Skin problems

Dog Abscesses - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

María Besteiros
By María Besteiros, Expert veterinary assistant and canine/feline hairdresser.. March 3, 2019
Dog Abscesses - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

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Are you wondering why does my dog keep getting abscesses? If so, you’ve come to the right place! Dog abscesses result in an accumulation of pus under or on the skin. They can appear anywhere on the body and originate from an infection. Abscesses in dogs require veterinary attention. There are, however, different types of abscess and their treatment will depend on a professional diagnosis. In more complex dog abscess cases, the abscess may need to be drained.

For more about different types of abscess in dogs and its treatment, keep reading here at AnimalWised.


  1. Abscesses in dogs: what is it?
  2. Dog abscesses: symptoms & types of dog abscesses
  3. Dog abscesses: treatment
  4. Dog abscesses: video

Abscesses in dogs: what is it?

As we’ve already mentioned, an abscess is the accumulation of pus due to an infection. Abscesses are a body’s reaction to an infection. This reaction produces an inflammation, observable as a lump under the skin. On other occasions, this swelling can cause a wound or opening, allowing pus to escape.

Symptom of abscess in dogs will vary depending on the size of the abscess. The bigger the abscess, the worse the symptoms will be. For more about abscess in dogs symptoms, diagnosis and treatment, keep reading below!

Dog abscesses: symptoms & types of dog abscesses

Abscesses in dogs can appear anywhere on the body. The most common types of abscesses in dogs and symptoms include:

  • Dog tooth abscess: dog tooth abscesses are caused by an infections produced in the teeth. This is especially common in the upper canines and premolars. Dog tooth abscesses are very painful and if a dog is suffering from a tooth abscess, it is common that they will stop eating and have a fever. Sometimes pus may be visible. When the abscess is in the upper fourth premolar, there may be apparent inflammation under the eye. If the abscess grows larger, it may result in a ruptured abscess in dog’s face. For more we recommend reading our article about, my dog won’t eat - causes.
  • Perianal abscess in dogs: anal gland abscesses in dogs produce a painful inflammation, usually on one side of the anus, affecting one of the anal glands. The skin around this area becomes red and bruised. If these anal abscesses open it will result in a perianal fistula, a channel through which it will drain. This perianal fistula will appear as a hole that will increase in size and release a bad smelling discharge. In addition, they may also be connected to the anal glands. For more, read about all you need to know about a dog’s anal glands.
  • Abscess in the back, neck or head of the dog: abscesses apparent on a dog’s body are usually caused by bites, stings or punctured wounds. An abscess on a dog’s face can cause a dog to bow its head or present difficulties trying to open its mouth. Be careful with these wounds, especially those caused by bites, as they may appear small when, in reality, pus is accumulating inside. In addition, be aware that the area between the neck and the cross, where vaccines or medications are usually given, abscesses may occur in dogs as a reaction the the injection.
  • Retrobulbar abscess in dogs: this abscess occurs behind the eyeball and can cause the protrusion of the eyeball.

If you notice a lump on your dog we recommend going to the veterinarian as soon as possible, diagnosis is necessary in order to treat the case accordingly. For more, we recommend discovering everything you need to know about skin tumors on dogs, which are often mistaken for abscesses.

Dog Abscesses - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment - Dog abscesses: symptoms & types of dog abscesses

Dog abscesses: treatment

In the dog abscess caused by a foreign body, the veterinarian must examine the area in case the object is still present. If so, a veterinarian will extract the present foreign body.

When it comes to smaller abscesses, a veterinarian may open them up slightly to drain them and then apply disinfectant for daily cleaning. For largest abscesses, antibiotics are prescribed. It is also possible, in the case of closed and hard abscesses in dogs, to apply heat several times a day so that they soften and can be opened with more ease and cleaned.

When it comes to dog tooth abscesses, a veterinarian will likely have to perform surgery to remove it and clean/drain the infected area. Antibiotics and disinfectants will also be prescribed.

The drainage of abscesses in dogs can only be performed by a veterinarian and should NOT be done at home.

Dog Abscesses - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment - Dog abscesses: treatment

Dog abscesses: video

In the following video you will see how a veterinarian drains a dog abscess. If your dog is suffering from an open abscess and you try to drain it yourself at home, consequences may be severe. The infection could worsen and develop a secondary infection due to the presence of opportunistic bacteria, such as Staphylococcus pseudintermedius.

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 Dog Abscesses - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment, we recommend you visit our Skin problems category.

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Dog Abscesses - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment