Skin Problems in a Shar-Pei

by Valerie A. Modreski
Because of all the wrinkles, the Chinese shar-pei has recurring skin problems.

Because of all the wrinkles, the Chinese shar-pei has recurring skin problems.

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Noted for their wrinkles, the Chinese shar-pei is a four-legged walking petri dish for canine related skin problems. While some of the skin issues shar-peis contend with can be attributed to its abundance of skinfolds, these dogs are just as susceptible to the common, everyday skin diseases that plague all dogs.

Pyoderma is Common For the Shar-pei Breed

It is advisable to contact your veterinarian with any issues concerning your dog. A common skin problem with the shar-pei breed is pyoderma. Pyoderma is an inflammatory infection common to dogs with numerous skinfolds. The skin within the folds retains moisture and remains dark, creating the ideal atmosphere attractive to bacteria. If these bacteria are allowed to multiply and spread, an acute bacterial infection is imminent. Shar-peis diagnosed with moist dermatitis or "hot spots," commonly have repeated occurrences of pyoderma. The skin around a shar-pei's mouth is predisposed to this condition, leading to the medical diagnosis of lip pyoderma. A shar-pei's facial folds, groin area and between the legs are also common sites of pyoderma.

Mucus Builds Up Under the Wrinkles

Mucin, a protein-rich glycoconjugate with elevated sialic acid, is located just under the skin of shar-peis. When this mucus secretion builds up, a condition called cutaneous mucinosis occurs. The development of lumps and bumps on your shar-pei's skin, accompanied by areas of irritation, are symptomatic of cutaneous mucinosis. If vesicles of mucin occur on the skin in the mouth or throat, your dog may snort and snore, and general anesthesia is risky. Cutaneous mucinosis might accompany a diagnosis of hormone imbalance, a condition common for shar-peis. Veterinarians consider the cutaneous mucinosis condition cosmetic, and many dogs outgrow it by the age of 5.

Canine Skin Allergies

Canine airborne skin allergies are a hypersensitivity reaction to numerous atmospheric materials such as pollen, grasses, dust mites, natural fibers, fungal spores and dander from other animals. A shar-pei's allergic reaction to foods, or a flea and tick infestation, can cause skin problems. Contact allergies can create skin problems in shar-peis. These include incidental contact with household irritants such as paint, cleaning chemicals, wool, dyes, carpet deodorizers and metals such as nickel. Incessant scratching, patchy hair loss and inflamed patches of skin are all indications that your shar-pei suffers from allergies. Consult your veterinarian if your dog is suffering from any of these conditions.

Canine Hormonal Imbalance

Another contributing cause of skin problems for shar-peis is traced to a hormone imbalance. Hyperthyroidism is an inadequate level of hormones, creating a lower metabolic level in your dog. Changes in your dog's coat and skin are the first, and most obvious, symptoms of hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism related skin problems for your sha-pei include balding areas, hair thinning on the flanks and back, areas of increased pigmentation, scaling and seborrhea (an abnormality in the production of skin cells.) A secondary diagnosis for a bacterial infection of the skin can accompany a case of hyperthyroidism.

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