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Why Is My Dog's Face Swollen? Common Causes and Treatment Options - PawSafe
Dog Healthcare

Why Is My Dog’s Face Swollen? Common Causes and Treatment Options

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

Why Is My Dogs Face Swollen

If you’re wondering, “why is my dog’s face swollen?” Then the bad news is that canine facial swelling is quite a serious symptom and your dog probably needs a speedy trip to the vet. As with any trip, make sure to buckle your dog in with a doggy seatbelt

A swollen face in dogs can be caused by a variety of factors, including allergies, infections, or injuries. It is important to identify the underlying cause of the swelling in order to provide appropriate treatment and prevent further complications. So let’s dive in with a look through veterinary sources on canine pathology and a few studies on rare cases of facial swelling causes we should be aware of.

Identifying the cause of the swelling is crucial in order to provide the appropriate treatment, whether it be medication, surgery, or other forms of intervention.

What Could Cause a Dog’s Face to Swell? 12 reasons

1. Allergic Reactions

Dogs, like humans, can have allergic reactions to various things. Research shows this can include certain foods, chemicals, medications, and even vaccines (but this is rare so see our article on dogs shaking after shots).

One of the most common causes of sudden face swelling in dogs is a bee sting. If a dog eats a bee, the venom can cause a rapid and severe allergic reaction that results in facial swelling. This can lead to anaphylactic shock in severe cases, so make sure your dog gets to the vet ASAP.

Other signs of allergies may be itchiness, and rubbing the face against the carpet could signal eye allergies.

2. Dental Problems

Dental problems can also cause a dog’s face to swell. Infections in the teeth or gums can spread to the face and cause inflammation. A broken tooth or abscess can also lead to swelling, especially on one side of the face, on the muzzle or under the eye.

Veterinary sources confirm that abscesses need antibiotic treatment and possibly a tooth extraction. You can avoid dental issues with proper dental care such as adding a canine mouth rinse to your dog’s water. 

3. Trauma & Injury

Trauma to the face can cause swelling in dogs, just as it can in humans. A dog may get hit by a car, get into a fight with another dog, or experience some other type of injury that causes swelling in the face.

4. Tumors

Tumors can also cause swelling in a dog’s face. While not as common as allergies or infections, tumors should be considered as a possibility if a dog’s facial swelling does not go away or is accompanied by other symptoms.

5. Skin Infections

Skin infections, such as those caused by bacteria or fungi, can result in swelling and inflammation of the face. These infections can be caused by a variety of factors, including allergies, parasites, and poor hygiene in skin folds that lead to skin fold dermatitis.

6. Cysts

Cysts are fluid-filled sacs that can form under the skin. They can occur anywhere on the body, including the face. Cysts can become infected and cause swelling and inflammation. A common type of cyst includes sebaceous cysts, which can also lead to lumps under the eye.

7. Insect and Snake Bites

Insect and snake bites can cause swelling and inflammation of the face. Spider bites, in particular, can cause a severe allergic reaction that leads to swelling.

8. Hives

Hives are a type of allergic reaction that can cause swelling and inflammation of the face. They are usually caused by exposure to an allergen, such as an insect bite or a certain food. They can show up as many small, swollen bumps all over your dog’s face and body.

9. Hematomas

Hematomas are collections of blood that can form under the skin. They can occur as a result of trauma to the face, such as a blow or a fall. If your dog has a hematoma on their face then a vet may need to surgically drain the fluid.

10. Parotid Duct Sialolithiasis

Parotid duct sialolithiasis is a rare condition in which a stone forms in the salivary gland. This can cause swelling and inflammation of the face, as well as pain and difficulty eating.

11. Swollen Facial Glands

Swollen facial glands usually refers to swollen saliva glands and it can be caused by a variety of factors, including infections, choke collars, tumors, swallowing foreign objects, and autoimmune disorders. These glands can become enlarged and cause swelling of the face.

12. Swollen Lymph Nodes

Swollen lymph nodes can also cause facial swelling. This can be a sign of infection or inflammation in the body. Usually, swollen lymph nodes appear under a dog’s jaw. They can happen when a dog has lymphoma (a type of cancer) or when they are fighting an infection.

