Pictures of Tooth Abscesses in Dogs, with Details From our Veterinarian

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veterinarian showing tooth abscess and dental disease in a dog

This article was updated on April 29th, 2023

As any human that has ever had an abscessed tooth will tell you, this is a very painful issue to have. However, dogs have an innate tendency to hide their discomfort. An abscessed tooth may or may not cause a dog to stop eating, but there are signs to watch for. Below are some picture examples of dogs with abscessed teeth to aid in the identification of an abscessed dog tooth.

An abscessed tooth occurs when bacteria is able to enter the tooth’s root area and results in inflammation and infection under the gumline.

What a Dog Tooth Abscess Look Like (With Pictures)

Below is a list of key signs of tooth abscesses in dogs, along with pictures for each sign:

1. Swelling Under the Eye

dog with swelling under the eye due to tooth abscess
dog with swelling under the eye due to tooth abscess (example 2)

2. Small Ruptured Wound on Face

Ruptured Wound on Face

3. Cracked Tooth

example of cracked tooth due to tooth abscess
second example of cracked tooth due to tooth abscess

4. Gum Recession with/without Draining Tract

gum recession details

Below is a more obvious example of gum recession:

gum recession in a dog

5. Red Gums

red gums in a dog with tooth abscess

6. Periodontal Disease/Tartar Accumulation

Read our veterinarian’s article about the 5 best ways to remove tartar in dogs.

periodontal disease closeup - dirty teeth on a dog
periodontal disease in a dog closeup

Other Signs of an Abscessed Tooth in a Dog

In addition to the signs outlined earlier with pictures, a dog with a tooth abscess may also experience the following clinical signs:

  • Drooling
  • Dropping food
  • Reluctance to eat
  • Foul smell to the breath
  • Blood in saliva
  • Swelling or a small wound on the face/muzzle

Steps you can take at home to help your dog

The most important step to take at home to help our dog is to provide appropriate dental care before an abscess has the chance to form. Dogs should have a thorough oral examination at least annually. The frequency of needed dental prophylaxis and cleaning under anesthesia will vary from dog to dog, but most adult dogs will require this procedure, under general anesthesia, every six months to two years.

If you think your dog is suffering from a tooth abscess, they need to be seen by their veterinarian as soon as possible. In the meantime:

  • Offer them either canned food or their kibble softened with warm water to enable the to eat more comfortably.
  • Never give any human pain relievers to your dog without the direct direction to do so by a licensed veterinarian. Many of these medications are toxic to dogs and could result in death.  Medications that are not toxic have very different appropriate dosing than they do in humans.

Related post: Emergency Veterinarian Explains When a Broken Tooth is an Emergency for dogs

When to call your veterinarian

If you suspect a tooth root abscess in your dog you must take the to see their veterinarian. The abscessed tooth will need to be addressed as soon as possible to provide comfort to the dog and to keep the infection from spreading. An abscessed tooth must either be repaired via a root canal or extracted completely. Your veterinarian can discuss options with you.


  • Dr Whittenburg, Hospital Director

    Dr. Jamie Whittenburg is a Veterinarian Director at 'Senior Tail Waggers' and Director and Owner of Kingsgate Animal Hospital, a full-service animal hospital in Lubbock, TX. She graduated from Kansas State University's College of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) and has over 17 years of experience working as a veterinarian & hospital director.

Disclaimer: This website's content is not a substitute for veterinary care. Always consult with your veterinarian for healthcare decisions. Read More.

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