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What are Puppy Strangles?

While puppy strangles is almost never found in adult dogs, it is also rare in puppies, for which it is most likely to occur between three weeks and four months of age. It resembles bacterial infection; however, puppy strangles appears to be is an immune-mediated disease. There is an effective treatment for puppy strangles; however, if it continues untreated, it can lead to permanent scarring and even death. Several breeds of dogs develop puppy strangles at a higher rate: Golden Retriever, Gordon Setter, Miniature Dachshund and Siberian Husky.

Puppy strangles is the common term for juvenile cellulitis, a skin disorder that is found in puppies but very rarely in adult dogs. Also known as juvenile pyoderma or puppy head gland disease, it causes facial pustules and affects a puppy’s lymph nodes.

Puppy Strangles Average Cost

From 231 quotes ranging from $3,500 - $500

Average Cost

$850

Symptoms of Puppy Strangles in Dogs

  • Facial swelling
  • Pustules on face and around the ears; may rupture and form crusts
  • Pustular ear infection
  • Papules (solid, raised masses) on face and around the areas
  • Enlarged lymph nodes behind the jaw; may rupture and drain
  • Fever
  • Skin tender to touch
  • Poor appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Malaise
  • Joint pain
  • (Rarely) pustules over abdomen, reproductive organs and anus.
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Causes of Puppy Strangles in Dogs

While puppy strangles is idiopathic, meaning no cause has been clearly identified, evidence points to the disease as immune-mediated. It appears to be caused by immune dysfunction. Because it occurs more often in certain breeds, it is suspected that puppy strangles or a predisposition to puppy strangles has a genetic correlation.

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Diagnosis of Puppy Strangles in Dogs

Diagnosis of puppy strangles can be difficult, as it resembles staphylococcal pyoderma, a common bacterial skin infection. Since puppy strangles is much more rare, there is a chance of false diagnosis of staph infection. An accurate diagnosis depends upon skin cytology, or microscopic examination of biopsies from the affected area and lesions, as well as cytological analysis of joint fluid in order to detect sterile suppurative arthritis, an advanced symptom that manifests itself as joint pain. The veterinarian will also examine deep skin scrapings in order to look for mites, and examine a fungal culture in order to look for ringworm. It is important to determine if any bacterial or fungal infection has formed as a result of the puppy’s compromised immune system and treat those as symptoms of the underlying disease.

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Treatment of Puppy Strangles in Dogs

Treatment for puppy strangles will primarily be aggressive immunosuppression through corticosteroids, typically with prednisone, accompanied by broad-spectrum antibiotics, such as cephalexin, cefadroxil, or amoxicillin clavulanate, in order to prevent or treat secondary bacterial or fungal infections. In addition to your puppy having a compromised immune system, the exposed tissue from lesions and pustules puts your dog at an increased risk for developing secondary infections. Depending on your puppy’s condition, your veterinarian may also prescribe a topical ointment to soothe pain and itching during recovery.

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Recovery of Puppy Strangles in Dogs

Along with the veterinarian, monitor the progress of your dog’s recovery. Treating a young puppy with an immunosuppressants is not something to be taken lightly, as puppies already have an immature immune system. For this reason, it’s important that the dose of corticosteroids be tapered off during recovery.

If the veterinarian prescribes an ointment for pain, apply it strictly according to the instructions. The most important thing during treatment will be for you to keep the affected areas dry and clean with a solution of astringent and diluted hydrogen peroxide several times a day in order to encourage proper healing. Known as Burow’s solution, you can purchase under the named Domeboro, Star-Octic and Borofair through your veterinarian’s office or at a drugstore.

Puppy strangles is not likely to recur. Unfortunately, permanent scarring is possible, depending upon how quickly treatment is sought after symptoms develop.

