Dec. 08.2021 | Updated: December 9, 2021

What Is an Abscess on a Dog: Symptoms, Causes & Effective Treatment

abscess in dogs

Do dogs get abscesses? Unfortunately, they do. These pets lead a fairly active lifestyle and during more active play, your dog can be injured. In the place of even a small bruise, after a couple of days, small bumps may form, which are difficult to notice without inspection.

Over time, they can turn into purulent inflammations, which often frighten the owners. To prevent this from happening, you must be attentive to your four-legged friend, because abscess in dogs is dangerous. And only with timely referral to an experienced veterinarian can serious consequences be avoided. We will tell you what it is, what symptoms are worth looking out for, which may cause your dog to have an abscess, and also we will give you some tips for possible treatment. Be sure to read the article to the end!

What Is an Abscess on a Dog?

dog abscess symptoms

An abscess is an inflammatory focus that contains pus. It is usually caused by bacteria or foreign matter under the skin. Such a wound can cause infection and danger formation in the subcutaneous tissue. Signs of it include pain and swelling, as well as redness and fever of the skin covering the abscess. But we will discuss it in more detail below. In the initial stages of a skin abscess on a dog, the body’s immune system detects an abnormality under the skin, like bacteria, foreign material, or cell necrosis caused by injury or parasites.

After that, the blood flow to the damaged area increases, and its vessels dilate so that leukocytes can kill bacteria, foreign matter, or dead cells. what does an abscess look like on a dog? Pus is formed when white blood cells die and accumulate in the affected area. As a protective mechanism, the immune system also forms a fibrous capsule around the site of inflammation. This fibrous capsule stores pus within one area.

If bacteria or foreign material suppresses the immune system, pus continues to accumulate, and the abscess becomes larger. After some time, the wall of the capsule becomes thinner and ruptures, resulting in pus leaking. As a rule, the abscess ruptures into the environment, so you can see how the pus flows. In some cases, treating a dog abscess at home can be successful but only with tied contact with your vet.

My Dog Has an Abscess: What Is a Type?

dog abscess treatment
  • Benign ones look like reddened swellings with walls. They contain thick pus, which contains low-virulent staphylococci and numerous live leukocytes.
  • Malignant ones look like a tubercle, which is not very noticeable. They are not resilient, as if filled with water, and are more painful than benign ones. Contains liquid pus, anaerobes, and purulent-putrefactive bacteria.
  • A hot abscess is very pronounced on the body of the dog: red, plump, painful, with a high temperature at the site of injury. It forms quickly enough and proceeds sharply, it can open up on its own.
  • Cold abscess, on the contrary, develops slowly, all signs appear rather weakly. It does not dissolve on its own, so it is advisable to immediately contact the veterinarian. Most often, this type is manifested in old sick dogs with a reduced infectious defense of the body.

How Do Dogs Get an Abscess?

how to treat an abscess on a dog

Abscesses are the result of the body trying to stop the infection. Fighting infection leads to a build-up of white blood cells and other components, commonly called pus, that collect in tissues, forming a painful swelling. If the surface of the skin is pierced, then, for example, insect bites, etc. can cause an abscess.

There are exceptions – some can develop without visible tearing of the skin. Can a dog has it due to bacteria or foreign bodies in the digestive tract? Yes, and it can also cause dangerous and purulent edema. But any objects are dangerous not only in the belly but also in the urinary and respiratory tract. The abscesses are usually painful with green, yellow, or bloody pus, and are very soft and hot to the touch. So what causes abscesses in dogs? Let’s discuss them in detail.


With bites, infections penetrate deep into the tissues and are often one of the main causes of this problem. Even a fight with a cat can cause an abscess in your dog. They usually appear on the head and neck or near the tail but can appear on any part of the body.

Dental problems

We have repeatedly mentioned in our articles how important dental care is. If your dog has a broken tooth or periodontal disease and has not done anything, then the formation of an abscess is inevitable.


Chewing on inedible and dangerous items can cause an abscess. In these cases, they can usually occur on the tongue, gums, cheeks. In more rare cases – behind the eyes.

Anal Gland

With an abscess in the anal glands, the area around the rectum becomes swollen, red, and soft. And after tearing it, you may find wet hair in the infected area.

Dog Abscess: Symptoms

how to clean dog abscess

External abscesses can be found by such signs:

  • On the body of the animal, there is a red and hot dense swelling, possible increase in body temperature, lameness, soreness, lethargy, refusal of food.
  • After a few days, the skin in the center of the abscess thins, the bump becomes soft, at the top of the conical swelling, you can see the place of the future breakthrough. Involuntarily opens, pus floats out, the wound is cleansed and healed.

Sometimes an external abscess breaks inside, infecting healthy tissues and blood, which threatens the sad consequences. An internal abscess is manifested by lethargy, depression, fever, exhaustion. Before google “what to do if your dog has an abscess”, make sure that a pet has symptoms, described above, and contact your veterinarian immediately.

Dog Abscess: Treatment & FAQ about It

antibiotics for dog abscess

Depending on the type, degree of neglect of the situation, the veterinarian individually selects the possible methods of treatment and determines the most effective one. Then, the main time of recovery falls on you, because it is you who must follow all the prescriptions of the specialist. Let’s go through the process itself with the FAQ.

How to Treat an Abscess on a Dog?

Such problems are often treated with solutions and ointments, but if bacteria have invaded tissue or blood poisoning has occurred, other treatments should be considered. If the abscess cuts deep into the skin, your veterinarian may insist on more aggressive treatment. Never use ointments or medications on the advice of your friends, because what helped their pets could harm yours.

How to Clean Dog Abscess?

Ensuring drainage and cleaning of the cavity from purulent contents is the most important stage of treatment. If the abscess is closed, the cavity is incised on both sides, and special drains are inserted into the cavity. General anesthesia may be required depending on the extent of tissue damage and the temperament of the animal. The damaged cavity should be washed along the drains until complete healing. Only after the cavity has closed around the drainage, a tube can be removed.

Can I Give Antibiotics for Dog Abscess?

Treating abscesses almost always requires an antibiotic pill or injection, but only as directed by your veterinarian.

Will a Dog Abscess Heal on Its Own?

Theoretically, this is possible if the abscess is initially mild. However, what you could heal much faster would last as long as possible and cause pain and discomfort for your pet. Therefore, do not let the abscess take its course and better treat any wounds immediately to prevent its formation in your dog.

Dog Abscess: Healing Time

In general, it may take 3 to 10 days for complete healing, depending on the size of the abscess cavity and the condition of the dog. During healing, it is imperative that your pet does not lick or bite the affected area. Saliva is contaminated with bacteria and would only prolong infection and prevent healing. Therefore, your dog may need a protective cone. Even if your dog had such a problem, and you know how to get rid of an abscess on a dog, don’t do anything. In any case, contact your vet and ask for help. Take care of your dog!

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