Determining the cause of a dog's swollen face is a simple process of elimination.

Once you work out why the face is swelling, you'll know how to tackle it, stop the swelling and help your dog recover.

Reasons Why Dog Has Swollen Face

When a dog has swollen face, the potential cause could be:

  • Allergies
  • Abscesses
  • Dental Problems
  • Tumors
  • Other Causes

You should always seek the advice of a professional vet for a complete diagnosis and treatment plan for your pet.

Dog Swollen Face

1. Allergies Can Cause Dog's Swollen Face

A severe allergic reaction may lead to a dog's face and throat swelling. If the throat begins to swell, it can be difficult for them to breathe normally. If your dog’s throat is swelling, their windpipe may be cut off, leading to a change in the color of their gums and potentially your dog passing out.

You likely won’t know that your dog is allergic to something until they react. Signs your dog may be having an allergic reaction include:

  • Face looks swollen
  • Panting or difficulty breathing
  • Vomiting 
  • Purple or blue gums
  • Loss of consciousness

If you see signs of facial swelling, don’t wait to see if it progresses to swelling of the throat-   take your dog to the vet immediately. Your vet will ask questions to help them work out the cause. It can be helpful for the vet if you suggest what might have caused the allergic reaction.

The most common causes of an allergic reaction in dogs:

  • Food
  • Chemicals
  • Bee sting
  • Spider bite
  • Medication
  • Vaccine (rare)

If the vet decides that your dog has had an allergic reaction, treatment options may include an antihistamine, steroids, and sometimes anti-nauseas. They may want to take skin or blood tests, and, depending on the diagnosis, may recommend a special diet for your dog.

2. Abscesses Will Cause A Dog's Face to Swell

When a dog has an abscess, it is likely to be very painful for them. A dog in pain should always be handled with care, as they are likelier to lash out and bite a person in this state, even if the dog is not typically aggressive.

Abscesses in dogs can be caused by an animal bite or be due to an infected wound. Some tell-tell signs that your dog may have an abscess include:

An abscess needs immediate veterinary attention. A vet will be able to treat your dog with anti-inflammatories and antibiotics. In more serious cases, the abscess may need surgical draining.

3. Dental Problems May Cause Dog's Swollen Face

A common cause of abscesses in dogs is dental problems. If your dog has a fractured or infected tooth or untreated gum disease, painful abscesses are likely to occur.

When you notice that your dog has lost their appetite, it may be too painful for them to eat. Along with a dog's facial swelling, the pain of an abscess may lead to depression, so watch out for changes in your pet's behavior and mood.

Many dogs will continue to eat even with severe dental disease, so other signs to look for are excessive drooling which may be blood-tinged, pawing at the face, and a strong odor coming from the mouth.

A vet will perform an oral exam and will likely recommend anesthesia and dental radiographs to diagnose the problem.

Abscessed, mobile, and painful teeth must be removed to solve this problem and prevent future infections.

The vet will likely offer antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications to help with the pain.

Do not worry if your vet has to extract some teeth. Your dog will still be able to eat and will actually feel much better without those diseased teeth!

Some great preventative methods to help you avoid future dental issues:

  • Brush your dog’s teeth daily- This is very important, just like it is for people!
  • Offer dental chews and toys- visit the VOHC website for dental-approved options
  • Add water additives such as Healthy Mouth to your dogs water
  • Prioritize dry dog food over wet food
  • Consider feeding a Dental diet

4. Tumors 

Tumors in dogs can be cancerous or non-cancerous, but it is always important to get your dog checked by a vet to eliminate any risk.

If your dog has a tumor in the mouth or the throat, then visible swelling may occur in the face of your pet.

It has also been known for dogs to have tumors associated with the eye socket, which can cause the eye to have a bulging effect.

If you notice something strange going on with your dog’s eye or around the face, if they are not eating normally, or if you witness any bleeding or unpleasant odor, take your dog to see a vet.

Even if your dog's tumor turns out to be benign, it will need early treatment. Tumors occur from the uncontrolled growth of cells and must be removed via surgery or radiotherapy.

5. Other Causes of a Swollen Face in Your Dog

Aside from the above, when a dog has swollen face, a few other causes could be:

Craniomandibular Osteopathy. This is a rare condition that can develop in certain dog breeds, such as some terriers, Dobermans, Labradors, Great Danes, and Boxers.