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Cost of Puppy Strangles in Dogs

If the puppy has gone untreated too long, the prognosis can be very poor. Prednisone ($40 per 100ct.) is one of the medications your veterinarian may choose and is commonly used to treat inflammatory diseases. They typically will combine prednisone with an antibiotic (Cephalexin, Cefadroxil, or Amoxicillin Clavulanate). Cephalexin 500mg ($30 per 100ct.) is used to treat infections that are caused by bacteria. The combined cost of prednisone and cephalexin is around $70 on average. Cefadroxil ($30 for 50ml. or $60 for 100ml.) is usually in liquid form and is also an antibiotic that is used to treat bacterial infections. The combined cost of prednisone and cefadroxil ranges between $70 and $100. Finally, amoxicillin clavulanate 500mg ($20 per 100ct.) is an antibiotic also used to treat bacterial infections. The combined cost of prednisone and amoxicillin clavulanate is around $60 on average. Combining prednisone and an antibiotic will give your puppy the best chance at a good prognosis.

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Puppy Strangles Average Cost

From 231 quotes ranging from $3,500 - $500

Average Cost

$850

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Puppy Strangles Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Husky, German Shepard and American Pitbull terrier

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9weeks

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

None Noticeable Except Swollen Lymphs And Pustules Around Snout

I gave my 28 lb puppy 1tab of 25 mg diphenhydramine when I seen his face swollen. When I looked at him closely tho I notice lymph node swelling around the Neck and pustules around the snout. The swelling went down noticeably, but will the Benadryl negatively affect him? Googling stuff it kinda looked like puppy strangles, but you know, I'm not a vet.

July 28, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Unfortunately, without seeing him, I can't say whether he has puppy strangles or an allergic reaction, as they can look quite similar initially. If the benadryl helped, it is likely an allergic reaction. If the swelling and pustules continue, it would be a good idea to have him seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine him and see what might be going on. I hope that all goes well for him.

July 28, 2020

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Pete

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English Bulldog

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12 Days

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Critical severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Strangles

My 11 day old orphaned puppy english bulldog has strangles. He is on antibiotics and steroids how long before i should see the effects? he is very lethargic and his lymph nodes are swollen. Very worried. Really hoping this will work fast. He is very small and breaks my heart.

July 4, 2018

Pete's Owner


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3320 Recommendations

Some improvement is generally seen within a week of starting treatment, but the duration of treatment may be prolonged; it is important to have the steroids tapered off in accordance with your Veterinarian’s instructions. Keep monitoring him for the time being and checking for improvement. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 5, 2018

My pup has been ill for 10 days and today finally they diagnosed Puppy Strangles and put her on prednisone. They thought tick bite initially so put her on antibiotics. At this point she is not walking much, has swollen lymph nodes and lesions on her mouth, eyes and mostly ears. What dosage of prednisone should she be on?

Aug. 10, 2018

Jolene C.

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Haven't decided yet

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Basset Hound

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8 Weeks

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Mild severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Loss Of Appetite
Sores Inside Mouth

The breeder I have chosen called about the 8 week old basset puppy I was about to pick up this weekend. She said he had a sore on his gums when she bathed him. Her Vet said puppy acne, but is treating with steroids, IV, and antibiotics. Called my Vet to determine if I still want the puppy and she indicated that it sounded like strangles. My biggest question is long term effect/affect on him. He will be a pet only dog but I am thinking long term with any additional health issues from this.

May 2, 2018

Haven't decided yet's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

If your puppy is affected by puppy strangles, that is typically a treatable disease with no long term repercussions. It would be a good idea to call the breeder and find out exactly what is going on with him before making a decision, however.

May 2, 2018

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Luna

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English Springer Spaniel

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14 Weeks

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Scabs

Hi my puppy is being tapped off her steroids, could you tell me if she’s having a flare up she’s completely fine in herself but her scabs have gone really lumpy. I’m really worried.

