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Swelling of the Salivary Gland in Dogs

What is Swelling of the Salivary Gland in Dogs?

Salivary gland swelling in dogs, known as sialocele, occurs when one or more of the salivary glands located in the neck and jaw area leak saliva into the surrounding tissue. The leakage triggers the formation of a protective capsule called a sialocele to contain the saliva and prevent it from spreading to nearby tissues. The most common locations for salivary gland swelling include the upper neck and the spaces between the bones of the lower jaw. Additionally, other salivary glands under the tongue, in the upper throat, or beneath the eyes can also experience swelling.


The primary symptom of salivary gland swelling in dogs is the presence of a noticeable swelling near the affected gland. Typically, the swollen area feels soft and does not cause pain to the dog. Swelling can occur in the upper neck or mouth regions, sometimes without causing discomfort to the dog, despite the extent of the swelling.

In some cases, swelling in the neck may lead to difficulty in swallowing or breathing, which can be a critical situation potentially leading to respiratory distress. If your dog shows signs of difficulty in swallowing or breathing, immediate veterinary attention is necessary.

Other symptoms may include difficulty in eating or the presence of blood in the saliva, which occurs when the sialocele is disrupted during eating, leading to blood mixing with the saliva. Additionally, enlargement of the area beneath the eye or protrusion of the eye itself may accompany salivary gland swelling in some cases.


The exact cause of swelling of the salivary glands in dogs is not definitively known, but it is often associated with some form of trauma. Common suspects include the use of choke collars, bite wounds, and chewing on foreign objects such as sticks. However, the swelling may stem from various other factors as well.


When diagnosing swollen salivary glands in dogs, veterinarians begin with a comprehensive physical examination, which involves palpating the swollen area to identify potential causes. Additionally, veterinarians may conduct further tests to ascertain the underlying reason for the swelling. These tests may include X-rays, blood chemistry analysis, and a cytology exam. During the cytology exam, a small sample of the swollen area is collected using a fine needle aspiration technique, and the sample is then examined under a microscope to confirm the diagnosis.


The most common treatment for a sialocele, or swelling of the salivary gland in dogs, involves surgical removal of the affected gland. This procedure aims to reduce saliva flow into the swollen area and typically prevents the formation of similar capsules of saliva in the future.

Following surgery, at-home care is essential for proper healing. Your veterinarian may insert a drain, which will remain in place for a few days to facilitate drainage. They will provide specific instructions tailored to your dog’s needs and the severity of the surgery. This may include using a cone or other protective barrier to prevent your dog from scratching or accidentally removing the drain. Additionally, you may need to regularly remove and replace clean bandages as per your vet’s guidance.

Recovery and Management

After undergoing surgery on salivary glands, most dogs achieve full recovery. Concerns about the dog experiencing a dry mouth post-surgery are common among owners; however, there is currently no evidence to substantiate this worry.

Swelling of the Salivary Gland in Dogs FAQs

Will swelling of the salivary gland in dogs go away?

Yes, the swelling will diminish after surgery, and usually, no additional treatment is necessary. Without surgery, the swelling tends to recur until the affected salivary gland is surgically removed.

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