Puppy Strangles Treatment Cost (And Why This Autoimmune Disease Could Be Fatal)

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Puppy with strangles on mouthPuppy strangles (or Juvenile Cellulitis) is a condition all pet parents (specifically puppy parents) need to be aware of. In the past, this disease has been considered fatal (and still is if left untreated. Fortunately, modern day veterinarians know which medications to prescribe to help your pup heal.

This article is dedicated to teaching pet parents about puppy strangles and what the symptoms and treatment consists of. We also include a testimonial from a pet parent whose dog was diagnosed with puppy strangles, so you can see how one case played out.

Article Overview

What Is Puppy Strangles?

Puppy strangles, also known as canine juvenile cellulitis, is a skin-related autoimmune disorder that most often affects puppies. Autoimmune diseases occur when the immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s healthy cells. Puppy strangles is most common in pups between three weeks and four months old and is not normally seen in adult dogs. The most commonly affected areas are the face, outer part of the ear and salivary lymph nodes.

What Causes Puppy Strangles?

Like most autoimmune diseases, there is no known cause for puppy strangles. Some breeds (golden retrievers, dachshunds and gordon setters) appear to be predisposed to it.

What Are Puppy Strangles Symptoms?

  • Facial swelling (specifically the eyelids, lips and muzzle)
  • Salivary gland lymphadenopathy – a disease which affects one or more lymph nodes
  • Marked pustular and oozing skin disease, which can develop into hollow passages within 24 to 48 hours
  • Ear infection with pus
  • Crusted lesions
  • Tender skin where affected
  • In 50% of cases the dog will have a lack of energy
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Fever
  • Joint pain
  • In rare instances, sterile pustular nodes over the trunk, reproductive organs or around the anus

What Does Puppy Strangles Look Like?

To see a puppy with canine juvenile cellulitis, watch the video below. Just a friendly heads up, the video can be a bit difficult to watch because the pup is whining. However, it’s rather informative and useful to know what exactly to look for, so if it happens to your dog, you can help him sooner than later.

Puppy Strangles Prognosis and Treatment

If your puppy goes untreated for too long, the prognosis can be poor. In most cases, juvenile cellulitis treatment demands immunosuppression which allows the system some time to heal and reverse its attack. Prednisone ($40 per 100 count) is commonly prescribed by veterinarians as a puppy strangles treatment because it is used to treat inflammatory diseases. Your dog’s vet may also prescribe an antibiotic such as:

  • Amoxicillin Clavulanate 500mg – $20 per 100 count*
  • Cefadroxil (liquid form) – $30 for 50ml or $60 for 100ml*
  • Cephalexin 500mg – $30 per 100 count*

The combination of Prednisone and an antibiotic will help give your puppy the best prognosis.

*Please note that these costs can vary by location, vet and use of pet insurance.

Is There a Puppy Strangles Natural Treatment?

While we wouldn’t call these cures, they can help calm your dog’s symptoms. We urge you to consult your vet before using a puppy strangles home treatment on your dog. Each pup is different, and you do not want to risk making the situation worse.

  • Apply a hot pack to your dog’s sore face two or three times a day.
  • Wet a washcloth with as hot of water as you can stand, wring it out, and hold it against your dog’s swollen throat. Do this for five minutes on, then five minutes off and repeat until the cloth has cooled.
  • Soak the crusted sores on your dog’s face with warm water to soften them and then gently wipe them off. Wash the area with a 2.5% benzoyl peroxide cleanser.
  • For abscessed lymph nodes, clean the areas three or four times per day with a warm, wet cloth and apply for five to ten minutes.

Your dog’s affected areas will be very tender, so make sure you are incredibly gentle. Additionally, being rough with the spots can increase the chances of scarring.

What Are the Long Term Effects of Puppy Strangles?

Juvenile cellulitis’ long term effects include scarring, especially around the eyes. This is due to the puppy scratching themselves, which can increase scarring. Aside from puppy strangles scarring, there are no other known long term effects from puppy strangles.

Is Puppy Strangles Contagious?

Puppy strangles is NOT contagious. It is an autoimmune disease, which means the dog’s body has produced antibodies that are attacking its cells and tissue. This leads to the deterioration and sometimes destruction of the tissue.

Is Puppy Strangles Hereditary?

Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of information out there about puppy strangles. We do know that the disease is idiopathic, meaning the cause has not been identified. Because some breeds appear to be predisposed to puppy strangles, there is reason to speculate that puppy strangles has a genetic link.

How Long Does Puppy Strangles Last?

