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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

dog-name-icon

Bee

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Golden Husky

dog-age-icon

2 Months

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

Fair severity

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0 found helpful

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

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Tired

Hi , My 2 Months old puppy swallow baby gloves. She just swallow it , the gloves is a very thin kind of gloves its for new born babies. So far she did not vomit or any sign of diarrhea . She is active and playful as usual but I am really concern about it . Is that anything we can do to make sure she is really okay , plus she pooped as usual just now but we did not see the gloves in there . So far she did not show any symptoms but the gloves still inside her stomach this concern me so much. She is Golden Husky ( Golden retriever mix with Wooly Husky)

Dec. 19, 2017

Bee's Owner


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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for contacting us today about Bee. There is a risk of a foreign body obstruction, as well as intestinal upset, from the gloves There is a chance that they might pass, but it is sort of unknown at this point. If it has been less than 2 hours, she should be seen at a veterinarian to induce vomiting. If it has been longer, she should be monitored very closely for vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite, and lethargy and belly pain. If she shows any of those signs, she needs to see her vet immediately.

Dec. 19, 2017

Can a female dog have a litter of puppys is she had puppy strangle when she was a baby

Jan. 11, 2018

Billie M.


How if she does not show any of these signs . Until now she is active and she seems as usual.

Dec. 20, 2017

Bee's Owner

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Sadie

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Treeing Walker Coonhound

dog-age-icon

10 Months

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

Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Lathargy
Pustules On Eyes, Lower Lips, Anus
Tender Head

Sadie was diagnosed and received treatment within 2 days of developing observable symptoms. The pustules, tenderness, lymph node swelling, and lethargy came on quick. She’s 58 pounds and has been taking one dose of each prescription every 12 hours for one week. Her symptoms are all gone and she doesn’t appear to have any scarring. How should we proceed with the prescriptions? Is it best to continue the antibiotic and steroid at the full dose for another two weeks before tapering off the steroid over another two weeks? Any advice is appreciated.

Nov. 16, 2017

Sadie's Owner

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0 Recommendations

If the symptoms have resolved you should start tapering the dose of prednisone or prednisolone in accordance with the instructions from your Veterinarian; usually the dose is halved for a week or two before going to every other day, but follow the instructions from your Veterinarian. If there is another flare up of symptoms, return to the original dosage and consult with your Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.cliniciansbrief.com/sites/default/files/attachments/Puppy%20Strangles.pdf

Nov. 16, 2017

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Lady

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Poodle, Toy

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22 Months

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting
Drooling
Coughing

I rescued a 3-month old toy poodle in February 2016 (she will be 2yrs in Nov) and found out she had puppy strangles. Had every single symptom that is commonly seen with this disease, with additional all 4 paw pads swelling. She was on Abx and pred x3-4 months. Every symptom subsided except the swelling in her paw pads. Went to a dermatologist, did biopsy of paw pad and results = lymphoplasmacytic pododermatitis. Trailed Atopica with no relief. Currently taking doxycycline and niacinomide. Had a flare up of the joint pain, enlarged lymph nodes and behavioral issues at age 11 months and was on prednisone again x3-4 months. We are now 7 months free from a flare. However, now we have a collapsed trachea (since about May-June 2017). Salfasalazine (spelling?) worked moderately, hydrocodone did not work at all (because it was liquid and my pup will not take liquid for me). Then in July 2017, she had an episode of dry heaving, stopped breathing for maybe 15 seconds (which felt like forever), was drooling and then had a yellow (bile-like) emesis. Is any of this related? I tried calling my primary vet (2x's) when this happened and I haven't heard anything from them. I feel like they are annoyed of me and all my questions/worries. But I'd just like to get some answers!! I'm considering a second opinion, but happened to stumble upon your page here. She also has a growing lump near her spine. It's mobile, nontender and soft. I'm not too worried but I did read that toy poodles are known to have skin cancer.... something that she does not need right now!!! Thanks, Karissa

