Can a dog really die from a tooth abscess?

Many pet owners are unaware of the dangers of dental issues in their furry friends. Though it may seem like a minor problem, a tooth abscess in dogs can lead to a host of health complications and, in severe cases, even death. In this article, we will explore the topic of tooth abscesses in dogs, their causes, symptoms, treatment options, and the possibility of death resulting from this dental issue.

What is a tooth abscess in dogs?

A tooth abscess refers to a painful infection at the root of a tooth. The tooth’s outer layer can become damaged, exposing the root and allowing bacteria to enter, causing infection, inflammation, and eventually the death of the tooth. Abscesses can also occur in the gums, leading to the formation of a pocket of pus or fluid. Tooth abscesses in dogs are more common than people realize and can be extremely unpleasant for the animal.

What causes a tooth abscess in dogs?

There are several reasons why a dog can develop a tooth abscess. One of the most common causes is tooth decay, where the outer layer of a tooth breaks, allowing bacteria (usually from plaque buildup) to penetrate the tooth’s inner layers. Gum disease is another cause of tooth abscess, wherein the gums pull away from the teeth, leaving gaps that can become infected. Finally, any physical trauma to the mouth area can also lead to an abscess.

What are the signs and symptoms of a tooth abscess in dogs?

It can be difficult to determine whether your dog is experiencing a tooth abscess, as they are unable to tell us precisely what is wrong. However, there are several signs and symptoms you can watch out for:

  • Swollen and painful gums
  • Difficulty eating or loss of appetite
  • Pawing at the mouth or face
  • Bad breath (halitosis)
  • Inflamed or red gums
  • Excessive drooling
  • Bleeding from the mouth
  • Changes in behavior or becoming aggressive

Can a dog die from a tooth abscess?

Yes, it is possible for a tooth abscess to cause a dog’s death. If left untreated, the infection can spread to the animal’s bloodstream and vital organs, such as the heart or brain. Infection can also cause sepsis, a severe reaction from your dog’s immune system that can lead to death. However, such a situation is rare and typically only happens when the dental issue is left untreated for an extended period.

How is a tooth abscess in dogs diagnosed?

If you are concerned that your dog may have a tooth abscess, you should take them to the vet. During the appointment, the veterinarian will perform a physical examination and check for symptoms of dental issues. If they suspect a tooth abscess, they may take X-rays to determine the degree of the infection and which tooth or teeth are causing problems. They can then discuss a treatment plan with you.

How is a tooth abscess in dogs treated?

The precise treatment plan recommended by the vet will depend on the severity of the dental issue. In most cases, the vet will conduct a tooth extraction. They may also prescribe antibiotics, pain medication, or anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce swelling and treat infection. Dental surgery, a root canal, or other similar treatments may be used in severe cases.

How can I prevent tooth abscess in my dog?

Preventing dental issues in your dog begins with proper dental hygiene. You can ensure your dog’s teeth remain healthy by:

  • Brushing their teeth regularly
  • Feeding your dog healthy food
  • Providing your dog with safe chew toys to reduce tartar build-up
  • Scheduling regular dental check-ups with your veterinarian

How much does it cost to treat a tooth abscess in dogs?

Treatment cost for a tooth abscess in dogs can vary significantly depending on the severity of the dental issue and the geographic location. Treatment can range from a few hundred dollars for a check-up to a couple of thousand dollars for surgical procedures.

What is the recovery period for dogs treated for a tooth abscess?

The recovery period for a dog treated for a tooth abscess will depend on the severity of the dental issue and the treatment recommended by the veterinarian. Following a tooth extraction, the dog may require medication and pain relief. Your dog will need some rest and may require a separate diet, soft food, or temperature-controlled water. Most dogs require minimal care and attention during the recovery period, although they will require regular check-ups with the veterinarian.


A tooth abscess in dogs can be an unpleasant and sometimes severe dental issue that requires immediate attention. The good news is, with proper care and attention, you can prevent dental problems from developing in your furry best friend. Ensure your dog’s teeth are brushed regularly, schedule regular check-ups with your vet, and provide your dog with safe chew toys – this will go a long way in preventing toothroot abscess and other dental issues.

Frequently Asked Questions About Dogs and Tooth Abscesses

  • Q: What causes a tooth abscess in dogs?
  • A: Tooth decay, gum disease, and physical trauma to the mouth area can cause tooth abscesses in dogs.
  • Q: What are the symptoms of a tooth abscess in dogs?
  • A: Swollen and painful gums, difficulty eating, and bad breath are some symptoms of a tooth abscess in dogs.
  • Q: Can a dog die from a tooth abscess?
  • A: Yes, a tooth abscess can cause death in dogs, but such cases are rare and usually occur when the dental issue has been left untreated for a long time.
  • Q: How do vets diagnose a tooth abscess in dogs?
  • A: Vets will perform a physical examination and take X-rays to diagnose the severity of the infection.
  • Q: Can tooth abscesses in dogs be prevented?
  • A: Yes – proper dental hygiene, regular check-ups with a vet, and safe chew toys can prevent dental issues from developing in dogs.


  • Brown, K. (2018) The dangerous truth about dental abscesses in dogs. Retrieved from
  • Howe, L.M. (2018) Small Animal Surgery Secrets E-Book. Elsevier Health Sciences.
  • Preventive Dental Care in Dogs. (2019). American Animal Hospital Association. Retrieved from

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