Puppy strangles recovery time can vary based on how severe the case is. If diagnosed early, your dog could have a quicker recovery time. However, this isn’t always the case.

A Pet Parent’s Experience with Puppy Strangles Symptoms and Treatments

Pet Parent: Isaac
Pet: Zeek, 4-month-old Golden Retriever
Diagnosis & Treatment: Puppy Strangles condition; lymph node surgery
Claim Cost: $1,232
Healthy Paws Pet Insurance Reimbursement: $1,014
Isaac’s Out-of-Pocket Expense: $218

“Zeek is a 7.5-month old Golden Retriever puppy with a great personality despite the medical issues he’s had to endure!” said Isaac. Zeek was diagnosed with Puppy Strangles (a rare auto-immune disorder also known as Juvenile cellulitis) ​when he was roughly four-months-old after quite a bit of back and forth on the diagnosis.

“At first, Zeek had very low energy, was ​sleeping a lot and not eating for 2-3 days. He also developed a lump in the side of his​ neck,” Isaac continued. “The vet thought he was fighting an infection and treated the symptoms with antibiotics.”

When Zeek’s condition did not improve, and the swelling around his neck got worse, Isaac went back to the vet who then recommended a CT scan of the area.

“The scan was done in an emergency pet hospital where they quickly diagnosed his condition and hospitalized him. At that point, his lymph nodes expanded to the size of apples [and were] restricting his airways!” Isaac said. “He required emergency surgery to have a set of his lymph nodes removed. After a long recovery period and post-surgical steroid treatment, he is back to normal.”

Today, Zeek is doing rather well, considering all he’s been through as a puppy! “He loves chasing leaves, squirrels and birds, and he’s, of course, a huge fan of tennis balls,” said Isaac. “He’s completely healed from his condition and we are waiting until he is fully healed from another surgery – this time tie elbow dysplasia – before we can resume winter activities. We know Zeek can’t wait to go play in the snow again, as well as with other dogs!”

Since Isaac had signed Zeek up for Healthy Paws pet insurance before a health issue arose, a significant portion of the claim was covered by Healthy Paws. Unfortunately, Zeek had elbow dysplasia surgery as well, but Healthy Paws most likely picked up the majority of this bill too (unless Zeek had a pre-existing condition).

Signing up for pet insurance can save you the hefty vet bill and the stress of deciding whether or not to take your dog to the vet in a time of emergency or illness. Unfortunately, many pet parents opt to skip making a vet appointment because they are worried about the expense of the office visit fee and any additional care or medications that may be needed. Pet health insurance is a great way to make sure the needs of your beloved pet come first.

We recommend signing up for pet insurance immediately after you adopt your dog, no matter what the age, so you aren’t faced with the decision of choosing your bank account over your dog’s health. The younger the dog, the less expensive your policy will be and the more coverage you will have since your dog has far fewer pre-existing conditions at that time than later in life. You can learn more about Healthy Paws, and how they performed in our pet insurance reviews.

Has your dog suffered from puppy strangles?

About The Author:

Kimberly received her Bachelor of Arts in multimedia journalism from Simpson College. She has been writing about dogs since 2014, covering subjects such as dog insurance, training, health, accessories and more. Her natural curiosity helps her research as she seeks the truth when learning about, comparing and personally testing canine products and services. With every piece she writes, her goal is to help our readers find the best fit for their unique needs.

Kimberly grew up in a family that loved Labrador Retrievers and remembers running and playing in the yard with them as a child. In 2017, she and her husband adopted their Coonhound mix, Sally, from a local shelter. Kimberly's research was put to good use since Sally faced some aggression issues with other dogs and needed some training to be an inside dog. She worked daily with Sally and sought help from professionals to help Sally become the happy pup she is today.

One of Kimberly's favorite pastimes is spoiling Sally with new toys, comfy beds and yummy treats (she even makes homemade goodies for her). She tries to purchase the safest products for Sally and knows that each canine has their own specific likes and dislikes. Kimberly is passionate about dogs, and knows the bond between humans and canines is like no other.

Disclaimer: Information regarding insurance company offerings, pricing and other contract details are subject to change by the insurance company at any time and are not under the control of this website. Information published on this website is intended for reference use only. Please review your policy carefully before signing up for a new pet health insurance contract or any other contract as your unique circumstances will differ from those of others who may be used for example purposes in this article.
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Shannon zonta

My puppy is 7 wks old and has puppy strangles he’s better now after 3 days of medication swelling is down he’s eating drinking and playing but still really tired. His sores are getting better his ears are not swollen but still goopy looking. I’m hoping he will stop being so tired soon but the vet said he would be pretty exhausted the next couple weeks. Luckily I took him to the vet the second he swelled up so we believe it just started and I caught it in time. He’s a Saint Bernard so we have to do weight checks and adjust his steroid dosage due to his weight.


