Strangles 1


Puppy strangles (aka juvenile pyoderma and juvenile cellulitis)  is a serious dog skin condition that affects puppies 4-16 weeks of age. Some breeds of dogs are predisposed of this condition. typically occurs in young dogs under the age of four months. This condition causes a puppy’s skin to become inflamed and irritated. Although experts don’t completely understand this condition they believe it’s an immune system issue. Typically, you will see sudden swelling on the face, lips, ear flaps, or eyelids if your young puppy has this problem. The swelling is then followed by the rapid development of pimple-like pustules, which rupture and bleed, forming skin ulcers and crusts. Usually, the inner surface of the ear flaps are involved as well and occasionally lesions in other body areas occur. These lesions can be painful. The exact cause of juvenile cellulitis is not clear, although it is suspected to be an immune system abnormality. Most cases of juvenile cellulitis are considered to be an inflammatory immune process of unknown cause. 

As well, there may be swelling and enlargement of the lymph nodes beneath the chin. Sometimes the puppy may have difficulty eating and swallowing because of the enlarged lymph nodes.


Other symptoms associated with this puppy skin condition include:

  • Fever
  • Swelling of the joints
  • loss of appetite
  • depression and lethargy

If untreated, serious scarring and permanent hair loss can result. In addition, puppies with juvenile pyoderma can be quite sick and the condition can be life-threatening. Therefore, they must be treated by a veterinarian immediately.



    • Evaluate your dog for symptoms. A puppy that experiences this condition may develop a sudden fever. They may also seem lethargic and depressed.

    • Take your dog to the vet. Contact your vet and advise of your dog’s symptoms. Request the earliest appointment available. The vet should take skin scrapings and biopsy to make a diagnosis of your puppy’s condition.

    • Partner with the vet to create a treatment plan. Most dogs respond well to steroids and antibiotic treatment. You may need to administer antibiotics for a couple weeks or longer to get rid of the condition.

    • Administer medication as directed. Even if your puppy appears to be feeling better finish out the prescription as prescribed. Stopping treatment early can cause negative health issues for your dog.

    • Watch your canine’s symptoms closely. Dogs with this condition should experience  improvement over time. If you notice your dog’s condition is worsening contact your vet immediately

      Give your puppy a quiet place to rest. Move your dog’s bed away from stress and distractions. Encourage her to rest often to aid in healing.

      Conventional Treatment

      Because this condition is believed to be an immune-mediated disease, i.e. the puppy’s immune system is overly-active, high doses of oral corticosteroids (such as prednisone) are usually given to suppress the immune system. In most cases, the puppy will respond after several days of treatment. The condition generally resolves in 10 to 14 days. However, steroid treatment cannot be stopped abruptly even though improvement is seen, so treatment is normally continued for 3-4 weeks, with gradual tapering of the dose.

       Antibiotics may be needed for any secondary infection. However, please note that antibiotics alone are not effective and cannot treat this condition.

      Relapse of the condition after treatment is rare.