Shar-Pei Fever

Overview of Shar-Pei Fever

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

Diagnosis of Shar-Pei Fever

Tests to diagnosis Shar-Pei Fever may include:

Treatment of Shar-Pei Fever

Treatment will vary depending on severity of the disorder.

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.

In-depth Information on Shar-Pei Fever

Shar-pei fever is a disorder that resembles familial Mediterranean fever of humans. The initial stages of the disease are characterized by recurrent episodes of fever that last approximately 24 to 36 hours. The first episodes are typically seen in young adult dogs. Roughly half of the dogs also suffer swelling in and around joints, most commonly the hock, which is equivalent to the human ankle joint. Many dogs are lethargic secondary to the fever, and may have a reduced appetite. Even if joint swelling is not seen, dogs may be stiff or lame, and may be reluctant to move. Less commonly, they may have swelling and pain associated with the muzzle, or abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea.

The fevers are believed to be associated with an elevation of a cytokine called Interleukin-6 (IL-6). Interleukin is a substance produced by white blood cells and other cells in the body, which promotes an inflammatory response. Dysregulation of the immune system is thought to be the cause of the elevated IL-6 levels.

IL-6 production leads to production of inflammatory proteins, which in turn leads to production of an abnormal protein called amyloid. Amyloid accumulates in the body and is eventually deposited in multiple organs. The organs most commonly affected include the kidneys and liver. This in turn may result in kidney and liver failure.

Many dogs with a history of recurrent fevers develop kidney failure between the ages of 3 and 5 years. Clinical liver disease is less common, although it has been reported. Dogs in kidney failure may experience weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, increased thirst, and increased urination.

Other diseases may cause clinical signs similar to those seen with shar-pei fever. These include:

In-depth Information on Diagnosis

A history and physical exam are always important to obtain an accurate clinical picture and choose appropriate diagnostic tests. Owners may report previous episodes of illness and fever, since this is a disease that recurs.

Additional tests that may be recommended include:

In-depth Information on Therapy

The main goal of therapy in dogs with shar-pei fever is to reduce the risk of secondary kidney or liver disease in patients suffering from the signs of recurring fever and lameness. In most cases the fever episodes are short-lived and do not cause prolonged illness. Sometimes however, the fevers can be quite high, and may require hospitalization.

Follow-up Care for Dogs with Shar-Pei Fever

Optimal treatment for your dog involves a combination of home and professional veterinary care. Follow-up can be critical, especially if your dog does not rapidly improve.