As with hearing, vision too can decline with age. Nuclear sclerosis and cataracts are common vision problems in aging dogs. Vision loss can also cause pugs to run into objects such as furniture, injuring their protruding eyes. Signs of vision loss include hesitation at going down stairs, reluctance to move about in darkened rooms, or having problems navigating familiar areas, even in well-lit rooms.
To help your vision-impaired pug get around, scent the furniture with perfume at your pug's nose level. He can use the smell as an olfactory “map” to find his way around. Vision-compromised dogs can also respond well to a sports whistle and can learn to associate various commands with different whistle sounds. A trainer can help you teach this form of communication.
Nuclear sclerosis is the hazing or graying of the nucleus, or center, of the eye's lens. This occurs when new fibers form at the edge of the lens and push inward toward the center and is a normal part of the eye's aging process. Nuclear sclerosis eventually occurs in all dogs. The good news is that it doesn't significantly affect vision, although some dogs may have difficulty with close-up focus on objects.
Cataracts, an opacity of the lens, begin to form at the center of the lens and spread outward. Eventually, the lens becomes entirely opaque and the dog can no longer see. While cataracts are common in old dogs, pugs don't have an increased frequency of cataracts compared to other breeds.
Cataracts can sometimes be removed surgically by a veterinary ophthalmologist, but that's not always feasible or cost-effective. Fortunately, your pug, like most dogs, can adapt to sightlessness quite well by using his senses of smell and hearing. As long as you don't move the furniture around, your pug with cataracts should do just fine. And with his small size, you won't have any difficulty carrying him down the stairs if he's fearful of navigating them on his own.