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A young puppy who contracted a potentially deadly disease which caused swelling and a scabby skin disorder to his face is bouncing back thanks to the veterinary team at Alsager Vet Centre.

Cocker Spaniel Chester, was only eight weeks old when his owner, Sarah Durose, noticed swelling around his eyes. He has since missed out on some of his early milestones after being rendered housebound by a life-threatening and rare condition called canine juvenile cellulitis – more commonly known as puppy strangles.

When Sarah took him to see the veterinary team at Alsager Vet Centre, part of Willows Veterinary Group, it was initially thought that Chester was suffering from an eye infection. But later, when his whole face started to swell and mites were ruled out, his symptoms meant puppy strangles was suspected and staff had to start him on the necessary treatment.

Vet nurse Beth Whiston of Alsager Vet Centre, who cared for Chester, said, “When Chester first came in, his eyes were swollen and he had discharge coming from them, however he was still bright and wagging his tail and eating biscuits.

“But his symptoms started to get worse and when his eyes didn’t clear up and mites were ruled out for the skin condition, our vet was concerned it was something more serious like puppy strangles. The condition mainly affects puppies and can cause sudden and severe swelling of the face, lethargy, loss of appetite and fever. In extreme cases, it can be deadly.”

Chester was given steroid therapy for two months to correct his autoimmune system which was being attacked. The cause of the disease is not fully understood and diagnosis can be difficult because the symptoms resemble other, more common ailments.

Beth added, “Chester’s case was fairly severe, his ears were really bad, he had an upset tummy at one point but we persevered with the steroids and antibiotics and he gradually started getting better.”

Chester contracted puppy strangles when he was in-between his first and second set of vaccinations, which are given in the early stages of puppies’ lives to protect them from high risk diseases which can kill. This meant he had to be kept away from other dogs or public areas where they might have been while his immune system was still compromised.

Beth explained and said, “Because he couldn’t have his second round of puppy injections until the puppy strangles had cleared, because we don’t give vaccinations when a dog is unwell, he couldn’t have any puppy socialisation, which is really important. He wasn’t allowed outside and so he couldn’t be put down on the floor when he came in but obviously in the meantime, we was getting bigger and heavier.

“He loved coming to see us because he would get biscuits but he was desperate to run around so it was nice to see him having a good explore when he was finally over the strangles, had had his second set of injections and was allowed on the ground. He’s gone on to make a really good recovery.”

Sarah, a 45-year-old school operations manager, added, “Apart from the visible swelling, I wouldn’t have known Chester was ill at first, he continued to put on weight and carried on being a strong little character – full of beans and into everything – it didn’t seem to be affecting him in any other way.

“But because he’d contracted puppy strangles when he did, he couldn’t have his second set of injections so he had no immunity and wasn’t allowed to go out in public or socialise with other dogs so he was a little bit behind with all that. He’s doing great now, you’d never know he’d been through what he has.”

She added, “It’s been a long few months but the difference in Chester is unbelievable and I can’t thank Beth and all the staff at Alsager Vet Centre enough. Chester certainly has a lot of catching up to do but he is having fun making up for lost time.”

 

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