What is puppy strangles?

Puppy strangles, also known as juvenile cellulitis or juvenile pyoderma, is a rare skin disorder which most commonly affects puppies between three weeks and four months old. It’s a painful condition which can be life-threatening if left untreated, so if your dog is displaying symptoms, you should seek advice from your vet.

What should I do if I think my dog has puppy strangles?

If not treated quickly, cellulitis in dogs can result in severe scarring or even death, so if your dog is displaying symptoms, you should seek urgent advice from your vet, or out of hours, your nearest Vets Now.

What are the main signs of strangles in dogs?

The first symptom is typically severe swelling of the face, especially the eyelids, lips and muzzle, which usually develops into crusting and bleeding sores.

Other signs include swollen lymph nodes, especially behind the jaw, and swelling and pus oozing from the ear flaps and ear canals. Some puppies may also show signs of lethargy, depression, fever, lameness and lack of appetite.

What causes puppy strangles?

Vets are uncertain about puppy strangles causes, although it’s believed to be related to a dysfunction of the immune system.

There also appears to be a genetic link as it’s more prevalent in certain breeds.

How is puppy strangles diagnosed?

Vets will usually run some tests before diagnosing cellulitis in dogs. They will also check your puppy’s history and perform a physical examination to rule out more common dog skin problems.

A skin biopsy may also be conducted to confirm the diagnosis, but most vets will start treatment while waiting for the results.

What is the treatment for puppy strangles?

Juvenile cellulitis is usually treated with high doses of steroids until the sores have reduced. Antibiotics may also be prescribed to treat any secondary bacterial skin infections, and pain relief may be given in severe cases.

Treatment is most effective when given quickly so it’s important to speak to your vet as quickly as possible.

Your vet may advise you to gently soak the sores with warm water every day to help remove crusts and provide your dog with some relief.

Image of sad puppy for Vets Now article on puppy strangles
Juvenile cellulitis is a serious skin condition which causes dogs pain and discomfort

How common is puppy strangles?

Juvenile cellulitis is rare and as a result, can sometimes be confused for an allergic reaction to a bee or wasp sting.

Which breeds are more likely to get strangles in dogs?

Any breed can be affected but golden retrievers, Dachshunds, Gordon setters, beagles and pointers are more prone to the disease.

Can older dogs get strangles?

Strangles in dogs older than six months is very rare, although there have been a few cases reported in young adult dogs. If you notice any lumps or swelling on your dog, it’s best to contact your vet for advice.

What are the long term effects of juvenile cellulitis?

Some dogs may be left with scarring and hair loss after recovering from juvenile cellulitis, however, these are only superficial and shouldn’t cause your dog any discomfort.

Is puppy strangles hereditary?

Vets believe that genetics play a part in the development of the disease as it’s most common in certain breeds and families.

Is puppy strangles curable?

The prognosis is good if treated early and aggressively. A full recovery is expected, although this can take several weeks. It’s also unlikely that a dog will get this condition twice.

When should I call my vet for strangles in dogs?

It can be fatal if left untreated, so if you think your dog may be showing signs of the disease, you should contact your vet or, if it’s out of hours, your nearest Vets Now, for advice.

How can I prevent puppy strangles?

There is currently no known way of preventing this condition. However, spaying and neutering any dogs that have had the disease will prevent it being passed on from parent to offspring.

If your dog has been diagnosed with juvenile cellulitis, you should let the breeder know immediately as the breeding pair should not be bred again in order to avoid transmission of the problem.