Miami Dog, Dior, Treated for “Puppy Strangles”

August 30, 2023


When Kayla S. noticed her puppy’s eyes were swollen shut, she was alarmed.

“I was crying it was so upsetting,” says Kayla, who originally suspected an eye infection. “Her face started to swell, and eating for her was difficult.”

Kayla separated the four-week-old puppy, Dior, from a litter of eight dogs born on May 1 to a terrier-mix named Bella, who belongs to her mother-in-law, Antonia. 

Antonia recommended Kayla take Dior to the ASPCA Community Veterinary Clinic (CVC) in Liberty City, Miami, where Antonia lives and Bella is a client.


“We squeezed in Dior so we could see her sooner rather than later,” says Marlee Cea, the CVC’s Client Operations Manager.  The CVC staff eventually diagnosed Dior as having juvenile cellulitis, also called “puppy strangles.”

“We’re working to improve the lives of animals like Dior by providing basic and preventive veterinary care for underserved pet owners, and in the communities that need them most,” says Sandra Halaby-Soyer, Director of the ASPCA’s Miami operations.

The Symptoms of Strangles

“Strangles is not something we see often,” says Dr. Matthew Toscano, Veterinary Manager at the Clinic who said Dior had a severe case. “The cause is unknown but thought to be immune-mediated and could be hereditary. Immune-mediated essentially means the body is attacking itself.” 


Puppy strangles usually affects puppies between one and six months of age. The first sign is acute swelling of the face and muzzle, which Dior experienced. The swelling is typically followed by the development of raised bumps and pustules on the animal’s face, muzzle and ears, which can spread to other parts of the body if not treated.

Dr. Rachael Krieger, a veterinarian at the Miami CVC, prescribed steroids to suppress Dior’s immune system and decrease the severe inflammation. She also treated Dior with antibiotics to prevent secondary bacterial infections and relieve some of the inflammation.


After three weeks and four visits to the ASPCA, Dior’s eyes were no longer swollen, and her face was back to normal.


Grateful for the Help

Kayla, a healthcare provider, says she has always been a dog lover. While she found placement for most of the pups in the litter, she says she and Dior are now bonded.

“She’s going to end up being mine,” says Kayla, who describes Dior as “sassy, feisty and lovable.”

“I’m so glad I was able to get help for Dior,” Kayla says. “If it wasn’t for the ASPCA, she wouldn’t have made it.”

The ASPCA’s Tatiana Silva, Patient Liaison, and Samantha Alvarado, Senior Veterinary Assistant, with Kayla and Dior.