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Dog Facial Swelling: Causes and Treatment

Facial swelling in dogs can have dozens of causes, from dog bites to dental problems; the swelling can be a fairly benign reaction or it can require emergency care.

To help keep your pet pain-free and healthy, it helps to know the signs of facial swelling, and what you can do when it happens.

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Common Causes and Treatments of Dog Facial Swelling

Facial swelling in dogs can be life-threatening if the swelling progresses to the throat, so don't try to diagnose the cause of your dog's swelling yourself. If your pet's face looks swollen, or lopsided, get your dog to a veterinarian immediately.

Some common causes of facial swelling in dogs include:


Like people, dogs can be allergic to chemicals, foods, plants, spider bites, bee stings, medication, or a vaccine (though that's rare). A severe allergic reaction can lead to throat swelling -- cutting off your dog's windpipe -- so if your dog's face looks swollen, if he has trouble breathing, or if he passes out, get your pet to a vet immediately.

Treating allergies depends on what's causing them, but may include an antihistamine, steroids, antibiotic ointment, a special diet, as well as skin or blood tests.


Often caused by animal bites or other wounds, head and neck abscesses show up suddenly, usually accompanied by a fever, and can leave a lopsided look to your dog's head or neck. These are extremely painful; if your dog has facial swelling and is refusing to eat or drink, an abscess could be the cause.

It's important for abscesses to be treated right away. Treatment may include surgical drainage and antibiotics.

Dental Problems

Infected or fractured teeth and untreated gum disease can also lead to abscesses, accompanied by facial swelling, fever, depression, and great pain for your dog.

Treatment for dental abscesses may include removing the infected tooth along with a course of antibiotics.

Tumors (Noncancerous and Cancerous)

Mouth and throat tumors can occur in dogs and, along with facial swelling, symptoms may include problems eating, bleeding, and excessive odor. Dogs can also get tumors associated with the eye socket, which can make the eye bulge.

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