Abscess in dogs

An abscess is a large or small accumulation of pus, which can form in any tissue in the body. Pus is a white or yellowish liquid, most often smelly, resulting from the breakdown of bacteria, white blood cells and dead cells. From this post you will understand abscess in dogs.

Superficial injuries are common in dogs and most heal naturally within a few days. However, some can become infected and lead to the formation of an abscess. Different causes and locations are possible.

Treated early enough, abscesses can usually be cured with appropriate treatment. However, if left untreated, they can degenerate and cause sepsis. It is therefore important to know how to detect them, recognize them and consult your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Appearance and causes of abscesses

An abscess presents as a lump, often soft, warm, and red. A small sore may be present on the surface, an area through which pus can sometimes drain when the abscess bursts spontaneously.

Different causes and locations are possible. The most common in dogs are:

  • Superficial abscesses

    Present under the skin, often caused by wounds such as bites or scratches, or by the penetration of a foreign body such as spikelets for example.
  • Deep abscesses

    Undetectable on the surface of the dog’s skin. They can form as a result of the migration of foreign bodies deeper into the body, or during the spread of bacteria in the blood which localize in an organ.
  • Abscesses of the anal glands

    They are quite common in dogs. These glands are located on either side of the anus. They produce a thick, smelly liquid. It can happen that they become infected and an abscess forms.
  • Dental abscesses

    Also quite common, especially in older dogs, whose teeth are in poor condition (tartar, gingivitis, etc.). A significant bacterial overgrowth in the dental roots can lead to the formation of an abscess.
Abscess in dogs

Symptoms of abscesses

Most often, abscesses are painful. The first symptom is therefore usually pain, the manifestation of which depends on the location.

  • Superficial abscesses

    At the level of the skin, they are generally visible, or palpable when the dog is stroked. The presence of hairs stuck by a discharge of pus or blood is possible but not systematic if the abscess is still closed. They may go unnoticed in some thick coats. The dog may, however, show pain reactions when stroked there, or limp if the abscess is localized in a paw.

Abscesses caused by the spikelets are often localized in particular at the level of the pads and between the fingers.

  • In case of deep abscesses

Abscesses are not palpable on the surface of the skin. The symptoms are then much less specific. They may be limited to diffuse pain, fever, depression, and decreased appetite.

  • Abscesses of the anal glands

They are manifested by pain in the anal area when the dog has a bowel movement, by licking, or even by the sign of the sled: the dog is dragging the hindquarters on the ground. Tooth abscesses are often manifested by pain when chewing, difficulty in eating, bad breath, or even pus or blood in the mouth.

Read More

Cushing’s disease in dogs

Heartworm disease in dogs

Diarrhea in dogs


The presence of a mass on your animal should lead you to contact your veterinarian . They will be the best able to differentiate an abscess from another type of mass, and to tell you what to do.

Diagnosis is first based on a detailed clinical examination and examination of the mass. When in doubt, the veterinarian can puncture the mass using a syringe, to confirm the presence of pus or not.

Other examinations may be necessary for him, in the event of deep abscesses for example: x-rays, ultrasounds for example. In some cases, the veterinarian may suggest a sample with culture in the laboratory in order to identify the bacteria present and the most suitable antibiotic treatment.

Treatment and prevention of abscesses in dogs

If the abscess is not too large and the general condition of the animal is good, drug treatment with antibiotics may be sufficient to make the abscess disappear. If necessary, an anti-inflammatory or analgesic treatment can also be prescribed.

In some cases, treatment will require surgery. It will then be a question of incising the abscess in order to empty it and disinfect the cavity, or else to remove it in order to avoid contaminating the surrounding tissues. In the case of deep abscesses, the treatment may likewise be drug-only, or surgical. In this case, the surgical treatment aims instead to remove the entire abscess, preventing the pus from contaminating the surrounding tissues.

If you observe a small, shallow wound on your dog, you can always disinfect with a product. If you have any doubts about the wound, that the area seems swollen, or even that your animal has a fever or depression, do not hesitate to contact your veterinarian. The earlier a wound is treated properly and early, the less risk of complications.