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Puppy Strangles

Strangles is an auto-immune condition in puppies.

Puppy strangles is a condition that causes extreme swelling of a puppy's face, nose, and eyelids. It usually happens between three weeks and six months of age. It can also be called juvenile cellulitis.

What Causes Strangles in Puppies?

The cause of puppy strangles is that the body mistakes its own healthy cells for invaders and attacks them. It is an auto-immune condition. Scientists don't know yet what the exact trigger is for the condition, so they call it idiopathic, which means it has an unknown cause.

Because certain dog families seem to develop strangles, it's thought that there is a genetic component. Strangles is more common in golden retrievers, Dachshunds, and Gordon setters than other dog breeds.

Signs of Puppy Strangles

A dog with strangles develops a swollen face quite suddenly. Many times, at that stage, the condition is mistaken for an allergic reaction to a bee sting or other insect bite.

Then, raised bumps that are red or pus-filled develop on the affected skin. Those bumps can rupture and scab over. Strangles can spread over other parts of the dog's body over time.

The submandibular lymph nodes, which are those under the puppy's jaw, are often quite swollen and tender, also, during strangles, which isn't a standard component of an allergic reaction. The lymph nodes may even rupture and drain as the condition progresses.

Dogs with strangles are usually lethargic, have decreased appetite, and may develop a fever.

Diagnosis of Puppy Strangles

When a veterinarian is looking at a dog with strangles, there will be other, more common conditions he or she is also considering. Some testing will help rule out those other conditions. The veterinarian may perform a skin scraping to rule out mange, a fungal culture to rule out ringworm, a skin cytology to identify cell types on the skin, and a culture and sensitivity if bacteria are identified. A skin biopsy, which is the surgical removal of a piece of affected skin so it can be examined under the microscope, is the best way to diagnose puppy strangles.

Treatment of Puppy Strangles

The treatment of strangles in dogs focuses on decreasing the immune system's over-responsiveness. Prednisone, a corticosteroid that suppresses the immune system, is the most commonly used drug for strangles. Some dogs may also require antibiotics for a secondary infection of the skin.

If the condition is diagnosed and treated early in its progression, the prognosis is usually good. As it gets worse, the potential for scarring of the skin increases.

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Skin Scraping Test in Dogs

Mange in Dogs

Fungal Culture in Dogs

Ringworm in Dogs

Skin Cytology Test in Dogs

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