What I wish to cover here are the less well known infections that can occur in our hounds. One of them is new, having been discovered in 1991, but the others are of long standing.



Juvenile Cellulitis (Puppy Strangles)


Canine Streptococcal Toxic Shock Syndrome


We have had a lot of experience of this in our sheep, as it is a major cause of abortion, birth difficulties, and neonatal deaths in farm stock, but it can cause similar problems in dogs and humans. It has also caused problems of lameness and paresis, as well as chronic illness, in dogs, and can cause acute illness..

Toxoplasma gondii is the causative organism. This is a coccidian parasite the reproductive cells of which form in the intestines of cats, which then spread the infection by passing oocysts in their faeces. If pasture is infected by oocysts, grazing animals pick them up and they form cysts within the muscles of the animals. When these animals are eaten, the cystozoites infect those eating them. Oocysts can also be picked up through cats defaecating where food crops are grown, in stored grain, and through changing cat litter trays. It can also spread via ticks and lice. Oocysts can survive outside for seventeen months.

Cats can be infected without showing any sign of illness, although some cats are ill. They are usually re-infected by eating mice and rats. When pregnant females of any mammalian species are infected, the embryo is affected and the way in which it is affected depends on the time of pregnancy when infection took place. It can be killed, with resorption or abortion resulting, or it can be stillborn or born damaged in some way. Sometimes the damage is so great that the newborn dies very shortly after birth. Sometimes they can be born too weak and limp to be able to suckle; they can be paralysed either partially or wholly; their growth can be affected and so can their ability to learn even simple basic survival techniques.

In some cases it is possible for young to be born apparently healthy and develop symptoms later. This can happen in humans, as well. Adult dogs can become ill and/or be affected neurologically.

Symptoms of acute infection include high fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, and dyspnoea. Chronic infection can produce anaemia, nervous symptoms, heart disease, liver disease. Antibiotics do not work against toxoplasmosis.

In conventional medicine toxoplasmosis is treated with sulphadiazine and pyrimethamine.There is a homeopathic nosode available for toxoplasmosis, which can be used as a preventative. The PetMD page on toxoplasmosis in dogs The Merck Veterinary Manual page on toxoplasmosis The Wikipedia page on toxoplasmosis Toxoplasmosis on the website

Juvenile Cellulitis (Puppy Strangles)

This is usually contracted between the ages of 4 weeks and 4 months. Not all puppies in a litter may be affected, but the entire litter can be.

Early symptoms include lethargy, anorexia, enlarged lymph glands, redness and inflammation of the ears, swelling of the mouth and jaw, fever, blisters in the ears and around eyes, lips and nose and anywhere else on the face. These blisters become ulcerated. There can be lameness due to enlarged lymph glands in the legs, and the reason for the common name of puppy strangles is that the swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck can prevent the puppy breathing.

It used to be thought that the cause is a bacterial infection, in particular streptococcus, but cultures have never confirmed any bacterial infection (although secondary infection can occur in the lesions) and antibiotic therapy alone does not help the condition. It is now considered to have some hereditary component and to be an immune system disorder of some kind, possibly a deficiency in lymphocyte blastogenesis.

The condition does respond to large doses of corticosteroids in combination with antibiotics. If cortico-steroids are not given death is not uncommon, and permanent scarring of the affected areas can occur if they are not given early in the disease. Even caught early and treated correctly, permanent hair loss on the affected areas is not uncommon.

The condition lasts up to two weeks in puppies not badly affected, but four to six weeks in more severe cases. Some pups may require special nursing to ensure they do not become dehydrated or malnourished. It can help to treat the lesions topically so as to keep them clean and dry. Bathing the lesions with a solution of Willard Water (and giving Willard Water orally), or Calendula lotion, and applying aloe vera gel can help with healing.

Boosting the immune system through diet (see Nutrition) and supplements are the main ways of avoiding and dealing with such problems. The Wikipedia article on Puppy Strangles
PetMD The PETMD page on Puppy Strangles Canadian Veterinary Journal published case history of a puppy with Juvenile Cellulitis Veterinary Pathology Article on Clinicopathologic characterization of canine juvenile cellulitis


This is caused by a protozoan parasite, Neospora caninum, which is very similar to Toxoplasma gondii, and was only recognised in the U.K., the U.S.A., Sweden and Australia in 1990, although it was discovered in Norway in 1984. It can cause ataxia (loss of control of movement, leading to a staggering gait), nystagmus (involuntary jerky movements of the eyes), progressive paraplegia (paralysis of the hindlegs), encephalomyelitis (inflammation of both brain and spinal cord), and sometimes meningitis (inflammation of the meninges [the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord]). Like toxoplasmosis, puppies can be infected via the placenta in utero.

