How to treat a dog swelling on the muzzle

Written by melissa smith
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How to treat a dog swelling on the muzzle
Injury, infection or allergies can cause swelling in a dog's muzzle. (chocolate lab dog nose image by Paul Retherford from

A swollen muzzle signals that a dog is injured or sick. Figuring out what is wrong with the pet and determining treatment options can be stressful and confusing. Does the dog need veterinary care? Is it an emergency? Or is the problem something that you can treat at home? With a basic examination, you can assess swelling in the area of your dog's nose and mouth and make decisions about the dog's care.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Latex gloves
  • Soft, clean washcloths
  • Topical ouch-less children's antiseptic
  • Antihistamine (over-the-counter)
  • Ice pack

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  1. 1

    Wash your hands and put on a pair of latex gloves so you can carefully examine your dog's muzzle.

  2. 2

    Look for pus or blood on the dog's muzzle and inside its mouth. With a washcloth and mild antiseptic for children, not one that stings on application, gently clean away dirt, blood or pus you find on the muzzle. If your dog has puncture wounds, apply pressure with a clean washcloth until bleeding has stopped. If bleeding and swelling persist for more than 10 minutes, take the dog to a veterinarian. Pus, bleeding inside your dog's mouth, or signs of tooth decay could indicate an abscess. That's something you shouldn't treat yourself. Stop your exam and take the dog to a vet.

  3. 3

    Look carefully for signs of insect and snake bites if your dog has no obvious bleeding, pus or wounds. A typical bee sting creates a small round bump with a red or black dot in the centre. If your dog has been stung by a bee and is having an allergic reaction, give it a dose of an over-the-counter antihistamine. Base the dose on the directions on the bottle for ages 12 and under. A snakebite is characterised by two red marks. It may also show signs of tissue death, which looks similar to bruising. If the dog is having trouble breathing at any time, or if an allergic reaction to an insect bite doesn't get better within several hours of antihistamine use, call your veterinarian. If you see signs of snakebite, rush the dog to the nearest veterinary hospital or call a pet ambulance service.

  4. 4

    Look for signs of bruising if you don't find any bleeding, pus, wounds or bites. Feel the jaw and skull for obvious bumps, flaws or breaks in the bone. If you find any of these, take the dog to the veterinary hospital. Simple bruising can be treated at home with an ice pack placed on the injured area. Use the ice pack several times a day for a few minutes. If symptoms don't improve in a few days, take your dog to the vet.

Tips and warnings

  • No matter what the diagnosis is, love is always part of the cure. Give the dog lots of love and attention.
  • Keep your veterinarian's number in the same place you keep other emergency numbers so it's easy to find in a crisis.
  • If your dog tries to bite you or is more aggressive than usual, do not attempt to examine the dog. Get it to a vet immediately.

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