Juvenile Pyoderma

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Also known as: Juvenile Sterile Granulomatous Dermatitis and Lymphadenitis — Juvenile Cellulitis — Puppy Strangles — Lymphadenitis Apostematosa


Juvenile pyoderma is an uncommon, fulminant canine disease seen almost exclusively in puppies younger than 16 weeks. It often occurs in dog breeds such as the Dachshund, Labrador, Golden Retriever and Pointer. Single or multiple puppies in a litter may be affected.

An underlying immune dysfunction is likely and bacterial involvement, when present, is secondary.

Sex predilections have not been noted, and rarely, adult dogs with identical clinical and histopathological disease have been seen.

Clinical Signs

The initial clinical feature noted by the owners is acute swelling of the face, especially of the eyelids, lips and muzzle. It is markedly bilaterally symmetrical.

Submandibular lymphadenopathy is usually also present.

Within 24 hours, bilaterally symmetrical erythema, papules, nodules, pustules and vesicles appear. Crusting occurs and copious purulent material may drain from the lesions.

A highly purulent otitis externa may also develop. Secondary bacterial infection of the lesions is common. Systemic signs often occur, such as lethargy, fever and anorexia.


Definitive diagnosis involves skin or lymph node biopsies which show a pyogranulomatous perifolliculitis and lymphadenitis with no causative agent identified.

Multiple skin scrapings to rule out generalised demodecosis and smears from pustules to rule out a primary bacterial infection should be performed. A drug eruption should also be considered and a detailed history should be taken.

Some affected puppies show a leucocytosis with neutrophilia and a non-regenerative anaemia.


The disease may be fatal if left untreated, but the outcome is usually favourable in most treated cases.

Systemic corticosteroids are necessary to lead to a resolution of signs, and systemic antimicrobials can also be used to treat secondary infections.

Topical therapy to remove the purulent exudate might also be helpful.

Abscessed lymph nodes can be surgically drained to provide relief of symptoms in some cases.

Resolution of clinical signs is usually rapid, although some cases might relapse and require longer therapy.

Control: it is probable that the disease in inherited and therefore affected animals should probably not be used for breeding.

Juvenile Pyoderma Learning Resources
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Small Animal Dermatology Q&A 14


Hoskins, J. (2001) Veterinary pediatrics: dogs and cats from birth to six months Elsevier Health Sciences

Gross, T. L. (2005) Skin diseases of the dogs and cat: clinical and histopathologic diagnosis Wiley-Blackwell

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