So, your best friend came in from playtime and his face was blown up like a balloon. His muzzle is swollen, his eyelids are swollen, he is barely recognizable, and looks like a Shar-Pei. This can be a very frightening experience for a dog owner and very difficult to diagnose. It is obvious that he got into something or something got into him, but what?
While it is difficult to say what has caused this sudden swelling if you can rule out any sort of trama, it is almost certainly an allergic reaction and there are a few common culprits. Insect bites, bee stings, snake bites, medications, certain foods and plants, pollens, or other environmental allergens can cause sudden facial swelling.
Dogs inevitably explore their world nose-first and this often means that their face is on the receiving end of bites and stings. You should examine your Dane’s muzzle, nose, mouth, and neck area to see if there are any signs of a bite or sting trauma. While bites and stings can be difficult to see on your dog, a thorough examination might turn up something and can guide the course of treatment.
While it is easy to get caught up in ‘what happened’, it is far more important to ensure that your Dane gets medical attention. In some cases, a severe allergic reaction can cause the throat to swell which can inhibit breathing. Some allergic reactions can progress quickly and can lead to restricted breathing, seizures, and anaphylactic shock.
Common signs of anaphylactic shock in dogs include itching, swelling, excessive salivation, vomiting, and diarrhea. In severe cases, your Dane may have difficulty breathing and may become cyanotic which would be indicated by the tongue and gums turning blue or purple. This is due to a lack of oxygen and is a medical emergency. If your Dane is having difficulty breathing, get them to a vet immediately.
Typical treatments for allergic reactions in dogs are basically the same as those for humans and may include antihistamines, antibiotics, or steroids. If your Dane is having a severe allergic reaction that is causing difficulty breathing, a dose of Benadryl may help to reduce the inflammation while you make your way to the vet. The standard dosage for oral Benadryl in dogs is 1mg per pound of bodyweight.
It is important that you get your Dane to the vet as soon as possible as they can help you to determine the cause of the allergic reaction. If your Dane has been bitten by a venomous snake or spider, additional treatment may be needed, and time is of the essence. The same is true if your Dane has ingested some sort of toxin.
For the most part, acute facial swelling in dogs is not uncommon and is most often easily treated. The important thing to remember is not to panic and contact your vet. They may make recommendations for treatment at home, but bringing Fido in for a thorough examination is always the best course of action.