What Is “Puppy Strangle” And Is It As Scary As It Sounds?

Written by: Dr. Katy Nelson

June 1, 2016

Puppy Strangles — the name alone sounds scary, especially if you try imagining what it is and how it may happen to your poor pup. But the name doesn’t suggest exactly what it sounds like. No puppies are being literally strangled. It’s actually an unfortunate skin condition.

Puppy 1

Puppy Strangles is rare and nasty, but affects puppies 3 weeks to 6 months of age, and is almost never found in adult dogs, according to Vets Now. (You can click here for a nasty pic we didn’t want to share.)

Puppy check up

Unfortunately, the skin condition isn’t pretty. Also known as juvenile cellulitis, it causes the face to swell up around the eyelids, lips and muzzle. Other symptoms include growth of small bumps around the ears that contain pus which may burst and form crusts. Ear infection may also be a symptom.

Puppy 2

Additionally, Puppy Strangles affects the lymph nodes as they often become swollen, especially behind the jaw, and also may burst. The puppies also become sick and lethargic and to have poor appetite.

Sleepy dog

According to Vets Now, not much is known what exactly causes Puppy Strangles but it could be due to a dysfunction in the immune system. Because it affects certain dog breeds (such as Golden Retrievers, Dachshunds and Labradors), it could suggest that there is a “genetic component” to Puppy Strangles says Vets Now.


So if your puppy happens to get Strangles, see a vet immediately, as they may recommend high doses of oral steroids until the skin lesions heal. Antibiotics can be prescribed too because of the secondary bacterial skin.


Once the skin condition heals, the lesions may leave scars but good news is that the condition rarely comes back.

Featured image via @brucecooperwayne /Instagram

Sources: Veteray, Vets Now

Written by: Dr. Katy Nelson

June 1, 2016

Toothbrush-free dental care for dogs.

Fresher breath in 1–2 weeks.