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Familial Shar-Pei Fever

Familial Shar-Pei Fever is a genetic disorder specific to Chinese Shar-Pei dogs, marked by recurrent fever episodes and swollen hocks (the rear part of the leg). Without proper treatment, it can result in abnormal amyloid buildup across the body, potentially causing kidney and liver failure.

Symptoms and Types

  • Fever lasting up to 24-36 hours
  • Loss of appetite (anorexia)
  • Lethargy
  • Dehydration
  • Swollen hocks
  • Weight loss
  • Fluid-filled soft tissue swellings affecting one or more joints
  • Joint and abdominal pain
  • Reluctance to move
  • Hunched posture
  • Rapid breathing (tachypnea)

Causes

Reactive or secondary amyloidosis can be triggered by chronic infections, inflammation, immune-mediated diseases, or cancer. Nonetheless, dysregulation of immune and inflammatory processes is believed to make Shar-Pei dogs more susceptible to this disorder.

Diagnosis

When seeking diagnosis for your dog, it’s important to provide the veterinarian with a detailed history of your pet’s health, including the onset and characteristics of the symptoms. The veterinarian will then conduct a comprehensive physical examination along with tests such as a biochemistry profile, urinalysis, and complete blood count (CBC).

Additional tests may be necessary to exclude or identify the underlying condition causing amyloidosis. These tests may include Ehrlichia and Borrelia serology, Heartworm exams, Coombs’ test, rheumatoid arthritis factor tests, and a clotting profile to help rule out liver disease. Chest X-rays, abdominal X-rays, and ultrasounds are utilized by the veterinarian to detect abnormalities in the liver and kidneys, while an analysis of synovial fluid may reveal acute inflammation.

X-rays of the joints will exhibit soft tissue swelling around the joint without involving the bone. An abdominal ultrasound can assess the consistency of the liver and kidneys. Additionally, if amyloid is depositing in the kidneys, the urine protein-to-creatinine ratio may increase from less than one (normal) to greater than thirteen.

Treatment

The treatment approach will vary depending on the underlying cause of the disorder. Dogs experiencing pain and fever responsive to NSAIDs, for instance, may receive outpatient treatment. Conversely, Shar-Pei dogs displaying symptoms such as anorexia, fever, significant lameness or generalized pain, vomiting or diarrhea, abdominal fluid accumulation, or cholestasis episodes (bile flow blockage in the liver) should undergo inpatient treatment. Dogs experiencing organ failure or suffering from blood clotting issues or portal and renal vein thrombosis require immediate intensive care.

Living and Management

Regrettably, there is no cure for familial Shar-Pei amyloidosis. While therapy may help reduce amyloid deposition, the condition often advances to a stage where medication becomes less effective. Furthermore, due to the genetic predisposition of the disorder, your veterinarian will advise against breeding affected Shar-Pei.

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