The Most Common Abscess To Watch For

Written By Dr. Gary Holfinger

We see a tremendous amount of abscesses in pets. An abscess is a spot with swelling and inflammation around it. That swelling you see is caused by a collection of pus due to injury or infection. Dogs are prone to puncture wounds as well as trauma such as car accidents, bites from other dogs, raccoons, etc. Cats often get bite punctures or claw wounds from other pets. Yet, the most common abscesses we see are associated with the pyorrhea - inflammation of the gums - that comes with gum disease. Sadly, it’s not only the most common, but often the most damaging infections we see.

Bad breath is not normal in healthy pets. If your pet has a foul or sweet odor to its breath, you may well have an infection going on in the mouth.

Here’s the problem: Gum disease leads to a breakdown in the tooth/gum barrier, and allows dangerous bacteria to infect tissues under the gum. This is no different than an abscess forming following a bite wound or puncture. The tissues that become infected deeply are the roots of the teeth and the bony socket the tooth is located in.

Once bacteria have broken through the gum barrier, they are picked up by the blood in the circulatory system. This “seeds” the filtering organs of the kidney and the liver, and it tends to thicken the mitral valve of the heart. What follows is early damage to these vital organs, subsequently shortening the life span of your pet.

Don’t ignore foul breath. Look for discoloration of the teeth and redness of the adjacent gum. If you find it, call us and bring your pet in for a check up. Just like in people, good dental care makes for a more comfortable and healthy pet.