Canine juvenile cellulitis

From Dog
Juvenile pyoderma on a young pup[1]
Juvenile pyoderma on the face of a puppy[2]

Canine juvenile cellulitis (juvenile pyoderma, juvenile sterile granulomatous dermatitis and lymphadenitis, or puppy strangles) is an immune-mediated disease of young dogs characterized by sterile granulomatous and pustular dermatitis[3].

Lesions commonly appear on the face, pinnae, and submandibular lymph nodes[1], but can also occur on the feet, abdomen and thorax, vulva, prepuce, or perianal area[4].

This condition is common in young puppies of all breeds, from 3 weeks to 8 months of age[5], although adult dogs may also be affected[6]. Litter mates may also be affected[7].

Early clinical signs usually consist of fever, joint pain and lameness[8], and facial dermatitis with edematous cellulitis. The dermatitis usually progresses to the ears as otitis externa and characteristic draining fistulas are common. The affected skin is often painful but not pruritic[9].

Lymphadenopathy and neurological symptoms are sometimes observed[10].

Because this disease is observed at the time of vaccinations[11] and juvenile cellulitis has preceded diseases such as hypertrophic osteodystrophy[12], immunosuppression associated with vaccines cannot be eliminated as an etiological agent.

Diagnosis is often based on presenting clinical signs and response to steroids, but histopathological analysis of biopsies is usually definitive, largely depicting sterile pyogranulomatous inflammation[13].

A differential diagnosis would include pemphigus foliaceous and juvenile staphylococcal pyoderma (puppy pimples).

Treatment usually involves parenteral prednisolone at 1 - 2 mg/kg orally each morning, and/or cyclosporin at 5 mg/kg orally once daily.

Bathing of non-facial wounds with chlorhexidine may limit secondary bacterial diseases.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Park C et al (2010) Combination of cyclosporin A and prednisolone for juvenile cellulitis concurrent with hindlimb paresis in 3 English cocker spaniel puppies. Can Vet J 51(11):1265-1268
  3. Alhaidari Z (2002) Juvenile cellulitis in a 3-month-old Siberian Husky puppy. Ann Dermatol Venereol 129(1):97
  4. White SD et al (1989) Juvenile cellulitis in dogs: 15 cases (1979–1988). J Am Vet Med Assoc 195:1609–1611
  5. Bassett RJ et al (2008) Juvenile cellulitis in an 8-month-old dog. Aust Vet J 83(5):280-282
  6. Neuber AE et al (2004) Dermatitis and lymphadenitis resembling juvenile cellulitis in a four-year-old dog. J Small Anim Pract 45(5):254-258
  7. Bassett RJ et al (2005) Juvenile cellulitis in an 8-month-old dog. Aust Vet J 83:280–282
  8. White SD et al (1989) Juvenile cellulitis in dogs: 15 cases (1979-1988). J Am Vet Med Assoc 195(11):1609-1611
  9. Scott DW et al (2001) Small Animal Dermatology, 6 ed. Toronto: WB Saunders. pp:1163–1167
  10. Hutchings SM (2003) Juvenile cellulitis in a puppy. Can Vet J 44:418–419
  11. Horvath C et al (2007) Pemphigus foliaceus-like drug reaction in a 3-month-old crossbreed dog treated for juvenile cellulitis. Vet Dermatol 18(5):353-359
  12. Wentzell, ML (2011) Hypertrophic osteodystrophy preceding canine juvenile cellulitis in an Australian shepherd puppy. Can Vet J 52(4):431–434
  13. Reimann KA et al (1989) Clinicopathologic characterization of canine juvenile cellulitis. Vet Pathol 26(6):499-504