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Facial Swelling in Dogs - Causes & What to Do

Help! Why is my dog's face swollen?

There are a number of things that can cause a dog's face to become swollen. Today's post delves into the most common causes of facial swelling in dogs, and what to do if your dog's face is swollen.

Sudden Facial Swelling in Dogs

Sudden facial swelling in dogs can happen for a number of reasons. Commonly it is an allergic reaction. This reaction is the body defending itself against intruder cells. While this reaction would normally keep your dog safe and healthy, in the case of allergies it can cause harm to your pup. It's important to watch for the signs and determine the underlying cause.

Reasons Why Your Dog's Face May Be Swollen

The various causes of facial swelling range from allergic reactions to trauma and tumors.

Many causes come with other symptoms as well as facial swelling, so be on the lookout for anything abnormal. Here are some of the commonly seen causes of swelling in dog's faces:

Allergies & Allergic Reactions

Allergic reactions are the most common cause of facial swelling in dogs. Bee stings, medications, certain foods, vaccinations, exposure to toxins, pollen, and bug bites are just some of the many potential allergens that may affect a dog if they present with a swollen face. While mild reactions tend to clear up with minimal intervention, severe reactions are a veterinary emergency and demand immediate attention.

Allergies trigger an inflammatory response that may cause hives and swelling on a dog's face. The swelling might be especially obvious on the eyelids and muzzle. You may also notice reddened skin or behavior that points to your pup being itchy and uncomfortable if they are experiencing an allergic reaction.

Severe allergic reactions in dogs can cause swelling, along with more severe symptoms such as seizures and breathing difficulties. These are life-threatening reactions and require emergency medical attention

Dental Conditions & Infections

Tooth decay and dental concerns are other common causes of facial swelling in dogs. Dental infections such as tooth abscesses can occur deep underneath the gums, causing a pus-filled pocket to develop and lead to facial swelling. Oral injuries, fractured teeth, and periodontal disease are other potential causes of facial swelling.

Trauma & Injuries to the Face

Trauma is capable of causing swelling in dogs just as much as it is in people. Whether from a fall or the bite of another animal, a facial injury is as likely an explanation as any if your dog has a swollen face.

Cysts & Tumors

Tumors both benign and malignant cause 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. As well as tumors, 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 an unignorable size.

Facial Swelling in Dogs Treatment

Treatment for facial swelling in dogs will vary depending on the correct diagnosis of the cause and the severity of the symptoms. The most common treatment might be lifestyle or dietary changes to remove the allergen or your veterinarian might prescribe an allergy medication to help relieve the symptoms. Always speak with your veterinarian before administering any medications or providing any treatment. 

Preventing Swelling & Allergic Reactions

If you know of any allergies that your dog has then you should do your part to ensure that they have minimal contact with the trigger. Your vet may also recommend antihistamines to prevent swelling.

Your vet should also know about any previous reactions to vaccines your dog has had (including facial swelling) so your pooch can be treated in advance to minimize the reaction. If you notice that your dog has been stung by a bee, bitten by a bug, or otherwise exposed to an environmental allergen, treat the reaction right away with an antihistamine. Ask your vet for instructions.

When it comes to protecting your dog's dental health you should ensure ongoing routine dental checkups and cleanings. Start an at-home oral care routine and stick with it to reduce your dog's risk of developing a dental problem. This way, you'll be more likely to catch problems early on.

While trauma cannot always be prevented, it's always good to keep safety tips in mind. Do not let your dog play off-leash or roam free in non-fenced areas. Closely monitor interactions with other animals so you can prevent fights. If any kind of trauma occurs, get your dog to the vet right away.

A sad fact is that cancer and tumors cannot really 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.

Allergy Testing in Somerset County

For many dogs, facial swelling, as well as ear, skin, coat, and nail conditions can often be attributed to food or environmental allergies.

Allergies can irritate your pet's gastrointestinal system or inflame the skin, ears, or other areas of their body. Along with facial swelling, other symptoms can result from an allergic reaction.

Our team at AnimERge can work to pinpoint the cause of allergies through diagnostic testing and develop a customized plan that is right for your dog's needs.

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 dog showing sudden facial swelling or other concerning symptoms? Contact our Somerset County emergency vets right away. AnimERge is open 24/7 to care for your dog's health.

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