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What is Swollen Face?

While the definition for swollen face in dogs is quite simple, the potential reasons for this malady certainly are not. The swollen areas noted on your doggy family member may be of various sizes and shapes, waxing and waning under a variety of conditions, or, they may have developed suddenly or gradually over a period of time and they may or may not be symmetrical (the same size and location on each side of the face, head or muzzle).  Regardless of the circumstances of their appearance, they are all something which need the attention of your veterinary professional.

Swollen face in dogs is, quite simply, an enlargement or edema of a portion of the face, eyes, ears, head or muzzle of your family pet, which may or may not be symmetrical.

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Symptoms of Swollen Face in Dogs

The symptoms of the various potential causes are similar in a very general way.  Here are some of the symptoms you might see to accompany the swollen face in your dog:

  • Small bumps or hives, sometimes with hair standing up in that area
  • Itchiness
  • Swelling especially around the eyes and on muzzle
  • Swelling around the eyes which sometimes closes the eye(s)
  • Swelling in the jaw and throat area

Sometimes the swelling, especially in the muzzle, jaw and throat areas, can result in the closing off of the windpipe, causing an emergency situation for your canine family member.

Types

 

The types of swollen face in dogs relate to the ways in which the swelling can occur:

  • Trauma - Including blunt trauma and penetrating injuries

  • Allergies - Includes food allergies and insect bites (spiders, wasps, etc) as well as environmental and household allergens (household cleaners, carpet cleaners, air fresheners, etc) and mold and pollen
  • Dental issues - Includes cavities, tooth damages, bone fractures, etc

  • Cancers and tumors and other systemic involvement
  • Lymph node involvement - Swelling of various lymph nodes in the facial area as a result of multiple factors

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Causes of Swollen Face in Dogs

  • Trauma - This swelling comes in the form of fluid buildup from external traumas like being kicked, bumped, hit by a car and from penetrating wounds like animal bites, punctures from sticks and other sharp objects; frequently, bacterial infections can develop from penetrating wounds
  • Allergies - These include allergic reactions to insect bites, sting, vaccinations and various medications

  • Salivary gland swelling - This is mucus-like salivary fluid buildup
  • Abscesses - Just like we humans, dogs and cats are also prone to dental root abscesses which will result in swelling in the facial area of the afflicted animal

  • Cancer and other benign growths of tissue - Cancer is possible in your beloved canine family member too - and, just like in humans, some tumors will be malignant while others can be benign
  • Lymphatic obstructions - The lymph system needs to be open and flowing to work; obstructions in those pathways can cause fluid to accumulate anywhere in the body, especially in the face of your dog

  • Parasitic infestations - This cause can include, hookworms,  whipworms, roundworms, heartworms and tapeworms
  • Congestive heart failure - This causes excessive fluid which has built up in the tissues around the heart to infiltrate into surrounding tissues, causing the edema or swelling in the upper body and eventually to the neck, head and face of the afflicted animal

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Diagnosis of Swollen Face in Dogs

During the diagnostic process, your veterinary professional will require your complete history on the lifestyle of your canine family member.  This will need to include details on dietary regimen, recent vaccinations (if not done by the treating vet), the locations where the dog may be been (to determine possible insect or parasitic involvement), the symptoms noted, their severity and duration.  He will also need to know if the swelling was noted to have come on suddenly or was it more gradual in its development?  Be sure to include any unusual behaviors noted and the duration of those behavioral changes.  Your vet will do a physical examination which will likely include some blood work, urine and fecal samples and perhaps other tissue or fluid samples to be sent to the lab for evaluation and assessment.  

A specimen of fluid from the swollen area will likely be obtained via needle aspiration and sent to the lab.  The vet may order some imaging studies, like radiography (x-ray), CT (computer tomography) imaging or MRI to identify or ascertain the presence of any masses, either felt on examination or suspected. An echocardiogram may be utilized if cardiac issues are present or suspected.  The treatment plan developed by your veterinary professional will be entirely dependent upon the diagnosis found.

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Treatment of Swollen Face in Dogs

Treatments for swollen face in dogs, as noted above, can be based solely upon the diagnosis found in the examination and testing, or based on the assumptive diagnosis of an insect bite (most frequently the cause) or other allergen.  

  • In the latter situation, your vet will likely begin an allergic-style regimen right away, especially if there is concern that the swelling could interfere with your pet’s ability to breathe  
  • Your vet may initiate a treatment plan which consists of antibiotic treatment of any penetrating or trauma wounds which show infection and inflammation 
  • He may begin an antihistamine regimen if he suspects that your beloved doggy family member is suffering from an allergic reaction of some type  
  • If the reaction is severe, he may also treat your pet with steroids as needed.  Epinephrine may be utilized in extreme situations in which anaphylaxis is suspected as this type of reaction is potentially life-threatening and will need immediate action on his part  
  • If this severe reaction is being treated, you should expect that your pet will be hospitalized for close monitoring, utilization of oxygen, potentially IV administration of corticosteroids and heart and blood pressure monitoring on a 24 hour basis until your pet is stabilized and can safely be returned home
  • If the cause is found to be dental, your pet may be referred to a veterinary professional who specializes in doggy dental procedures unless your vet has the expertise to treat dental issues, too
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Recovery of Swollen Face in Dogs

Depending on the cause of the swollen face in your pet, it is reasonable to expect that your canine family member will recover completely from this episode, provided medical care was provided appropriately and in a timely manner for the condition.  It is also reasonable to expect that cautions, suggestions and recommendations for prevention of future episodes will be given as well as at home emergency care recommendations in the event that your pet suffered a severe allergic reaction.  Of course, as a pet owner, you also should expect the pleasure of being told to administer your own form of “medical care” by the extravagant application of the three A’s (affection, attention and affirmation) to your healing beloved doggy family member.

