I learned first hand – or second, if you count our pug Sarah as being first – that the “beautiful, beguiling, bulging eyeballs” (see my January 25, 2016 blog) are at the mercy of a pug’s nasal fold (also called a nose roll). This is a section of skin that wraps around the top and sides of a pug’s nose, just below the eyes. The nasal fold originates from the skin that once covered the long-ago, long-gone long snout that was bred out of the pug breed.
This adult pug has a normal-sized nasal fold.
A large nasal fold is prized by dog show judges. Our Sarah, a dog-show dropout, was born with a nasal fold of wondrous proportions. Unfortunately, a large nasal fold is not such a prize from a pug’s point of view. In fact, it can have a devastating impact on a pug’s ability to see. It’s not that the pug can’t see over the nasal fold – although I suppose that might be possible with some pugs.
This adult pug has a very large nasal fold.
What a big nasal fold definitely may do, because of its size and weight, is to exert pressure on the lower eyelids. This can worsen an existing enropion, a genetic condition where the bottom lids roll inward, toward the eyes.
Entropion of the lower lid that has caused a corneal ulcer (as shown with fluorescein dye staining) Photo and this caption are from: http://www.northwestanimaleye.com/entropion.pml
An entropion can be especially serious when some of the bottom eyelashes already assert their individuality, as Sarah’s did, by growing toward the eye instead of away from it. These errant eyelashes, called distichiae, grow from the inner aspect of the eyelid, behind the normal eyelashes.
This photo shows several distichiae, growing toward the eyeball.
Photo from http://pugs.org/portfolio/dystichia/
In Sarah’s case, the pressure from her impressive nasal fold caused those pesky lower eyelashes to scratch the cornea, the clear covering that protects the iris and the pupil. As a result, by 16 months of age, her corneas already were scarred; unchecked, the scarring could have progressed to blindness. Fortunately, a veterinary ophthalmologist, or animal eye doctor, stopped the progression in its tracks by removing those prickly bottom lashes – along with most of that hallowed nasal fold.
Note the nearly absent nasal fold on Sarah (left) vs. the intact nasal fold on Harley (right). Only the areas affecting Sarah’s eyes were removed; what remains is on top of her nose.
Although we joke that our female pug had to have a facelift before she was 18 months old, the surgery did produce the desired result; over 12 years later, Sarah can still see.
But that’s not all: More about the nasal fold next week….