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Shar-Pei Fever

By: Dr. Erika DePapp

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Shar-pei fever is also referred to as Familial Shar-pei Fever and Swollen Hock Syndrome. The disorder is believed to be caused by abnormal regulation of the immune system and is an inherited disorder.

This is a disease of the shar-pei breed and shar-pei mixes, and can affect either sex. Signs often begin in dogs younger than 18 months, but may be seen in older dogs as well.

Shar-pei fever, as implied by the name, is characterized by recurrent fever episodes. This may be accompanied by inflammation of multiple joints. Dogs with shar-pei fever are at an increased risk of developing kidney failure or significant liver disease later in life.

What to Watch For

  • Lethargy
  • Decreased appetite
  • Recurrent fevers
  • Lameness or stiff gait
  • Swelling of joints, particularly in the hind legs
  • Apparent pain and reluctance to move
  • Swollen muzzle
  • Abdominal discomfort


  • History and physical exam
  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Biochemical profile
  • Urinalysis and urine culture
  • Urine protein/creatinine ratio
  • Blood culture
  • Chest and abdominal x-rays
  • X-rays of swollen joints
  • Joint taps
  • Blood tests for tick-borne disease
  • Immune system tests
  • Kidney or liver biopsy (in certain cases)


    Treatment will vary depending on severity of the disorder.

  • Intravenous fluid therapy and supportive care may be required during fever episodes.

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for pain and lameness.

  • Treatment with a drug called colchicine may reduce frequency and severity of fevers, as well as help prevent future kidney and liver disease.

  • Low protein diet

  • Supportive care for dogs in kidney failure

    Home Care and Prevention

    Give all medications as prescribed by your veterinarian. Monitor your dog's body temperature at home if clinical signs of illness are present.

    Because this is an inherited disorder, affected dogs should never be used for breeding.

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