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Puppy Strangles in Dogs


Juvenile Cellulitis in Dogs


Puppy strangles, or juvenile cellulitis, is a nodular and pustular skin disorder that affects puppies. It usually occurs between the ages of three weeks and four months, and is rarely seen in adult dogs. The face, pinnae (outer part of the ear), and salivary lymph nodes are the most common sites to be affected. The cause of this condition is unknown, but there are breeds that have been shown to be predisposed to it, including golden retrievers, dachshunds, and Gordon setters.


Symptoms and Types


  • Acutely (sudden and severe) swollen face – especially the eyelids, lips, and muzzle
  • Salivary gland lymphadenopathy: a disease process affecting a lymph node or multiple lymph nodes
  • Marked pustular and oozing skin disease, which frequently fistulates (develops into a hollow passage); develops within 24–48 hours
  • Pustular ear infection
  • Lesions often become crusted
  • Affected skin is usually tender
  • Lethargy in 50 percent of cases
  • Loss of appetite, fever, and presence of sterile suppurative arthritis in 25 percent of cases (acute inflammation of membranes, with leaking into a joint, due to bacterial infection)
  • Sterile pustular nodes (rare) over the trunk, reproductive organs, or on the area around the anus; lesions may appear as fluctuating nodules under the skin with fistulation




  • Cause and pathogenesis (origination) is unknown (idiopathic)
  • Immune dysfunction with an inheritable cause is suspected




Your veterinarian will conduct a skin biopsy (tissue sample) to determine what is causing the lesions.





If your puppy is diagnosed with puppy strangles, early and aggressive therapy will be required to avoid severe scarring. Corticosteroids are the treatment of choice. Your veterinarian may prescribe a topical (external) ointment to soothe and ease the pain, and as an adjunct to corticosteroid medication. In rare resistant cases, chemotherapy may be required. Adult dogs with panniculitis (inflammation under the skin) may require longer therapy. Antibiotics may be also prescribed if there is evidence of a secondary bacterial infection.


Living and Management


Most cases do not recur, but scarring may be a permanent problem, especially around the eyes.



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