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Facial Swelling in Dogs

Facial Swelling in Dogs

We know that finding your dog's face suddenly swollen can be alarming. In this post, our Visalia vets share some common causes of facial swelling in dogs and treatments that may be recommended by your vet.

Causes of Facial Swelling in Dogs

There are numerous possible causes of facial swelling in dogs. A visit to your vet can provide you with a quick diagnosis of your dog's condition and allow effective treatments to begin sooner.

If you have noticed that your dog's face is swollen, below are a few possible reasons for the swelling and some of the treatments that your vet may recommend.

Allergic Reaction

If your dog experiences sudden facial swelling in dogs the cause is likely to be an allergic reaction. Some common causes of facial swelling due to an allergic reaction include:

  • Bug bites
  • Bee stings
  • Vaccinations
  • Medications
  • Toxin exposure
  • Ingredients in foods
  • Pollen
Facial swelling caused by mild reactions tend to improve with minimal intervention, but severe reactions are an emergency that demands immediate veterinary attention.

Facial swelling in dogs resulting from an allergic reaction occurs due to the body's inflammatory response to the allergen. Your dog's muzzle and eyes may become particularly swollen, red and irritated. The areas affected may also become uncomfortable and itchy leading your dog to paw at their face repeatedly.

Treatment for facial swelling caused by allergies will largely depend upon the cause of the reaction. Your vet may prescribe antihistamines, steroids, antibiotic ointment, or a special diet. In some cases further testing may be required to pinpoint the cause of your dog's allergic reaction. These tests could include skin allergy testing or blood tests.

In rare cases where symptoms are severe, epinephrine may be required.

Dental Problems

Facial swelling in dogs can also be due to an underlying dental issue. An abscess or dental infection can run deep beneath the gums and cause a pocket to fill with pus, which in turn causes facial swelling. Broken teeth, oral injuries, and periodontal disease are all potential causes of facial swelling in dogs as well.

Treatment for your dog's dental issues will depend upon the underlying cause however it is common for a problematic tooth to require extraction. A course of antibiotics and/or anti-inflammatory pain meds may be prescribed to clear the infection and help manage your dog's discomfort.

Traumatic Injury

Trauma to your dog's face such as a cut, deep scratch or bite from an animal can quickly become infected and lead to an abscess and facial swelling.

Treatment of your dog's traumatic injury will be determined by your vet based on the severity of the wound but may include surgical drainage, flushing a wound out with an antiseptic to kill bacteria, pain meds to minimize your dog's discomfort, and antibiotics to fight infection.


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. Whether your dog's tumor is cancerous or not it will likely need to be surgically removed. If your dog's tumor is cancerous your vet may recommend radiotherapy, chemotherapy or other treatments to help prevent the spread of the disease.


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 a sufficient size.

Craniomandibular Osteopathy

A number of dog breeds are susceptible to a rare condition called craniomandibular osteopathy which can lead to facial swelling and is typically seen in dogs around 3 - 10 months of age. Boxers, Labrador Retrievers, Doberman Pinschers, various terrier breeds and Great Danes are all known to be at risk for this condition. Other signs of craniomandibular osteopathy in dogs include drooling, fever, and reluctance to eat.

There is no cure for this condition however, if your dog is diagnosed with craniomandibular osteopathy your vet may prescribe anti-inflammatories can help control discomfort, and many dogs stabilize when they reach about one year of age.

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.

Is your dogs face suddenly swollen? Please call your vet immediately, if it's after hours contact our Visalia emergency vets at Tulare-Kings Veterinary Emergency Services.

Compassionate Emergency Care for Pets

Tulare-Kings Veterinary Emergency Services is a pet emergency animal hospital providing urgent care to cats and dogs in the Visalia area. Contact us right away if you are experiencing a veterinary emergency.

(559) 739-7054 Contact