April 1, 2018

Luna's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

It is possible that Luna is having another flare up, but without seeing her I cannot say for sure; in some cases the condition may flare up again once you start to taper off the corticosteroids and would require upping the dosage back (with your Veterinarian’s approval) if it is confirmed to be a flare up. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

April 2, 2018

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Dexter

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Maltese x

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9 Weeks

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Moderate severity

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4 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Pustules

My puppy, a Morkie, is 9 weeks old and has a pus filled sore on his eye, sores on his mouth and his genitals are also leaking pus and looks to be splitting. We have him on a steroid and anti biotic and topical. He was just diagnosed today with strangles. What are the odds he will recover?

March 24, 2018

Dexter's Owner


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3320 Recommendations

Generally the prognosis is favourable in cases diagnosed quickly and treated aggressively; in cases where there is a secondary infection the prognosis is a little guarded especially if there is a bad infection. I cannot say how well Dexter will respond to treatment, but you should monitor for improvement and bathe any external wounds regularly as directed by your Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.cliniciansbrief.com/sites/default/files/attachments/Puppy%20Strangles.pdf

March 24, 2018

My 12 week old puppy was just diagnosed today with this disorder. They only put her on a steroid she has swollen lymph nod's muzzle and eyes. Her eyes seem to be bothersome should she be on an ointment for the itchy eyes???

Aug. 21, 2018

Connie E.


My puppy was diagnosed with stangles a few days ago . It’s really bad and I’m concerned about her . She also has hook worms , but the vet is treating all of it . At what point should I become concerned ? She is tired , fever , poor appetite.

June 8, 2018

Morgan M.

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Cosmo

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Labrador Retriever

dog-age-icon

8 Weeks

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Face Acne

Our sweet baby Cosmo was diagnosed with puppy strangles after being very lethargic and having puffy eyes. He has some sores around his face and is being treated now with a steroid. He seems to have improved! Is he still able to take de-working medications or will that affect his current steroid treatment?

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Gunner Allen

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Chihuahua/Pug

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5 Weeks

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Fever
Lethargy
Hair Loss
Loss Of Balance
Loss Of Appetite
Infection In Eyes
Swelling Around Mouth

Hello I am so worried about my baby boy "Gunner" my female had a litter of four puppies now this little baby was always a little different always really cried a lot but was still playful. So over night he went from playing to sleeping a day and i knew something was wrong plus he had infection in both eyes... now I rushed him straight to the vet that next day because his little nose started running and felt like he was running a fever to the touch as well so he was only sick for one day.. The vet says he has puppy strangle which is common in a litter of puppies that one out of the litter will have it now the other three puppies are fine as of right now they turned 5 weeks old this week. Monday was his diagnoses the vet put him on amoxicillin and a eye cream but no steroids says he is too young, but as of yesterday he can no longer stand on his hinds legs,he has no energy sleeping on and off all day, and his muzzle looks swollen, infection in eyes and one ear, and mouth, sleeps a lot is still eating somewhat and drinking water through a dropper because i don't want him to get dehydrated..Vet says the antibiotics should take care of it and he should be better in 10- 14 days.. But now he hasn't had a bowel movement either since Monday it is now Thursday they said I can give him 3 to 4 drops mineral oil to help.. I love my little man he is very special see when he was born we fell in love with him he is such a sweet baby and to see him like this just pains me to no end..I usually take a warm cloth and hold on his little mouth and wipe his little eyes away when they are swollen together.I guess my question is will he be alright after this will just the antibiotics work for him I don't want him to get worse.

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Lola

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Lab mix

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5 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Itching
Rash

We adopted Lola when she was 8 weeks old. She developed terrible itching and had what appeared to be a rash on her belly and in her armpits. We took her to the vet and he diagnosed puppy strangles. She has none of the typical symptoms on her face. Just the rash on her stomach and armpits. we started her on prednisone and an antibiotic. After several weeks it appeared to clear up. after a couple days she started scratching again and we saw signs of the rash again. The Vet put us back on the steroids. Can puppy strangles appear as a rash on her stomach? She is suffering some side effects on the prednisone and I want her to get better.

Puppy Strangles Average Cost

From 231 quotes ranging from $3,500 - $500

Average Cost

$850

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