I have a 6 month old chihuahua she has puppy strangles. After 3 vets and a month passing. They finally gave me steroids praying she gets better. Her name is Chloe.

Theresa Dailey

My son’s puppy, Jax, was diagnosed with puppy strangles when he was 8 weeks old. I call him a mini black lab because his mom is a miniature Australian shepherd and his dad was a black lab. His first symptoms were his ears, the insides were swollen and had a greyish discharge (kind of like he had a bad infection in both ears). I cleaned his ears out really good and let him sleep in bed with me so his mother and brothers would leave him alone. The next morning the other symptoms started one at a time. First he was lethargic and not his normal energetic self, then came the swelling around his muzzle. The next day he couldn’t stand on his own, there were sore like things on his muzzle that were leaking what looked like blood, and his throat was starting to swell. He at this point was still eating but it had to be the puppy food in the pouches and he would only take a couple of bites and he would sleep all day and I had to hold his body up when he had to go to the bathroom because he was to weak for his little legs to hold him up. My son who was 17 at the time was very close to my black lab, the daddy, who passed away 2 months before the puppies were born, was beside himself because we couldn’t figure out what was wrong with Jax and he knew if I didn’t get him to a vet he would most likely pass away. I called 14 vets that day and 1 after another was declined an appointment for this poor baby. I finally got a hold of New Horizon Animal Clinic and they brought him in as an emergency visit. The vet examined him and explained that he had puppy strangles and that he was going to be on medication for a while but she was going to let me take him home as long as he continued to eat, drink, and use the bathroom but if he stopped doing those things he would have to be hospitalized. It was the longest 2 months I think I have ever experienced, giving an ill 8 week old baby puppy medicine 2 times a day every day until the symptoms started going away and then once a day everyday for a while and once a day every couple days was a challenge, plus we had to rub medicine in his ears which was another challenge. After the vet bill and 2 rounds of antibiotics, prednisone, and a steroid cream for his ears, I think it ended up costing around $350 for everything, he finally started feeling more like his energetic self and was able to stand on his own. March 28,2020 Jax will have his first birthday and even though some of the hair on his muzzle hasn’t grown back he is a happy, healthy, and spoiled rotten good boy. New Horizon Animal Clinic saved his life and words can never express how thankful I am that they cared enough to see him when no one else would. Out of the 6 boys that my miniature Australian shepherd had Jax was the only one who ended up with puppy strangles. If anyone happens to read Jax’s story and you or someone you know thinks your/their fur baby has puppy strangles call a vet and don’t stop calling vets until you find one that will see him/her.


Our puppy was diagnosed at 8 weeks of age and has been on prednisone ever since (20 mg). He is now 4 months old, ~15 pounds. Our vet suggested weaning him off his steroids (10 mg as of 2 days ago). He already is having his symptoms return, which I’m assuming will require him to go back to his original dose when I call in the morning. Has anyone else had experience with puppy strangles treatment lasting 2+ months? When he was diagnosed so quickly, we assumed he would be cured a lot sooner. Unfortunately, he has had all the worse side effects- uncontrollable bowel/bladder issues, vomiting, swollen lymph nodes, swollen joints to the point of being non-weight bearing, blisters, itchiness, ear infections, lethargic, constant pain, continuous tears/pus/blood. This is my first experience with a puppy and I’m not sure what else to do, any advice appreciated. We haven’t tried warm compress yet, as mentioned above, we will try to see if he tolerates it.


I am having the same issue with my puppy. He was diagnosed at 8 weeks and it has been 2+ months and he is still on meds. We started to wean him and the itching came back so bad he made himself bleed.

Did you get any answers?


We have a 3year old Labradoodle and this is the 6th time of recurrent puppy strangles. We are a bit discouraged! First it is a very rare disease for puppies and even more for adults! It just came back a month ago!! We started today with a second treatment of prednisone in a month (first one did not work) and then our vet recommended Atopica. Any feedback is welcome..thanks in advance for your feedback

Kim Marie Straumann

I have a seven week old miniature Dachshund puppy that has this disease. It is horrible. I feel absolutely helpless. She has the swollen lymph nodes sores covering her lips that are also swollen her ears are itchy swollen rashes cover the inside. She has the open sores that start as little lumps and then drain like big blisters. Her anus is also sore looking. Her genitals are affected. I have her on the steroids and antibiotics this is been 10 days that’s hardly made a difference other than the temporary medicinal affect
She is missing out on fun puppy life. I’ve seen where some substantial $$ has been donated to studies for this disease but the focus is on horses and alpacas. TX A&M received a large amount from the Morris foundation. Anyone for the small animals???


