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208 Breeds, 422 Health Conditions  |  Find a Vet

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Puppy Strangles (Juvenile Pyoderma)

First Aid Condition

First aid health condition




Condition Overview

Puppy strangles have all kinds of fancy technical names, including juvenile pyoderma, juvenile cellulitis, and puppy pyoderma. Fourtunately, this condition is not very common. Puppy strangles occurs in puppies 4 - 16 weeks of age and often affects several puppies in the same litter.


It can be recognized by a sudden swelling of the lips, eyelids, ear flaps, or face, along with the rapid development of pustules (puss filled pimples), crusts, skin erosions, and ulcers. The lymph nodes beneath the chin may become swollen and enlarged. These swollen lumps look as if they might strangle the puppy, hence the name. The limph nodes often abscess, break open, and drain.


Although bacteria have been implicated in some cases of puppy strangles, this is the exception rather than the rule. Puppy strangles are caused by a malfunction of the immune system. Most cases are considered to be an inflammatory immune process of unknown cause.

Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, dschshunds, Brittanys, and springer spaniels tend to be at highest risk.


Diagnosis is made by physical examination.


Apply warm, moist packs for 15 minutes 3 times daily. Further treatment involves the use of oral corticosteroids and antibiotics for 14 days. Antibiotics alone are not effective.

Do not attempt to express the pus from the sores. This increases the likelihood of scarring.


There is currently no known prevention for this condition.


Continue to use moist hot packs or compresses on the swollen area until the abscess has healed. This will help bring the abscess to a head to allow it to open on its own. Once it is open and draining, continue to apply moist hot packs to keep it open.

Your veterinarian may lance the abscessed lymph node if it doesn't open by itself. You may also need to flush the deep wound with an antiseptic solution like Betadine Solution. Be sure to buy the 0.01 - 0.1% strength. If you can only find the higher strength solution, dilute it with distilled water until it is the color of weak tea (if you are unsure of the dilution, call your pharmacist or veterinarian for complete instructions). You can use a needle-less syringe or turkey baster to squirt the solution into the wound to rinse out the debris so that it heals from the inside out. Your vet will show you how to do this.

After flushing the wound, you can keep it clean with Betadine Solution (diluted as described above) or warm Burrow's Solution, an astringent solution available in drugstores. Moisten a clean cloth or gauze pad with the solution and wipe away the discharge as needed.

For the crusty areas of skin on the lips and face, bathing your pet with a warm antiseptic liquid soap like Betadine Skin Cleanser, or 2.5% benzoyl peroxide shampoo, several times a day will help with healing and make your puppy more comfortable by soaking away the crusts. If it is accidentally ingested in small amounts, the Betadine and benzoyl peroxide may make your puppy salivate excessively or vomit. Don't be alarmed, this is a normal reaction to the bad taste of peroxide.

Only keeping the skin clean will not cure the problem. You will usually have to give your puppy antibiotics for up to 3 weeks to prevent secondary bacterial infections from occurring in the open and draining wounds. Many times, steroids are also prescribed to fight the inflammation. Puppies may get liquid medicine. To administer, tip the pup's head back, insert a needle-less syringe or eyedropper into the pouch of his cheek, squirt the medicine, and hold his mouth closed until he swallows.

Show Sources & Contributors +


Dog Owners Home Veterinary Handbook

Publisher: Wiley Publishing, 2007

Website: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/

Authors: Debra M. Eldredge, Liisa D. Carlson, Delbert G. Carlson, James M. Giffen MD

The First Aid Companion for Dogs And Cats

Publisher: Rodale Inc, 2001

Website: http://www.rodalebooks.com/

Authors: Amy D. Shojai, Shane Bateman DVM

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