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Swollen Face Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Chihuahua

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4months

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Face

Her face is swollen eyes and mouth

Sept. 29, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Your puppy may be having a reaction to something, or she may have a problem with her skin. If the problem is still occurring, it would be best to have her seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible. They will be able to see what might be causing the problem, and get treatment for her.

Sept. 30, 2020

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Dachshund

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Ten Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Side Of Face Swollen

Side of her face is swollen wondering what to do. Hasn’t Eaten anything different or unusual

Sept. 29, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Sometimes, in older dogs, a swollen face on one side can be related to a tooth problem, as the roots of their teeth are very large. Since this is something that just seemed to have happen and it does not getting better, it would be best to have an appointment with her veterinarian to have a look at it. They will be able to examine her, look at her teeth, and see if that is what's causing it. Once they know more about what's happening, they can give you an idea on what needs to happen as far as treatment goes. I hope that all goes well for her.

Oct. 1, 2020

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Australian Shepherd

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Five Months

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Eye, Foaming Mouth

My puppy started having extra saliva (almost foamy) as soon as we got to the dog park. About 2 hours later when at home, both her eyes have become swollen. Just gave her Benadryl but not sure how this happened or why. Any advice ?

Sept. 29, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. It is difficult to say what may happen without having been there, but I think it is possible that she licked something that did not taste good on that caused her to have that kind of a reaction. If she improves with the Benadryl, I don't think that you need to worry about it as a long-term problem, and if she does not improve, then I think it would be best to have her seen by a veterinarian. I hope that all goes well for her and she is back to her normal self soon.

Oct. 3, 2020

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Poodle

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Thirteen Years

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

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Swelling

Hi! My Dog is about 13 years old and we just recently noticed that her snout is starting to swell up. She has no problems eating though, and her behavior hasn't changed. I'm not even sure it's that bad, but I want to be sure.

Sept. 29, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Without being able to see her, it is difficult to say whether this might be a problem. I would be concerned about changes in the bones of her nose at her age, and I think having a veterinarian take a look at her would be a good idea. They will be able to examine her and assess what's going on, and let you know if there's anything to worry about. I hope that everything goes well for her.

Oct. 3, 2020

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Aspin

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Three Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

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Noisy Breathing, Swollen Face And Neck

What can I give to her? She has swollen face and neck. Looks tired and weak.

Sept. 28, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Without being able to examine her and see what is causing the swelling, unfortunately, I cannot say what might be needed to treat her. It would be best to have her seen by a veterinarian, as they can see her and see what might be going on, and get treatment for her.

Oct. 8, 2020

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miki

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Silky Terrier

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14 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Swelling

yesterday i noticed my dogs right side of his face right under his eye and snout are swollen it’s now the next day it hasn’t gotten worse i’ve been constantly checking on him for fever and fatigue and he’s completely normal he’s also eating and drinking normally. what could’ve caused this i’m not sure if it’s an insect bite or a tooth issue or if he bumped into something.

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Kala

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Husky

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4 Months

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Muzzle
Choked

I accidentally left her collar on, and put her in her crate while I left the house. I was gone about 90 minutes, when I came back the collar had gotten caught on the wire of the crate. She was breathing, and yelping and crying. Her front legs were covered in drool, there were a couple of drops of blood, not sure if it came from her mouth or her paws. She was choking herself trying to twist herself free, and she'd obviously been like that for awhile because of the amount of drool, flying fur, and her muzzle was swollen. She continued to cry for about 5 minutes after I freed her. Her breathing seems ok, but her muzzle is pretty swollen. I've given her water and ice chips, which she took with no problems. Should I continue to give her ice chips to try and help with the swollen muzzle? And could she have damaged her throat?

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Twix

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Staffordshire Bull Terrier

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6 Years

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargy
Loss Of Appetite
Pain Behind Ear
Moving Gingerly

My 6year old Staffie his morning helped when having her ears stroked, I then noticed a swelling behind/under her ear, within the next few hours this got worse and she has a very liquid abscess looking growth hanging under her jaw.she was walking gingerly and being very lethargic. Due to commitments with my son I put off the emergency call to the vets but since has been back to herself eating (she turned her nose up at bacon and eggs earlier on in the day) the lower swelling has subsided but the side swelling is still visible, and feels quite hard. She normally sleeps on her own but we had a visitor last night who shared her sofa. I am wondering if maybe she got kicked in the night? Or if this could be an allergic reaction to a bug? I’ve not been able to look in the mouth whilst open to asses the saliva glands, although it’s never been an issue with her. There is no trouble with her breathing and her heart rate is normal from what I can hear listening against her chest. I can also now touch her face without her yelping.

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Beaudro Owen

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pitbull

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1 Year

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Face

My dog is a pit bull staffordshire mix, and his cheek is a little swollen he’s not not allergic to anything or whatever but I’m pretty sure my puppy bit him and gave him the swollen cheek just gonna keep an eye on him

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Millie

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Springer spaniel

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7 Years

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Fair severity

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1 found helpful

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Swelli

Hi I have a seven year old springer spaniel who has a swollen nose took her to the vets yesterday and given antibiotics and pain relief I started the antibiotics straight away yesterday but find that the swelling has got bigger normal healthy dog not sneezing or rubbing her nose help

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