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Shar Pei fever is a condition seen in Shar Pei characterized by recurring fever and swelling of the hocks. It is similar to familial Mediterranean fever in humans. The cause is unknown, but it is thought to be inherited. Shar Pei fever can result in renal and liver failure through accumulation of amyloid in those organs (amyloidosis).
Affected Shar Pei have an elevated level of interleukin 6, and this leads to an accumulation of acute phase proteins in the body during the fevers. The acute phase proteins are broken down to form type AA amyloid, which deposits in the kidneys and less so in the liver, spleen, and gastrointestinal tract. This eventually leads to kidney or liver failure by the age of six years.
The symptoms of Shar Pei fever include fever, swelling, and pain in the hocks that usually resolves within two days. The swelling in the hocks is easily recognizable--the hock will resemble a flaccid waterballoon, rather than stiff swelling following a sprain or break. The symptoms can be treated with NSAIDs such as carprofen. Kidney and liver failure cannot be treated except by the conventional manner usually used for those diseases. Prevention of amyloidosis is sometimes used in dogs with recurring episodes of Shar Pei fever. Colchicine and dimethyl sulfoxide are most commonly used. Dogs taking colchicine must be monitored closely for signs of bone marrow disease. The prognosis is guarded for Shar Pei that develop amyloidosis. Discuss the use of colchicine with your vet. It may not be the best solution, as it can have multiple side effects.
FSF attacks can most often be linked to excess stress, both physical and emotional. These attacks usually accompany other illnesses, or stem from residual stress after extended periods of isolation or separation from the owner. The simplest treatment to slow the progression of the condition toward amyloidosis is to avoid the attacks altogether. This is usually possible by eliminating the dog's source of stress. Rest, along with treatment of any other illness, will facilitate the relief of an existing attack. Health maintenance will help to ensure that the attacks do not persist. It is important to remember that, as FSF is a genetic condition, if a dog has one attack, he will always be susceptible to another. Attacks may also occur due to something as simple as allergies, more frequent in certain months of the year.
It is also worth noting, that with any fever the dog should be monitored to insure their temperature does not rise above 105 degrees. At that temperature several complications can occur. Aspirin and other NSAIDs should not be given at home, as they can have unintended side effects and can make it difficult to treat with other, safer NSAIDs such as Rimadyl. If the dog's temperature rises above 105, you should take it to an emergency vet. There are several things that can be done, one being the administration of Rimadyl to reduce the pain and fever. Fluids under the skin or intravenous may also be very helpful. Applying rubbing alcohol to the pads of the feet and giving cold water will make the dog temporarily more comfortable, but it will not help in the long term. The dog's internal 'thermostat' needs to be re-set to a normal temperature, and that can only be accomplished with medications and fluids.
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