to feel the ribs and the dog should have a waist. It’s also good to read the nutritional labels on the dog food, often cheapest isn’t best when it comes to your best friend’s health. Dog Food Ratings
Pug Dog Encephalitis: A unique disease to pugs this disease is fatal. Research is still ongoing, but there isn’t a test at this time for the disease in live pugs. An inflammatory brain disease that usually shows itself quickly and takes the pug’s life in a few days, there is no treatment. Sufferers will have seizures, circling, blindness, coma and death. There seems to be a genetic component since it appears to run in lines.
Epilepsy: If your pug has a seizure, it may not be Pug Dog Encephalitis. Some pugs have seizure disorders of unknown cause. There are medications to control the frequency and severity of seizure activity.
Kneecap issues: Sometimes the kneecap will slip off to the side rather than sliding up and down as it should. This often causes limping, although it may sometimes appear normal. Surgery may be necessary to correct.
Hip Dysplasia: Second only to bulldogs, pugs can have a deformity to the hip joint which may cause problems. Stemming from heredity, poor nutrition, or simply environment, being a smaller breed pugs can often live normally with this condition (unlike larger breed dogs). This is more commonly seen in overweight pugs.
Eye problems: Pugs’ beautiful big eyes do have tendencies to cause issues. They are susceptible to lacerations, prolapse (popping out of the socket from trauma), and eyelid/eyelash defects. Cataracts are also somewhat common. Dry eye (when the eyes don’t produce enough tear drops to keep the eyes moist) and Pigmentary Keratitis (dark black spots on the cornea or clear part of the eye, especially in the corner near the nose) often occur together. You should see the vet immediately if you suspect these problems and they often need life-long care. You should always keep your pug’s toenails clipped to keep them from scratching their eyes.
Breathing issues: Due to their flat facial features, Pugs are prone to heatstroke and require air conditioning and special care when exercising during hot or stuffy conditions. If your pug seems to snore excessively or gasps for air, you should have your vet check things out. If your pug’s nostrils are pinched or if there are problems with the soft palette the vet will need to possibly perform surgery to correct.
Ears: You should pay special attention, and contact your vet, if you notice any headshaking or if there is redness, heavy discharge, or odor to the pug’s ears. Ears should be cleaned regularly with an earwash.
Soft palate problems: The soft palette is part of the pug’s nose and mouth. If it grows too long it can restrict air getting into the lungs. A sign may be excessive snoring or seeming to choke.
Skin issues: Facial wrinkles must be kept clean and dry. Some pugs are prone to seasonal allergies, a vet checkup to have tests done to find the culprit might be necessary.