Dental disease is a serious problem in most older dogs, especially in toy breeds. Dental disease has even been described as the scourge of the old pug. Because pugs have underbites — the lower jaw is longer than the upper jaw — they often develop a heavy buildup of plaque and tartar.
When dental disease goes untreated, the mouth becomes a breeding ground for bacteria, which can enter the bloodstream and go on to infect organs such as the heart or kidneys. After a cleaning, your veterinarian may prescribe a course of antibiotics to help prevent bacterial infections.
Preventive dentistry throughout your pug's life is important. Keep his mouth healthy by brushing teeth regularly, encouraging play with chew toys, giving hard biscuits to help chip off tartar, and scheduling annual or as-needed veterinary cleanings. Signs of dental disease include bad breath, tartar buildup on teeth (that hard brown stuff you may see coating them), and inflammation of the gums. If your pug is picking at his food, his teeth may hurt. Take him in for a veterinary cleaning or, if that's not possible, moisten his dry food or switch to canned food.