Skin Tears

I primarily associate skin tears in the American standard Chinese Shar-Pei with the prominent skin folds, “meat mouth” muzzle and thicker skin with bullae (blisters/vesicles). The skin often resembles the texture of an orange peel. This is known as Hereditary Cutaneous Mucinosis (Hyaluronosis). This condition results in high levels of hyaluronan in the dermis and epidermis of the skin. The excess hyaluronan disrupts the organization of collagen fibers in the dermis which are responsible for the strength and support of the skin much as iron rebar or steel mesh is used to strengthen concrete driveways and patios. Lastly, the excess hyaluronan generates a hydrostatic pressure against the skin. When an IV catheter is placed in a peripheral vein in a Shar-pei the catheter begins to be pushed out of the leg. The skin is thicker and softer in these dogs and easily punctured by a tooth, a toe nail, a stick, “popped “nails on a privacy fence, etc. Anything with a sharp edge such as chain link fence, dog crate, aluminum siding, even an edge of a car door, or pet door can puncture the skin resulting in a skin tear. Once a portion of the skin is trapped, it begins to tear as the dog tries to free itself. I tend to see tears in areas of loose skin such as the neck, shoulder, chest and thighs. The tears occur at the epidermal/dermal junction. Injuries often occur during unsupervised activities with other dogs: playdates, dog parks, training classes, dog fights, obedience and agility trials. The tears can also begin as a divot in the skin.

Preventing Tears

  • Supervision
  • Frequent nail trims (grinder?)
  • Hunting/Swimming vests
  • thunder shirt
  • Scope out the environment for hazards
  • Deflation – we know steroids, antihistamines, NSAIDS decrease hyaluronan production for short periods of time.

    Question 3

    I think tooth brushing will always be the Gold Standard for dental health. Dental products added to the drinking water are low on my list. I have concerns about concentration, water quality, taste, issues with contact time, etc. There are dental solutions that can be used effectively. These contain fluoride to strengthen enamel and/or chlorhexidine gluconate to decrease plaque. I recommend using dental products bearing the seal of approval from the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC).

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