The condition is most common in young dogs aged 3 – 10 months and causes swelling of the dog's jaw.

Associated symptoms include drooling, loss of appetite, and fever. There is no cure for craniomandibular osteopathy in dogs.

Still, your vet can offer pain relief until the disease stabilizes, usually when the dog is around a year old.

Cellulitis. This is a bacterial infection of a dog's skin. Puncture wounds or dog bites can cause it.

Signs include ulcers, redness, tenderness, swelling, and pain.

Treatment is usually a mixture of flushing the wound with antiseptic, treating pain with painkillers, and using antibiotics to fight off infection.

Common Questions about Facial Swelling in Dogs

Still, want to know more about facial swelling in dogs? Or maybe you prefer a concise version of the above information.

In either case, the following questions should help clear up any lingering doubts.

What Can I Give My Dog for Swollen Face?

Facial swelling should not be treated at home.

It is very important to see your veterinarian to determine the underlying cause and treat any life threatening allergic reaction. 

How Long Does It Take for Dog Face Swelling to Go Down?

How long it takes for facial swelling in dogs to go away depends on the cause and how quickly you treat it.

For example, in the case of moderate allergic reactions, you likely won't notice swelling for about 30 minutes or even a few hours after your dog is exposed to the allergen.

If you don't treat the swelling, it could last up to two days. Giving your dog the proper treatment, such as an anti-inflammatory or antihistamine medication, will speed up the healing process.

Can I Give My Dog Benadryl for a Swollen Face?

Yes, Benadryl is safe for dogs. You can use it to treat mild facial swelling from food allergies or itchiness due to skin allergies.

It can also reduce other allergy-related symptoms, including redness, hives, and inflammation.

Do not try to treat with Benadryl if your pet is having an allergic reaction!

Why Would a Dog's Face Swell?

A dog may experience numerous reasons for facial swelling, including allergic reactions, a tooth root abscess, an insect bite, animal bites, and more.

Medications can also cause allergic reactions.

If you notice facial swelling, take your dog to the veterinarian immediately.

This is especially important if there is also throat swelling, as the issue may be life-threatening.

What Can You Give a Dog to Reduce Swelling?

Your dogs' treatments for facial swelling will depend on the cause of the swelling as well as how severe it is.

Major reactions typically require higher doses of medications and an urgent visit to the vet.

Your emergency vet will likely suggest NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).

This helps reduces swelling, as well as stiffness or joint pain in both dogs and humans. Your vet may also suggest an antihistamine.

What Should You Do For Your Dog's Swollen Face?

The best option if you notice facial swelling in your dog is to consult your veterinarian immediately.

They are the only option properly equipped to provide medical advice. Visiting the vet as soon as possible lets them easily evaluate your dog's condition.

They may perform tests like dental x rays or ask about other symptoms, such as runny eyes, hives, or skin irritation.

They will want to examine the swollen area as well.

The bottom line is that the vet will find the underlying cause of the swelling then suggest the appropriate treatment.

They may adjust their suggestions based on whether the swelling is from bee stings, insect bites, or the vet suspects another animal played a role.

If you aren't sure of the cause, they may look for other wounds to see why your pet has swelling and choose the right treatment.

Can You Prevent Facial Swelling in Dogs?

The best way to prevent facial swelling in your dogs is to pay attention to your dog's teeth and avoid anything you know triggers allergic reactions.

It would help if you also tried keeping him away from unknown animals if they pose a danger or bite your pup.

Remember that any swelling can turn into severe cases, so you should take your pup to the animal hospital if you notice facial swelling.


When your dog has swollen face, it is a sure sign to get them to a vet, even if only for your own peace of mind.

The most you should do yourself in such instances is to carefully clean up and cover any obvious wounds the best you can to prevent them from being infected further and call your local vet for more advice.

When presented with such visible symptoms, it can be easy to attempt a diagnosis yourself.

Still, the most sensible option for the safety and comfort of your pet is to allow a professional to do what they are trained to do.

You can nip serious health issues in the bud early, and you may find that you have avoided a bigger vet bill, or worse, a tragedy for your pet and your family.

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If Your Dog Has Swollen Face - 5 Reasons Why and What to Do

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Shelly lives in Iowa with her husband and Australian Shepherd named Tex. She's been an animal lover since she was a child. Currently, she enjoys reading and writing about dogs, and spending time with her family and getting involved in all things pets.