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Facial Swelling in Dogs: Symptoms & Treatment

If you notice that your dog's face is swollen, there's probably an underlying complication causing the swelling. Today, our vets in Franklin shed light on the serious pathologies that facial swelling can reveal in dogs.

Causes of Sudden Facial Swelling in Dogs

There are many potential causes of facial swelling in dogs, from minor ones that can be treated with a visit to the vet to more serious health problems such as tumors. Since a dog with a swollen face often suffers from underlying health problems, it's common for this symptom to be accompanied by other symptoms, 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, vaccines, exposure to toxins, pollen, and insect bites are just a few of the many potential allergens that can affect a dog with facial swelling. While mild reactions tend to disappear with minimal intervention, severe reactions constitute a veterinary emergency and require immediate attention.

Allergies trigger an inflammatory reaction that can cause hives and dog face swelling. Swelling may be particularly noticeable on the eyelids and muzzle. You may also notice reddening of the skin or behavior that indicates your canine companion is itchy and uncomfortable if he's suffering from an allergic reaction.

Dental Problems & Facial Swelling in Dogs

Dental problems are another possible cause of facial swelling in dogs. Dental infections, such as abscesses, can develop deep under the gums, resulting in a pus-filled pocket and facial swelling. Oral injuries, dental fractures, and periodontal disease are other potential causes of facial swelling in dogs.

Traumatic Injury

Trauma can cause swelling in dogs and humans alike. Whether it's a fall or a bite from another animal, an injury to the face is the most likely explanation for facial swelling in your dog.


Tumors, whether benign or malignant, cause facial swelling when they develop on the dog's face or head. Tumors can cause pressure and pain and may be a sign of cancer. If you suspect your dog has a tumor on the face, we urge you to contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. Like tumors, cysts can grow on your pet's face and be mistaken for swellings. Cysts are fluid-filled growths usually benign and only require attention if they reach an insignificant size.

How to Prevent Your Dog's Face from Swelling 

Does your dog suffer from any known allergies? If so, try to minimize his exposure to allergens likely to trigger a reaction. Your vet may also recommend antihistamines to prevent swelling.

Your vet should also be informed of any previous vaccine reactions your dog has had (including facial swelling) so that your dog can be treated in advance to minimize the reaction. If your dog has been stung by a bee, bitten by an insect, or exposed to an allergen in the environment, treat the reaction immediately with an antihistamine. Ask your vet for specific instructions.

Most dental problems can be easily avoided by maintaining your dog's teeth through regular dental check-ups and home care. Please set up a home oral care routine and stick to it to reduce the risk of dental problems in your dog. This will give you a better chance of detecting problems early.

Although trauma can't always be avoided, keeping safety measures in mind is always a good idea. 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 from any kind of trauma, take him to your vet.

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 our vets in Franklin right away.

New Patients Always Welcome

Pet Vet Battlewood is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about improving the health of Franklin's companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

Contact (615) 794-3838