What are the long term affects? Our puppy has strangles, went through the antibiotics and prednisone. Two weeks after the prednisone was finished, our lab puppy started having diarrhea, vomiting and loss of appetite. The smell was horrible. He is now in the vets being rehydrated and they are doing some more testing. Poor little guy. I would like info from anyone who could tell me if they have had this happen. PLEASE. Anyone with info, please share. Thank you.

Theresa Dailey

My son’s puppy Jax had puppy strangles, if you want to read the story I put it on here just look for Theresa Dailey. He had 2 rounds of antibiotics, prednisone, and a steroid cream for his ears. When he had puppy strangles he lost most of his appetite but would still eat a bite or 2 here and there of Purina puppy pouches (it’s a wet puppy food in a yellow pouch) and for a week after the symptoms went away and the vet took him off his medicine he didn’t have much of an appetite but he didn’t stop drinking water even when he was sick (he drank a bottle sometimes a bottle and a half a day). After the prednisone he has diarrhea for a couple days but it didn’t really smell all that bad, don’t get me wrong it stunk but to me puppy/dog poo stinks anyway, but when he was sick and he pooped it smelled something horrible. Jax is going to be 1 in March and hasn’t had any problems with the puppy strangles. I am sure your vet will figure out what’s going on with your fur baby and everything will be OK.

Eileen Clarke

I have a 3 year old Irish Wolfhound. Is it possible for him to have Strangles as he has all the symptoms ?



Yes it is my dig is 4 yr old lab and still deals with thete will be a time were they go into remission, but it can recur at any age. Most vet have never heard of this disease so you have to educate yourself i did lol sad sad to watch them go threw it even worse when they go without notice, sometimes its when there tired and out of breath and thirsty whatch for signs hope this helps


Hey Deborah, sorry to hear about your lab still dealing with it! We have a 3year old Labradoodle and this is the 6th time of recurrent puppy strangles. We are a bit discouraged! Today at the vet, they told me he is the only case the know of!!!! So if you ever hear of any specialist please let me know.. Hope 2020 will bring better health to our sweet puppies


I picked up my 8 week old chocolate Labrador from the breeder on a Friday. I was told he had a clean bill of health Thursday from the breeders veterinarian. The puppy immediately was noticeably sleepy and uncomfortable. I assumed it was because he was scared. However the next day we noticed he had massive double ear infections. Both ears were so swollen that there were ulcerations and papules. The odor and crust coming out of his ears made it obvious he had infections. However, I have had 5 labs and a bulldog and never had seen ears this bad. We brought him to the vet where he was immediately (thankfully) diagnosed with double ear infections (yeast & bacteria) and puppy strangles. His lymph nodes between his shoulders were swollen the size of ping pong balls. He was only 12lbs at the time so that was pretty bad. He was immediately treated for ear infections (which once we were able to see in his ears the vet said his left ear had a ruptured eardrum). He was also put on prednisone right away. He was on the prednisone for over a month. 3 pills a day then two pills a day then 1 pill a day then 1/2 a pill a day then 1/2 pill every other day to wean him off. The prednisone made it very difficult to potty train him but thankfully he started feeling better within a couple days. He was also put on a Chinese herbal powder called ying yang to help rebuild his immune system. He did have a few scabs on him which I was told were very painful so we were super careful not to aggravate those areas. Good news is he’s now 4months old and he’s a healthy happy puppy and you would never know he had this disease. He still hasn’t got any of his vaccinations because the vet wants to wait til his immune system is able to handle them. I’m so lucky my vet diagnosed him so quickly. Hope this helps anyone that might have this problem with their pups because when I found out I was extremely scared and upset since I’d never heard of this rare disease.


Sleepy larthic puppy also needs some honey its common for a puppy to have low sugar honey will help also help in his recovery aww poop pup good mommy (;


Same situation is my puppy right now. In 5 days reduce a haft the prednisone dosis; on this is the 3ed. week with treatment, I’m so glad you puppy recovering good, my puppy loose hair on her ears and under the chin her mouth and inside her ears has some Crustiest for discharges of the skin.
Is the hair grow again?
How remove the discharge from her ears and mouth?

