An abscess in a dog is formed when the dog’s white blood cells attack the bacteria that have infected the dog. The pus that makes up an abscess in dogs is nothing more than white blood cells that are dead and have collected in the area where the bacterial infection is located in the dog’s body. The dog’s body also builds a fibrous capsule that surrounds the infected area with the dead white blood cells or pus. Generally the walls of the fibrous capsule that surrounds the dead white blood cells or pus will become thin and will rupture or pop and the pus inside the abscess will drain. The abscess will usually heal on its own with little or no treatment, but not always, leaving the dog owner with the decision to either tend to it themselves or to take their dog to the veterinarian. Also, not all abscesses in dogs will rupture. Some of these abscesses will be absorbed back into the body after the white blood cells have done what they are supposed to and killed the bacteria.
Abscesses can occur basically all over a dog’s body. There are dog bite wound abscess that happen when dogs get into fights with each other, there are tooth abscesses that happen when the dog has an infected tooth, there are brain abscesses that happen when bacteria enters the dog’s brain from a bite from another dog, there are head and neck abscesses which are also from dog bites or from a foreign object that entered the dog’s body. There are also ear abscesses that happen due to fighting or other trauma to the dog’s ear, there are anal sac abscesses that are caused from bacterial infections as well as mammary gland abscesses and prostate gland abscesses. A dog can also have skin abscesses.
Symptoms that dog owners should watch for in relationship to abscesses are a wound that is red, swollen and have a definite lump. The lump may or may not be draining. The hair around the lump may fall out and the dog may be in some pain. The dog owner may also notice that the dog is biting or licking the wound.
Diagnosing an abscess on a dog occurs after the dog owner becomes aware of the lump that is suspected to actually be an abscess and the dog has been carried to a veterinarian. The veterinarian will begin by examine the dog’s wound. If the abscess has not ruptured yet, the veterinarian may withdraw some of the fluid from the lump with a needle and syringe so that he can determine that pus is actually what is causing the lump on the dog. If the lump has ruptured already, the veterinarian can easily tell if pus is in the wound.
Treatment of abscesses in dogs occurs immediately after the veterinarian has diagnosed the situation. If the abscess or lump has not already ruptured, the veterinarian will lance it, allowing the pus causing the lump to drain. The dog may be sedated for the veterinarian to lance the abscess. After the abscess has been drained, a disinfectant solution is used to flush the wound, removing any pus that may still be in the dog’s wound.