Dog Tips

Everything About Swelling In Dogs

We often experience external inflammation when we get bruises or go through an accident with injuries. The affected body part usually becomes bigger than its size and becomes sensitive to external touches. Most of the time these are external but at times there can also be an internal inflammation of organs. Let us understand what it is and the several reasons behind it.

What is Swelling?

Swelling is the enlargement of organs, skin, or other body parts. It is caused due to a build-up of fluid in tissues. This extra fluid causes a rapid and sudden increase in weight in a short period of time. Swelling can be general or local. There are 4 types of swelling that can occur –

  • Peripheral edema: This occurs on the feet, ankles, legs, hands, and arms

  • Pulmonary edema: This occurs when excess fluid collects in the lungs, making it difficult to breathe

  • Cerebral edema: This is the swelling of the brain

  • Macular edema: This is a serious complication of diabetic retinopathy

Common causes of Swelling

An internal inflammation usually causes external swelling. Some common reasons for external swelling are –

  • Insect bites

  • Rashes

  • Injury

  • Fluid retention

  • Pregnancy

  • Menstruation

  • Hormonal changes

  • Infection

Widespread swelling can also be caused by –

  • Kidney failure

  • Heart failure

  • A severe allergic reaction

  • A venomous insect bite

Swelling in Dogs

We are not the only species on this planet who experience swellings. A lot of animals including our beloved pets, dogs, also go through it. The mechanisms in our bodies and in the bodies of dogs have several similarities. Edema is a general medical term that is often considered synonymous with swelling in pets. There are again 4 types of lumps or swellings that can be identified in dogs. These include –

  • Histiocytomas are small growths found on dogs’ heads, ears, and legs. They’re typically common in younger dogs

  • Lipomas, aka fatty tumors, are commonly formed on dogs’ chest, belly, or legs

  • Sebaceous adenoma is found on older dogs’ legs or torso

  • Papillomas are contagious bumps that develop around dogs’ mouths and on top of the skin

Signs of Swelling in Dogs

Most of the time, swelling can occur on a dog’s face. These signs can include –

  • Small bumps or hives, sometimes with hair standing up in that area

  • Itchiness

  • Swelling especially around the eyes and on the muzzle

  • Swelling around the eyes which sometimes closes the eye(s)

  • Swelling in the jaw and throat area

Causes of Swelling in Dogs

As mentioned earlier, the cause of swelling can be internal or external. These include –

  • Trauma – This occurs when there is an outside agent which can cause discomfort to the body. For e.g., kicking, being bumped, being hit by a car, and penetrating wounds like animal bites, punctures from sticks, and other sharp objects.

  • Allergies – Insect bites, stings, vaccinations, and various medications form a reason for an allergy to be developed within a dog

  • Salivary gland swelling – A mucus-like salivary fluid buildup can happen

  • Abscesses – Both, dogs and cats are prone to dental root abscesses which could result in facial swelling

  • Cancer and other benign growths of tissue -It is a sad fact that almost 25-30% of dogs get cancer once in life. Some tumors will be malignant while others can be benign. These can lead to inflammations and thus swelling.

  • Lymphatic obstructions – The lymph system needs to be open and flowing to work; obstructions in those pathways can cause fluid to accumulate anywhere in the body.

  • Parasite infestation – Parasites include hookworms, whipworms, roundworms, heartworms, and tapeworms

  • Heart failure – The excessive fluid which has built up in the tissues around the heart can infiltrate into surrounding tissues, causing the edema or swelling to spread upwards to the neck, head, and face of the affected animal

These are the most common causes of swelling in dogs. While other causes include –

  • Obstruction in an artery

  • Contact with toxic agents

  • Abnormal tissue growth

  • High pressure in the capillary fluids

  • Exposure to pollens

When you should be concerned about Swelling in Dogs?

When an injury occurs or when your dog gets sick, the immune system dilates blood vessels and sends white blood cells to help support recovery. This results in swelling. Acute inflammation is normal but when the problem becomes chronic, that’s when it has become severe. Chronic inflammation can destroy cells and break down things like cartilage and synovial fluid that are essential for mobility in dogs.

Treatment for Swelling in Dogs

The treatment for swelling will completely depend on the underlying cause of it. A vet may prescribe NSAIDs such as Rimadyl, Previcox, or Deramaxx. These medicines do have side effects though which include liver and kidney problems in the long term. But in major cases, medication will be necessary. However, if the problem is minor, then there are some natural home remedies available that one can try as these will have no side effects. These include –

  • Turmeric – It contains an active ingredient called curcumin which helps reduce inflammation in both humans and dogs. It can cause digestive tract upset, resulting in nausea or diarrhea. So do consult a vet before feeding.

  • Glucosamine – This is a natural compound that is often given to dogs facing discomfort due to inflammation. They help synthesize the building blocks of cartilage, easing the breakdown of the connective tissue that protects bones.

  • Massage and Acupressure – Massaging won’t cure the inflammation completely but will help soothe the pain and discomfort in your dog.

  • Yucca – It is a root vegetable that is commonly used in animal feed because of its properties of maintaining blood pressure and reducing inflammation.

  • Omega 3 and Omega 6 – These essential fatty acids have been shown to have better outcomes against pets who don’t get enough of them in case of inflammations.

  • CBD or hemp oil – Unlike popular notions, these are non-psychoactive oils derived from marijuana. These can lower the stress and thus the pain in dogs. So, your dog can get happier without getting high.

  • Physical Therapy – For dogs with limited mobility, physical therapy provides great results in the long term.

  • Curing allergies – Allergies are the most common causes of inflammation among dogs. The best way to prevent inflammation is to eliminate exposure to potential allergens.


Swelling is an outcome of your body’s fight against harmful allergens and pollens. Although mostly a temporary condition, it can be chronic at times and will need immediate action. It all depends on the underlying cause of the swelling to determine the severity of swelling in dogs. The above home remedies will help but a visit to the vet becomes important to avoid future harmful consequences. Also read about Autoimmune Thyroiditis in Dogs & Epilepsy In Dogs

Happy Mood and Health to your Doggo and lots of Love and Licks to you!


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