A swelling on your pet may sound some alarms. Is it cancer? An infection? Should you be worried?

While there can be a variety of reasons for swellings, abscesses in pets are a common diagnosis here at Leon Valley Veterinary Hospital. We want you to learn what an abscess is and what to do if you think your pet has one. 

All About Abscesses in Pets

Abscesses in pets, in a nutshell, are swellings filled with pus. They can pop up just about anywhere on or in the body and are typically caused by the introduction of bacteria into an area where there usually aren’t any. 

Some of the most common reasons that abscesses develop include:

  • A diseased tooth root
  • A bite wound/penetration
  • A penetrating wound from something like a stick
  • A foreign object like a foxtail
  • An impacted anal sac
  • An infected prostate gland

Typically, abscesses are caused by a type of bacteria that like to produce pus and/or bacteria that thrive without oxygen. 

What to Do if You Think Your Pet’s Going to Pop

Abscesses in pets typically present as a firm, often warm, and typically painful swelling. Particularly in the early stages of its development, the pet may also run a fever. Some abscesses may also occur internally, which is more likely to result in systemic symptoms. 

If you think your pet may have an abscess, it really is key to call us so that we can see your pet right away. Abscess treatment revolves around:

  • Draining the infection
  • Removing any foreign material
  • Antibiotic therapy
  • Pain management

Sometimes, depending on the location and cause of the abscess, surgery is also warranted. 

Home Care

At home you can help by applying warm compresses as your pet tolerates in an effort to encourage the abscess to drain outwardly. Administering pain medications and antibiotics as directed is also key. Without thorough treatment the abscess may not fully resolve, leading to complications and potential recurrence – never hesitate to let us know if you are having trouble medicating your pet.

It is also important to remember that if an abscess does start to drain outwardly before you are able to get in, it’s okay. While the pus and blood can be enough to make anyone a little queasy, ultimately it is the goal for the infection to drain outward. 

If your pet will allow it you can gently express whatever pus will easily drain and clean with a warm washcloth. Most pets actually feel much better once an abscess drains. It is still important to keep your appointment, though, so that the underlying cause can be determined and appropriate medications prescribed. 

Abscesses in pets can cause a lot of trouble, but ultimately there is a lot we can do to help. In fact, fixing those pockets of pus can be quite rewarding!