"Lip fold dermatitis in the Shar Pei
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"Lip fold dermatitis in the Shar Pei

The Shar-Pei dog breed is one that is very easy to recognise thanks to a combination of their blue-black tongues and their very loose, stretchy skin, which makes them look like they’re still waiting to grow into it. This distinctive appearance, which certainly makes the dogs look very cute, is often what appeals to people who own a dog of the breed – but this loose skin across the body can cause some problems if incorrectly cared for, particularly around the muzzle and face.

Lip fold dermatitis is a type of dermatitis that can develop around the dog’s muzzle in the creases of the skin between all of those wrinkles – and a problem of this type can arise very easily and can also be quite challenging to reverse once it has become established.

If you own a Shar-Pei, or any other dog breed with lots of creasing around their muzzles, it is important to understand how lip fold dermatitis develops, and how to prevent it from occurring as well as what to do if your dog does develop an irritation.

In this article, we will look at lip fold dermatitis in the Shar-Pei dog breed in more detail, including how it arises, how to spot it, what you can do to prevent it, and how to treat it. Read on to learn more.

What is lip fold dermatitis?

Lip fold dermatitis is a type of irritation and soreness that can develop in the creases of dogs with wrinkled faces or prominent lip folds, which includes many brachycephalic dog breeds as well as those with drooping gums.

The condition leads to the development of hot spots, sores and sometimes spots or rashes within the creases of the dog’s lips, which are apt to be both uncomfortable and distressing for them. However, they can also be hard for dog owners to spot because they are hidden away, which is why the owners of dogs with facial skin folds and lots of wrinkles are advised to clean, check and dry their dog’s skin folds regularly, in order to prevent problems from developing.

How does it develop?

Dogs with loose, wrinkled skin on their faces and lots of creases around their muzzles are at risk of lip fold dermatitis because dirt, debris and shed skin cells, as well as the natural oils that are present in your dog’s coat, become trapped in the facial creases. Trapped food particles often make up a lot of the muck that can collect in the folds around the lips and face, and all of this leads to rubbing and soreness within the skin folds, as well as clogging the pores and providing the right type of environment for bacteria and fungus to thrive, which can of course lead to infections and more acute problems for your dog as well.

The symptoms of lip fold dermatitis

To look for lip fold dermatitis, you have to part your dog’s facial skin folds and check closely for any signs of problems. Some of the main indications of lip fold dermatitis in the Shar-Pei include:

  • Moisture or a clammy, damp feeling within the skin folds.
  • Visible dirt, muck or grit in the skin folds that has been there for some time may be causing irritation.
  • Congested skin, spots, or a rash within the skin folds.
  • Redness or inflammation in the skin folds.
  • Ulceration or cysts in the skin folds.
  • Unusual substances or traces on the skin, which can indicate bacteria or yeast development.
  • A foul smell coming from the skin folds.

How do you treat lip fold dermatitis in the Shar-Pei?

If you know or suspect that your dog has lip fold dermatitis, you should ask your vet to check it out to confirm or rule out the condition. If your vet suspects that there is a fungal or bacterial infection present, they may take a swab from within the skin folds, to run some tests.

Dogs that have a bacterial or fungal infection in their skin folds will be prescribed either systemic or topical treatments to eradicate it, and keeping the skin folds clean and dry is vital to ensuring healing.

If the dog’s skin is irritated and sore but not actually infected, you will need to ensure that again, you clean and thoroughly dry the skin folds a couple of times a day to promote healing, and your vet may provide you with a topical cream to help to promote healing too.

Preventing lip fold dermatitis from occurring

Lip fold dermatitis in the Shar-Pei can often be prevented by getting into a regular routine of checking and cleaning your dog’s skin folds at least once a day, to remove any debris and prevent infections and problems from occurring. It is really important to dry the skin folds thoroughly too, because even if you keep your dog’s lip skin folds scrupulously clean, moisture can cause soreness and infections in and of itself.

Being vigilant and looking for signs of problems when you clean your dog’s facial skin folds is also important, an if you spot a problem in the making, prompt intervention can help to nip it in the bud and prevent it from getting worse.

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