We all know that we need to keep our teeth clean to stay healthy (and happy), but do you know that you need to clean your dog’s teeth, too? Although it seems like a minor, unnecessary task, avoiding it could lead to a host of problems, including an abscessed dog tooth, which gets more dangerous the longer it goes untreated.

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  1. What is a Dog Tooth Abscess?
  2. Why Do Dogs Get Infected Teeth and Gums?
  3. Dog Tooth Abscess Symptoms
  4. How to Diagnose an Abscessed Tooth in Dogs
  5. Dog Tooth Abscess Treatment
  6. How to Prevent an Abscessed Dog Tooth
  7. Emergency Fund
  8. FAQ

What is a Dog Tooth Abscess?

According to research, an abscess is, quite simply, a bacterial infection that causes a collection of pus. They can happen to all animals, including humans, and they can also happen all over the body.

An abscessed tooth is a tooth that has gotten infected, and a collection of pus has started to form around it. In dogs, the teeth that tend to get infected the most are the carnassial teeth, also known as the shearing teeth. All carnivores have these, and in dogs, they can be found in the lower first molar and upper fourth premolar.

The fang-like teeth, also known as canines, are also commonly affected.

Read more: Dog Dental Care: Basic Oral Hygiene and Teeth Cleaning

Why Do Dogs Get Infected Teeth and Gums?

Although bad oral hygiene is a major factor in teeth and gum infections, a wide number of things cause an infection that leads to an abscess. Chewing bones or wood can create splinters, which in turn can cause trauma. Open wounds can easily lead to infections if they are not cleaned and taken care of.

A cracked or broken tooth can allow bacteria to travel far into the tooth, and the inside then starts to die. As you can imagine, dead tissue inside the body can only cause problems – an infection, and potentially worse.

Periodontal disease can cause an abscess on a dog’s gum, and it is common in certain dog breeds, such as bulldogs, pugs, and other brachycephalic (short/flat-nosed) breeds.

Gingivitis, also known as gum disease, can also cause infections of the teeth and gums.

Dog Tooth Abscess Symptoms

The symptoms of dental diseases can take a while to materialize. Unless you are on top of checking your dog’s mouth (which you should be), you may not spot the signs until it has had time to develop.


One of the first things you might notice about dental disease in general, which often comes before an abscessed tooth in dogs, is severe halitosis, also known as bad breath. It will smell much worse than your dog’s regular scent.

Scratching or Pawing

If you notice your pet scratching around the mouth and face, or pawing at it, it could be a sign they have discomfort in that area. This doesn’t definitively mean that your pooch has dental disease or a tooth abscess but is a sign that your pup is in pain.

Increased Saliva Production

This isn’t the most common symptom in dogs with a tooth abscess, but the pain in the mouth, along with other oral and dental problems, can lead to drooling, caused by increased saliva production.

Swelling, Discoloration and Redness

If you notice anything out of the ordinary, such as lumps, bumps, swelling, redness, or other discoloration, dryness, or more in your dog’s mouth, you should get it checked out. It could be a sign of trauma, dental disease, and other conditions. Gum swelling is caused by an infection and can occur around the tooth, but the swelling can also occur around the cheeks and just under the eyes.

Unusual Doggy Behavior

If your pooch starts acting out of the ordinary, it could be a sign that they are unhappy… or unhealthy! This includes being unusually sleepy or lazy, being more aggressive or snappier than usual, having disinterest in favorite activities, and more.

You will also likely notice that your pup won’t let you near the affected area. This is because it is painful, and you are probably increasing the pain by poking and prodding.

Eating Avoidance

Dogs are quite greedy and will often eat even when it is painful to do so. Because of this, food avoidance, eating on one side of the mouth only, and not eating treats are usually symptoms that pop up much later.

How to Diagnose an Abscessed Tooth in Dogs

Although an abscessed tooth in your dog will likely be obvious, especially after a few days, you will still need a vet to properly diagnose it. Your pet may need x-rays to determine the full extent of the infection, as well as a host of medications that you’ll need a vet to administer or prescribe. Sometimes, a urine sample will be required along with a blood sample for full testing.

Early diagnosis is best for successful treatment. The longer you leave the infection to grow, the higher the chances your pup will need surgery. This puts a lot of stress on dogs, especially older ones. You can make an early diagnosis for this condition (and many others) a lot easier with the help of an interactive pet cam.

Dog Tooth Abscess Treatment

You cannot treat a dog tooth abscess at home; it requires professional medical intervention. Your pet will require medication, primarily anti-inflammatories, antibiotics, and painkillers.

In some cases, surgery might be necessary, which will involve removing the entire tooth. Root canal treatment can also be performed.

Ongoing care may also be necessary, including regular teeth and mouth cleaning, vet check-ups, and an amended diet.

How to Prevent an Abscessed Dog Tooth

The best way to prevent an abscessed dog tooth and other doggy dental issues is to make sure your pet’s oral health regime is up to scratch. This means feeding them a balanced and healthy diet, with tooth-friendly snacks and treats.

Ideally, you will want to clean your dog’s teeth daily. You can do this with an actual doggy toothbrush, or you can use teeth-cleaning treats.

Your pup should have a steady supply of clean, fresh drinking water, plus a healthy and balanced diet. If you are unsure of what and how often you should be feeding your pet, ask your vet for advice. They will be able to give you an idea based on their exact specifications, such as weight, breed, height, etc.

Emergency Fund

It’s never fun to face a pet emergency, but here at Petcube, we like to make caring for your furry friends a whole load easier. With the Pet Emergency Fund, up to six of your fur babies will be covered for up to $3,000 of emergency treatment – with no restrictions.

For as little as $1 per day, you can sleep a lot easier at night knowing that you and your pets are covered if the worst happens.


What can I give my dog for an abscessed tooth at home?

It is not recommended to give your dog anything for an abscessed tooth at home. It is likely that your pet will need medication, such as dog-safe and appropriate anti-inflammatory drugs, antibiotics, and/or painkillers. Human medication is not designed and is not safe for doggy consumption.

Can a tooth abscess kill a dog?

Yes, a tooth abscess can kill a dog. Infections that are not treated can spread around the body, causing blood sepsis, also commonly called septic fever, blood poisoning, or septicemia. If this is, again, not treated, the outcome is septic shock, which can kill. Canine sepsis is the same as human sepsis, and it can be just as deadly.

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