Puppy Strangles, is it Contagious, Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Long-term Effects and Recovery

Puppy strangles

This post provides gives detailed puppy strangles information. We discuss what it is, whether it is contagious, its causes, symptoms, treatment and home remedies. Also explored are it’s various long-term effects.

Puppy Strangles

Like the name suggests, this is a condition affecting puppies. We answer a few questions about it below.

What Is Puppy Strangles?

Puppy strangles is a term commonly used to describe juvenile cellulitis. Juvenile pyoderma and puppy head gland disease are other names used to refer to it. This is a skin disorder that occurs in puppies and rarely in grown-up or older dogs. The disease causes pustules in the face of the puppy and affects its lymph nodes.

It occurs in puppies that are between three weeks and four months. The likelihood of the disease decreases beyond 12 weeks. Although it takes the appearance of a bacterial infection, the condition is thought to be immune-mediated. Left untreated, puppy strangles could lead to scarring or death in severe cases. The breeds most susceptible to the disease are:

Is Puppy Strangles Contagious?

As discussed above, puppy strangles is a result of a compromised immune system. It could also be genetically predisposed. This being the case, puppy head gland disease is not contagious. However, any secondary infections resulting from it may be contagious.

Puppy Strangles Symptoms

Puppy strangles symptoms may be mistaken for other skin infections. However, a close inspection will show some additional signs pointing to the disease. Puppy strangles symptoms include:

  • Pustules on the face
  • Facial swelling on the eyelids, lips, muzzle and around the ears
  • Crusty appearance where the pustules rapture
  • Ear infection papules
  • Fever
  • Enlarged lymph nodes especially behind the jaws
  • Skin becomes tender to touch
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Pustules around the abdomen, anus and reproductive organs in severe cases

Strangles in Puppies Pictures

To help understand the disease better, here are some juvenile cellulitis pictures:

Puppy Strangles
Strangles in puppy
Golden retriever puppy strangles
Juvenile cellulitis is common in golden retrievers

Puppy Strangles in Dogs Causes

The puppy strangles disease is idiopathic. This means that there hasn’t been a clearly identified cause. However, research indicates that the condition is immune-mediated. It is suspected to be as a result of dysfunction of the immune system.

Is puppy strangles hereditary? This is a common question from people trying to understand the condition. Since it is more prevalent in certain breeds, puppy strangles is thought to have a genetic correlation.

Puppy Strangles Treatment

In most cases, juvenile cellulitis treatment in dogs involves aggressive immunosuppression. This could be done using corticosteroids and broad-spectrum antibiotics. The latter treat and prevent further secondary infections. These are administered until the pustules clear. The treatment cost will depend on how long it takes the puppy to recover and form of treatment used.

Since a puppy with strangles already has a compromised immune system, the pustules and lesions on its face leave it at an increased risk of developing infections. To curb this, your veterinarian may prescribe a topical ointment to soothe itch and pain during the recovery period. In older dogs with severe strangles, chemotherapy may be done. This though is rare.

How Long Does Puppy Strangles Last – Puppy Strangles Recovery

During recovery, it is important to do as instructed by your vet. Since your puppy’s immune system is not yet fully developed, treating it with immunosuppressants may be too much for it.  As such, it is necessary for the corticosteroids to be tapered. In case an ointment is prescribed, strictly follow the instructions given to ensure the puppy’s well being.

During the recovery, ensure the affected area remains completely dry. Use an astringent solution to clean it throughout the day. You can use burrows solution diluted with hydrogen peroxide. Talk to your vet about the same.

Although strangles is not likely to occur after treatment, depending on how soon treatment is sought after the appearance of the symptoms, it is possible for your puppy to experience permanent scarring. How long the condition lasts will depend on how severe it was. Some dogs recover faster than others.

Puppy Strangles Prognosis

Diagnosis of the disease is done through a look into the history and physical examination. Once other skin conditions such as severe infections are ruled out, akin biopsy and cultures may be necessary. These are done by your vet.

Puppy strangles prognosis where the dog went too long without treatment, prognosis could be very poor.

Puppy Strangles Home Treatment  and Cures

There are no known home cures for puppy strangles. For your puppy to get well, it is important for the condition to get treated by the vet. In addition to the recommended course of treatment, here are a few puppies strangles home treatments you can put into place.

  1. Using a warm cloth dipped in hot water, give your dog warm compresses. Dip it in the water, wring out any excess and hold this against the affected part. The warmth will help improve blood circulation around the area for quick healing.
  2. To avoid the discomfort that comes with crusting around the pustules ones they rapture, keep cleaning the area throughout the day. Where the crusts have already formed, moisten them first before washing them off.
  3. To facilitate the healing of the sores, wash them with 2.5 percent benzoyl peroxide.
  4. To take care of abscessed lymph nodes, clean them up to four times using warm water and a clean washcloth.
  5. While taking care of the dog, avoid rough cleaning as this could be pretty uncomfortable. It also increases the chances of scarring.

Puppy Strangles Long-Term Effects

The most obvious puppy strangles long-term effects are permanent scars. These though only occur where the condition took too long before getting treated. Additionally, it could also affect its temperament as an older dog. This is attributed to the psychological trauma associated with the pain caused by the disease. These long-term effects can be prevented by ensuring timely treatment.

Since juvenile cellulitis is suspected to be genetic, passing the condition to future generations is yet another long-term effect. It is therefore advisable to spay or neuter dogs affected by it to avoid it being passed on. Other than these, there are no other known methods for the prevention of juvenile cellulitis.

Sources and References


  1. My dog is English bulldog age of almost 4 year old.
    He had red skin, pustule and blisters like an ulcer.. for 5 days.
    The vet said he had probably juvenile cellulitis. So, I should give him steroid pill for a week.

  2. My cooker had it and my vet refused to give a steroid despite my wishes i Did say all along it won’t clear with antibiotics .Well 2 weeks later after getting worse the vets agreed and put her on steroids as she was really bad.1 week later much better 1 week after that clear .Wish I had been more insistent from the start would have save her suffering .I was warned before hand if the vets didn’t treat it aggresivley it would get worse

  3. Have two puppies 2 weeks of age and they have symptoms of the juvenile cellulitis and I don’t have the money on haND to take them to the veT what should I do?

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