Sept. 14, 2017

Lady's Owner

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0 Recommendations

There is a lot of information there and it would be advisable to seek a second opinion if you are unhappy with the response you are getting from your current Veterinarian and it is always good to get a second set of eye to look at a chronic case like this one. The dry heaving event and vomiting, is probably unrelated but the tracheal collapse may have caused her to stop breathing due to a restricted airway if there was some negative pressure in the lungs; once a sufficient amount of air got into the lungs the trachea would have opened again. As for the mass on the skin, this is still a concern especially if it is connected to the skin; if the skin and lower tissues move independently of the mass then we can feel a little better about it, but shouldn’t be complacent. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Sept. 14, 2017

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Charlie

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Golden Retriever

dog-age-icon

11 Weeks

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

Serious severity

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1 found helpful

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

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Red Eyes
Large Bumps In Ears
Bumps On Tummy
Sores Around The Mouth And Nose
Makes Weird Pig Noises

My dog Charlie was diagnosed with strangled over a month ago. He went on the meds and when he looked better the vet said to start tapering down the dosage. Within a week, his symptoms flared up so we went back up on the meds. We have been giving him prednisone three times a day but he doesn't seem to be improving, it just seems that the meds are keeping it from getting worse. He also has good appetite and energy. Is there a way to tell if the meds aren't going to heal him and we should prepare for having put him down?

Aug. 30, 2017

Charlie's Owner


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1 Recommendations

Puppy strangles can be a difficult condition to control; therapy is aimed at suppressing the immune system to decrease severity of symptoms and to prevent secondary infection. It may be a case that you may need to increase the dosage of prednisone to reduce the severity of the symptoms and then to taper off again more gradually over time; this process may take months to implement. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 30, 2017

I am also going through this with my almost 2 year old dog right now. He just finished his cycle of predand now 1 week later his symptoms are flaring up again... Very discouraging. The pred is taking a very hard toll on him, it's caused his spine to become more prominent and he becomes extremely depressed on it.

Feb. 21, 2018

Jeanette


Looks as if my puppy has this too. Is it contagious? I have three other puppies in the house as well

Jan. 21, 2018

Kenyetta F.


Hi Charlie's owner! My pup had same experience. We had to constantly increase and decrease the dose of pred until she was completely weaned off. Took about 3-4 months. Then she had a flare up about 4 months later and had to be on pred again for another 3-4 months. My pup is as lively as can be (but has other health issues)! Don't give up hope yet!

Sept. 13, 2017

Karissa D.

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Tiny

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Golden Retriever

dog-age-icon

8 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

Eye Discharge

Hi i recently had a second litter of golden retrivers puppies with my female . They were all extremely healthy. At 7 weeks old they had their evaluation and set of nobivac-1 shots at my parents house.( as I did not won't to expose them to other dogs. ) the vet found them all very healthy. The day after the injection they all had a mild fever and glory eyes. I assumed it was a mild reaction. Day two my runt of the litter had deep breathing and small amounts of clear like fluid coming out of his eyes. Day 3 he had puss coming from his eyes. The puppy was still eating, drinking, playing and pop was normal. He was brought to the vet and told it was puppy strangles and giving medication. Day 4 he got the bumps around his nose and mouth. My question is is it possible he got this from a reaction to the shots??? Will it come back? Can this be something the parents gave the puppy (all 8 from last year are healthy and soooo far the rest from this year) and is their a chance more can develop this? Thanks for your response

July 26, 2017

Tiny's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

The cause of puppy strangles (juvenile cellulitis) is unknown, but is due to an increase in activity of the immune system since patients respond positively to immunosuppression therapy. Cases of puppy strangles respond well to steroid therapy which after a period of time will be tapered off; I cannot say whether or not your other puppies would be affected, but Golden Retrievers are predisposed. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 26, 2017

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Puppy Strangles Average Cost

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

Average Cost

$850

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