Theresa Dailey

My son’s dog Jax is going to be 1 in March and he had puppy strangles and lost hair too. The only hair that didn’t grow back yet is right above his nose. The vet said that it might grow back in time but that’s where a lot of his scabs were so it might not grow back. I told the vet it doesn’t matter if it grows back or not he is alive and healthy and that’s all that matters and that missing hair only means that he fought a battle and he won.

Kasie Small

I had a liter of pups and one was diagnosed with puppy strangles. It took vet a couple visits to get the right diagnosis. She was treated with prednisone and showed improvement immediately. I caught it early and she had no scaring and turned out to a great dog. If you catch it early and treat correctly results are good. Just can not breed these dogs.

Skylar Young

Is it hereditary?

Kim Marie Straumann

From all the articles I have read they remain unsure, not enough info or documentation.


Question if one puppy in the litter has it, does it mean they all will?

Shannon zonta

No. It’s rare and if more then one had it THat would be very very rare

Vanessa Peters

My pup was diagnosed with a upper respiratory infection on 11-5-2018 with eye infection, but within 5 days eyes were worse, mouth had sores, nose was swollen and cracked and had enlarged lymph nodes in groin area. Took him to emergency vet (due to it being Sunday), diagnosis was puppy strangles. He was given high doses of prednisone by shot twice a day for 5 days along with Omeprazole once a day, Sucralfate twice a day, eye salve 3 times a day, and ultramarines 2 times a day. Now 12 days later, he is still on Prednisole 2 times a day by mouth, Sucralfate 3 times a day, Cephalexin 3 roomed a day, omeprazole 1 time a day, eye salve 3 times a day , and remadyl once a day. He is 5 months olds. His ears still look really bad and oozy and stink pretty bad. His poop is now black so we had to increase the Sucralfate. He is doing better. I just pray he continues to improve, he is my baby! I got one of his sisters also, but so far she is ok.


My mini Australian Shepard has been battling puppy strangles since he was 8 weeks old. He is now 11 months. He has been on various forms of prednisone, Atopica, antibiotics, and a hydrolized dog food. We have been weaning quantities and whenever we think we have it best, symptoms reappear. So frustrating. Any ideas? Anyone else have a dog this old with this?


My Dane is now on his second round of prednisone higher dosage this time but just noticed the sores on his chin are coming back now that we are weaning him off. Worried that the steroids will end up killing his organs before he gets over the strangles.


How old is your Dane? Mine is 8 months (seems late for strangles). How old was yours at diagnosis and what were his symptoms? Did his face swell before he had any skin issues? Our vet is still not sure if it’s strangles or an allergic reaction.

Patricia Doriot

A lady we know, from Canada, contacted me and said she noticed 2 bumps under one of her 5 week old pups. She didn’t send me pictures but asked if l knew anything like that before. I told her the only thing l knew of was puppy warts which usually were seen on a pup’s head. They usually go away in time. But l am just guessing. I am not a vet. At that time she had not sent me any pictures. The next day she took the pup to the vet. The vet put her pup on an antibiotic and pain meds, she told me. She went back today and the vet put the pup on steroids and told her it was puppy strangles. The pup is a toy rat terrier. I asked her what caused it. She said the vet didn’t know. That is what led me to this Google search. I wanted to know what it is and what caused it. I wish l could post a picture of her pup here. It would be very helpful to others. It is so sad to look at that poor baby.


My Cairn Terrier is now tapering off the steroids for puppy strangles. At first it looked like pink eye, then her lips swelled. Another visit to the vet and upon examination revealed swollen lymph nodes. She never lost her energy or appetite. Luckily, at the time of second exam, upon finding the swollen lymph nodes, my vet quickly made the diagnosis. Appears she has gotten over the worst of it and is now happy, playful, and NOT swollen. I would guess she did not have it as bad as some of the poor pups I have seen. If you suspect your pup has pink eye, especially within a week of getting vaccinated, seek a veterinarian for early diagnosis.

Sadie’s Mom

Dawn Resner

Hi we have a 7 month old Catahoula Bulldog Beaux .About a month ago he started limping , we had thought he injured it playing rough with his sister . It went like that for almost two weeks we saw no evidence of injury and when we touched his leg it didn’t cause him
Pain so we thought it was just sprained.After the limping had stopped he started getting blisters on his eye lids and then his nose. His lymph nodes under his chin were swollen.At that point we took him to the vet and his diagnosis was Juvenile cellulitis . Doc put him on 10 days of Simplicef and 5 days of Prednisone.We are on day 3 Face is looking better lymph node swelling has gone down. Wish us luck …

rohini Karnad

Sometimes, the immunity cells can mistakenly attack healthy organs and cells of the human body. This leads to multiple conditions known as autoimmune diseases.