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I took my dog for a walk and her face swelled up when we got back

I have a small 18 month old female collie. Around 20 – 30 mins after taking her out on an overgrown track (grass, nettles etc) her face began to ripple and swelled to more than twice its size within seconds, in front of my eyes.  Her eyes were ‘Chinese’ looking and she basically looked like a Staff Bull Terrier. She did not seem distressed, was eating and drinking as normal and swallowing and barking OK.  The swelling has gone down quite a bit this morning and she is still eating OK.  She has been up this track many times, but not for a couple of weeks due to the overgrowth.  Could this be a bite or sting?



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4 Responses to “I took my dog for a walk and her face swelled up when we got back”

  1. Taylor says:


    We had an earlier blog at that covered your question very well. I’ve copied and included the responses from that blog for you below:

    Mack L. Barney, DVM said…

    What you are describing is probably an allergic reaction, such as to a bee sting. We usually give antihistamine such as benadry at 1 mg per pound of body weight, and sometimes a corticosteroid by injection. Most of these are not serious, but like in people are occasionally life-threatening.

    Mack L. Barney, DVM
    Barney & Russum Animal Clinic
    Fairfield, CA
    August 23, 2007 1:02 PM

    Charlene Boyd said…

    I would suggest that you give your dog benadryl. One tablet every 8 hours. You don’t need to worry about overdosing on Benadryl. The worst it would do is make the pet sleepy. I would give one tab. per 50 #. Check carefully for any signs of a bite or stinger. (you’ll probably get 25 other e-mails with the same advice!)

    Charlene Boyd
    August 27, 2007 1:09 PM

    Melinda R. Burgwardt DVM, NY said…

    You don’t say what breed of dog this is, how long this problem has been going on, whether or not it is seasonal, or even where the rash is, which is often a big clue as to what may be going on. I would have a hard time blaming the vaccine or the surgery for something like this, and it also sounds like the raw diet isn’t making a difference, either, so I’d recommend switching foods before there is a problem with Salmonella, poorly balanced nutrition, or other issues. You may want to consider using a fish-based diet, as fish oils are very anti-inflammatory and helpful for many skin problems.

    Be sure your veterinarian has checked for fleas and flea dirt, done skin scrapings for mange mites, done a fungal culture to check for ringworm, done a tape test to check for Malassezia (skin yeast infection), run a complete thyroid panel (not just a T4 and TSH), run a CBC, Profile, and fecal, run a bacterial culture on any major sores, tried long-term antibiotics and antifungals, and tried antihistamines and cortisones together. If all of that has been done and the problem is still present, consider a skin biopsy and/or referral to a Board-Certified Veterinary Dermatologist.

    Melinda R. Burgwardt, DVM
    Melinda R. Burgwardt, DVM
    Lancaster, NY
    August 27, 2007 1:51 PM

    Anonymous said…

    Same thing just happened to my dog. The vet had no clue what was causing the swelling. Benadryl seemed to help a little. After doing some research and putting 2+2 together, I have concluded that it was an allergic reaction to the heartworm medication I gave my dog the day before (aka Ivermectin). Facial swelling is a side effect of Ivermectin and the only explanation for my dog’s face swelling, as it is 30 degrees outside and doubtful she got stung or bitten by an insect.
    January 21, 2009 4:47 PM

    Anonymous said…

    My dog is having the same problem.Should i take here to the vet right away?
    December 5, 2009 12:02 AM
    Anonymous said…

    I just had my 7 month Havanese swell up as well. It started with a completely listless pup in the middle of a walk, very sudden. He just suddennly lay down after being absolutely fine. This was 2.5 hours after the Sentinel dose. I picked him up and he drooped. He started to pant and heart was racing. I thought I was losing him. I carried him home, let him rest and it slowly went back to normal and then his eyes and lips swelled. I did not see him eat anything or come upon any bug. I don’t know what of make of it. It was absolutely terrifying!
    June 13, 2010 6:54 PM

    Anonymous said…

    I’ve been watching my lab, about 55 lbs, for the past few hours. We went for a walk and she was snuffling into everything. On the way back she snuffled through a lawn that had been sprayed yesterday for pests and fertilized. About half an hour later she was kind of agitated and itchy, finally laying down and sleeping. A few hours later, her face and head are noticeably swollen, but she is breathing fine and seems reasonably comfortable (sleeping on a couch even as I type). I’ll keep an eye on her the rest of the day and if the swelling persists will try one Benadryl (generic-Target brand, 25 mg).
    July 7, 2010 10:14 AM

  2. Heather says:

    Not sure if anyone is still reading this thread, but one of my dogs (lab) has had these episodes sporadically over the last 2 years. *FINALLY* I have realized this time that she has gotten fleas somehow. She’s allergic to flea bites!.

    The vet thought she had been bitten by a spider (3 times???). I didn’t think my dogs would ever get fleas, but even if you are careful, it can happen. Now that I know she’s suffering from that, we can tackle this.

    Benadryl works wonders for the swelling. Check for fleas even if you are careful about it, it’s one possibility.

  3. Luis Chavez says:


    Hi, my name is Luis. I have a small chihuahua arounf the same age as described in your post. The exact same thing you described happened to my dog today. She’s still running around, playing, eating, like normal, however her face is so swollen! I wanted to ask of you ever found out what happened to your dog and what you did. I would really appreciate the help!

    Thank you,

  4. gaby says:

    I have small chihuahua he is 7 months old and this morning he was outside and i noticed his face is really swollen, he looks like he has Chinese eyes and i am freaking out. I honestly don’t know what to do. This morning he was eating but he isn’t running around like he usually does. I don’t want to take him to a vet because well i’m not sure if it’s that serious. Plus I am a college student on a budget (basically with low funds) Can anyone help me with this?

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