Harmful Strangles in Puppies: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention Tips

Strangles in puppies are a serious condition that can quickly lead to death in young dogs. This article will provide an overview of the cause, symptoms, and treatment for Strangles in puppies. Additionally, we’ll discuss prevention strategies so that you can keep your pup safe from this life-threatening ailment.

What is Puppy Strangle?

Strangles in puppies are a type of strangulation caused by tightening the neck muscles. Puppy can be fatal if not treated immediately, and there are different types with their symptoms. The most common symptom is excessive drooling and gasping for air.

How Puppy Strangles is Diagnosed
How Puppy Strangles is Diagnosed

Understanding Strangles in Puppies: Causes & Symptoms

The causes of strangles in puppies vary depending on the individual’s age, breed, weight, sex, physical condition, and lifestyle. However, puppies who choke often struggle to breathe because their windpipe is blocked due to swelling or constriction from tight neck muscles. This makes it difficult for them to eat enough food or drink enough water, leading to malnutrition or dehydration. When these factors combine, they create an environment where choking becomes more likely as your pup struggles for survival.

Symptoms may usually develop over time after a sudden change, such as being taken away from their family home or when confronted with another animal (such as a dog), a new object (like a rock), or other challenges during playtime.

If left untreated at this stage, the sufferer may exhibit signs such as coughing fits, vomiting blood, constant retching, and seeming unwell. In extreme cases, you will see drool from your pet’s mouth in copious amounts and panting heavily; this could signal respiratory distress due to obstruction on one side of the windpipe.

If ignored, further signs might include circling, restlessness, increased thirstiness accompanied by a loss of appetite, and death.

What are the symptoms of strangles in puppies?

What are the symptoms of strangles in puppies
What are the symptoms of strangles in puppies

Strangles in puppies are a condition that occurs most commonly in young puppies. The symptoms of puppy strangling include swollen lymph nodes, skin lesions, fever, and difficulty breathing. If you notice any of these signs in your puppy, it’s important to take him to the veterinarian for evaluation.

Strangles in puppies are caused by an airway obstruction due to strangulation or asphyxiation from tightened chest muscles. Strangulation can occur when a pup’s neck gets caught in something (a crib rail, gate) or when he struggles against an adult dog trying to hold him down and force-feed him food. Asphyxiation may also be caused by vomit or diarrhea entering the airway and blocking it off completely.

Symptoms of Strangles in Puppies:

  • Sudden onset of facial swelling, particularly around the eyes, ears, and muzzle
  • Pustules or bumps that can be distressing and may rupture, showing draining tracts and crusting
  • Swollen lymph nodes, especially those located near the head and neck
  • Fever, lethargy, and loss of appetite
  • Conjunctivitis, or inflammation of the eyes

Different types of puppy strangles

They are some different types of puppy strangles:

Superficial juvenile pyoderma: 

This milder form of puppy strangles impacts only the skin without involving the lymph nodes. It is characterized by bumps and crusting on the face and limbs and can be regaled with topical or oral antibiotics.

Deep juvenile pyoderma: 

This more severe form of puppy strangles impacts the skin, deeper tissues, and lymph nodes. It may require more aggressive treatment with oral antibiotics, steroids, and immunomodulators.

Juvenile cellulitis:

This is the most severe form of puppy strangles and is characterized by widespread inflammation and infection of the skin and lymph nodes. It can lead to systemic illness and requires prompt and aggressive treatment with antibiotics and immunomodulators.

How to Treat Strangles in puppies?

Strangles in puppies are a common problem, but fortunately, there are many ways to treat them. This article will provide an overview of the different treatments and their benefits.

Different treatment options for strangles in puppies are available, including medications, supportive care, and more. Learn what you can do to help your puppy recover.

The most important thing is to act quickly; without treatment, the chances of survival drop dramatically within minutes after diagnosis. Here’s a brief description of each treatment option:


A few medications can be given orally or injected directly into the bloodstream to stop breathing and reduce swelling in the throat muscles (mediations like atracurium [Trac-U-Bol], lidocaine [Xylocaine], etomidate [Etomicitin]).

Supporting Care

Keeping your pup warm, increasing hydration levels if it’s dehydrated, providing oxygen via nasal cannula or ventilation machine (O 2 -generating devices such as miniaturized rebreathers), and preventing stress by keeping them confined indoors or in a quiet environment.


Surgery should be attempted first if possible, as this has a high success rate when treated early on. Surgical removal of obstruction from around the windpipe may cure the strangling while minimizing long-term effects on respiratory function. However, surgical intervention carries risks, including airway obstruction from additional tissue growth within the laryngeal structure.

How Puppy Strangles is Diagnosed

Puppy strangles are a potentially deadly condition that most often affects puppies under six months old. The cause of the disease is unknown, but it’s believed to be caused by infection from bacteria or viruses. Symptoms can include coughing, difficulty breathing, and extreme lethargy.

Strangles in puppies, a condition that affects puppies and young dogs. It’s caused by a foreign body (usually food) getting stuck in the esophagus, which can block the flow of air and blood to the lungs.

There are several ways to diagnose Puppy Strangles:

 Physical exams: 

Your veterinarian will perform a physical exam on your puppy to look for signs of illness and obstruction in the airway. They may also take biopsies from your pup’s skin if there is suspicion of food as the cause of strangle injuries; however, this procedure is only done when other diagnostic methods have failed.

 Skin biopsy:

Suppose there’s suspicion that food might be involved, but no visible symptoms are present on examination. In that case, a skin biopsy may be necessary for pathologists to determine if any infection exists and whether surgery would be beneficial.

