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Canine Tooth Abscess & Extraction

An extracted, Canine 4th premolar carnassial tooth, abscessec


While cutting veggies for soup, I gave Grandbury a few slices of carrot. He devoured them and went on his merry way. Later, while brushing his teeth, I noticed he had bit the inside of his left cheek. His gumline was irritated from the carrots, which is normal these days since he no longer receives hard chews.

However, I noticed he didn’t want the gum above his 4th premolar (Carnassial tooth) area touched. He was fine with me touching the actual tooth. He didn’t react when I pushed upward on the tooth. His sensitive reaction was limited to one tiny spot on the gum.

Later, I noticed his face had swollen a little more and I once again checked out his mouth. Nothing had changed. It almost appeared that he had been stung by something, so I gave him 1cc of Children’s (no alcohol) liquid Benadryl. The Benadryl had no effect on the swelling.


Grandbury’s face was still swollen. He ate and drank regularly. Appears fine except he doesn’t want the gum above the carnassial tooth touched.

When I brushed his teeth that evening I felt a lump, hard and circular at the meeting of the cheek and the gum line. This appears to be where the pain is radiating from.Ā  Still eating and drinking regularly.

Grandbury, a dog, has a swollen face.

Dog with beginning abscessed tooth


Checked spot upon waking in the morning. Larger. Still swollen. By mid-afternoon/early evening redness has expanded on lip area and gum.

He is drinking a lot of water. The “lump” has now become more of an ulcer, extending over the gum, the gum above tooth now has a soft, very tender and swollen area. He is obviously experiencing pressure and pain buildup.

lump becomes ulceration

8:00 pm Grandbury is heavily panting and pacing. Grandbury's gum has a fluid packet.

10:30 gave him a second dose of his daily Tramadol (50mg)

12:45 am finally resting comfortably.


2:12 am resting, took photo to document very red and swollen areas.

To us it looks like a tooth abscess, but for Grandbury’s sake, we certainly hope it isn’t.

grandbury's increased swelling

As Grandbury wakes up and we prepare to take him in to the vet, I snap this photo to show the increased swelling of his face.Visible outward signs of what lies beneath.

Grandbury, a dog, has a swollen face.

Grandbury definitely wondered why he was up and out with no food. Anticipating there might be surgery, we didn’t allow him any food, only water.

We provided the photos and notes we’d taken to the vet. It has been our experience, that the more information you can provide, the better off you and your pet will be. The rapid change in his status was visible. Even if you don’t take photos, try to get in the habit of making notes. You’ll be surprised what you forget when you are standing in the vet’s office, as you attempt to keep your pet calm and run down a list of symptoms while answering questions about when you first noticed this or that.

The vet believed it was an abscess. The plan was to x-ray his teeth, and since he has to have anesthesia for that, if the x-ray proved positive for an abscess, move him into surgery. No point in getting anesthesia twice. We were already up half the night worrying about the potential risk to him for anesthesia, any required surgery, and healing. Sixteen years old is not an age to start taking risks.

We lost one of our girls, a precious ferret, during a surgical procedure. Losing a beloved companion due to a surgical error never leaves you. Our guys have had many surgeries over the years. We’ve weighed every conceivable risk and benefit before giving the green light to the procedure. It is a decision that we never enter into lightly. No matter how many surgeries we have under our collars, each presents its own problems and fears from the surgical procedure to the post operative care.

While he had blood work done just one month prior, a new panel had to be done to make certain that he was okay for surgery. We needed to know that he would be able to metabolize the anesthesia and that no other surprises were lurking.

Blood work came back great. Pretty amazingly in fact, for a 16 year old with a 7″ round tumor on his side (we’ll get to that in another post). So, operation “remove the abscess” had begun.

The whole procedure, from the time he was given a pre-anesthesia, to the time his tooth was pulled and he was in recovery, was approximately 90 minutes. He was monitored as he woke up from the surgery. Total time at vet’s office: 10:00 am – 4:30 pm. A long day for him and us.

Here is the nasty tooth that caused so much ($734.63) trouble.

