At our Beech House Surgery in Warrington, we have developed an interest in the Shar Pei breed and are actively working with breeders to promote responsible breeding.
Shar Pei dogs are unlike any other breed so therefore need to be treated in a different manner to other dogs. Key areas which we have veterinary experience of the Shar Pei breed are –
1. Eye surgery, tacking and entropian
2. Ear problems and surgery
3. Skin problems
4. Foot problems
5. Shar Pei fever/Shar Pei syndrome
6. Breeding, caesareans, mating and fertility
7. Gastrointestinal problems
8. Orthopaedic problems and surgery
Eye Problems in Shar Pei Dogs
Many Shar Pei puppies have their eyes tacked under gaseous anaesthetic at 2 weeks of age. The two main benefits of this are:
1. Treat and prevent ulceration of the eye
2. Create a band of scar tissue under the skin which helps prevent entropian at an older age. This also helps if surgery is required on the eyelid after one year of age.
Entropian is the folding in of the upper or lower lid so that the eyelashes scratch the surface of the eye.
The tacks are removed at 5-6 weeks of age. If puppies have eyelid problems and are older than 8 weeks and less than one year then they will require the tacks to be placed under general anaesthetic. These are left in as long as possible and if the eyelids still have problems after one year of age then surgery to remove a strip of skin is performed to give a permanent solution to the eyelid problem. Surgery is not recommended before one year of age as the skin grows a lot in that period.
Ear Problems in Shar Pei Dogs
Shar Pei’s frequently suffer from infections or canker. There are two main reasons for this:
1. Allergic skin disease or eczema down the ear canal which provides a warm moist environment which is perfect for bacterial and yeast infections.
2. The shape of the ear canal. All dogs have a very long ear canal with a horizontal and vertical component. In the Shar Pei the vertical ear canal which is about one inch long is often only a quarter of the diameter of a similar sized dog. The horizontal canal is generally a similar size to other dogs. This narrowing of the ear canal combined with skin disease often leads to repeated and prolonged infections. Understanding this difference in anatomy is important for treatment as surgery can make a major difference to the long term outcome of this condition.
Skin problems in Shar Pei Dogs
The Shar Pei dogs are prone to skin disease (eczema/atopy/allergic skin disease). There are various reasons for this:
1. High incidents of demodex or demodectic mange
2. Sensitive to proteins in the food that they eat which can manifest as skin inflammation (food allergies)
3. Short hair which tends to predispose them to skin problems
4. Allergies to common environmental contaminants such as dust mites, storage mites, grasses and pollens
5. Wrinkles which provide a moist and warm environment for yeast and bacterial proliferation
The treatment of skin problems depends on the underlying cause, the duration of the problem, the location of the problem and the severity of the problem. Treatment tends to consist of any or all of the following:
Allergy testing and desensitisation (allergy vaccines)
Immune mediating medication
Sprays and ear drops
Foot Problems in Shar Pei Dogs
Shar Pei’s often present licking and chewing at inflamed feet. The underlying causes are similar to those of ear and skin problems. The treatment may differ as it is only localised to the foot so topical treatments may be more appropriate.
Shar Pei Fever/Shar Pei Syndrome
Shar Pei fever is a very emotive topic amongst Shar Pei breeders and Shar Pei owners. We have dealt with 4 to 5 Shar Pei dogs per day for the past 5 years. We have seen dozens (if not hundreds) of Shar Pei dogs presented with a fever often very high and often more in the younger dog. Some of these dogs have swelling of the subcutaneous tissue around the hocks and carpus. Many of these dogs have other conditions at the same time such as ear or skin infections.
These dogs tend to respond to medication very quickly and their temperature will often go down within hours.
We are yet to see a Shar Pei dog die from renal disease associated with amyloidosis. Our thinking is that Shar Pei dogs are very prone to high spike fevers and then can develop swelling of the legs due to the nature of the subcutaneous tissue in the breed. These fevers can often be explained by pre-existing infection. Shar Pei fever or syndrome which leads to kidney disease is uncommon in our experience.
Gastro-intestinal Problems in Shar Pei Dogs
Gastro-intestinal problems such as vomiting and diarrhoea can often arise when a Shar Pei is sensitive to food. They can also be prone to IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) colitis and diarrhoea, therefore the choice of food is important for gastrointestinal issues and skin issues.
Breeding Shar Pei Dogs
We offer a full service including pre-mating, progesterone and swabs, ultrasound scanning and pregnancy diagnosis and fertility issues and obstetric help and caesareans if needed. For more information about our reproduction services visit our Canine Reproduction Service website.
Orthopaedic Problems in Shar Pei Dogs
The most common orthopaedic problem with Shar Pei dogs is a dislocating patella (kneecap) but this can be fixed with surgery. Hip dysplasia is not common but does occur and can be identified by x-rays. This is best carried out between 6 – 8 months. If x-rays are needed for hip scores this has to be carried out after one year of age.
Shar Pei’s do not behave like other dogs. Most dogs, when taken away from the owners, will behave better – the opposite is often true of Shar Pei’s. They do not like being approached from above and respond badly to being pulled with a slip lead, a harness is often a better form of restraint. We will often sedate dogs if needed while the owner is present to prevent any undue stress.