VET’S VIEW: Make sure you check out any swelling

JAKE was a labrador puppy, but you wouldn’t know it to look at him.

His face had swollen up, making him look more like a Shar Pei, and his owner was understandably distressed.

Jake had all the natural curiosity of a six-month-old, and the fact that the swelling had come up suddenly after he had been in the garden, made me suspect that he had developed an allergic reaction: perhaps he had disturbed a sleepy bee, or been investigating the plants that were newly emerging.

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Such swellings are not uncommon in dogs, and often look worse than they are, but if they spread down the neck, they may interfere with the animal’s breathing, so they are worth getting checked out, especially if your pet seems distressed.

Antihistamines, obtained from your vet, can often help to reduce the swelling if administered promptly, so don’t hesitate to ask for advice.

Of course allergic reactions to plants and insects aren’t the only cause of facial swelling.

If your dog has been out on the Downs, then snake bites are always a possibility and require urgent attention.

Another, rarer condition in puppies is known as puppy strangles, which seems to be an abnormal immune response to infection.

As well as having facial swelling, affected animals are often unwell, but usually respond well if treated promptly.

In older dogs, abscesses, especially those associated with infected teeth, and tumours should also be considered.

In these cases the swelling will usually come up more gradually and produce other signs of illness such as fever or loss of appetite, prompting a call to the vet.

In Jake’s case the swelling went down quickly after treatment and he was soon back in the garden, his curiosity undiminished.

But of course that’s just as it should be.