Facial Swelling in Canines: Everything you need to know.

Everything you need to know about Facial Swelling in Canines.

Facial Swelling in Canines in dogs results due to a variety of reasons. However, in general, Facial swelling is secondary to another problem. The cause of swelling, may or may not be serious. Nevertheless most of the time it calls for medical intervention.  

Facial swelling in dogs can be categorized into different types. Typically, acute or sudden facial swelling in dogs mostly results due to an allergic reaction. Whereas in other cases swollen faces in dogs may develop slowly as a result of a tumor or a facial enlargement.   

In order to secure a healthy and pain-free existence for your pooch, it’s always helpful to be prepared beforehand. Therefore read on to know all about facial swelling in dogs, its symptoms, causes, and treatments.  

But before we start let us know more about swollen faces.  

What is facial swelling?  

While the definition of Facial swelling in canines is fairly simple, the possible causes of this problem are certainly not. A swollen face in dogs can be simply defined as an enlargement or swelling of a part of the dog’s face be it the eyes, ears, head, or muzzle, which may or may not be symmetrical.

Symptoms of Swollen Face in dogs

Golden Retriever got facial swelling due to an allergic reaction.

Picture Credit: www.mirror.co.uk

The signs of the various possible causes are similar in a very general way. Here are some Symptoms of Facial swelling in canines to watch out: 

  • Bumps or hives, sometimes with standing hair in that area
  • Swelling particularly around the eyes and on the muzzle
  • Itching
  • Swelling in the jaw and throat area

Sometimes the swelling, particularly along the muzzle,  jaw, and throat, can result in the blocking of the windpipe, causing an emergency situation for your dog.

What are the Causes

Causes of Facial Swelling
Reasons why and how a dog can get Facial Swelling.

Picture Source: topdogtips.com

There are many possible reasons for swollen faces in dogs. Furthermore, remember as facial swelling is also a sign of underlying problems, the affected dogs often show other signs of illness, such as lethargy and loss of appetite, as well.

  • Dental issues: Facial swelling may be related to the problem of the oral cavity.  Tooth abscesses and other dental infections can go deep under the gums resulting in pus-filled pockets. This usually causes the dog’s face to swell, especially under the eye. Periodontal disease, mouth injuries and broken teeth can also cause a dog’s face to swell. 
  • Trauma:  swelling resulting due to injuries can cause facial swelling in dogs. Infections due to bites, wounds and microorganisms such as bacteria or fungus causes facial swelling as well. 
  • Allergic reaction: When a dog’s face suddenly swells, it is usually due to an allergic reaction. Allergic reactions can be caused by bug bites, bee stings, vaccinations, medications, certain foods, exposure to venom, pollen and other environmental allergens. An allergic reaction causes an inflammatory response in the body. This can cause hives and swelling, particularly on the face. Swelling, along the muzzle, neck and eyelids can be noticed. Some allergic reactions will get worse quickly, resulting in severe breathing problems or even seizures. Mild reactions improve with little intervention, but major reactions are considered an emergency.
  • Tumour: Abnormal growths may occur on the face and head. Sometimes cancerous, the tumour can cause pain and pressure build-up. Whether they are benign or malignant, facial tumours can spread and grow, causing damage to the nerves, muscles, and bones of the face. Additionally, Cysts that are fluid-filled growths and benign in nature, can be quite large and visible, especially on the face.

Treatment of Facial Swelling in Canines

Facial Swelling
Veteranians treating the facial swelling in a small white dog.

Picture Source: veterinaryemergencygroup.com

Appropriate treatment of facial swelling in dogs usually depends on the cause. 

  • In case of doubts or extreme allergy and infections, swelling can obstruct breathing, therefore consulting a veterinarian immediately, is highly recommended. 
  • Mild to moderate allergies can be treated at home using medication. However, you may wonder, what can be considered as mild to moderate? Well, a reaction will be considered mild to moderate if your pooch is breathing normally and acting relatively normal (nothing more than a little lethargic). In such cases, the vet may recommend the administration of an over-the-counter antihistamine. If your dog’s face is swollen for some other reason (or reasons unknown), the next step is to bring your dog to the vet for an examination, following which the vet will recommend a solution based on the diagnosis.
  • If the case of facial swelling in dogs resulting due to injuries or trauma to the face or head, treatment depends on the severity of the injury. However,  X-rays may be necessary to determine severity. Start by providing the necessary first aid, then visit the vet immediately. Treatment often includes supportive care, antibiotics, and anti-inflammatory medications. Severe injuries may require surgery. Whereas, snakebites are cured with supportive care and sometimes antivenin (if available and deemed necessary).
  • Facial swelling due to dental problems may require professional dental work. The dog is often treated with antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs before coming in for anaesthesia and complete dental cleaning. Dental X-rays are often done while your dog is under anaesthesia. Furthermore, depending on the cause, the vet may need to remove the tooth or perform some other type of oral surgery. Later the dog may be sent home with antibiotics in order to treat or prevent infection.
  • In case your vet suspects a tumour and/or cancer, as the underlying reason for facial swelling in your dog, further testing will be needed to find out more. Your vet may recommend blood tests, X-rays, and tumour testing. Treatment depends on the diagnosis.

Ways to Prevent Facial Swelling in Dogs

German Shepherd’s face got swelled up due to an allergic reaction.

Picture Credit: The Goody Pet

  • If the cause of facial swelling in your four-legged companion is allergy the best way to put a check on is to cut short on the exposure to allergens. With a proper recommendation from your vet, you can make use of antihistamines for prevention. If your pooch sow reaction to the vaccine make sure to contact the vet and get your canine friend treated in advance. In case your furry friend has been bitten by a bug, or bee, or otherwise exposed to an allergen, treat it immediately with an antihistamine following your vet’s advice. 
  • Trauma can’t always be prevented, but you can take steps to keep your dog safe in general. Don’t let it roam free or play off-leash especially in non-fenced areas. It is advisable to watch out for your pooch’s interactions with other animals so as to prevent fights. In case of any kind of trauma, consult your vet immediately.
  • Tumours and cancer cannot really be prevented. However, early action can reduce the damage done. Therefore, If you notice that your dog’s face is swollen, it is important to act immediately.
  • Dental issues are easy to deal with. You can easily prevent most dental problems by taking good care of your dog’s teeth. Design a dental care routine for your dog and stick to it. Your dog will be much less likely to develop a dental problem and you will be more likely to catch issues sooner.

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