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Cleaning Your Pug's Wrinkles

Updated on October 23, 2011

Pugs are adorable dogs with great personalities. But their big, fluffy wrinkles can get dirty and become infected. This isn't a problem for all pugs, but if it affects your pug, you need to be constantly aware of it. You can take your pug to the vet to get his wrinkles cleaned, but those bills add up so you may want to learn to do it on your own, like I did.

My first pug never has any problems with her wrinkles, so I didn't expect it with my second one. When he was about six months old, I noticed him scratching at his face with his paws. When I looked in the wrinkle, a bunch of cruddy stuff had started living in his nose-roll! I learned over the next few years how to keep his rolls clean and healthy with regular cleaning. Below is a tutorial demonstrating my strategy for cleaning my pug's wrinkles.

Not all pug owners do this the same way, and I hope you modify this plan to whatever fits your needs. If your pet is sick, bleeding, or if it's too much for you to handle, call your vet! This tutorial is meant for regular maintenance and taking care of run-of-the-mill itchy nose-roll yuckiness. I am not a vet, and my advice isn't professional or meant to treat any pug illnesses. Remember, there's no shame in seeking help or advice from a vet.

Wrinkle Cleaning Supplies
Wrinkle Cleaning Supplies

Step One

Arrange Your Supplies and Environment

To clean your pug's wrinkles, gather the following supplies:

A box of tissues


A small cup of water

Antibacterial Cream for dogs

A really great treat, one that your pug would never get for anything but wrinkle-cleaning time.

A trashcan

I like to arrange all these things on a side table next to a comfy chair or couch. Make sure you can find a space that works for you.

Clear the room of distractions like kids, other dogs, or the Dog Whisper on T.V. before you start. Make sure you have a half-an-hour of free time and that you won't be interrupted.

Supplies on Amazon

Here are the supplies I used in this tutorial. You can get them here, or at your local grocery store.

Step Two

Get Your Pug

Get your pug and bring him to the wrinkle-cleaning area. I think it's fair to tell him that it's time by saying the same thing every time we go. I tell him "Time to check your face!" in a very friendly voice.

From his expression, it's pretty easy to see that he knows what's happening. He knows he will hate it, but he will get a great treat that none of the other dogs will get.

He gets a part of the treat while we get settled, and the other part goes on the far side of the side table, where I can just barely reach it. (But he certainly can't!)

I like to put him next to me on the couch, right between me and the edge of the sofa. I put my left arm around him so he can't move around a lot or jump off. I use my right hand to do most of the cleaning. Sometimes I'll move my hand to keep his head or neck still.

It's important to find a position where you can hold onto your pug for as long as it takes, even if he wants to wriggle out. You need to find a balance where you don't squeeze the life out of him, but he is secure and still.

Step Three

Visual Inspection

Take a moment to look at your pug's wrinkles. Pull apart the wrinkles gently with your fingers. Look in the crease and see if there is anything that shouldn't be there, stuff like dirt, boogers, unidentifiable gunk, bits of food (saving it for later) crusty tears, or irritated skin. You probably won't be able to see everything, but you can at least get an idea of what you're getting into.

Step Four

Get Those Wrinkles a Little Damp

Dampness is what causes bacteria, but sometimes the gunk that gets in pug wrinkles can get all dry and crusty. We want to make it a little wet so that we can get that loosened, but bear with me. We don't want to leave it damp!

First, wrap a Q-Tip with a tissue. Hold it so you have a grip of the Q-tip and the tissue. Run the Q-Tip one time through your pug's wrinkle, pressing firmly all the way through. (If your pug yips, then lighten up! That's a bit too hard.)

If there is lots of goop and gunk on the Q-Tip after this pass, toss it and use a fresh Q-Tip/tissue combo. My pug only has one troublesome roll, so I usually only do this once. But if it's your first time trying this, or if your pug has a massive double nose-roll, then use a new Q-Tip wherever you think some bacteria might be hiding out.

Yuckies on the Q-tip!
Yuckies on the Q-tip!

Step Five

Wrinkle Clean-up

I know this is all much easier said than done!

During that first bit, your pug wiggled and squirmed and moved his head and may have even jumped out of your lap. Here's where it's important that you put your foot down and finish up. You need to get those wrinkles dry!

Stay calm and be patient while you firmly get him back in place.

Use a new Q-Tip and leave it dry. You can use another tissue or just the Q-Tip. Run it all the way through the wrinkle, once again firmly.Check your Q-Tip for yuckiness. If there is none, then you may want to do it one or two more times to make sure the wrinkle gets totally dry. If it's really yucky, theres goop and crusties, and bits of food, or some of the fur is coming off, then keep using new Q-Tips until they come out clean and the wrinkle is dry.

If it's the first time for you or your pug, or if the wrinkle was pretty much clean, go straight to step seven.

Step Six


Here's the part your pug really won't like. Sometimes I give my pug a little bit of treat for bearing with me to this part.

I've found that using some antibacterial really keeps the ickiness from coming back and I don't have to clean his wrinkles out as often. It also makes his skin less irritated.

Dip a clean Q-Tip in your antibacterial. (I like to screw the top off) Don't worry about the tissue. We want to be very precise. Be very careful not to get it in your pug's eyes, because it will sting! She probably won't like the smell and might want to struggle even if she was previously calm. It might also sting her a little if the skin down there is irritated or raw.

Run the Q-Tip through the wrinkle. Gently now! The goal is to get the ointment as deep into the wrinkle as possible. You can push the antibacterial in with the Q-Tip. Wipe off any excess ointment on the outside of the wrinkle or near the pug's eyes or mouth. (She probably won't appreciate the aftertaste)

Nyum Nums!
Nyum Nums!

Step Seven

Good Job!

Congratulate yourself!

Give your pug the rest of the treat. Tell him he's great. Pet him, praise him, and let him go.

Make sure it's clear in his mind that you are finished and that you let him go.

He didn't make a clever escape.

Get yourself a treat too!

Continue to clean his wrinkles about once a month and do visual checks every week or so to see if he needs it again sooner.

Oh yeah, and give him a hug from me!

Have something to say? Did you like it? Am I an idiot? Anything that doesn't go in Extra Tips goes here!


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      6 years ago

      Thank you for the great lens! My vet suggested DermaPet MalAcetic Otic for cleaning my pugs' ears and wrinkles. It seems to work wonders. Whenever things are starting to look a yucky, a little of this does the trick. :)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      you were right about pugs my first little girl had no problem with her wrinkles, but when I got my little girl, I really didn't think of that until one day he was digging his face and i happened to look and he had a yucky nose. So I started cleaning with a cleanser and an anti-fungal cream, cleared up, but now I know to watch that area. But you had good advice.


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