An extracted, Canine 4th premolar carnassial tooth, abscessec

He came home and slept and slept. He also had a good deal of drainage, but the underpads save the day again! They made clean up a snap, and saved a lot of washing of beds and coverlets. Once you have these things, you’ll find 101 uses for them.

Underpads make clean up a breeze after surgery.

Grandbury pulled through the surgery and the post-op care like a champ. At first he was very reluctant to eat even his favorite soft treat: canned pumpkin. A lot of coaxing and some syringe feedings were required for the first three days of his healing. It was very important for him to have some food on his stomach due to the pain medications he was on.

We are relieved that he is still with us, and came through the surgery like a champ. It was a scary idea for us, and thankfully, this time it worked out in his favor.

While waiting to be seen, the male office cat, Butter, came out to love on Grandbury. Here is a cute video we snapped of the two exchanging a very loving “hello.”

6 thoughts on “Canine Tooth Abscess & Extraction

  1. My cousin recommended this blog and she was totally right keep up the fantastic work!

  2. I know this post is older but I wanted to let you know how helpful it was for me because my 17 yr old Shitzu just had to have 10 teeth removed and one of them was so badly abscessed that the root of the tooth came out her cheek/lip under her eye. Day 2 after surgery and she is doing well, thanks again!

  3. Tiffany,

    I’m so sorry to hear that your girl had to go through so much, but I’m glad that you found Grandbury’s experience helpful. Your sweetheart has got to feel so much better, and with your love and care she’ll be zippy again, probably much more so! šŸ™‚ Does she only eat soft foods as a part of her regular diet? For those of our readers who may not know, anytime your pet has experienced a tooth extraction, you’ll want to keep them on soft foods for awhile, so their gums can heal. Ten tooth extractions and an abscess may require a longer period of soft foods, I’d definitely go no less than three – four weeks just to ensure an easier go of it. Also, if your pet isn’t currently on a diet of wet foods, just take a regular feeding of their dry food, soak it in water for about 15 minutes, process it until soft and mushy, and you have a soft food for your pet that doesn’t require a new food introduction that may cause a stomach upset.

    Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experience with us, Tiffany! We appreciate it, and we are sending lots of healing thoughts to your beloved pooch!

  4. Very helpful topic thanks for share this…

  5. My 13 year old large breed dog is also going through something similar. About 2 months ago, same cheek swelled and went to the vet. They assumed tooth root abscess. I had given her a raw bone marrow to gnaw on and that is when the swelling occured. I had a 2nd opinion with a board certified dentist in the area and he said the same thing. I too worry so much about anesthesia and although my dog is younger than yours, I worry a lot. Her internist told me its not really an elective surgery an that she will do just fine after looking at her most recent blood work. Her surgery is set soon and I still have my doubts that I would be doing more harm to her and putting her in added pain. Her swelling had gone down after day 2 and no issues since. She eats fine, no bad breath. She is like her usual self.
    Because she seems fine, I worry if this is the right thing for her. Vets told me that it will return, it’s just about when it will return. I stopped giving her anything hard to chew on now.
    Any suggestions or advice?
    If we do go thru with it, we will go with the board certified vet to do the extraction(s). I know she has other dead teeth that they will pull out as well.
    I’m scared.
    Thanks for your blog post.

  6. Guinnie,

    How is your pup doing? If her blood work came back without any issue, then you can at least take a breath and feel empowered to make the right decision for her. An abscessed tooth is extremely painful (even if they don’t always show it), and removing the tooth is the best option to prevent pain and further illness. It is a very scary situation to be in, but you have done your homework and received two opinions about the tooth and documented that she doesn’t have any body functions in failure that would compromise her successfully completing the procedure. While every surgery comes with a risk, you should feel confident to move ahead with the surgery to extract the teeth. Stay close by during the surgery, either in the waiting room or in your car. It helps you, and should any moment arise when the doctor may need to consult with you, you will be there! You have done everything to make certain your beloved will be okay, and now you have to trust the process. For me, that is a very difficult task, but it is all we are left with, right? I hope you return and let me know how your pooch is doing. Thanks for reaching out, and I can’t wait to hear that your dog is feeling great and you are confident in your awesome mommy powers! šŸ™‚ -Jeannie

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