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What to Do if Your Dog's Face is Swollen

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

Causes of 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 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. 

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

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 other 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. 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 causes facial swelling whilst growing on a dog's face or head. Tumors can cause pressure and pain, and furthermore 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 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 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 pooch 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, treat the reaction right away with an antihistamine. Ask your vet for 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 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. 

A sad fact is that cancer and tumors cannot really 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 us to book an exam for your canine friend.

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