Health Issues that may effect the Shar-Pei
In general, dogs with any of the following conditions should not be bred.
You want to make sure that the parents of the puppy you may be considering
have been cleared or checked for any of these conditions.
If your veterinarian requires more information about the Chinese Shar-Pei,
send the name and address of your veterinarian (for overseas orders, send
$2.00 in U.S. funds for postage) to:
Jeff Vidt, DVM
210 S. Park Street
Westmont, IL 60559-1940
The Shar-Pei are 1 of 14 breeds that can have this condition. This is where
the eyelid rolls in towards the eye, rubbing against the cornea and irritating
this sensitive structure. Watery eyes, infection, even a corneal ulcer, can
occur. Surgical correction may be required. Dogs with this Primary Entropion
should not be bred, as a genetic component is suspected.
Puppies open their eyes at about 10-14 days of age. In Shar-Pei, this is often
when the first symptoms of entropion appear. Typically the puppies open their
eyes, but quickly they begin squinting and closing them. Often there is a
mucous eye discharge and these puppies usually don't eat well or gain weight
like their littermates. EYE TACKING is a temporary measure in which sutures
(stitches) are placed in the eye lids to roll the lids "out" of the eyeball.
Often this can be done without anesthesia in very young puppies (2-4 weeks of
age). Sometimes gas anesthesia is used. Nylon sutures or surgical staples are
placed in or near the eyelids which opens the eyes. Often an antibiotic eye
ointment is dispensed to help heal any corneal ulcers and prevent secondary
bacterial infections. These sutures are left in place for as long as possible,
up to 4 weeks in some cases. The tacks can be replaced as needed until a
permanent repair procedure can be done. If the sutures loosen up or are
causing problems, they can be removed. Eye tacking can result in permanent
repair of entropian, but its primary goal is to prevent serious eye damage
until the pup is old enough to undergo permanent entropion repair - around 12
months of age or the puppy grows into the excess skin resolving the entropian
issue. Puppies who have their eyes tacked may or may not need permanent
entropion repair later on - there is not much correlation between the two.
ENTROPION IN YOUNG PUPPIES CAN RESULT IN CORNEAL ULCERATION
AND IS A MEDICAL EMERGENCY - SEE YOUR VET IMMEDIATELY!
Permanent ENTROPION SURGERY is often done in Shar-Pei after they reach the
age of 12 months old. This is the age at which most pups are full grown and
have "grown into" their heads. Permanent repair is a surgical procedure that
will result in correction of any structural problem with the eyelids. Its
success depends on the experience and artistry of the surgeon and often times
referral to a veterinary ophthalmologist is recommended. Generally a regular
Vet who is experienced with the breed will serve best. The procedure involves
various techniques to remove excessive eyelid tissue from the lids, tighten
up the eye opening and sometimes remove extra folds of skin around the eyes.
Typically the dogs look worse for a few days after the surgery due to the
swelling that occurs and they often sport an Elizabethan or "lampshade" collar
to protect the sutures. Stitches are usually removed in 7-14 days unless
dissolvable stitches are used.
It should be noted that CSP’s eyes can be very sensitive or allergic to
irritants and their eyes can swell shut due to environmental allergens (dust,
cigarette smoke), this can cause the appearance of entropion but doing the
surgery will not solve the problem. Tracking down the offending allergen and
removing it from the environment will correct the problem. Entropion can also
be cause by stress – commonly referred to as "stress entropion" – this is
again a temporary situation and once the dog is removed from the stressful
situation, the eyes will recover. If their cornea gets a scratch, or if they
bump their eye again the tissue surrounding the eye can swell, causing the eye
to shut, tacking is advised for these situations, as it is a temporary
problem. There are rare incidents where an injury or allergic reaction with
prolonged, sustained swelling can damage the structure of the lid causing
Secondary Entropion. This is not a genetic issue unless there was a
pre-existing Primary Entropion issue. We had one who sustained this after
sustained severe swelling of the face and lids following a severe reaction
to spider toxins.
Cherry eye – protrusion of the third eyelid - is another fairly common problem
in the breed. The gland for the third eyelid becomes unattached and can be
seen a round red blob in the inner corner of the eye. When particularly large
it can in fact obscure the entire eye. Whilst it doesn’t hurt the dog or
affect it in any way it is unsightly and if left untreated can cause problems.
Treatment consists of surgery to place the gland back into place and tie it
down with sutures. This type of surgery is generally very successful though
there are rare occurrences when the gland pops back out. If this should happen
then it is generally recommended that the entire gland be removed. Should the
gland itself be removed then drops have to be put in the dog’s eye for the
rest of its life to prevent what is commonly referred to as "dry" eye. It
should be noted that if one of the glands comes lose, the other eye will also
be affected. Should this happen to your dog it is worth trying to wait an
extra couple of weeks, if possible, to see if the other gland goes so your dog
doesn’t have to go through two doses of anesthesia in a short period of time.