Signs of infection can start with an animal developing mild ataxia and knuckling over on the hind feet. The joints can become fixed in extension with loss of pain sensation and developing atrophy of the muscles of the hindquarters. The parasite encysts in tissue and can encyst in the brain and other organs leading to the neurological symptoms listed above.

The most common clinical sign of infection by Neospora caninum is ascending paralysis in young puppies which have been infected in utero. Pups may also exhibit difficulty in swallowing, heart failure, and muscle atrophy. Dogs of any age can be affected, giving rise to a wide variety of symptoms from nodular dermatitis to all kinds of neurological disorders.

The same conventional treatment as used for Toxoplasmosis has been found to work successfully in some cases of neosporosis. The main difficulty is in getting the correct diagnosis.

Neosporosis has been found to occur in other animals such as cattle, goats, horses, and sheep, but the causative organism - Neospora caninum - can only complete its life cycle in the dog, just as the Toxoplasma gondii - the cause of Toxoplasmosis - can only complete its life cycle in the cat.

Neosporosis is now the major cause of abortion in cattle, but it has not - so far - been found to be a cause of abortion in humans. The Wikipedia page on Neospora Caninum An Overview of Neospora Caninum and Raw Food Diets Larry A. Bernstein, VMD The Companion Animal Parasite Council [CAPC] page on Neospora Caninum The Organic Vet page on Neospora Caninum The Merck Veterinary Manual page - Overview of Neosporosis

Canine Streptococcal Toxic Shock Syndrome

This disease has been the cause of sudden death in several breeds. It has also been confused with outbreaks of Kennel Cough. Initial symptoms are lethargy and high fever but progression to collapse and death is very quick, only a matter of hours at the most.

Typically dogs have appeared healthy and lively and then been found a few hours later in a collapsed state, usually flat out on their side, either too weak to move, having mild convulsions, or being rigid. Often there is uncontrolled rapid twitching of muscles. The temperature is very high (105°F - normal is 101.5°F). As the disease progresses a deep, non-productive (producing no phlegm) cough develops, and very soon afterwards there is haemorrhaging from the nose, coughing up blood, and in some cases bloody diarrhoea.

Treatment needs to be started as early as possible in order to have any chance of saving the affected dog. Treatment usually includes injectable antibiotics such as Clindamycin or Pencillin G, and shock therapy. Alongside this veterinary treatment could be given the homoeopathic remedy CARBO VEG. 1M at ten to fifteen minute intervals, plus ARNICA 1M, same dosage. Crush tablets to a powder between two spoons and tip onto the tongue by lifting up the side of the upper lip. AWARENESS, QUICK ACTION KEY TO BATTLING CANINE BACTERIAL DISEASE - Article on Brad Fenwick's views on CanineSTSS The Dog Clinic Article on CanineSTSS Canine Streptococcal Toxic Shock Syndrome associated with Necrotizing Fasciitis: An Overview by Barkha Sharma* , Mukesh Kumar Srivastava , Ashish Srivastava and Rashmi Sing (in .pdf format)

Alternative Treatment of Infections

It is important to obtain urgent veterinary attention for any dog with an infection, particularly those infections described here, but there is no reason why alternative treatments can not be used at the same time as conventional veterinary therapy.

There are some products which are known as alternative antibiotics and which can help enormously with the treatment of various infections. One of these is Colloidal silver, which is silver in liquid suspension. It is effective against viruses and fungi as well as bacteria, is totally safe and can be used topically as well as orally. Like ordinary antibiotics it does destroy much of the gut flora, so it is important to give a course of probiotics following its use. It is tasteless, so is not difficult to give.

Another is Grapefruit seed extract, which must always be used diluted. It tastes revolting but can be disguised in food. It is particularly good for respiratory infections. It also has viricidal and fungicidal properties as well as bactericidal and does not have much of a damaging effect on the gut flora.

Aerobic Oxygen can help against bacterial infections and works towards elimination of toxins. It is non-toxic, can be used to safely clean foodstuffs of bacteria, and also to purify liquids. It is given diluted.

There are many homeopathic remedies that can help with treating infections. These include but are not limited to: Hepar sulphuris, Baptisia, Pyrogen, and Echinacea. Other remedies may also prove helpful. See page on homeopathy for further information.

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