However, Veterinary Practice News reports that vets shouldn’t forget the dogs have “buccal” or facial lymph nodes too, that can cause swollen lumps on the muzzle, under the eye.

What Could Cause a Dog's Face to Swell

Swollen faces in puppies: Juvenile cellulitis

Juvenile cellulitis, also known as puppy strangles, is a rare condition that primarily affects young puppies. It is an immune-mediated disorder that leads to inflammation and infection in the skin and subcutaneous tissues. While the condition typically affects the head, ears, and lymph nodes, it can also cause a swollen face.

In juvenile cellulitis, the immune system mistakenly attacks the tissues in the affected areas, leading to swelling, redness, and discomfort. The face may become swollen due to the inflammation affecting the skin, subcutaneous tissues, and lymph nodes in that area. The swelling is often accompanied by other symptoms such as pustules, scabs, ulcers, and a general feeling of illness in the puppy. If left untreated, the condition can progress and cause more severe symptoms, including difficulty eating, breathing difficulties, and lethargy.

Will my dog’s face swelling go down on its own?

Where a dog’s facial swelling will go down on its own depends on the cause.

If the swelling is due to an insect bite or sting, it may go down on its own within a few hours or days. In the meantime, you can apply a cold compress to the affected area to help reduce swelling and discomfort.

Facial swelling from an injury, such as a bite or scratch, may also go down on its own within a few days. However, it’s important to monitor the swelling and your dog’s behavior, as an infection could develop.

If the swelling is due to an allergic reaction, it may not go down on its own and could even become worse. It’s important to seek veterinary care if you suspect your dog is having an allergic reaction.Swelling from dental issues, such as an abscessed tooth, it will not go away on its own and will require veterinary treatment.

Overall, it’s important to monitor your dog’s swelling and behavior and seek veterinary care if you have any concerns.

How long does a dog have a swollen face after an allergic reaction?

How long does a dog have a swollen face after an allergic reaction?

When a dog experiences an allergic reaction, it is common for their face to become swollen. The duration of the swelling can vary depending on the severity of the reaction, the cause of the allergy, and the treatment provided.

In most cases, the swelling will begin to decrease within a few hours to a day after treatment. However, it is not uncommon for the swelling to persist for several days, particularly if the reaction was severe or if the dog was not treated promptly.

If the swelling does not begin to improve within 24 hours of treatment, it is important to seek veterinary care. In some cases, the swelling may be a sign of a more serious condition, such as an infection or a tumor.

It is important to note that even if the swelling does begin to improve, it is still important to monitor the dog closely for any signs of further allergic reactions. Dogs that have experienced an allergic reaction are at an increased risk of future reactions, and it is important to take steps to prevent future episodes. This may include identifying and avoiding the allergen, providing appropriate medications, and working with a veterinarian to develop a management plan.

When to Seek Veterinary Help For A Dog With A Swollen Face

If a dog’s face is swollen, it is essential to know when to seek veterinary help. Depending on the cause of the swelling, it may be a minor issue that can be treated at home or a severe medical emergency that requires immediate attention. Here are some situations where seeking veterinary care is necessary:

Severe Swelling

If a dog’s face is severely swollen, and the swelling is rapidly increasing, it is essential to seek veterinary help immediately. This could be a sign of an allergic reaction, a severe infection, or a life-threatening condition such as angioedema. In these cases, prompt medical attention can be the difference between life and death.

Difficulty Breathing

If a dog’s face is swollen, and they are having difficulty breathing, it is essential to seek veterinary help immediately. This could be a sign of an allergic reaction or angioedema, which can cause the airways to swell shut. In these cases, prompt medical attention is crucial to prevent suffocation.

Other Symptoms

If a dog’s face is swollen, and they are experiencing other symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, or loss of appetite, it is essential to seek veterinary help. These symptoms could be a sign of an underlying medical condition that requires treatment.

