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What is Familial Shar-Pei Fever?

Familial Shar-Pei Fever (FSF) dogs are in a constant state of inflammation. Recurrent fever and pain, accompanied by tibiotarsal joint (hock) swelling occur as random events. In some cases, the muzzle may become enlarged as well. The fevers range between 103 - 107F (39.4 - 41.7C) and last 12 to 36 hours without treatment. It must be noted that your dog will require emergency treatment if the fever reaches 106F or higher. Do not delay contacting a qualified veterinarian if your Shar-Pei has a fever that is climbing rapidly. Amyloidosis is a definite concern, and must be diagnosed in early stages, due to the risk of kidney failure.

Surveys show that 23% of dogs of the Chinese Shar-Pei breed are known to have Familial Shar-Pei Fever. The syndrome is an inherited autosomal recessive condition, with episodic fever and swelling of the hock as the two main characterizations. This condition must be treated by a veterinarian in order to avoid or minimize the effects of amyloidosis, a serious complication of the syndrome.

Familial Shar-Pei Fever Average Cost

From 32 quotes ranging from $500 - $3,000

Average Cost

$1,100

Symptoms of Familial Shar-Pei Fever in Dogs

As the owner of a Shar-Pei, it is important for you to know that not all dogs of this breed will develop FSF. However, if your pet has a fever and swollen joints, it is highly recommended to visit the veterinarian promptly in order to investigate the reason for the illness. Other symptoms that may accompany an episode of Familial Shar-Pei Fever are as follows:

  • Swollen, painful muzzle
  • Swelling in wrists and lips, which may feel hot
  • Reluctance to move
  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Shallow breathing
  • A stance that shows obvious discomfort, such as an arched back

If your pet has developed amyloidosis, (which is a complication in about 5% of Shar-Pei’s who have FSF) you will see the additional symptoms of:

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Vomiting
  • Halitosis (bad breath)
  • Loss of appetite
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Causes of Familial Shar-Pei Fever in Dogs

Familial Shar-Pei Fever usually begins to present symptoms in dogs around the age of 18 months, but it is not unusual for the onset of the disease to occur in adulthood. In dogs with early onset of FSF, the episodes can become less frequent with age. The cause of FSF is various genetic factors:

  • A genetic defect in the immune system can lead to an overactive immune response.
  • The mutated genes upset the regulation of inflammatory chemical messengers in the body.
  • A genetic mutation resulting in excessive wrinkles, causing overproduction of hyaluronan, which can deregulate normal inflammatory processes (fever, redness and swelling). This means, in general, that dogs with extra wrinkling are suspected to be more apt to have FSF.

Pets with FSF can develop the secondary complication of amyloidosis; the cause for this being that Shar-Pei dogs who have the fever syndrome will have increased serum concentrations of interleukin-6, which stimulates the production of amyloid protein (known to be associated with inflammatory disease).

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Diagnosis of Familial Shar-Pei Fever in Dogs

To begin, the veterinarian will perform diagnostic tests to rule out other illnesses by exclusion. Checking for tick-borne diseases is common, along with testing for autoimmune disorders. Urinalysis and blood chemistry will be included.

Unfortunately, at present there are no DNA blood tests definitive to FSF. Studies are currently underway with the hopes of developing a screening method. Blood test results will show an increased white cell count and a hike in liver enzymes during a fever episode. Further blood tests may show the following issues:

  • Neutrophilia
  • Monocytosis
  • Hypercholesterolemia
  • Hypomagnesemia
  • Hyperglobulinemia
  • High blood platelet count

A Shar-Pei with Familial Shar-Pei Fever should automatically be red flagged for the possibility of amyloidosis occurrence. Upon examination, the veterinarian may see oral ulcerations, dehydration, and pale mucous membranes. If your dog is in the advanced stages of amyloidosis, further testing will show the following:

  • Proteinuria (high levels of protein in the urine)
  • Low albumin in the blood
  • Fluid retention
  • X-ray and ultrasound may show abnormalities of the kidneys and liver

Biopsy of organs may be done to determine the extent of the disease, but this is not without risk to your pet.

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Treatment of Familial Shar-Pei Fever in Dogs

Keeping your dog’s fever down is paramount to this illness. Aspirin may be given upon recommendation of the veterinarian. Be careful to administer only the amount prescribed. Aspirin may be given for several days in order to combat the fever, and to prevent a rebound of symptoms.

