tooth abscess in dogs

Noticed a large swelling on your dog’s face or its gums? That may be a case of a tooth abscess in dogs.

A dog tooth abscess is as painful as it looks. It’s a serious health problem that, when untreated, can cause a more severe health problem to your dog.

Concerned for your dog's oral health? Of course, you are!

That's why this article is for you!

In this blog, we’ll talk about dog tooth abscess symptoms, causes, treatment, and how to prevent it.

Is an effective dog tooth abscess home treatment really possible? Read more to find out!

dog gum abscess

What is a Tooth Abscess in Dogs?

A tooth abscess is a severe medical complication of tooth infection for dogs.

Veterinarians describe it as a tender mass that contains pooling pus around an infected root of the tooth.

The pus can gather and spread at the gums itself, where it forms a larger pocket that the liquid can pool in.

What Causes Dog Tooth Abscess?

As with any other abscess, dog dental abscesses are the result of the immune system’s response to the infection.

Tooth abscesses start small as an infection that manages to reach the root of the tooth.

When bacteria infiltrate the tooth pulp, your dog’s immune system will send white blood cells to fight the invading pathogens.

The area of infection swells because of blood cells that stimulate inflammation.

Naturally, the immune system will fend off the infection-causing bacteria.

But in severe cases of an infection, these white blood cells will become part of the pus.

The inflammation of the infected area will also remain because of the severity of the infection.

So, if a serious infection causes an abscess in a dog’s mouth, then what causes tooth infection? Below are some primary causes of a severe tooth infection.

Periodontal Disease

Also called periodontitis, this pertains to gum line infection around your dog’s tooth. It also refers to the infection of the dog’s dental supporting structure.

Depending on the severity of the gum infection, the disease can spread to the teeth, immediately attacking the core pulp.

Usually, periodontitis is a complication of an already-infected tooth pulp. But there are instances where there’s an infection of the gum line first before it spreads to the root of your dog’s tooth.

Blunt Trauma to the Tooth

Tooth roots stay healthy and uninfected if the crown is still strong.

But accidents do happen that risk creating a fracture in a tooth.  These accidents can be an external blunt force that shatters your dog’s teeth.

Traumas can also be an internal blunt force.

It can happen when your dog bites too hard that it chips a tooth fragment off. The resulting teeth fracture is called slab fracture.

Regardless of whether the blunt force was internal or external, the trauma will shatter your dog’s teeth open. The opening gap in your tooth can now give bacteria an entry spot to the pulp.

Additionally, because of its thinner enamel, a dog is more likely to have a slab fracture than a dental cavity.

As a result, tooth traumas will be the more common progression to tooth abscess than cavities.

Dental Cavities

Dental cavities refer to the damaged gaps and holes in the teeth as a result of teeth decaying.

Like tooth traumas that fragment your dog’s teeth, dental cavities are openings for bacteria to enter and infect the pulp.

Poor Oral Hygiene

Yes, dogs need dental hygiene as well. In fact, your dog needs a standard oral routine more than you do.

Their teeth's enamel is thinner than us humans, and they’re prone to bite and chew extremely hard things.

Without proper care of your canine’s teeth, they can deteriorate and break faster than you can imagine.

dog tooth abscess symptoms

What are the Symptoms of Dog Tooth Abscess?

Symptoms of tooth abscesses in dogs can be obvious depending on how severe the infection is. The more chronic the infection is, the more symptoms the abscess shows.

Sometimes abscesses are small enough that they have little to no physiological symptoms in sight. Instead, you can also rely on the psychological symptoms that a dog tooth abscess brings.

So what are these dog tooth abscess symptoms that you need to look out for?


The most common and obvious way to see a physical symptom of tooth abscess in dogs is swelling.

Your dog’s jaw will swell when one of its teeth has an abscess in it. Not only that, parts of their swollen jaws will feel more delicate and tender.

Another type of swelling is tender bumps near your dog’s mouth. These bumps may be the actual pocket filled with pus, so take extra care in handling their swollen areas.

Red Gums

Red gums are symptoms across a lot of oral diseases.

For dental abscesses, however, the condition of gum lines is interrelated with the condition of your dog’s teeth.

If your dog’s teeth have a brewing tooth infection, chances are, their gums will show symptoms of infection, too.

Red gums typically indicate soreness and inflammation of a dog’s mouth. It can also mean that the gums are bleeding, or it can be an indication of periodontal disease.


Bad Breath

It’s uncommon for dogs to have a smell on their breath.

But if they do have bad breath, you may want to examine your dog. Who knows, it can be a symptom of a tooth abscess.

Tooth infections are your surefire way to get dog halitosis. When their teeth are slowly dying, your dog's breath will smell of death too.

Furthermore, severe tooth abscesses have pockets of foul-smelling pus, which adds up to the decaying smell.

Unless its pus will be drained clean, your dog’s breath will continue to reek a rotting smell.



