Familial Shar Pei Fever Symptoms

Shar Pei fever, also known as Familial Shar Pei fever, or Swollen Hock Syndrome, is an hereditary disorder of the Shar Pei. Vets believe that the disease occurs due to abnormal immune function. The disease can greatly increase your dog's chances of developing liver or kidney disease later on. Read on to learn more about this hereditary disorder.

Causes and Risk Factors of Shar Pei Fever

Shar Pei fever occurs in Shar Pei dogs of both genders. Shar Pei mixes can also succumb to this disease. Symptoms appear most often before the age of one and a half years, but they can appear in dogs older than this as well. 

Symptoms of Shar Pei Fever

Shar Pei fever causes dogs to experience frequent bouts of inflammation and fever. More than one joint may be affected during each bout of illness. Dogs with Shar Pei fever may exhibit some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Lowered appetite
  • Frequent bouts of fever
  • Lethargy and depression
  • Inflammation of the joints, especially in the rear legs
  • Stiff movements or lameness, pain with movement
  • Inflammation of the snout
  • Discomfort in the abdomen
  • Diarrhea and vomiting

Episodes of Shar Pei fever usually last from 24 to 36 hours. The most common symptom is swelling of the joints in the rear legs, though dogs may experience pain with movement and stiffness of the joints even without visible inflammation. Vets believe that symptoms occur due to an abnormality in the dog's immune system, that leads to increased production of the white blood cells responsible for inflammation.

Diagnosing Shar Pei Fever

Your vet will need a thorough physical exam and complete medical history in order to diagnose Shar Pei fever. A number of other diseases, including lupus, Lyme disease and rheumatoid arthritis, can cause symptoms similar to those of Shar Pei fever. Your vet may need to perform a wide range of tests to rule out these other causes. Blood and urine tests, X-rays and even biopsies can help your vet determine the true cause of your dog's symptoms.

Treating Shar Pei Fever

Your dog's treatment program will vary, depending on how bad his symptoms are. Your dog may need to be hospitalized during bouts of illness, and may require IV fluids and other supportive therapy. Your vet can prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs to treat join stiffness, swelling and pain.

A low-protein diet can help alleviate the symptoms of Shar Pei fever, and may help make bouts of the disease less frequent and severe. The drug colchicine can help decrease your dog's frequency of symptoms.

In severe cases, Shar Pei fever can cause liver disease and kidney failure. If your dog has experienced kidney failure, he may need dialysis and other forms of supportive therapy. Dietary changes can help dogs with liver disease live longer and experience a higher quality of life.

If your dog has Shar Pei fever, you'll need to keep a close eye on him for recurrence of symptoms. If your dog is experiencing a bout of fever and is not in the hospital, you'll have to take his temperature regularly yourself to make sure it doesn't go too high. Dogs with this disorder should never be bred, since they can spread it to their puppies.