If your pet is in the midpoint of a severe episode, IV support may be required. Anti-inflammatories will be given if pain is noted. Your pet is at risk for a septic-like shock with an extremely high fever, accompanied by necrotic skin sloughing associated with the mucin found in Shar-Pei skin, which could signal an infection at this time as opposed to a fever event. All of the above point to the importance of keeping the veterinarian involved in the care of your Shar-Pei. At any time, if your Shar-Pei is showing signs of unusual behavior, a veterinarian visit is in order. This is stated because some dogs may not display the symptoms of FSF, but still have amyloidosis which can eventually mean kidney or liver failure.

Colchicine is the treatment of choice for dogs with FSF because it has been known to reduce the frequency and severity of fevers, and can help to prevent amyloidosis. (It is interesting to note that colchicine is used on humans with the illness Familial Mediterranean Fever to prevent and treat amyloidosis.) This drug will be prescribed daily.

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Recovery of Familial Shar-Pei Fever in Dogs

Any Shar-Pei, who has FSF, should be monitored with regular urinalysis (to check creatinine level), CBC and chemistry profile. It is important to consistently monitor blood pressure and body weight. Consistent high fever can produce a loss of wrinkles ( due to lack of production of hyaluronan). Prednisone is sometimes used to treat mucin issues.

Colchicine must be continued as a preventative of amyloidosis and a treatment for recurring fever events.

A high-quality diet is necessary, which can be determined by you based on your observations of your pet’s dietary health. It is critical to keep in mind that your Shar-Pei should have a diet that includes minerals, glucosamine, hyaluronan, and vitamins for optimal health and nutrition. Some Shar-Pei may benefit from a low carb and grain free diet. Omega 3’s are important, as are lecithin and probiotics.

Stress is known to bring on episodes of Familial Shar-Pei Fever. Excessive exercise, illness or boarding situations, for example, can lead to a fever event.

If your Shar-Pei is suffering from kidney or liver failure due to amyloidosis, supportive care is available. The long-term prognosis is not favorable due to the organ damage caused by this complication.

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Familial Shar-Pei Fever Average Cost

From 32 quotes ranging from $500 - $3,000

Average Cost

$1,100

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Familial Shar-Pei Fever Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

dog-name-icon

Angus

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Shar Pei

dog-age-icon

2 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Fever, Lethargic.

We are at a week with fever ranging between 104-105. He has had a battery of tests, on two antibiotics, meloxicam, antacid and colchicine. He has eaten a little and had sub q fluids twice. He was hospitalized for two nights with iv meds and fluids and still the same. He has not had the traditional swollen hocks either. White count is up but everything else is fine. We are stumped and frustrated!

Aug. 14, 2018

Angus' Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

I"m sorry that is happening to Angus, it can be very frustrating when our pets are not getting better. It seems that your veterinarian has treated him with appropriate medications, and it might be time to see a specialist for him. Your veterinarian can recommend an internal medicine specialist for you - hopefully that will help resolve his problem.

Aug. 14, 2018

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Rico

dog-breed-icon

Shar Pei

dog-age-icon

3 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Pain
Shaking

Adopted my shar-pei in July. This morning upon waking my son was petting him and he lunged and growled-scared both of us. I yelled at him and put him outside where he just stood and I noticed he began shaking as if he was cold. He stood in the same spot in the yard without moving even when I called him to come in. Finally was able to get him to come, I pet his head and he yelped in pain. Acting very weird, wouldn't take a treat, just standing and starting. Can tell he isn't feeling well. I am scared to touch him or even attempt to take a temp for shar-pei fever. I was able to help him on to a bed and get him as comfortable as I could. Advice?

March 20, 2018

Rico's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

You should visit your Veterinarian for an examination to determine the specific cause and to get Rico treatment; fever and joint pain (with or without swollen hocks) is characteristic of familial shar-pei fever. There is no management options to do at home so a visit to your Veterinarian is a must. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

March 20, 2018

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Cali

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Shar Pei

dog-age-icon

5 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargy
Limping
Lack Of Appetite

Adopted our Cali 6 months ago. She is 5 to 6 years old. Has shown no symptoms of any illness until this morning. Completely lethargic, refusing to eat, limping/ refusing to walk on back right leg. She cried/yelped when my husband touched it. Taken immediately to the vet. Vet said it was an infection. She had fever of 105. Given a shot of Ampicillin and put on AmoxiClav and Carprofen. 8 hours later she is walking no limp, eating/drinking, and went on a short walk. I trust my vet just worried this is Shar Pei fever and not an infection. How do I tell?

