symptoms of tooth abscess in dogs

A tooth abscess is a very painful condition, and if you get one, you’ll probably need a root canal. But did you know that dogs can get abscessed teeth too? 

Decayed or cracked teeth can easily become infected, and they get more and more painful as the infection spreads and turns into an abscess. Unfortunately, though, your dog can’t tell you that they have a toothache.

When it becomes painful for them to enjoy their dinner or chew on their favorite toys, dogs just suffer in silence. And the longer an abscess goes untreated, the worse the infection becomes. The tooth could even die and fall out. 

Here’s how to recognize the signs of a tooth abscess in dogs, so you can seek veterinary treatment right away.

How Can You Tell If Your Dog Has a Tooth Abscess?

Dogs are experts at hiding their pain—it’s an evolutionary instinct that kept them safe from predators. But there are almost always subtle clues they can’t hide, so keep a close eye on your dog for any changes in their behavior. 

For instance, if your dog is whimpering when they eat or drink, or if they’re refusing to play tug-of-war when it used to be their favorite game, they might be suffering from tooth pain. 

Symptoms of tooth abscesses in dogs include:

  • Persistent bad breath
  • Swelling of the face or neck
  • Excessive drooling
  • Bleeding gums
  • Chewing on one side of the mouth
  • Loss of appetite

Preventing Tooth Infections in Dogs

Most of the time, tooth infections in dogs are due to plaque and tartar buildup. While dental chews and brushing your dog’s teeth can help, taking them to a veterinary dentist for a cleaning once a year is the best prevention method. 

Only a trained professional has the tools and expertise needed to remove the plaque and tartar that cause gum disease and tooth decay. Just like your dental hygienist uses special tools to remove tartar from your teeth, a veterinary dentist is the only one who can give your dog’s teeth a thorough cleaning. 

Dental checkups are even more important if your dog has a chewing fetish. Aggressive chewers are more vulnerable to tooth abscesses, because chewing and gnawing on hard objects can crack or break their teeth. And when a tooth gets damaged, it’s all too easy for an infection to take hold.

Always Seek Veterinary Treatment for a Tooth Abscess

Tooth fractures and scratches are one of the many things we check for at your dog’s annual dental examination. We can also remove the plaque buildup that causes tooth decay with a veterinary dental cleaning. 

If your dog does have a tooth abscess, we may be able to perform a root canal procedure and save the affected tooth. However, if the infection has progressed too far, they might need a tooth extraction. So if you notice any signs of a tooth abscess in your dog, schedule a dental checkup for them right away.

Anasazi Animal Clinic is one of the best veterinary dental care facilities in Arizona. Our advanced technology and highly skilled team can keep your dog’s teeth healthy and strong, so they can enjoy their favorite kibble and chew all their favorite toys for many years to come.

Contact us today to schedule a dental exam and cleaning for your pet—just give us a call at 480-497-0505 or send us a message online.


Photo by David Kemptner-Rauscher on Unsplash used with permission under the Creative Commons license for commercial use 7/17/2023.