Too many dog owners don’t realize the importance of their dogs’ oral health. Your dog’s dental health is a vital part of his overall health. Dental issues that plague humans are just as important, and painful, for our dogs. Anyone who’s had a tooth abscess or infection knows how brutal the pain can be. The last thing we want is for our dogs to suffer. Our team at East Valley Animal Hospital in Gilbert is here for you in the event your dog develops a tooth abscess. 

What is a Tooth Abscess? 

You’ve probably heard the term “tooth abscess” in reference to human teeth. But it’s actually just as common in dogs. And it’s just as unpleasant. 

A tooth abscess is an infection stemming in the root of the tooth. It’s essentially a pocket full of pus caused by bacteria. When left untreated, it causes pain, tenderness, inflammation, swelling, and other symptoms.  

Causes of a Dog Tooth Abscess 

Internal or external issues can lead to a dog tooth abscess, such as:

  • Poor oral hygiene. Believe it or not, you should brush your dog’s teeth and pay attention to his dental health. This will help you prevent and identify tooth abscesses and other issues, such as gum disease.
  • Trauma. If your dog has experienced trauma to the face or head, his teeth may suffer. 
  • Chewing hard items, such as sticks or bones. This pressure can cause the tooth to crack, making it vulnerable to invasive bacteria. 

Physical Signs of an Abscessed Tooth in Dogs 

Because dogs cannot communicate with words, we must watch for physical symptoms that point to a tooth abscess, including:

  • Only eating on one side of her mouth. This might be her way of avoiding the pain.
  • Severe halitosis. While no dog’s breath is pine-fresh, a tooth abscess can cause especially bad breath.
  • Swelling on her face or neck. The area with the abscessed tooth can become inflamed, and swelling might occur. The swollen area might also be hot to the touch. 
  • Drooling—while more common in cats, this may occasionally be seen in dogs with a dental infection. 

Behavioral Signs 

A dog with a tooth abscess may behave differently. Watch for signs for changes in behavior, such as: 

  • Refusal to be touched or petted, especially on the face. 
  • Aggression. A normally docile dog who starts growling or snarling is cause for concern.
  • Excessive scratching at his face or mouth area.
  • Crying or whining at unexpected times. 
  • Refusal to eat or drink. Extreme temperatures can worsen the pain of a tooth abscess. If your dog is hesitant to eat or drink, you should take her to the vet as soon as possible. 

Dog Tooth Abscess Treatment 

If you suspect your dog has a tooth abscess, you need to bring him to the vet. The vet may administer the following treatments, depending on the severity: 

  • A root canal will remove the infection. It’s a serious procedure, but it’s also very routine and safe for dogs. 
  • Extraction may be called for if the abscess is large enough.
  • Antibiotics will likely be administered after either procedure to prevent further infection.
  • NSAIDs will likely be prescribed for pain.

Your Local Vet in Gilbert

At East Valley Animal Hospital, our top priority is making sure your dog lives a long, happy, and healthy life. If you think your dog is suffering from a tooth abscess, schedule a consultation today. 

Image by Myléne on Pixabay.