They are just dogs. The key to understanding Chinese Shar-Pei is to become familiar with what is uniquely normal for this breed. From that point, one can learn to recognize the disorders that may afflict them. Chinese Shar-Pei suffer some unusual and perplexing problems, many of which have not yet been described in the veterinary literature. It is not the purpose of this guide to make you a veterinarian, but to help you understand some of the unique disease problems of the Chinese Shar-Pei. To that end we have not included dosages of medication, specific discussions of techniques or references to the veterinary literature. We hope you find this guide useful.
Pups are depressed, not eating and have a heavy mucoid to pus eye discharge caused by the eyelids rubbing on the eyeball. It is felt this is often related to the excessive skin folds around the eyes in Shar-Pei pups (secondary entropion). If allowed to go too long corneal ulceration results which can lead to blindness. THIS IS A MEDICAL EMERGENCY - SEE YOUR VET IMMEDIATELY! The treatment is to have the eyelids tacked. This involves suturing the eyelids in such a way that the lids evert or roll out away from the eyeball. Eye tacking is considered a temporary procedure which gives the pup time to grow into skin folds around the eyes.
Glaucoma: This is a condition caused by an increase in the pressure inside the eyeball. It can be primary or secondary. In the Shar-Pei it is often secondary to lens luxation. Lens luxation occurs when the lens of the eye breaks loose from its attachments due to trauma or weakness of the ligaments which hold the lens in place. Signs are a swollen painful eye, cloudy cornea, severe injection of the blood vessels of the eyeball and vision
problems. This is a medical emergency and often results in blindness in spite of medical or surgical therapy.
Retinal Dysplasia: This probably occurs in about 10% of the Shar-Pei and is characterized as folds or small defects in the retina of the eye. Usually it is picked up on a routine CERF exam as an incidental finding. Not usually associated with any clinical signs.
“Cherry Eye”: This is the common term for prolapse of the gland of the third eyelid. The third eyelid is similar to a windshield wiper and is located in the inner corner of the eye. It contains a tear producing gland responsible for about 50% of the tear production in the eye. Sometimes in the young puppy the ligament which holds the gland in place breaks and the gland pops up above the third eyelid causing a swelling in the corner of the eye. It is non-painful and usually causes no problem other than interfering with vision. Your veterinarian can suture the gland back in place. Beware since oftentimes the condition affects both eyes.
Chemosis: This is swelling of the lining of the eye or conjunctiva. This is a normal finding in young Shar-Pei and not associated with allergic reactions, etc.
The breed standard for the Chinese Shar-Pei calls for small, tight, triangular ears which sit tight to the head. This predisposes the Shar-Pei to chronic ear problems due to inadequate air circulation to the ear canals and due to the difficulty in treating and cleaning the ears. The most common problem is chronic yeast overgrowth due to Malassezia pachydermatis a normal inhabitant of the ear canal. Given the right conditions of heat, moisture and darkness this organism can proliferate and result in ear infection.
Worse yet, the presence of this organism can allow for secondary bacterial invaders and subsequent development of bacterial ear infections. The key to preventing problems is routine ear care - frequent examinations and routine ear cleaning. You will not cure ear disease in the Chinese Shar-Pei or Shar-Pei, but you can control it. A common condition in the Shar-Pei is that of a yeast overgrowth. This manifests itself as a dirty ear with no clinical signs of ear infection - odor, redness, pain, discharge. It is usually managed with routine cleaning and medication as prescribed by your veterinarian.
Hyperplastic (Proliferative) otitis: This occurs in some Shar-Pei as a complication of chronic ear disease. Warty growths develop in the upper part of the ear canal and block the ear canal interfering with normal cleaning and medicating of the ear. Many times surgery is necessary in these cases.
Stenosis: Many Shar-Pei have narrower ear canals than normal. This likewise can interfere with normal cleaning and care. Again, your veterinarian may suggest a surgical alternative.
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