Frequently Asked Questions

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What is mucinosis or Hereditary Cutaneous Hyaluronosis (HCH)?

Cutaneous mucinosis is due to excess deposition of hyaluronan in the skin.  Shar-Pei over-express hyaluronan synthase 2, an enzyme that makes hyaluronan (HA).  HA is the sticky gel between and around cells and HA is a major component of mucin.  Excess mucin causes Shar-Pei skin to be very thickened.  The surface may sometimes have a cobblestone appearance.  Abundant mucin causes padding around the muzzle ("meatmouth") and the thickened, expanded skin may fall into folds forming the breed's characteristic wrinkles.  



What is cutaneous vesicular mucinosis (hyaluronosis)?

When excessive hyaluronan is deposited in the skin of Shar-Pei, it sometimes forms bubbles or vesicles which are lakes of mucin.  When severe, these can have the appearance of plastic "bubble wrap" on the surface of the skin.  The thin covering over the bubbles of mucin is fragile and not as tough as normal skin so it tears easily.  When it breaks, the sticky stuff leaks out forming scabby lesions.

What is swollen hock syndrome?

The term "swollen hock syndrome" is a bit confusing because it has been used for several disorders that lead to swelling around the tibiotarsal or hock joints of Shar-Pei.

The original and most common usage refers to the inflammation and swelling about one or both hock joints that accompanies an episode of Familial Shar-Pei Fever in approximately half of patients.  This inflammation and swelling usually lasts anywhere from a few hours to a few days then returns to a normal baseline for that individual.  It may precede and last longer than the actual duration of fever.

Chronic hock swelling can be due to excess hyaluronan, chronic skin infection, allergic skin disease, hypothyroidism, lymphangitis/lymphedema, vasculitis or a combination of any of these contributing causes.  Uncommonly, mast cell cancer can be located in the skin of the hock joint and be mistaken for swollen hock syndrome so veterinary examination including fine needle aspirate & cytology or biopsy may be necessary for diagnosis.


What are the symptoms of Familial Shar-Pei Fever?

Shar-Pei with Familial Shar-Pei Fever (FSF):

  • Have one or more bouts of unexplained fever, usually 103-107 degrees F (39.4-41.7 degrees C) but rare cases may go higher.  Fever greater than 106 degrees is a medical emergency and owners should seek veterinary treatment for the hyperthermia.
  • If they do not have a fever, it is NOT “ classic” FSF. (Assuming not on colchicine & supplements).
  • Fevers usually start before they are 18 months old but adult-onset attacks are not uncommon.  Fever episodes usually become less frequent with age.
  • Fever episodes last 24-36 hours in most cases without treatment.  It is possible for the fever events to be brief, lasting only a few hours.  Dogs experiencing fevers lasting more than 48 hrs should be examined by a veterinarian to determine if there are other causes (bacterial infections, autoimmune disease, tick-borne disease like Lyme Disease, Leptospirosis, etc.).  Shar-Pei without a previous diagnosis of FSF should seek veterinary care.  See monograph on treatment suggestions for FSF.

 One or more of the following signs may accompany fever episodes:

  • Swelling around a joint (cellulitis) with or without inflammation of the joint itself. One or more joints may be affected but most cases involve the tibiotarsal or hock joint (swollen hock syndrome). Of the dogs that had experienced periodic fever episodes, approximately 53% had experienced swollen hock/s at some time along with the fever when owners at the CSPCA National Specialty were surveyed in 1994.  Be careful not to mistake the normal "socks" (excess wrinkling around the hocks) on some individual Shar-Pei for the acute swelling that occurs surrounding the hock during or around the time of a fever episode.
  • Sometimes a swollen painful muzzle.
  • Abdominal pain, reluctance to move, "roached" back, mild vomiting or diarrhea, shallow rapid breathing. The proinflammatory cascade give the dogs flu-like symptoms and similar discomfort.

Are there any other supplements that may help with chronic inflammation?

We recommend adding high dose omega 3 fatty acids to the diet of most dogs with chronic inflammation.  Source is extremely important, especially with high doses of these fragile polyunsaturated fatty acids.  To avoid rancidity and contamination of marine oils with PCB, mercury, etc.,  we recommend using a product that is batch tested like OmegaRx.  Dr. Linda typically uses 1/4 tsp. (or one capsule) for each 20 lbs body weight once daily.  This supplies approximately 225 mg of EPA and 113 mg DHA/20lbs.

For optimal Shar-Pei Health, see the second half of the FSF treatment monograph which includes additional recommendations for lecithin, Vitamin C, Vitamin D3, and probiotics. 


Can I combine this with chondroitin sulfate, glucosamine, bromelain and/or MSM?



Where can I get more information on Shar-Pei health and disease?

Dr. Linda Tintle's Wurtsboro Veterinary Clinic website

Dr. Jeff Vidt's website


What changes will I see in my dog with HyVitality?

Every dog is unique but customers typically report improvements in attitude, activity, coat quality and overall health.  Reductions in severity and frequency of Shar-Pei Fever events have also been reported anecdotally.


How long before I see any changes?

Noticeable change is expected within a few weeks but it may take several months for full beneficial effects.  HyVitality is not a drug treatment and rapid effects are not expected.  HyVitality is formulated to help your dog's own healing pathways quiet inflammation.

I have trouble giving my dog pills.  Do you have any suggestions for how to get him to take the HyVitality capsules?

A few lucky owners just toss them into their dog's meals and they gobble them down.  Most people have to wrap the capsules in a little chunky peanut butter, some cream cheese, liverwurst or bread to disguise them.

Greenies® Pill Pockets®  are available from your veterinary hospital and other pet supply stores.  These nutritional treats are well-liked by most dogs and do make it easier to administer any pills or capsules.  The capsule size comes in beef or chicken flavor and also in a new Allergy Formula for dogs with food allergies.  More information can be found on the Greenies®  website HERE.  For the most challenging dogs, they offer a good suggestion to avoid touching the outside of the food treat with the same hand that handled the capsule so as to avoid leaving any kind of odd chemical smell on the surface of the treat that might make them suspicious! 

Why is damage to hyaluronan so bad for my dog?

 Big molecules of native hyaluronan are health promoting, healing and protective.  When it becomes fragmented due to damage or degradation, it triggers inflammation and can initiate fever.