 Blood tests: 

Various blood tests may be run, including complete blood count (CBC), serum chemistries such as BUN/creatinine ratio and liver function test(LFT), thyroid profile, urinalysis, etc., depending on underlying causes or suspected diagnosis.


In some cases, cultures of the skin lesions may be taken to identify the specific bacteria causing the infection.


When imaging for Puppy Strangles, veterinarians will use X-rays to look at the chest and abdomen area to see if there are any signs of trauma or obstruction on either side of the ribcage. They’ll also perform an ultrasound exam to check for fluid accumulation around the lungs or within the esophagus (food pipe). If there is evidence of Puppy Strangling present, your veterinarian will prescribe antibiotics to prevent pneumonia from developing.

How to prevent strangles in puppies beyond Basic Recommended Care Strategies

How to prevent strangles in puppies
How to prevent strangles in puppies

As veterinarians with years of experience in small animal medicine, we know how devastating a puppy can be for both puppies and their owners. While basic recommendations such as avoiding foreign bodies or keeping the puppy in a quiet environment can help prevent this condition, there are more detailed and practical suggestions that can make a difference.

Puppy strangles are a leading cause of death in young dogs and puppies. This tragic event can be prevented by following these simple tips can help prevent puppy strangles:


Good hygiene is crucial in preventing puppy strangles. Puppies should bathe regularly with mild puppy shampoo to clean their coat and skin. Puppies should also have their ears cleaned regularly to prevent infections. Using only pet-safe products when bathing and cleaning your puppy is important.


A stress-free lifestyle can also help prevent puppy strangles. Puppies should be kept in a calm and secure environment to reduce stress. Exposure to loud noises, harsh chemicals, or extreme temperatures can cause stress and weaken the immune system, making the puppy more susceptible to infections.

Proper Nutrition or Diet

One of the best ways to prevent puppy strangles is by providing proper nutrition to keep the immune system strong. A balanced diet with protein, vitamins, and minerals can help support the immune system and prevent infections. Puppies should be fed high-quality puppy food appropriate for their age and breed. Consult with your veterinarian to ensure your puppy’s nutritional needs are met.

Regular Grooming

Regular grooming is an essential aspect of preventing puppy strangles. Keeping your puppy’s coat clean and free from mats and tangles is important. A dirty or matted coat can trap bacteria and irritants, leading to skin infections. Regular grooming can also help you detect any bumps or lumps that may indicate an early stage of puppy strangles.


Training your puppy to avoid dangerous items can also help prevent puppy strangles. Puppies are naturally curious and will investigate anything they find interesting. However, some items, such as sharp objects or toxic substances, can be harmful. Training your puppy to avoid these items can help prevent accidents that can lead to skin irritation and infection.

Keep your puppy clean.

Both inside and out! Puppies are good at covering their poops but not so good about covering their noses with dirt when sneezing and coughing. Dirt, saliva, mucus, food particles-even other animals’ hair-can get into your pup’s airways and block his breathing. Clean him up every time he does something naughty!

Get vaccinated and keep up the vaccinations!

A healthy dog is less likely to contract diseases such as puppy strangles; however, vaccination against common disease preventatives like parvovirus (a deadly condition that affects the respiratory system) will still help reduce your risk of this tragedy happening to one of your pets.

Watch for early warning signs and take action if you see them!

 If you think or know that one of your furry friends may have contracted puppy strangles–or any other serious illness or injury–take him to the vet immediately for treatment.

Be prepared to handle difficult behaviors! 

Sick puppies often exhibit aggressive behavior toward anyone trying to care for them. If this type of situation arises during an emergency veterinary visit where resuscitation may be necessary (such as intubation), always remember: to do whatever it takes to save the life of your pet!

Research on strangles in puppies and developments

The cause of strangles in puppies is not fully understood, but it is considered an immune-mediated disorder.

There has been limited research on strangles in puppies in recent years, but some developments in the field include the following:

  1. Genetic factors: A study published in 2019 identified a potential genetic basis for strangles in puppies. The researchers found that affected dogs had a higher frequency of certain genetic variants in the MHC region, which plays a key role in the immune system.
  2. Treatment options: In terms of treatment, corticosteroids are often used to decrease inflammation and suppress the immune system. However, there are concerns about the long-term use of steroids in puppies. Other options that have been explored include antibiotics, immunomodulators, and plasma transfusions.
  3. Prognosis: While a puppy can be a serious and potentially life-threatening condition, most puppies recover with appropriate treatment within several weeks to months. However, some may have residual scarring or other complications.


Puppy strangles a common cause of death in Puppies, as they can’t chew their way out. Strangles is when the windpipe is blocked, and the puppy can’t breathe.

The following are FAQs about strangles in puppies:

What are some signs that my puppy might have been strangled?

Some signs your pup may have choked include gagging, struggling to breathe, not eating or drinking, fever over 105 degrees Fahrenheit, pale mucous membranes (gills), and seizures. If you notice any of these signs in your dog, immediately take them to the vet for an examination and possible treatment.

How do I know if my dog has been strangled?

There is no definitive test for identifying a choking victim; only an emergency veterinary visit will confirm whether or not your pup has suffered from a choke. However, if you think your puppy may have choked and there are any concerning symptoms listed earlier in this article, it’s important to act fast and get them checked out!


In this blog, we went over the basics of strangles in puppies. This is a problem that many pet owners are likely to encounter at some point, so it’s important to be aware of the symptoms and what steps you can take to prevent them from happening. We also discussed how puppy strangling is diagnosed and how to treat it if it does occur. Finally, we provided resources for more information on puppy strangling and ways to keep your pets safe.

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