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What Is Shar-Pei Fever?

How Susceptible Is Your Shar-Pei to This Health Concern?

By Mary Kearl. January 03, 2014 | See Comments

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    PetCareRx Staff Veterinarian

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A Shar-Pei Laying On The Floor Sleeping

Shar-Pei fever is only seen this particular breed, hence the name. Learn what Shar-Pei fever is, and how to take care of your dog.

With a reputation for being an independent yet loving breed, the Chinese Shar-Pei is a great choice for a loyal companion. It’s important to know that they are also at risk for certain health issues, including Familial Shar-Pei fever, also known as swollen hock syndrome. It’s a fever that strikes as often as every few weeks, with intermittent periods of showing no sign of illness. Secondary health issues that can result include kidney failure and liver failure. Nearly a quarter of the Shar-Peis in the United States may be affected by this disease.

Causes of Shar-Pei Fever

The cute heavy folds, creases, and wrinkly-skinned look of Shar-Peis may just be the reason they are more susceptible to recurring fever. Because of a genetic mutation associated with the prevalent skin folds, Shar-Peis bred for this appearance may be more likely have an excessive amount of a skin component known as hyaluronan (HA), a molecule that signals “danger” to a dog’s immune system and triggers inflammation, and as result, episodes of fever, according to a study published in the Public Library of Science journal, Genetics. Breeding practices may have contributed to this, but Shar-Pei breed clubs are following this research, and responsible breeders will be interested in the outcome.

Shar-Pei Fever Symptoms

Dogs experiencing Shar-Pei fever may struggle with the following:

These symptoms may appear as early as puppyhood but may never appear, which is why two seemingly healthy dogs may produce offspring that develop the problem. Dogs that do show these signs should never be bred.

Treating Shar-Pei Fever

If you suspect your pet may be suffering from Shar-Pei fever, visit the vet right away. To determine whether Shar-Pei fever is the cause of your pet’s troubles, your vet will review your dog’s symptoms and may do bloodwork and analyze your pet’s urine, among other tests.

Your vet will offer treatments to manage your pet’s symptoms. If your dog is in pain, NSAIDs may be recommended. A low-protein diet (16 to 20 percent), natural sulfur supplements, and parsley may help. To ease the pain of fever, keep your dog in a cool place and use a damp cloth to wet behind the ears.

If your pup’s immune system has been compromised by symptoms like appetite loss, vomiting, and diarrhea, your animal may have to stay at the vet for more thorough care. For serious issues, like organ failure, your Shar-Pei will be sent to intensive care. Other treatments may include antibiotics, fluids, oxygen therapy, and blood or other transfusions. Unfortunately there is no known cure.

More on The Shar-Pei

Dog Breed Weight Chart
Lifespan of a Dog: A Dog Years Chart by Breed
List of Dog Breeds and Their Common Health Problems

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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Shar-Pei Fever at a glance

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  • 1Twenty-three percent of Shar-Pei dogs in the United States may be affected by this recurring fever.
  • 2Because of their huge, heavy skin folds, Shar-Pei may be more susceptible to this genetic disease.
  • 3Symptoms are frequent fever and a myriad of other painful symptoms.
  • 4There is no known cure for the disease.