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Facial Swelling in Dogs: Causes & Treatments

Facial Swelling in Dogs: Causes & Treatments

Swelling in a dog's face is often a symptom of an underlying health issue. Today our Memphis vets discuss what serious conditions facial swelling can be a sign of in dogs.

Causes of Facial Swelling in Dogs

There are several potential causes of facial swelling in dogs. They vary from minor and likely treatable with a visit to the vet 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. Below we will list some of the more common issues that cause face swelling in dogs.

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. 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

Dental health issues are another potential cause of face swelling in dogs. Dental infections such as tooth abscesses can occur deep underneath the gums, causing a pus-filled pocket to develop and lead to facial swelling. Oral injuries, fractured teeth, and periodontal disease are potential causes of facial swelling in dogs.

Traumatic Injury

Trauma is capable of causing swelling in dogs just as much as it is in people. The possible traumas can range from a fall to 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 causes facial swelling whilst growing on a dog's face or head. Tumors can cause 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 vet as soon as possible. As well as tumors, cysts can develop 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 a sufficient size.

Preventing Your Dog's Face from Swelling

If your dog has known allergies, try to minimize their exposure to allergens that may trigger a reaction. Your vet may also recommend antihistamines to prevent swelling.

Your vet should also know about any previous reactions to vaccines your dog has had (including facial swelling) so your dog can be treated in advance to minimize the reaction. If you notice that your dog has been stung by a bee, bitten by a bug, or otherwise exposed to an environmental allergen, it is possible to treat the reaction right away with an antihistamine. Ask your vet for instructions and to confirm the dosage and type of antihistamine you are giving your dog.

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. 

While trauma cannot always be prevented, it's always good to keep safety tips in mind. Do not let your dog play off-leash or roam free in non-fenced areas. Closely monitor interactions with other animals so you can prevent fights. If any kind of trauma occurs, get your dog to the vet right away.

Cancer and tumors cannot be prevented, but 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.

    Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

    If your dog's face is swollen, contact our Animal Emergency Center Veterinarians and get to our hospital immediately.

    Animal Emergency Center in Memphis

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