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Swelling of the Face in Cats and Dogs

Common Causes

More common causes are listed first.   Less common causes are listed later.

  • Allergic reactions to insect stings, environmental allergens, vaccines, or medications may cause sudden, rapid swelling of the face.
  • Trauma or injury to the face may lead to swelling at the site of the injury.  Wounds to the face may become swollen due to infection. This is especially common among wounds sustained during fights with other animals.
  • A type of dental infection known as a tooth root abscess may cause swelling below the eye or on the jaw.  Trauma to the mouth may cause similar types of swelling.
  • Foreign objects, such as foxtails, will cause swelling of the face if they become lodged in the mouth or the skin of the face.
  • Swollen lymph nodes may cause swelling underneath the jaw.
  • Tumors or benign growths of the face, nose, sinuses, ears, or mouth may cause the face to appear swollen.
  • Infection with a type of fungus called Cryptococcus may lead to swelling over the bridge of the nose in cats.  Other fungal infections may lead to swelling in other parts of the face.

Recommended Course of Action

Swelling of the face always has the potential to be serious. Therefore, all pets with swollen faces should be evaluated by veterinarians.

Swelling of the face that develops rapidly may be a sign of an allergic reaction.   These reactions may lead to difficulty breathing or to shock and should be treated as life-threatening emergencies.   If you suspect that your pet is suffering from an allergic reaction, seek immediate attention from a veterinarian.

Copyright © Eric Barchas, DVM. All rights reserved.
The contents of this page are provided for general informational purposes only. Under no circumstances should this page be substituted for professional consultation with a veterinarian.