Preparing a webinar series is a lot of work… but also a lot of fun. In the initial production stage, I go back to what I learnt during my time in academics: collecting data, organizing them and integrating them into what will be the final webinar story. While preparing our next webinar series, I found out that skin disorders are among the most common diagnoses made in puppies less than a year of age. This is when I read more about a disease called juvenile cellulitis. Aka puppy strangles.
I’ve been asked about this problem a few times. And in this 2016 paper on skin issues in veterinary pediatrics, there were more than three pages just on this disease. I took a lot of notes so that I could share them next time I’m asked about it. And now that my notes are organized, well, I thought I should turn them into a blog so that everyone could take a look and learnt about this potentially life-threatening disorder in puppies. You know the say : « An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. » Look below, you’ll learn more about it !
#1 Puppy strangles is the term dog breeders usually use (and I must admit the first time I heard it, I had no idea what it meant… but that is probably due to my French background I guess). In veterinary medicine this disease is referred to as « juvenile cellulitis », « juvenile pyoderma » or « juvenile sterile granulomatous dermatitis » .
#2 Something important : in 2016, what causes this disease in puppies is still unknown.
#3 There is no breed or sex predisposition, although some authors speculate that certain breeds (Gordon Setter ; Dachshund ; Golden Retriever) may be over-represented and that there might be a line-effect.
#4 Some hypothesized it could be an immune-mediated disease. No bacterial or viral cause has been evidenced.
#5 To sum it up, this disease is a pure inflammation of the skin. There is no underlying infectious cause involved in it, even though several puppies inside a litter can be affected.
#6 It mainly affects puppies between 3 weeks and 4 months.
#7 In terms of clinical signs, it usually starts with a swelling of the face (especially muzzle and periorbital regions). Pustules (=pimples containing pus) develop during the early onset of the disease. They quickly rupture leaving behind crusted lesions.
#8 Those lesions quickly lead to hair loss, skin induration and later ulceration of the affected areas.
#9 Progression of the skin lesions leads to hypo- or hyper pigmentation. The deep inflammation tends to damage the hair follicles, leading to scarring of the affected regions of face / chin / muzzle.
#10 50% of affected puppies are febrile, inappetent and inactive. This condition is potentially life-threatening and is considered as a veterinary emergency.
#11 Obviously, there are other disorders to rule out when confronted to those symptoms. Those include bacterial infection of the skin, severe demodicosis (infection by the parasite Demodex canis) and severe demartophytosis (=ringworm).
#12 What helps veterinarian in the diagnosis is that it is a sterile suppurative disease. When they look at the pus present in the lesions, there is no trace of bacteria or parasite. It appears as a pure inflammation, with no underlying infectious cause as mentioned earlier.
#13 The treatment of choice is based on the use of specific corticosteroids .
#14 Rapid clinical improvement (within a week) is usually seen. A speedy drop in temperature and an improvement in appetite demonstrate the correct treatment is being administered
#15 The prognosis for resolution is very good but unfortunately scarring and concomitant alopecia (=hair loss) of the most severely affected regions is common. Hyper- or hypo- pigmentation may be a post-inflammatory effect
#16 There is no data to support a heritable cause or that the condition is a predisposing factor for additional immune-mediated disorder as an adult dog.
Hope this will help you guys ! Don’t hesitate to share any experience you might have on this topic, that would be great !
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