Unfortunately, there is no way "preventive" surgery can be done, the gland
actually has to come out before it can be repaired.
The thyroid glands secrete a hormone which controls the basic metabolic rate
of the entire body. Inadequate hormone levels reset the body to function at a
lower metabolic level. In that case, dogs fatten easily on a normal diet,
become sluggish, and are easily chilled. Hair changes are most noticeable and
include loss of hair from the flanks and back, increased pigmentation of the
skin, scaling and seborrhea (an abnormality in the production of skin cells.)
secondary bacterial infection of the skin is common. The ears may also be
affected, filling with thick, yellow greasy material which may predispose the
dog to ear infections. Blood tests will determine the level of thyroid
function and administration of thyroid hormone can treat the condition.
Thyroid issues in Shar Pei can best be detected by having a 6 panel Thyroid
test run…ideally the blood sample should be sent to Dr. Dodds at Hemopet (see
links page) for the most accurate analysis and diagnosis.
FAMILIAL SHAR PEI FEVER (FSF) *see also article above*
Familial Shar-Pei fever also known as "Swollen Hock Syndrome" (SHS) typically
may include the following symptoms:
Swelling of the hock joint and sometimes other joints can be affected.
Reluctance to move.
Sometimes a swollen painful muzzle.
Abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and shallow breathing.
"Familial Shar-Pei Fever (FSF) is an episodic fever disorder. Shar-Pei with
this disorder have one or more bouts of unexplained fever, usually 103-107
degrees but rare cases may go higher. Fevers usually start when they are less
then 18 months old but sometimes the first attack is not until they are
adults. Fever episodes usually become less frequent with age. Fevers last
24-36 hours in most cases without treatment". The disorder is "thought to
result from an inability to regulate the auto-inflamatory system. Dogs
suffering from this disorder are at risk of dying from a related disorder,
amyloidosis. Dogs diagnosed with FSF/SHS should be maintained on a treatment
protocol (either conventional or homeopathic) as early as possible to help
prevent amyloidosis related organ failure.
Affected Shar-Pei with amyloidosis have an inability to break down chemicals
released in the bloodstream when inflammation results from abnormal deposition
of amyloid protein throughout the body. While not all dogs with Shar-Pei fever
die of amylodosis, when they do, death most commonly occurs between the ages
of 3 and 5 years".
While puppies can fever for a variety of reasons (infection, vaccine reaction
insect bites/stings, reactions to toxins or certain meds) it is important when
there is a fever to diagnose or rule out typical causes. FSF is an UNEXPLAINED
series of fever episodes. If your puppy is given a "definitive" diagnosis of
FSF thru appropriate diagnostic testing to rule out other causes and the
history, clinical signs, it is essential to begin a treatment protocol ASAP to
prevent potentialy deadly complications. For information on conventional
protocols (Colchicine) see Dr. Vidt's & Dr. Tintle's website and for
Homeopathic protocols see Pets 4 Homeopathy website (on our "links" page).
Is where the knee cap slips out of its socket. Any Shar-Pei with this
condition should not be bred.
A dysplastic dog has an abnormal hip joint where the femur and acetabulum are
misaligned. This can range in severity from mild (controllable) pain to dogs
in such agony they must be put down. Make sure the parents of any puppy you
consider has been cleared of Hip Dysplasia through the Orthopedic Foundation
for Animals. (see links page for OFA website for further info)
Megaesophagus and/or diaphramatic or hiatal hernias may or may not be
detected until the dog is much older when they will appear underweight
or emaciated with a history of vomiting. This is a developmental defect
possibly a delayed maturation of the esophageal neuromuscular system.
Primary symptoms to watch for is frequent regurgitation and a history
of upper respiratory infections/pneumonia. Many Vets will not catch this
initially as this is not a common condition, so if you note these symptoms
ask your Vet to check for this specifically.
Mild cases in young dogs can sometimes improve with careful feeding and
management. Extreme cases may require intensive levels of care and feeding.
There are also new techniques being used to treat this, including surgical
repair that, while a relatively new procedure, is showing some very successful
results. For more information on MegaEsophagus and related conditions and
treatment/management options for these see info at the link below.
Canine MegaEsophagus page
MegaEsophagus is thought to be genetic in some cases. Afflicted dogs and close
familial relatives of such should not be bred.