March 15, 2018

Cali's Owner


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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

Whilst the symptoms match familial Shar-Pei fever, we generally see other symptoms like swollen hocks, increased thirst, increased urination and other symptoms as well as Cali being towards the upper end of the age range for this condition (but it is still a possibility). You should give medication as prescribed by your Veterinarian and continue to monitor Cali for the time being; if there is no recurrence of fever, limping or lethargy you shouldn’t be concerned, if there is a recurrence visit your Veterinarian again. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

March 15, 2018

I own 3 sharpeis and when that happens only to Nahla one of my females i give her an anti-inflammatory pill, that's what i do it helps right away appease the pain and she is well in no time.

April 2, 2018

Ali R.

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Bella

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Shar Pei

dog-age-icon

2 Years

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Shaking
Fever
Limping
Off Food
Sick
Diherea

We have had our Shar Pei Bella only four days brought from private seller was told she is healthy 2years old but upon arriving home she had diaherea sickness the shakes hot too ouch won’t move of her bed refusing food and water and when sh does move she is limping on one back leg could this be Shar Pei fever

March 2, 2018

Bella's Owner


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3320 Recommendations

This may be Familial Shar-Pei Fever or the symptoms may be due to another condition like an infection, without examining Bella I cannot say what the specific cause is; you should take Bella to a Veterinarian for an examination to make a diagnosis and to ensure that she receives the right treatment. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.cliniciansbrief.com/sites/default/files/attachments/Familial%20Shar-Pei%20Fever.pdf

March 2, 2018

I have a 10 y/o female sharpei who is barely experienced swollen hocks with fever. Should she have gotten this when she was younger younger?

July 29, 2018

Jennifer F.

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Louis

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Shar Pei

dog-age-icon

5 Years

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Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Hair Loss, Hot To Touch, Diarrhoea

Hi, I'm paranoid my shar pei may have sharvpei fever. Louis was 5 in December and he's recently lost a lot of hair on his chest at the front and the tops of his legs. His skin is very hot to touch and his afternoon stools are always diarrhoea. After researching symptoms he doesn't seem to be in any pain. He misses a step now and then and he doesn't have swollen hocks. Am I worrying for no reason? Thank you.

Feb. 20, 2018

Louis' Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Thank you for your email. While Louis doesn't necessarily sound like he has Sharpei fever, if he is losing hair and having diarrhea that often, it would probably be a good idea to have him examined by a veterinarian, regardless, as those are treatable conditions. I hope that all goes well for him!

Feb. 20, 2018

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Winston

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Shar Pei

dog-age-icon

7 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Shaking
Panting
Swollen Hock
Wheezing
Bloated

My shar pei is 7.5 years old and has suffered from swollen hocks before but nothing like we have been dealing with this time. On day one I noticed Winston shaking suddenly while laying on his bed at night. That was quickly followed by excessive panting, slight wheezing, and his right hock became extremely swollen. Within 2 hours we were at the emergency after hours vet where he continued to display the same signs and started to lift his right back leg up. It appeared that he would almost hold his breath for a split second - his stomach would go in - he would lift his paw off the ground, then release it and continue to pant and shake. He was also drooling and his purple tongue was spotted with pink. (We know that Winston, and most shar peis, are not big fans of the vet so the stress of just going there could of caused the drooling and tongue discolouration) His poop also turned from being solid to diarrhea within this time. The vet examined him, gave him a shot of methadone (sedation), completed a stomach AFAST ultrasound, and sent us on our way with pain medication. We were prescribed gabapentin and tramadol and told to follow up in the morning as she was mostly concerned about his leg. Winstons shaking and panting had subsided and he slept the majority of the night due to the meds. Our regular vet has years of specialized treatment with shar peis so we were going to see him for a second opinion regardless. On day two we took Winston to his doctor who reviewed the work of the ER visit and was pretty confident he had FSF. Our doctor told us he was happy with the medication we were given but also wanted us to start metacam, an anti-inflammatory given orally. He also advised us to call him with 48-72 hours with an update and at that time would determine if more testing needed to be done. We took Winston home and have been monitoring him closely ever since. Winston has not been eating his kibble since the first night and his poop is still not solid. He was not interested in treats or cheese either but we had to get his meds into him somehow. It’s now day three and he has still not eaten, or pooped, but he will entertain treats and water. He sleeps constantly because of the meds but the swelling in his hock has gone down a bit. We went for a small walk today too and he showed some energy. We’re hoping he’s back to his normal self tomorrow.

