Shar Pei skin problems

The Shar Pei dogs are prone to skin disease (shar pei eczema/shar pei atopy/allergic skin disease in shar peis). There are various reasons for this –

1. High incidents of demodex or demodectic mange.

2. Sensitive to proteins in the food that they eat which can manifest as skin inflammation (food allergies).

3. Short hair which tends to predispose them to skin problems.

4. Allergies to common environmental contaminants such as dust mites, storage mites, grasses and pollens.

5. Wrinkles which provide a moist and warm environment for yeast and bacterial proliferation.

The treatment of shar pei skin problems depends on the underlying cause, the duration of the problem, the location of the problem and the severity of the problem. Treatment tends to consist of any or all of the following –

Diet modification, allergy testing and desensitisation (allergy vaccines),antibiotics, shampoos, immune mediating medication, sprays and ear drops.

Shar Pei demodex is a condition where a naturally occuring mite that lives on the skin increases in number and causes hair loss and itchy skin. It cannot be passed from puppy to puppy or to other in-contact dogs or humans. They are given the mite from their mother when they are suckling.

Shar Pei demodex can be diagnosed easily by a skin scrape during a consultation, examined under a microscope and a result given immediately.

The treatment consists of a weekly medicated bath for 4 weeks and then ongoing treatment using a flea treatment that will also help to control the mite.

Shar Peis are peculiar in that the demodex can come and go unlike any other breed where the adult form of demodex mange cannot be easily controlled. So understanding that mange can come and go  in an adult Shar Pei is crucial in treating this problem.

Shar Pei Food Allergies: The Shar pei breed has a higher incidence of food allergies than other breeds. It is generally protein in the food and beef is possibly the most common protein that Shar Peis are allergic to. Food allergies can take up to 3 months to solve with a new diet. If new diets are tried you need to give them at least 3 months to know if there has been any benefit.

Allergies to antigens (things in the environment) are also very common. The most commonly diagnosed are dust mite allergies, storage mite allergies and grass and pollen allergies.

Blood tests can be taken to determine if environmental allergies are a problem and if significant allegies exist, a desensitisation vaccine programme can be initiated. This consists of:

1) Identifying the allergy

2) Having a vaccine made

3) Giving bi-weekly injections for 2-3 months followed by monthly injections for life.

These vaccines can be very effective but they do not work in all cases.

If the cause of the allergy cannot be determined or the prevention techniques do not work effectively then treatment consists of controlling the discomfort caused by constantly itching skin. There are 3 components to the cause of the itch

1) The immune system inflamatory response to the allergy

2) Secondary bacterial or yeast infections due to this inflamation

3) Secondary parasitic causes of inflamation and irritation (eg mange)

Treatment will involve shampoos to soothe the skin and treat yeast and bacterial infections, immune mediating medications to control the itching and topical or oral medications to control the bacterial infections.