Looking at your Pug's short-haired coat, you probably find it hard to imagine that he needs much primping and preening to keep him clean, but even Pugs need some grooming. His ears need to be wiped out, and those Pug wrinkles just scream, "I'm cute but grimy and need a good cleaning." Puggy doesn't need the services of a professional groomer, however; you can handle the job yourself.

Checking ears to help prevent infection

Puggy's cute little fold-over ears make a great hiding place for dirt, grime, and who knows what else. A shoe could even be underneath those ears! Well, maybe a small one, anyway. The one thing you don't want to have inside your Pug's ears is an ear infection. Infections hurt and itch, and your Pug may be scratching and rubbing to alleviate the discomfort. If it's really bad, he scratches them so hard that they bleed! You certainly don't want your Pug to suffer when you can easily take care of the problem with regular cleaning.

Besides good old-fashioned dirt and a buildup of regular ear wax, allergies and other conditions (such as hypothyroidism, overactive adrenal glands, diabetes, or ear mites) can also be the culprits responsible for your Pug's ear infections.

It takes only a minute to flip over the top of one of Puggy's ear flaps to check inside to see whether anything funny is going on in there. You want to see healthy ears, which are slightly pink and not red. Red means trouble and an infection.

With Pug ears, you can sometimes smell a problem before you see it. Your nose picks it up right away. A brown or black waxy buildup down inside the ear canal accumulates and sends off a very earthy, but somewhat nasty, odor. It's your cue to enter your Pug's ear, stage left (or right), and clean up the act.

Check your Pug's ears every day. Doing so helps you catch any problems before they get any worse. You want to make sure that the insides of his ears feel warm to the touch but aren't bright red. A few cleanings can clear up most ear infections within a few days, but you may want to take Puggy to the veterinarian if a problem persists.

If your Pug's ears aren't clearing up, he may have ear mites. These tiny pests live in the ear canal and wreak havoc with their constant irritation. Your veterinarian can prescribe a stronger cleaner for these unlucky creatures. No, ear infections and ear mites aren't contagious to other dogs or people.

Looking into Puggy's ears isn't a one-shot deal. It's a regular doggy job you have to keep repeating if your dog has problem ears. If you let a few days go by without checking his ears, don't be surprised if he's rubbing his ears on the carpet or scratching wildly at them.

Doing regular ear cleanings

Ask your veterinarian to give you a safe ear-cleaning solution to do the job right. Although a few types of ear cleaners are available in a pet food store or through a dog supply catalog, these products usually contain alcohol, which can dry out and irritate your Pug's sweet little ears and make them itch even more.

Here are the steps to follow for cleaning your dog's ears:

1. Using one hand, lift up one of your Pug's ears and, using your other hand, squirt some ear cleaner into the same ear.

2. Place your thumb and forefinger on each side of the base of the ear and press your fingers together a few times, compressing the ear slightly each time.

You should hear a squishing sound. The cleaner is breaking up the waxy debris stuck to the inside of Puggy's ear.

3. Insert a long rectangular piece of rolled cotton — about 6 inches works well — into the ear as far as it can go.

Don't worry about hurting the eardrum. It's located far down his neck, and you can never reach it!

4. With your finger in the middle of the cotton, rotate the cotton around a few times in his ear and draw it out of the ear.

If Puggy's ears are really dirty, the cotton may be a yucky shade of dark brown.

5. Repeat, inserting the cleaner and a new piece or side of the cotton one or two more times, until the cotton comes out clean.

6. Repeat the process with the other ear.

Give Puggy a small food treat to reward him for putting up with this ear invasion!

Don't use cotton swabs, baby wipes, cotton balls, or tissues to clean your dog's ears. These items aren't big enough to absorb all the liquid from the cleaner or get all the debris. In addition, don't go digging inside Puggy's ears with anything other than cotton strips. Anything sharp can hurt his sensitive ears.

If your Pug's ears aren't dirty, then don't clean them! Cleaning without a reason can cause yeast infections.

Maintaining worry-free wrinkles

Part of the Pug's appeal is his wonderful wrinkle factor. Who can resist the V pattern of wrinkles on his forehead? Then there's the irresistible nose roll — the deep fold of skin that lies above his nose. It even wiggles whenever he sniffs. Despite the Pug's physical appeal, keep in mind that taking care of your Pug's wrinkles and nose roll is serious business.

When filled with debris, the wrinkles can make Puggy feel very uncomfortable. Your Pug can be so bothered by the dirty wrinkles that he tries to clean the folds himself by rubbing his head sideways against a door frame. Yuck! Puggy rubbing his face on the carpet? Better check his nose roll.

Clean the nose roll and other wrinkles every day — bath or no bath — to prevent odor. Some Pugs have larger nose rolls than others, but even the smaller ones need to be cleaned regularly.

The best thing to use for cleaning Puggy's nose roll is a damp washcloth. To rid the roll of rank stuff, take these steps:

1. Take Puggy's cheek in your left hand.

2. Lift the folds and look for redness, moist sores, rashes, or musty smells, which may mean infection.

3. Run the damp washcloth through the roll from one side to the other.

Repeat on the other side.

4. To help keep the wrinkles cleaner longer, spread a small amount of earwash onto a gauze square and use it to wipe the wrinkles and folds on your Pug's face and nose clean.

5. Clean the smaller wrinkles under the eyes the same way.

A bald spot or a rash in your Pug's wrinkles means there's a fungus or a staph infection. Chin acne also pops out if the face isn't cleaned. Take Puggy to a veterinarian to know for sure.

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