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What is Swelling in the Face?

Swelling in the face in dogs is when the face or muzzle area, or even mouth, swell up either suddenly or over a short period of time. Face swelling can occur on one side of the face, along the jawline, or all over the muzzle area. When a dog swells in the face, he may have difficulty eating and drinking. He may also paw at his face if there is any discomfort in the facial area. A swollen face can signify several different conditions, so it is important to make an immediate appointment with a veterinarian if this occurs.

A dog may swell in the face for a variety of reasons. Reasons for this condition include:

  • Allergies
  • Trauma
  • Poisoning
  • Tooth or gum infections
  • Tumor
  • Lymph node swelling

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Why Swelling in the Face Occurs in Dogs

Swelling in the face of a dog is not normal and needs to be addressed. If your dog is swelling in the face, jaw area, or any part of his body, immediately make an appointment with your veterinarian. Reasons for facial swelling may include:


If your dog has allergies, he may have swelling in the face. If you know your dog has allergies and is not taking medications, perhaps a visit to the veterinarian can help. If your dog has sudden facial swelling after being outside or in a different location than normal, take your dog to the veterinarian immediately.


A bee sting or other insect bite can cause swelling of your dog’s face. If you feel your dog has been stung by a flying insect of some sort, or has been bitten or has suffered any facial injury, make an appointment with your veterinarian. 


If your dog has been outside or eaten any indoor toxins, such as a poisonous plant or toxic substance, he may have swelling occur in his face. Certain toxic plants that contain oxalates can cause immediate swelling, as well as other symptoms of toxicity. 

Tooth or Gum Infections

An abscess in the tooth can cause painful swelling on one side of the face. A gum infection can also cause facial swelling. Your dog will more than likely show signs of pain and may have difficulty eating as well.


If your dog has a tumor, it may be the source of the swelling. Typically, tumors appear over time and not suddenly, so it is careful to always be aware of your dog’s body and face. If you notice your dog’s face is swelling over time, contact your veterinarian.

Lymph Node Swelling

Swelling of the lymph nodes for various factors such as infections or cancers can cause swelling of the face or neck area. Swelling can be on one or both sides, depending on the cause. Your dog may be fatigued or listless or have other symptoms of illness with the lymph node infection.

What to do if your Dog is Swelling in the Face

Observe where your dog is swelling in his face. You may notice his face is swelling all over or only on one side. Call your veterinarian immediately, as sudden face swelling can be a sign of something serious, such as a toxicity or bite from a snake or insect. 

Once you arrive at your veterinarian’s office, he will take a closer look at your dog’s face. He will immediately treat him if he finds a bite or sting, or if your dog looks as if he is having a severe allergic reaction. Once your dog is stable, your veterinarian will ask questions about what you suspect caused it, such as if you were outside with him and noticed he was bitten or stung. 

Your veterinarian will want to know if your companion has ingested any plants or other toxic substances in your home. Once he gathers all of the information possible, he may then perform a few baseline tests. These tests will include blood work, a biochemistry profile, a skin test, and a possible urinalysis.

Once your veterinarian finds what has caused your dog’s face to swell, he will give you the treatment options that are the best for your companion. Of course, this will depend on the diagnosis and the severity of his condition. He may also keep him overnight to give him fluids and to keep him stable, especially if he is having an allergic reaction to something harsh.

Prevention of Swelling in the Face

To prevent insect bites, try your best to monitor your dog while he is outdoors. This can also prevent him from getting into plants that are poisonous. Also, if you have plants that are toxic, have the plants removed from your property or from your home. Some of the prettiest houseplants can be very poisonous, so be sure to check with your veterinarian on the types of poisonous plants before you purchase them. 

Do not allow your dog to roam in environments where there is a large amount of insects or where there could be snakes, as a snakebite can be lethal to your companion. For allergies, try to keep the allergens to a minimum in his environment, or speak to your veterinarian about allergy medication if he has a severe case.

Cost of Swelling in the Face

The cost of treating swelling in the face due to eating a toxic plant can be $500. The cost of treating an underlying health condition, such as a tooth abscess, can be approximately $1200.