Bacterial diseases

Abscess on a Dog's Gum - Causes and Treatment

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: October 23, 2022
Abscess on a Dog's Gum - Causes and Treatment

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Also known as phlegmons, abscesses in a dog's gum are bacterial infections which have been allowed to progress until they become purulent. The gum can become infected for various reasons, but is often as a result of tooth decay. In this case, a dental abscess can enter the gum. Its appearance is usually associated with severe pain in the mouth, causing the dog to lose appetite and suffer serious problems over time.

To know what to expect if there is an abscess on a dog's gum, AnimalWised looks at the causes, symptoms and treatment of tooth root abscesses in dogs.

You may also be interested in: My Dog's Gums Are Bleeding - Gingivitis in Dogs
  1. What is a gum abscess in dogs?
  2. Symptoms of a gum abscess in dogs
  3. Causes of phlegmon in dogs
  4. Diagnosis of gum abscess in dogs
  5. Treatment for gum abscess in dogs
  6. Prevention of gum abscess in a dog

What is a gum abscess in dogs?

There are different types of abscesses in dogs, resulting in varying symptoms dependent on their location. When it is located in the gum, the tooth itself or even if it goes as far as the jaw bone, we are referring to dental abscesses. These are painful collections of pus that build up in the dental area because it has nowhere to go. When the abscess is in the dog's gum, it is often blocked by the tooth above and the bone below.

Gum abscesses appear due to the existence of an untreated dental disease. It is almost always due to a bacterial infection, although this itself can exist for many reasons. We will look at these causes in more detail further below, but it is important to stress the necessity of regular checks on your dog's oral health. Take a look at our related article to learn different ways to clean your dog's teeth to maintain proper oral hygiene.

Symptoms of a gum abscess in dogs

The appearance of a dental abscess in dogs usually presents with the following symptoms:

  • Lack of appetite or anorexia: due to pain in the oral cavity. Some dogs refuse to eat dry or hard food and only tolerate soft food that will not require chewing.
  • Inflammation: depending on your dog's face shape and the location of the gum abscess, there is swelling of the face or around the eyes.
  • Swollen regional lymph nodes: these can be found under the dog's neck. Find out other reasons for this with our article on causes of swollen lymph nodes in dogs.
  • Fever: fever in dogs can be seen when the dog's normal body temperature is too low or too high.
  • Sialorrhea excessive drooling.
  • Halitosis: the dog's breath will smell foul.

In severe cases or in the absence of treatment, the bacteria that cause the oral infection can reach the bloodstream. In these cases, the bacteria can trigger secondary infections in other organs. These symptoms will be related to the organs which are affected or may be representative of systemic failings.

Abscess on a Dog's Gum - Causes and Treatment - Symptoms of a gum abscess in dogs

Causes of phlegmon in dogs

The origin of a dental abscesses is always bacterial. The most common causes that can lead to a bacterial infection and the formation of an abscess on a dog's gum include:

  • Periodontal disease: an infectious disease that is produced from bacterial dental plaque. As it evolves, tartar is deposited on the teeth which leads to chronic inflammation of the gums (gingivitis) and the tissue surrounding the tooth (periodontitis) over time.

  • Dental fracture: due to trauma or chewing on very hard objects. When the fractures are complete (they affect the entire dental structure and reach the pulp canal), pulpitis (inflammation of the pulp) can occur. This is followed by the formation of a dental abscess.

  • Cavities: occurs when microorganisms present in the mouth ferment carbohydrates from their diet. Although it is a rare disease in the canine species, it must be taken into account since some dogs can suffer from it.

We can say that the appearance of a phlegmon or dental abscess is always the result of the existence of an untreated dental disease.

Abscess on a Dog's Gum - Causes and Treatment - Causes of phlegmon in dogs

Diagnosis of gum abscess in dogs

The diagnosis of phlegmon in dogs is fundamentally based on two points:

  • Examination of the oral cavity: it is often necessary to sedate the animal for a more thorough examination of the oral cavity.
  • Oral X-rays: to detect the condition of the teeth affected by the abscess.

Treatment for gum abscess in dogs

Now that we have explained what a dental abscess in dogs consists of, we need to address how they are treated. The treatment of dental abscesses is based on:

  • Administration of broad-spectrum antibiotics.
  • The opening of the abscess to drain the purulent material and clean the affected area.

The antibiotic for the dog's mouth infection must be prescribed by the veterinarian. In addition to treating the abscess itself, it is necessary to establish a treatment for the pathology that caused it. For this reason, we need to look at the main causes of gum abscess in a dog and their corresponding treatment:

  • Periodontal disease: wet food and sweet foods must be eliminated from the diet. Specific dental treatments can be carried out, such as splinting of mobile teeth, extraction of irreversible teeth, elimination of periodontal pockets, etc.
  • Dental fracture: in most cases it is usually necessary to extract the fractured piece. In dogs that need to keep all the teeth for showing or other purposes, it is possible to perform endodontics and tooth reconstruction.
  • Dental cavities: it may be enough to perform a root canal. In advanced cases, it may be necessary to extract the affected tooth or teeth.

As you can see, to reduce the inflammation of a dog's gums, it is necessary to first find the root cause of the bacterial infection. This requires going to the veterinarian.

Prevention of gum abscess in a dog

As we have already explained, dental abscesses appear as a consequence of untreated dental pathologies. With this in mind, we can see the appearance of gum abscesses can be easily avoided by preventing this type of disease. Specifically, the measures that must be taken into account to prevent the appearance of a gum abscess are:

  • Tooth brushing: from the definitive dentition (at 7-8 months of age) the development of dental plaque should be prevented by proper tooth brushing. To do this, you should use toothbrushes and special toothpaste for dogs and clean every 2-3 days.
  • Chewable snacks: these types of products help prevent the onset of periodontal disease.
  • Mouth cleaning: in animals that have a special tendency to tartar accumulation, it may be convenient to carry out a mouth cleaning every 1-2 years.
  • Avoid hard objects: dogs should be prevented from biting or playing with very hard objects (such as stones or the like), which can cause dental fractures.

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Abscess on a Dog's Gum - Causes and Treatment, we recommend you visit our Bacterial diseases category.

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Abscess on a Dog's Gum - Causes and Treatment