Cleaning a Pug’s Nasal Fold (or “Nose Roll”)

Today, I’ll give step-by-step instructions on how to clean a pug’s nasal fold, or as it’s sometimes called, a nose roll. This area must be cleaned regularly, all the way down to the bottom, where it’s dark and damp – just what bacteria and yeast look for when they peruse the real estate ads for a place to raise their families. If those nasty bugs move in, they do not make good tenants: They can do a lot of damage to their living quarters, and can cause nasty skin infections.

In last week’s post (Feb. 1, 2016) I wrote about Sarah’s having most of her nasal fold surgically removed, along with her errant eyelashes, because of damage to her eyes. Although her nasal fold is nearly gone – along with a large chunk of change for her surgery – I still must clean the valleys from which her mountainous fold was excavated; these valleys remain a haven for germs. Because Sarah doesn’t have a real nasal fold to show you, Charlie (below), a former foster dog from Pug Rescue of North Carolina, will model how the cleaning is done.

17-1 Charlie model

Before you start, choose the item you’ll use for cleaning, and have it handy. A number of things can be used, e.g., cotton balls, cotton-tipped swabs, a thin washcloth (laundered daily), or unscented baby wipes (perfumes may irritate the dog). Dog eye wipes also work; they’re safe for the skin, and handy if you’re cleaning the dog’s eyes at the same time, but they’re the most expensive option. I often use white cotton gloves because I wear these at night, so old (laundered) ones are always available. Some suitable items are shown here:

17-2 cleaning supplies

The process for cleaning the nasal fold (or, in our pug Sarah’s case, the valleys left after its surgical excavation) has three steps:

  1. Examine the nasal fold, all the way down to the bottom.
  2. Clean the area with wet material until the material comes back clean after wiping.
  3. Finally, dry the area.

Let’s look at each step:

To examine the nasal fold, spread it apart with your fingers so you can see the bottom. Look at it and sniff it. If the skin is red, raw, or swollen, or if it smells bad, it may be infected; call your veterinarian if you’re unsure. If it gets worse or is not getting better in a day or so, a call to the vet definitely is in order; sometimes an antibiotic is needed.

Charlie cooperates when I examine his nasal fold (below), but you may need to use two fingers, or have someone available to hold the pug’s head the first time you do this.

17-3 Charlie nasal fold light


To clean the area: If using a cloth, wet it with warm water and wrap part of it over your finger. Do not use alcohol; it may sting the dog’s sensitive nose, and it dries out the area too much.

Below, I wrap a thin, wet washcloth around my finger.

17-4 finger in cloth


Then I wipe the bottom of Charlie’s nasal fold from one side to the other (below). Charlie seems to enjoy this.

17-5 Charlie cleaning


If the cleaning item comes up dirty  (and it may be even dirtier than the cloth below), repeat the process with a clean section of the wet cloth.

17-6 Dirty washcloth crop


Continue the process until the cloth comes back clean (below).

17-7 clean washcloth crop


Then, gently wipe the area dry, e.g., with a dry part of the washcloth (as I do below) or a fresh cotton ball. Leaving the area damp invites germs or yeast to move in and multiply.

17-8 dry Charlie

I clean our pugs’ nasal folds daily, usually after breakfast, when their faces are messy anyway. It’s amazing how much gunk can gather in 24 hours!

If a pug rubs his face against walls, carpeting, or anything else, he may be signalling that his nasal fold needs cleaning. When we first brought Sarah home, she alerted us to this need: She smeared brown goop from her nasal fold onto the corners of the walls – and then she happily licked off the offensive substance. (Food hog that she is, she probably was disappointed when I started cleaning the stuff off her nasal fold before she could rub it onto the walls and snack on it.)

Nasal fold cleaning also is part of the care for our foster pugs. Two foster pugs and two Harrington pugs are shown below.

17-9 Maija & 4 pugs


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