dog-name-icon

Shadow

dog-breed-icon

Shar Pei

dog-age-icon

7 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Back Legs, Fever

Our 7 1/2 yr old beautiful black Shar Pei dog has been very healthy all her life, been on grain free since she was a pup and very fit. Friday night she was playing with my son and his friend. Sat morning she was limping on her left leg but still putting weight on it - we thought she had stepped/landed wrong, no other symptoms. By Sat night she was laying around and not doing much, but eating and drinking okay. Sunday morning her legs were both swollen to the point of splitting open so we took her to the ER right away. She had 104 temp and sensitive to touch. They said she had Shar Pei Fever and gave her Metacam for pain/inflammation and antibiotics in pill form and sent her home. She ate some during the afternoon, but by 6 pm she was not eating or drinking anymore. We waited in the ER for over an hour with a cool blanket on her. She took her last breath at 8:30 before they had a chance to give her IV's or further treatment. Within 48 hours she went from our funloving girl to a lifeless dog laying on her favorite blanket. She has never had anything like this before so we were totally unprepared to lose her so suddenly. We were never told to give her cool baths, but I did use wrapped ice packs on her and cool towels to cool her down, but the fever never broke. Please educate vets on how to treat Shar Pei Fever better because I think we could have had a better outcome if there was better education on this deadly disease.

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Madison

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Shar Pei

dog-age-icon

10 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Shaking
Fever
Loss Of Appetite
Swollen Hocks

I've had my SharPei, Madison since she was a puppy. Not from a breeder, she was an "oops" that was going to be put in a shelter before I adopted her. She turned 10 this November and has always been in good health. In the past 9 months she's had two bouts of FSF. First time it happened I assumed it was that just because I had read up on it. I could tell her back legs were bothering her, she didn't want to eat and she felt warm. Took her temp and it was a bit over 104. I called my vet, she got to me about 6 hours later and by then Madison's fever had broke and she was back to her normal self....hocks still a bit swollen. I just applied cool washcloths to her head and paws. That's all it took. As a preventative, vet told me to give her 3/4's of an aspirin every 12 hours for the next 3 days. This last time (2 days ago) I came home from work and noticed the same symptoms. I immediately took her temp and it was around 104. Gave her the aspirin, started w/ the washcloths again and called my vet. She said if it got to be over 104.5 I should take her to the ER. Mads seemed to be turning a corner, had stopped trembling as bad, even ate a little piece of cheese but oh boy....took her temp again and it was 105.8. I'm convinced my heart stopped. I carried her to car and went right to the ER vet. Since I had already given her aspirin the only thing they could really do was start her on fluids. Took a CBC/blood chem and THANK GOD all her stuff came back good, no liver/kidney damage. They started her on chilled IV fluids around 8pm at 10 her temp was down to 104 and by midnight it was 102.7, 2am 102.1 and that's where it stayed at 6am. $600 later they sent me home at 7:30 with 5 days worth of Carprofen and that was that. No one seems to be able to give me an answer as to if she should be on something daily as a preventative. I've read myself into confusion online. I know she's 10 and I probably don't have that much longer with her, but if I can do anything at all to keep her here with me longer? I'm going to. If colchicine is the answer then I don't care what the cost is. I get that FSF is probably a very understudied disease, but us Pei owners need to know what the heck to do!!!! I'm sure most of us can't afford $600 ER visits every time an attack happens. I did take a look at this and it was pretty informative. Just an FYI http://wvc.vetstreet.com/familial-shar-pei-fever

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Henry

dog-breed-icon

Shar Pei

dog-age-icon

8 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Redness
Thirsty
Discharge
Swollen Hocks

Our boy is 8 years old, and has suffered for years. We used to speed him to the vets in panic every time, until someone said about a small dose of aspirin. As time's got on, his bouts have become more frequent, but less severe. However, more recently, his hocks leak badly. Currently leaking a pink fluid, causing him distress. Has anyone had something similar, and what it may be/can be treated?

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RoxC

dog-breed-icon

Shar Pei

dog-age-icon

27 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Increased Body Temperature

Our 2 year old female shar pei (RoxC) had three episodes when she was less than 6 months old and has been taking colchicine ever since. She has not had another event. Would it be safe to take her off colchicine?

Familial Shar-Pei Fever Average Cost

From 32 quotes ranging from $500 - $3,000

Average Cost

$1,100