In conclusion, if a dog’s face is swollen, it is essential to know when to seek veterinary help. Severe swelling, difficulty breathing, and other symptoms are all signs that prompt medical attention is necessary.

How Do You Treat a Dog’s Swollen Face?

Treating a dog with a swollen face really depends on a veterinary diagnosis. Swollen lymph nodes may need cancer treatment, while an abscess will need antibiotics. Don’t treat your dog’s swollen face at home without seeing a vet for advice.

Medication

When a dog’s face is swollen, the first step is to take them to the vet. The veterinarian will examine the dog and determine the cause of the swelling. Depending on the cause, the vet may prescribe medication to treat the underlying condition. For example, if the swelling is due to an allergic reaction, the vet may prescribe antihistamines or corticosteroids to reduce inflammation.

Surgery

In some cases, surgery may be necessary to treat a dog’s swollen face. If the swelling is due to an abscess or tumor, the veterinarian may need to drain the abscess or remove the tumor. Surgery may also be necessary if the swelling is causing difficulty breathing or other serious health problems.

Home Care

In addition to medication or surgery, there are some things that can be done at home to help a dog with a swollen face. These include:

-Applying a cold compress to the affected area to reduce swelling
-Keeping the dog calm and quiet to prevent further injury or irritation to the affected area
-Feeding the dog soft, easily digestible food to prevent further irritation to the mouth or throat

It is important to follow the veterinarian’s instructions carefully when treating a dog with a swollen face. In some cases, the swelling may be a sign of a serious underlying condition that requires prompt medical attention.

Are there any home remedies for a dog’s swollen face?

When a dog’s face is swollen, it may be tempting to try home remedies before seeking veterinary attention. However, it is important to remember that home remedies may not always be effective and could potentially worsen the situation.

That being said, there are a few things that can be done at home to help reduce swelling and discomfort in a dog’s face.

Firstly, applying a cold compress to the affected area can help to reduce inflammation. This can be done by wrapping ice or a cold pack in a towel and holding it against the swollen area for 10-15 minutes at a time. It is important to never apply ice directly to the skin, as this can cause damage.

Another option is to give the dog an antihistamine, such as Benadryl, if the swelling is believed to be caused by an allergic reaction. However, it is important to consult with a veterinarian before administering any medication to ensure the correct dosage and to rule out any underlying medical conditions that may be causing the swelling.

Finally, ensuring that the dog is well-hydrated and rested can also help to reduce swelling and promote healing. Encouraging the dog to drink plenty of water and providing a comfortable, quiet place for them to rest can aid in their recovery.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my dog’s face swollen and itchy? 

The cause of your dog’s swollen and itchy face could be an allergic reaction to food, environmental factors, or insect bites. A vet visit can help determine the specific cause and provide appropriate treatment.

Why is my dog’s face swollen on one side only?

Unilateral swelling of the dog’s face could be due to an abscess, injury, insect sting, or localized infection. Consulting a veterinarian is essential to diagnose and address the underlying issue.

Why is my dog’s face swollen on one side under the eye?

Swelling on one side under the eye of your dog’s face could indicate a tooth abscess, an insect bite, swollen gland, or an injury. Veterinary examination is necessary to identify the exact cause and administer appropriate treatment.

What can I give my dog for a swollen face? 

It is crucial to consult a veterinarian before giving any medication to your dog for a swollen face. The appropriate treatment will depend on the underlying cause, and your vet can recommend suitable medications or remedies.

Why is my dog’s face swollen but there is no pain?

If your dog’s face is swollen but they show no signs of pain, it could be due to an allergic reaction, fluid retention, or a localized infection. Seeking veterinary advice is important to determine the cause and provide appropriate treatment to alleviate the swelling.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, there are many possible causes of facial swelling in dogs. If your dog’s face is swollen, it is important to seek veterinary care to determine the underlying cause and provide appropriate treatment.

Overall, while there are a few home remedies that may help to reduce swelling in a dog’s face, it is important to consult with a veterinarian to determine the underlying cause and to receive appropriate treatment.

Meet Your Experts

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Tamsin De La Harpe

Author

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.