Mucin is the substance in the Shar-Pei skin that causes all the wrinkling. It
is clear and stringy and acts like glue in fight wounds." Some Shar-Pei have
an excess of Mucin causing it to form clear bubbles on the skin that may
rupture and ooze. May be associated with possible allergies and can be treated
by a alternate day steriod therapy. Mucin is what makes Shar-Pei skin wrinkle
and gives them padding on their muzzles and hocks. It is normal for Shar-Pei.
Sometimes excessive mucin bubbles up in the skin, forming vesicles. This is
called cutaneous mucinosis. These vesicles can be fragile and spontaneously
break if the condition is severe or the bubbles of mucin may rupture during
rough play, etc., causing the sticky substance to ooze out. It is normally not
a problem for the dog. If it is excessive, e.g. causing much spontaneous
rupture followed by healing scabby areas or if the skin is tearing frequently,
the production of mucin can be shut down by low dosages of prednisone or other
corticosteroids. Usually very low doses of alternate day prednisone result in
dramatic improvement. If it is not bothering the dog, I would not treat it
because corticosteroids are not without risk. Sometimes Shar-Pei will “lose”
their muzzles because of steroids administered medically or because they are
stressed by fever or illness and their own body’s production of cortisol by
the adrenal glands will cause the mucin to “shrink”. Usually, they will return
to normal with time but sometimes they never regain their old appearance.
Many have used the supplement MSM to successfully manage mucinosis, this of
course is preferable to steroids. Mucinosis frequently occurs on the neck,
forelimbs, shoulder area, hocks and about the anus. Many individuals have had
good success using MSM (supplement) for managing mucinosis outbreaks.
Mucinosis is a symptom of overproduction of hyaluronan.
Being one of many deep chested breeds, bloat can occur in Shar-Pei. Although
similar to colic in horses, "bloat and torsion occur when the stomach swells
with gas and then twists and cuts off its blood supply. Without timely
surgical intervention the condition is fatal". The dog must see a veterinarian
as soon as possible.
CHRONIC INFLAMATORY BOWEL DISEASE
Often complicated by food allergies and or Chronic stress diarrhea. Usually
responds to a strict hypoallergenic diet.
In regard to cancer, several forms have a high incidence in the breed. At
present, the CSPCA is surveying club members to determine which are most
prevalent. Once isolated, the organization's Charitable Trust plans to fund
relevant cancer research.
Inhalant allergies are not uncommon in dogs. The symptoms generally
express themselves in hair loss, intense itching and infected ears,
watery/irritated eyes, clear nasal discharge, the skin between the toes of
the feet might well be swollen and red. Allergies are caused by an
overreaction of the immune system and again can be split into two groups,
acquired and inherited. Acquired allergies show up in a mature dog which
previously never had any problems. Trying to find the offending substance can
be like searching for a needle in a haystack, various allergy tests are
offered and can be either by the traditional "skin scrape" method or by blood
tests. The blood test is mostly used in an attempt to track food allergies, it
is not a terribly reliable test, but it is useful in indicating what direction
to go in. The "skin scrape" is similar to the kind of testing done in people.
Food allergies, whilst hard to track down are pretty rare also relatively easy
to treat - the offending food substance is removed from the dog's diet. The
best way to prevent food allergies is to feed your dog a high quality, PREMIUM
dog food, (without soy, corn or wheat). Or feeding a natural diet (RAW or
homecooked that is grain free). This is the same for a food intolerance. A
food intolerance is common when we feed significant amounts of inappropriate
foods for a specific species…like grain based foods to dogs.
Inhalant allergies are, for the most part, impossible to eliminate but often
can be treated/managed. Inhalant allergies are generally worse in the
and fall when pollen, molds and seeds are abundant. Antihistamines may help
control the symptoms. As with people, it is possible to get "allergy" shots
for dogs which might help to alleviate some of the symptoms.
Inherited allergies will generally show up in a much younger dog, sometimes as
young as three months but nearly always by the time a dog has turned a year.
Again dogs with inherited allergies should NEVER be bred. The treatment for
dogs with inherited allergies is the same as for those with acquired.
Another very common cause of skin problems are fleas. Many dogs are very
sensitive to the saliva of the flea and some are highly allergic. Symptoms are
mild to intense itching and scratching; it can take only one bite to set a
severely sensitive or allergic dog into ripping its skin apart. The best
solution for fleabite sensitivities/allergies is PREVENTION. These days there
are some excellent flea preventives available, both Frontline and Advantage
are highly recommended, Program is another method, however this particular
method does not actually kill the fleas that are biting your dog but
sterilizes them so they can’t re-produce. If fleas are a problem you also have
to treat the environment your dog lives in by removing fleas from your house
and yard and treat the environment repeatedly as new eggs hatch. Diatoms are a
natural solution that we advise to destroy flea eggs in the environment (home