Pain is the common denominator of all health problems because it tells you and your dog that something is wrong. So it’s no surprise that it’s also a dog tooth abscess symptom.

The degree of pain can range from mild inconvenience to unimaginable pain.

When your dog is in pain, you will know it through their shaking, panting, crying, and even their flattened ears.

They will even drool to avoid touching the already painful areas of their mouth.

You can also observe some behavioral symptoms in dogs that may indicate that something is wrong with your dogs.

For instance, apart from drooling, dogs may refuse to eat or drink when they have tooth abscesses in them.

They may also grow agitated and irritated because of dental abscess that bothers them.

Some dogs, however, can tolerate a certain threshold of pain. They will hide the pain away until they cannot do so anymore.

How to Diagnose a Tooth Abscess in Dogs?

When diagnosing a tooth abscess, you should look out for signs of teeth infection in dogs. This is because tooth abscess comes as a complication of tooth infections.

But the best course of action for you to do is to let a veterinarian accurately examine your dog’s oral health.

They may even resort to dental x-rays to find out if there’s a pus buildup or teeth fractures.

Is a Dog Tooth Abscess an Emergency?

You should treat dog tooth abscess as an emergency rather than just an inconvenience to your dogs. Here’s why.

A dog tooth abscess is an emergency because of the pus buildup’s location.

They can also be an indication of a more dangerous health condition that your dog has. If that's the case, you may want to diagnose your dog for a possible deeper illness that they have.

Can a tooth abscess kill a dog? Yes, they can.

Because of its severity, a dental abscess usually doesn’t heal on its own.

Unlike an ordinary abscess, tooth abscesses will take more than just natural recovery and white blood cells to fully heal.

It’s also for the same reason why it’s not ok to leave dog tooth abscess untreated.

Untreated tooth abscess will lead to even more serious health complications and even your dog’s death.

But given that tooth abscesses are excruciating, you would want to treat them fast if you want to alleviate your dog's sufferings faster.

dog dental abscess treatment

How to Treat an Abscess Tooth in Dogs?

A tooth abscess in dogs is a serious type of complication in your dog’s oral health.

Fortunately, a dog dental abscess is treatable.

Veterinarians are looking at root canal therapy and tooth extraction as a means of treating an abscess in a dog’s mouth.

There’s also the use of medical prescriptions after post-surgery.

With the proper expertise and the right treatment, your dog will have a fast recovery and relief from tooth abscess symptoms.

Root Canal Therapy

Since dental abscesses in dogs come from an infected tooth, root canal therapy proves to be successful in treating it.

Root canal treatment is an elaborate procedure that aims to stop the pain and prevent another infection inside the tooth.

It also removes the dog gum abscess in the process, effectively treating it.

To do this, the root canal treatment includes removing the innermost soft tissues inside the tooth called the pulp.

Vets need to take remove tooth pulps because they decay or become inflamed during a tooth infection.

Veterinarians must also seal the infected tooth to prevent another outbreak of infection in the same tooth.

Here are the steps that veterinarians do during your dog’s root canal treatment:

  • Vets place the dog in anesthesia to sedate its canine patient
  • The surgeon will make a small opening in the tooth for the medical tools to fit.
  • Using dental instruments, they will scrape and remove the infected pulp in the pulp chambers and root canal.
  • Vets will scrape around the chambers and canal to refine its shape
  • The attending vet will place a disinfecting liquid to kill the infection-causing bacteria and to clean the canal of debris
  • They would then seal and fill the canal with a rubber tube dental material
  • Dental filling seals and prevents bacterial infection
  • In most cases, vets also place custom-made crows, similar to human root canal therapies.

Tooth Extraction

When it comes to dealing with tooth abscesses in dogs, veterinarians can also opt to remove the whole tooth instead.

This is a simpler approach to removing the pain-causing tooth than a root canal treatment.

Here are the steps that veterinarians do during your dog’s tooth extraction:

  • Vets will give anesthesia to their canine patients and numb the tooth and its surrounding gums.
  • With their dental instruments, they’ll loosen your infected tooth and lift it from the dental socket
  • Vets would need to make small cuts in the gum tissue to further loosen its grip
  • Lastly, they would clean and disinfect the socket to help cause internal infections


How Much Does Dental Surgical Cost for Dogs

Dental surgical costs for pets may vary per state, but here is the average range that owners should expect per service:

  • An oral examination or pet dental consultation can cost you around $54 to $90
  • X-rays for your pet dog’s teeth structure would need $125 to $ 250
  • Expect a minimum cost of $100 for its dental extractions. This excludes anesthesia and other fees, which can go at an additional cost of $1,000 at most.
  • Dog root canal treatments can cost you $1,000 to $3,000

Take note that these are the dental services that you need to pay for, assuming you don’t have pet insurance.

