I ruined a very nice lady's night on Tuesday. She came in with her 3 month (!) old SharPei puppy. They are inarguably the cutest puppies in the world. The breed is also considered one of the, if not THE, most high-maintenance breeds one can own. They have myriad health problems that are guaranteed throughout life including terrible dermatological issues, entropion (rolled in eyelids), amyloidosis (deposition of abnormal protein throughout the organs), and a waxing/waning fever syndrome called familial SharPei fever.
This lady brought in "Snuggles" because he had a fever (103.6), his face and legs were swollen, and he was painful and reluctant to walk or lie down. All of these findings are very consistent with familial SharPei fever (FSF).
No one knows what causes this condition, but it leads to fever episodes throughout the dog's life. The body temperature can go as high as 106 degrees. Further the joints, particularly the hock joints, will become swollen and very painful. Treatment is non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, rest, and time. Most dogs are started on a drug called colchicine. This is used to treat familial Mediterranean fever in humans, which is similar to FSF. It is not a pain medication but does stop the formation and deposition of abnormal protein (as occurs in amyloidosis). For some reason that we don't understand, amyloidosis and FSF are linked together in this breed.
I was once listening to Click-N-Clack on NPR, and they were joking about Isuzu Troopers. They claimed that if an auto body shop had 1 or 2 Isuzu Troopers, the success of that shop was guaranteed (i.e. Troopers are high maintenance pieces of crap). Well, the SharPei is the dog equivalent of the Trooper.
The moral of this story? Do not buy SharPeis from internet breeders! Research the breed you are interested in BEFORE committing and becoming attached. It will save much heartache in the long run.
In Snuggles case, we treated with an anti-inflammatory (Metacam), fluids under the skin to bring the fever down, and a recommendation to follow up with the referring veterinarian for further treatment with colchicine. After considering her purchase for a few days, the owner had actually started to think about euthanasia. Fortunately for Snuggles, her rDVM talked her out of it and into starting the medication. Hopefully, Snuggles will have as comfortable a life as a Shar-Pei can have! Had the owner but typed in "SharPei" in Google, this could have all been avoided!
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