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What Is Puppy Strangles

Puppy strangles is a rare yet potentially dangerous condition that can affect young dogs. Also known as juvenile cellulitis, this inflammatory disease primarily targets puppies, causing swelling, pain, and crusted lesions around the face and neck. Although the exact cause remains unclear, experts speculate that it may occur due to immune system abnormalities or bacterial infections. While puppy strangles can be alarming, prompt veterinary intervention and appropriate treatment can improve the prognosis and relieve the discomfort experienced by these adorable furry companions. Puppy strangles, also known as juvenile cellulitis, is a rare but potentially serious inflammatory disorder that affects young puppies. It is characterized by the sudden onset of swelling of the face, especially around the eyes, mouth, and throat. The condition can progress quickly, causing discomfort and breathing difficulties for affected puppies. In this article, we will explore the definition of puppy strangles, its causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, prognosis, prevention, how it differs from other conditions, and whether humans can contract it. So, let’s dive in and learn more about this concerning condition.

Definition of Puppy Strangles

Puppy strangles, also referred to as juvenile cellulitis, is a dermatologic condition that predominantly affects young puppies, usually between the ages of 3 weeks to 4 months. It is characterized by the sudden onset of painful inflammation and swelling in the head and neck region. This inflammation can lead to the formation of pustules, crusts, and draining ulcers. In severe cases, puppies may experience difficulty breathing and swallowing due to the swelling. Puppy strangles often requires prompt medical intervention to alleviate symptoms and prevent complications.

Causes of Puppy Strangles

The exact cause of puppy strangles remains unknown. However, it is believed to be an immune-mediated disorder, meaning it results from an abnormal immune response. In puppies with a genetic predisposition, an exaggerated immune response can be triggered by various factors, such as infections, allergic reactions, or environmental triggers. Stress, trauma, hormonal imbalances, and exposure to certain medications or chemicals may also contribute to the development of puppy strangles. Further research is needed to fully understand the underlying causes of this condition.

Symptoms of Puppy Strangles

The symptoms of puppy strangles can vary in severity and may include both visible and behavioral changes. Visible symptoms often manifest as swelling and inflammation around the face, particularly the eyes, muzzle, and throat. Puppies may develop pustules, crusts, and ulcers on the affected areas. Additionally, they may experience pain, discomfort, and difficulty eating or swallowing. Behavioral changes may include lethargy, loss of appetite, fever, and reluctance to be touched or handled. If you notice these symptoms in your puppy, it is crucial to seek veterinary care promptly.

Diagnosis of Puppy Strangles

Diagnosing puppy strangles typically involves a combination of physical examination, skin testing, and biopsy. During the physical examination, the veterinarian will assess the appearance of the lesions, check for swollen lymph nodes, and evaluate the overall condition of the puppy. Skin testing, such as skin scrapings or bacterial cultures, may be performed to rule out other skin conditions or infections. A biopsy, where a small tissue sample is taken from the affected area, can confirm the diagnosis by revealing characteristic changes in the skin layers. Differential diagnosis is essential to exclude other conditions that may present with similar symptoms.

Treatment of Puppy Strangles

The treatment of puppy strangles often involves a combination of medical interventions and supportive care. Antibiotics are commonly prescribed to control secondary bacterial infections that may arise due to the open sores and compromised skin. Anti-inflammatory medications, such as corticosteroids, are used to reduce swelling and alleviate discomfort. Immune-modulating drugs may be recommended to help regulate the abnormal immune response. Good hygiene practices, including gentle cleansing of the affected areas, can aid in preventing secondary infections. Pain management and supportive care, such as providing a soft diet and ensuring adequate hydration, are crucial for the well-being of the puppy.

Prognosis of Puppy Strangles

The prognosis for puppies with strangles can vary depending on several factors, including the severity of the condition, the age of the puppy, and the promptness of treatment. With appropriate treatment, most puppies recover within a few weeks to a few months. However, some may experience long-term effects, such as scarring, hair loss, or changes in pigmentation at the affected sites. In rare cases, relapses or recurrence of symptoms may occur. Regular follow-up visits with the veterinarian are necessary to monitor the puppy’s progress and address any concerns.

Prevention of Puppy Strangles

Preventing puppy strangles can be challenging since the underlying cause is not fully understood. However, there are preventive measures that can help reduce the risk or severity of the condition. Avoiding known triggers, such as exposure to certain chemicals or medications, can be beneficial. Vaccinations against common infectious diseases can help strengthen the puppy’s immune system and reduce the likelihood of developing strangles. If considering breeding, it is advisable to choose dogs with no history of puppy strangles in their bloodlines, as genetics may play a role in the predisposition to this condition.

Puppy Strangles vs Other Conditions

Distinguishing puppy strangles from other skin diseases can be challenging due to shared symptoms and overlapping presentations. It is crucial to consider a differential diagnosis to accurately identify puppy strangles and exclude other conditions. Some skin diseases that may resemble puppy strangles include bacterial or fungal infections, allergic reactions, and autoimmune disorders. An experienced veterinarian will thoroughly evaluate the puppy’s symptoms, conduct the necessary tests, and analyze the results to make an accurate diagnosis.

Can Humans Get Puppy Strangles?

Fortunately, puppy strangles is a condition that solely affects puppies and does not pose a risk to humans. It is not considered zoonotic, meaning it cannot be transmitted from puppies to humans or vice versa. However, it is important to note that certain infectious agents associated with puppy strangles may pose a risk to humans. Practicing good hygiene and following basic safety precautions, such as proper handwashing after handling affected puppies, can help prevent potential transmission of infectious agents.


Puppy strangles, or juvenile cellulitis, is a relatively rare but serious condition that primarily affects young puppies. Prompt diagnosis and treatment are crucial in managing this condition and ensuring the well-being of affected puppies. While the exact cause of puppy strangles remains unknown, an abnormal immune response triggered by various factors is believed to play a role. Despite the challenges in prevention and diagnosis, understanding the symptoms, seeking veterinary care, and following recommended treatment protocols can greatly improve the prognosis for puppies with strangles.


I am Crownstar, the passionate author behind DogBreedWorld. Welcome to a realm where we delve into the enchanting universe of dogs and explore different breeds. At DogBreedWorld, I am dedicated to sharing valuable information, tips, and tricks on raising and training healthy dogs. With a profound love and understanding for our furry friends, I aim to provide dog enthusiasts with insights into the world of various dog breeds, unravel their unique traits, and offer guidance on how to care for them. Join me on this delightful journey as we celebrate the beauty and wonder of our four-legged companions.