Can I Treat the Abscessed Tooth of My Dog at Home?

Home treatment for tooth abscesses is practically the same as having no treatment at all.

Resorting in treating the pet yourself neglects the need for the actual treatment for a tooth abscess.

That’s why you can’t treat the abscessed tooth of your dog at your home. Tooth abscess in dogs is a severe indication of infection that requires immediate professional help.

Antibiotics and anti-inflammation drugs may help give the dog some relief. But these temporary solutions aren’t solving the root of the problem.

Thus, we advise you to consult an expert and follow a methodological procedure to address the source of your dog’s suffering.


tooth abscess in dogs aftercare

How Do You Care for Your Dog after the Abscess Treatment?

Home treatment may not be possible for your dog’s oral problems.

But what can you still do for your dog’s tooth abscess at home? Its aftercare!

That’s right. Your dog needs some post-surgery care after the medical procedure. It will need your constant care and attention after undergoing a tedious operation.

The more consistently you give your dog the much-needed attention, the faster they recover.

Antibiotics and Medications

Your veterinarian will prescribe some antibiotics to prevent another round of infection after the surgery.

They’ll also give you anti-inflammation to reduce the pain and swelling of the affected areas.

Medications after the surgery are needed. But the problem with it is how to administer it to dogs.

Dogs are notorious for giving owners a hard time in gulping their pills. They spit the pills when they don’t like them, and they’ll be reluctant to open their mouths after.

Giving pills to dogs is a nuisance routine. Here’s how to properly administer their medications:

  • Hold the pill using your thumb and index fingers to pinch it in place
  • Put your fingers on the back of your dog’s tongue
  • As you place the pill on the back of its tongue, stroke its throat downwards to encourage swallowing
  • Reward your dog with praise

While this technique is effective, your hand can induce your unconfident dog to bite your fingers accidentally. If that’s the case, you can purchase a pill device for your dogs.

Can Dogs Chew After Dental Surgery

No, your dogs can’t chew well after their tooth removal or root canal procedure. It will have to wait before it can eat hard foods.

After the surgery, you can only feed your dog with chunky and softened meat. You can also feed them mushed vegetables to supplement your dog’s recovery with nutrients.

On a similar note, you should not give your pet its chew toys yet. Forced chewing can overwork its surgical areas and may cause the unhealed wounds to reopen.

Preventing your dog from chewing may take up to three weeks or until the surgical sites have fully recovered.

Sufficient Rest

Proper rest after your dog’s surgery ensures its full recovery.

When it comes to your rest and sleep, make sure that your dog will be well-rested in its recovery period. See to it that its sleeping place is comfortable, quiet, and stress-free.

Your dog’s resting spot shouldn’t have any hard objects or surfaces that can apply pressure on your dog’s tender jaws.

Observation and Post-Surgical Checkup

Observing your dog until its full recovery is also important in the whole aftercare treatment.

This is to check whether your dogs had complications and side effects after surgery.

A good example of this is the anesthesia administered during surgery. Typically, the anesthesia wears off after few hours after the surgery.

But your dog may still feel lethargic even after the wear-off period. In that case, you can contact your attending veterinarian for a quick consultation.

The same goes for the surgical wound after the operation.

Normally, the wound will close, and a scab will form. But in the case where the wound reopens, you need to see the doctor for a follow-up.

Additionally, observation helps monitor the progress of the recovery itself.

dog dental abscess prevention

How to Prevent Tooth Abscess in Dogs

A tooth abscess in dogs can be a painful and costly situation for you and your dogs.

But with the right preventive measures and consistent efforts, you’ll significantly reduce your dog’s chance of having one.

Oral Hygiene

Oral hygiene is the foundation for good dental health for your canine companion. Without it, it can lead to more serious dental issues in the long run.

They may not like you cleaning their teeth, but it’s a standard oral practice that you must set for them.

Some of the best practices of oral hygiene for your dogs are:

  • Regular brushing that removes food remains, tartar buildup, and bacteria
  • Proper and healthy diet supplements strengthen bones and teeth
  • Diet and treats don’t contain rock-hard foods
  • Dental chew toys to simulate brushing teeth while alleviating your dog’s boredom

Dental Check-Up

Dental check-ups are a must in preventing tooth abscesses in dogs.

With frequent check-ups, your veterinarian helps detect dental problems that can otherwise become severe.

They can also help conduct routine dental care treatments such as dental cleanings and fluoride applications for your dog.

Tooth Abscess in Dogs: Summary

Abscess in a dog’s mouth forms from a complication of tooth infection. This makes the abscess an immediate and severe health concern for our canine pet.

Unfortunately, there are no effective home treatments for dog tooth abscesses, only vet-administered tooth extraction or root canal.

What you can do, however, is to nurse your dog back to recovery or, better, to prevent an abscess from forming in the first place.

Practice oral care to better combat problems that risk your dog’s dental health.

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