Fatal Pemphigus in Chows

Stimpy- In Loving- Memory

Waiting At The- Bridge!
Barked: Mon Sep 18, '06 11:41am PST 
While I wil never be 100% positive as to what took Stimpy from me, there is a very good possibility that the culprit was a rare disease known as PEMPHIGUS. About a year and a half prior to his death, Stimpy had a tumour removed from the top of his fluffy chow head. The tumour began as a little cyst-- he had cysts on his head/face since he was a baby, so I initially thought nothing of this. The tumour grew, however, and I opted to have it removed. The vets said it was cancer, and likely not a major issue-- in other words, they were pretty sure it had not spread. Shortly after this surgery, Stimpy began to get a tad more "ditsy" than normal. He would wander around in a confused state frequently. He slept more heavily than usual. He would stare into space a lot and it would take him a few minutes to realize that I was standing next to him OR in front of him-- at which point he would have the look of a chow who is totally delighted to see his mommy! He wanted to stay outside a LOT more so he could wander and stare. I began to notice his nose was peeling and cracking-- I chalked it up to his love of "snow grazing" and desire to be outside in the wind and elements. The peeling worsened and I medicated the areas. At this point, he began to do something very troubling. He began to rub, grind and smash his face against walls, trees, fences, the ground... anything he could get his head and face against. Within a few months, he had literally torn holes in his face. I medicated and washed his face 3 times a day. Nothing helped. Eventually, he refused to come inside at all and I had to get the vets out here to see what was wrong-- his face was a giant sore. After months and months of steroids, pain medication, antibiotics and medical care, there was NO change in the lesions which were now all around the mask of his once-beautiful face. It was heart-wrenching. Nothing was working. The vets suggested this might be due to an auto-immune failure caused by the cancer. He began to have seizures. I made the decision to ease his pain. The day the vet came to send him to the Bridge, she mentioned that there was a disease that chows get which had some symptoms like this. She had been deeply troubled by what had happened to Stimpy so she had tried to see if there was a reason. She told me that this was actually fairly common in Chows. I had never heard of such a disease. Several months after Stimpy went to Rainbow Bridge, I was speaking on the phone to my best friend from Law School who had also recently lost her beloved Chow "Bear" who was only 6. I loved Bear and she used to study with us, so I was very sad about her departure. My friend told me what had happened to Bear-- the sores, the lesions, the treatments... it was called PEMPHIGUS. I was in shock. I began to read about this disease and have since learned that while it is not always fatal, for some reason, Chow Chows seem to contract it. It is not an uncommon cause of death in older chows-- or, as in Bear's case, even NOT so old Chows. I have added this topic to the discussion area of the group because there is a HIGH likelihood that someone else may need this information. The months I spent worrying about Stimpy, feeling as though I had failed him, that I did not do enough for him, wondering why his beautiful fuzzy face had turned into a giant sore... it was terrible. Terrible and sad because I did not know about pemphigus; did not know what to expect, did not know what the signs or symptoms were. I felt horrible and like I was at fault. But this is a common affliction among chows-- I know that now. I do not want any other chow moms and dads to feel like this. Chows get this terrible disease, and many do die from it. The symptoms and manifestations are horrendous, and the pain we feel as we watch our chows suffer is immeasurable.
Grizz -- In Loving- Memory

King Grizz....of- Highland Terrace- Court!
Barked: Fri Feb 9, '07 5:56pm PST 
I am so very sorry to hear the pliaght that you baby went through. Thank you so much for posting this very important message, as I still have 2 and a half chows in my doggie family. All of them are healthy, I can luckily say, even our poor boy Yoshi, who we just adopted from a pound which treated him horribly....our vet said that if he spent another of couple of days in there he would have died!. Anyway, I think that my bestfreind's chow ( Poppa Grizz's sister) may have died from that disease. Do you know if pemphigus is an autoimmune disease? Thank you- Autumn, Grizz's human sister
Stimpy- In Loving- Memory

Waiting At The- Bridge!
Barked: Wed May 9, '07 12:19am PST 
Pemphigus is a strange illness indeed. Today, a friend of ours who lives here in town found out that his yellow lab mix has pemphigus. Here is a link he shared with me: http://www.marvistavet.com/html/body_pemphigus_foliaceus.html.

Since this does seem to afflict chows pretty regularly, I want to make sure everyone knows the warning signs. If treated early, your chow may survive.

Shadie-In- Loving- Memory- '88-03

Dear- Squirrel-come- down so I can- eat you
Barked: Fri Sep 28, '07 10:37pm PST 
Hi, Our Kodi has PF too, 2 years now. It's scarey and dangerous stuff. She's on pred and imuran and may have to be for the rest of her life. It's in 'remission', but only because of the meds. The meds themselves will probably cause a shorter life for her...

Thank you for sharing your insights to this potentially debilitating or fatal condition.
Dog Bless-
Cindy, Kodi and Angel Shadie
Little Bear

I'm Watching You- from Heaven
Barked: Tue Nov 13, '07 4:22pm PST 
I am so sorry for your lost. I am still grieving my dog Little Bear. Little Bear died of kidney failure, but the vet suspected cancer. I noticed a lump on his head just a week before he died; your post makes me wonder if perhaps he had this disease. Perhaps the kidney failure was a blessing in disguise. My little guy went pretty fast....