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Facial Swelling in Dogs: Symptoms & Treatment

Facial Swelling in Dogs: Symptoms & Treatment

If you see that your dog's face is swollen, there is probably an underlying health complication causing the swelling. Today, our Mechanicsburg veterinarians illuminate what serious conditions facial swelling can be a sign of in dogs.

Causes of Sudden Facial Swelling in Dogs

There are numerous potential causes of facial swelling in dogs that vary from minor and likely treatable with a visit to the veterinarian to larger health concerns such as tumors. Since a dog with a swollen face can often have underlying health problems, it's common for this symptom to be accompanied by others such as loss of appetite and lethargy. 

Allergic Reaction

Allergic reactions are the most common cause of facial swelling in dogs. Bee stings, medications, certain foods, vaccinations, exposure to toxins, pollen, and bug bites are just some of the many potential allergens that may affect a dog if they present with a swollen face. While mild reactions tend to clear up with minimal intervention, severe reactions are a veterinary emergency and demand immediate attention. 

Allergies trigger an inflammatory response that may cause hives and swelling on a dog's face. The swelling might be especially obvious on the eyelids and muzzle. You may also notice reddened skin or behavior that points to your canine companion being itchy and uncomfortable if they are suffering from an allergic reaction. 

Dental Problems & Facial Swelling in Dogs

Another possible cause of dog face swelling is dental problems. Dental infections, such as tooth abscesses, can develop deep beneath the gums, resulting in a pus-filled pocket and facial swelling. Other potential causes of facial swelling in dogs include oral injuries, fractured teeth, and periodontal disease.

Traumatic Injury

Trauma is capable of causing swelling in dogs just as much as it is in people. Whether from a fall or the bite of another animal, a facial injury is as likely an explanation as any for a swollen face in your dog.


Tumors both benign and malignant cause facial swelling whilst growing on a dog's face or head. Tumors can cause pressure and pain and are possibly a sign of cancer - if you suspect your dog may have a tumor on their face we strongly suggest contacting your veterinarian as soon as possible. As well as tumors, cysts can grow large on your pet's face and be confused for swelling. Cysts are fluid-filled growths that are most often benign and only require attention if they grow to an unignorable size.

How to Prevent Your Dog's Face from Swelling 

Does your dog have known allergies? If so, try to minimize his exposure to allergens that may trigger a reaction. Your veterinarian may also recommend antihistamines to prevent swelling. 

Your veterinarian should also be aware of any previous reactions to vaccines that your dog has had (including facial swelling) so that your dog can be treated ahead of time to minimize the reaction. If your dog has been stung by a bee, bitten by a bug, or otherwise exposed to an allergen in the environment, treat the reaction right away with an antihistamine. Inquire with your veterinarian for specific instructions.

Most dental issues can be easily prevented by maintaining your dog's teeth with regular dental checkups and at-home care. Start an at-home oral care routine and stick with it to reduce your dog's risk of developing a dental problem. This way, you'll be more likely to catch problems early on.

While trauma cannot always be avoided, it is always a good idea to keep safety precautions in mind. Allow your dog to play off-leash or roam freely in unfenced areas. Keep a close eye on interactions with other animals to avoid fights. If your dog suffers any kind of trauma, take him to the vet right away.

A sad fact is that cancer and tumors cannot be prevented. That said, early detection, diagnosis, and treatment may minimize damage to long-term health. If you notice your dog has a swollen face, it's important to act swiftly.

Are you concerned about swelling in your dog's face? Contact Rossmoyne Animal Emergency Trauma Center right away.

Walk-in Patients Welcome

At Rossmoyne Animal Emergency Trauma Center you never need an appointment to access our full complement of emergency services. We treat both walk-in patients and referrals for urgent veterinary care.

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