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

To sustain this free service, we receive affiliate commissions via some of our links. This doesn’t affect rankings. Our review process.

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.
Disclaimer: The information provided through this website should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your health care provider.

Disclaimer: This website contains reviews, opinions and information regarding products and services manufactured or provided by third parties. We are not responsible in any way for such products and services, and nothing contained here should be construed as a guarantee of the functionality, utility, safety or reliability of any product or services reviewed or discussed. Please follow the directions provided by the manufacturer or service provider when using any product or service reviewed or discussed on this website.

Leave a Reply

newest oldest most voted
Eileen Clarke
I have a 3 year old Irish Wolfhound. Is it possible for him to have Strangles as he has all the symptoms ?


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.
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.
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?
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.