Juvenile Cellulitis AKA Puppy Strangles

We got our little Atla, on Friday 27/9/07. The first days went great. By Thursday we had noticed a small bump on her lower rt. eyelid. Didn’t think much of it, as I thought it might be an ingrown hair and would resolve. Over the weekend it turned scablike, but still small and not bothering her. We thought that if it didn’t get better by Monday we’d take her in to get it looked at. Monday morning her eye looked a bit goopy. By the time I got home from work Monday night, both eyes were goopy and inflammed. Oh great, conjunctivitis I thought. On Tues I stayed home with my son, who was coughing and I didn’t want to send him to school like that. I took her to a vet clinic, not far from our house that had walk-in hours between 8-12. They thought it was an eye infection and prescribed fusicin acid type cream for her eyes. Twice a day. I put the dosage on when I got home, in the evening and the next morning.

When I got home that evening, her face was puffed up like an adder, her eyes were almost glued shut from the goo, and she had bloody raw type patches under her chin. The vet clinic we use don’t have emergency walk ins and the smaller animal hospital up the street doesn’t either for some reason, so off to the Veterinary Teaching Hospital on the further side of Helsinki. 4 hours there, while they poked around with her, and like I thought, it was an allergic reaction. Amoxicillan, a steroid shot for the swelling and to call if it got worse and home by 11pm! When we were there, it looked like she had a slight limp to her back rt hind leg, but I put it off to my imagination. The next morning she was completely lame in that leg. I couldn’t believe it. We had basically been keeping her confined and I couldn’t imagine how she did it!

My husband called the local clinic we had been using and made an appt that evening for Atla. They were more concerned about her face though. It looked scabbed over and had been through a meat grinder. Her ears were swollen, very dirty and had a rough texture to the insides. The Vet couldn’t find any reason for the lameness in her leg as there was no presentation of pain, drawing back when it was manipulated ect. Different eye drops were prescribed and we were to call back on Monday if things hadn’t improved.

Over the weekend, I felt bad that they didn’t treat her leg, so I jury rigged a splint with gauze and popsicle sticks for her. That seemed to help her a bit and she could move around a little better. On Sunday after my daughters birthday party, a purple squishy type patch directly on where her sternum ends. It felt like there was a hole there with just the skin covering it! Made an appt on Monday morning for the vet clinic we had been using, and at 5pm took her back. They asked us to leave her so they could run some labs. The thought was distemper because of the eyes, but I was not convinced as she showed no other signs of it! Came back at 8pm, and they were still working on her. They brought her out shortly before 9pm, her face was PUFFY AGAIN! They had given her a heavy dosage of antibiotics, IM and she reacted AGAIN! They also excised the spot that I was worried about and there was a gaping hole there! There was another spot almost directly above that wound, which was a bit smaller but still a hole!

The clinic asked that we take her immediately to the hospital so that she could be put on overnight observation, the look on the vets face, I was thinking my puppy was gonna die soon.. She looked absolutely horrible. Plus they had removed all the scabbing from her face and muzzle, so it looked very raw. They had put an IV in and the bag was still flowing, so at least she had some fluids. Although she had been eating and drinking normally through out all this, even though I’m sure it was painful!
This is her face after the antibiotic shots
Allergic reaction

My husband took her to the hospital (they waited 6 hours, they got there at 10pm and didn’t see a vet till 3am…) The vet on call immediately thought of Juvenile Cellulitis. A disease I have never heard before, except when my best friend who is a vet, and whom I had called twice in that evening, thought that she could have based on my descriptions. However for the ulcers to be all over her body and not just localized to her face, was in fact extremely rare.

She was kept there over night, given some heavy duty cortisone shots, and started on a non cillin antibiotic to combat secondary bacterial infections of the ulcers and predisone twice a day till her next appt and they change the dosage.

This is her face the next afternoon after her hospital stay.
Atla one day after the reaction

I’m now washing her wounds with a betadine solution. Oh yea and she pooped out some worms the other night, so now I’ve got her on dewormers. I haven’t seen anymore so I hope I’ve killed them off. I’ll continue those once a week for at least a month or more. She needs all the energy she has to getting better, not fighting parasites. Since they were adults, she had to have had them in utero. sigh..

I gave her a shower tonight. She is just so covered with goo and dried goo. Her ears were so crusty. Also the warm water should help get those wounds draining. She of yesterday evening had another one under her chin, one on her left hip, and one next to her anus. The one on her hip is big, but hard to tell as the hair is matting it right now. The shower helped loosen it somewhat. It looks like the skin has slightly prolapsed from the hole, so I need to keep an eye on it in case it also needs to be excised to drain better.

Here she is after her shower, she wasn’t as miserable as she looked, I really think she felt much better and cleaner. She certaintly had a lot of puppy energy. She was acting like our little nutball like in the first week we had her! And definately happy to have the E collar off even if for a bit. But it quickly went back on as she tried pawing her face as soon as she was dry and happy.

After a shower!

Here are her chest wounds. They look much better then they did, honestly! In fact the one closer to her neck is healing quite well!
chest wounds

The one under her neck just popped, so I think it will be a few days, but it’s draining slowly. I just try to keep it wiped clean as much as I can.

Here is her neck wound. The hole is very small.
neck wound

I have found that maxi pads work as well as surgical wound pads and 3 times as cheap, so I have one pasted on the bottom of her e collar so it catches the drainage… We’ve spent so much on her these past 2 weeks, that any cheaper option is better for us right now. If this keeps up within the month we’ll have spent on vet bills as much as we paid for the puppy.

But I love my puppy, and I do believe that she will pull through this with flying colors and soon it will be a memory. I think she may have scarring on her muzzle as it’s quite bad. But the skin around her eyes is not as hard and seems to be healing. Oh and that we can see her eyes! LOL

Right now she’s still very itchy, so she loves gentle face rubs and ear massages. And she’s found a way to cheat around the collar, she rubs her face on anything sticking out. But she was very playful tonight and her beautiful puppy personality is starting to show again. She eats and she drinks, loves pill time cause she gets it in cheese! But still runs when she sees me coming with the antibiotic oral syringe. That’s quite a fight! Her leg is completely better, it seems there was swelling of the lymph nodes around her knee caps, but also related to this disease. She walks and runs just fine. She constantly lays by the back door in hopes of going out and tries to escape out the front door anytime it’s opened in hopes of going out. But we’ll keep her confined inside at least another month, as we’ll have to probably delay her next vaccs for a couple weeks.

I’ll take more pictures and update as she continues to fight through this disease. I hope this journal will help someone in the future. It’s a horrible disease and so hard to diagnose especially in the early stages.

I’m hoping soon in the weeks to come, she’ll be back to looking like the little ball of fuzz albight bigger, that we first brought home. Love you Atla!

Atla first day home


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.