Puppy Strangles in Dogs

Cecilia de Cardenas
Nov 14, 2008
Image: Photo Grapher / via Image Bank

Juvenile Cellulitis in Dogs

Puppy strangles, or juvenile cellulitis, is a nodular and pustular skin disorder that affects puppies. It usually occurs between the ages of three weeks and four months, and is rarely seen in adult dogs. The face, pinnae (outer part of the ear), and salivary lymph nodes are the most common sites to be affected. The cause of this condition is unknown, but there are breeds that have been shown to be predisposed to it, including golden retrievers, dachshunds, and Gordon setters.

Symptoms and Types

  • Acutely (sudden and severe) swollen face – especially the eyelids, lips, and muzzle
  • Salivary gland lymphadenopathy: a disease process affecting a lymph node or multiple lymph nodes
  • Marked pustular and oozing skin disease, which frequently fistulates (develops into a hollow passage); develops within 24–48 hours
  • Pustular ear infection
  • Lesions often become crusted
  • Affected skin is usually tender
  • Lethargy in 50 percent of cases
  • Loss of appetite, fever, and presence of sterile suppurative arthritis in 25 percent of cases (acute inflammation of membranes, with leaking into a joint, due to bacterial infection)
  • Sterile pustular nodes (rare) over the trunk, reproductive organs, or on the area around the anus; lesions may appear as fluctuating nodules under the skin with fistulation


  • Cause and pathogenesis (origination) is unknown (idiopathic)
  • Immune dysfunction with an inheritable cause is suspected


Your veterinarian will conduct a skin biopsy (tissue sample) to determine what is causing the lesions.

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