What are the Common Causes of Swelling in Dogs?

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  • Written By: L.K. Blackburn
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 06 October 2019
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The common causes of swelling in dogs include allergies, injury, infection, and disease. The swelling may occur in the joints, face, or internally. Diagnosis and treatment of swelling will vary depending on the type and location of the swelling. A veterinarian should be contacted at the first sign of swelling in a dog.

Swelling in dogs commonly appears at the site of a wound or injury. Even when no external injury is present, trauma may cause injury to the dog's internal soft issues, resulting in swelling. A bacterial infection at the site of a wound can also cause inflammation. Bacterial infections may be treated by antibiotics.

Allergies are another common cause of swelling in dogs. A dog may experience an allergic reaction to the environment, such as intolerance to pollen or certain types of grass. Spider, snake, and insect stings or bites can also cause an allergic reaction that leads to swelling around the area of the bite. An allergic reaction to food or medication may also result in swelling. Hives or rashes are also common symptoms of an allergic reaction, and often accompany swelling resulting from an allergen.


When allergies are the cause of swelling or a rash on a dog, a veterinarian may choose to treat the issue with steroids. In some cases, a veterinarian may decide the allergy will subside on its own without any intervention. Preventive measures, such as avoiding exposure to a certain allergen, may be all the treatment that is necessary.

In older dogs, skin bumps or lumps underneath the skin may lead to swelling. These bumps may be an abscess or benign cyst, or could also be a sign of cancer. Swollen lymph nodes may also be the cause of swelling. A veterinarian should be contacted at the first sign of a skin bump or lump on a dog.

Facial swelling in dogs, also known as angioedema, can also be caused by injury or allergies. Swelling may also result from a dental infection caused by an abscessed tooth. Eye swelling can also occur as the result of conjunctivitis or glaucoma. Treatment for facial swelling will vary depending on the exact nature and cause of the problem.

Peripheral edema, or excess tissue surrounding organs, is also a cause of swelling in dogs. Dogs prone to this problem may have a history of allergies, exposure to trauma, or types of infection. Certain breeds and age groups of dogs are more prone to experience this issue than others. Edema may first appear as weight gain in the dog. Localized edema may be the result of injury, kidney problems, or congestive heart failure.


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Post 5

Help needed. I have a 7 year Catahoula/Rotti mix how was just diagnosed with Lyme disease with swelling legs on left side only. She has been on Doxycycline 150 mg., two times a day for three weeks, along with Amoxicillin 850 mg., thtee times a day for the past two weeks. No changes in the swelling in left legs but have just noticed that the swelling has gone into her right hind leg. Blood work is normal except for protein levels are off. Has anyone experienced something like this?

Post 4

I learned over time that the weed control and related fertilizer put on my lawn by a commercial company caused seizures in my border collie.

Prior to diagnosing the cause, I was encouraged to put my dog on a lifetime seizure medication. I did not, and later determined the cause after we stopped the weed control on our yard, and the dog was fine until she ran on a treated county soccer field, and suffered another seizure. We became more careful and the dog has been seizure free for years, but has recently developed swollen feet, primarily in her front paws, an edema-like condition that I believe is an after-effect of the monthly lawn treatments from years ago.

Post 3

Our dog was attacked by another dog a few months ago and it took a long time for the swelling to go down, even with medication from the vet. Unfortunately dogs tend to have dirty mouths, so any bite can cause infection.

She's better now, but she's probably going to have a scar for her whole life.

Post 2

@bythewell - I have an older dog and we just made a commitment after a while to go to the vet every six months for a general checkup to make sure he's healthy. I know he's not going to live forever or anything like that, but I don't want him to suffer unnecessarily either.

Dog health symptoms also become more obvious the more of a habit you make to pay attention to your dog's usual habits. You're more likely to notice something like mild face swelling if you know what your dog should look like.

Post 1

We had a lovely old dog who had been in the family for well over a decade who had a little bit of swelling in his stomach. We noticed it, but he didn't seem bothered and we just didn't realize that there was a problem.

Finally he started having other symptoms so we took him to the vet. It turned out that he had a small bone spur that had cut off the nerves to his bladder and he wasn't able to properly go to the toilet on his own. The poor sweet thing had to be put down because he was in a lot of pain.

I guess I just want to say that dog health problems might not always be obvious. They are very stoic animals and they may not show you that they need help until it's too late to help them, so you need to pay attention.

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