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Abscesses: Causes & Treatments

What is an Abscess?

Abscesses are accumulations of pus that usually from as a result of puncture wounds. There are many causes of abscesses such as cat fight wounds or foreign bodies such as grass seeds, splinters etc. It may not always be evident what has caused an abscess until the contents have been released and the cavity in the tissues examined.

How do abscesses occur?

Animal’s skin has the ability to heal very quickly. When a tooth, claw or foreign body punctures the skin it injects bacteria into the underlying tissues. The small puncture wound then quickly heals over providing the bacteria a warm, moist environment to thrive and multiply. Three to five days later the abscess can be seen or felt as a soft, painful swelling under the skin. Not every wound will abscess. Development depends on the extent and the depth of the bite, the number and type of bacteria present in the wound, and most importantly, the ability of the victim's immune system to fight off the infection. Apart from local soreness, your pet may not show ill effects from the wound for some days. However, as the infection worsens, fever, loss of appetite and lethargy may be noticeable. These are symptoms of release of bacteria toxins and by-products of dying tissue into the blood stream. Your pet can become quite ill.

Surgical Treatment for an Abscess

Surgical treatment is often required for an abscess. Your pet is given a preoperative physical exam to help ensure their safety during anesthesia and surgery. The operation is performed under general anesthesia. Your vet will drain the pus and remove dying tissue which promotes more rapid healing and resolution of the infection.

Post Surgery Home Care:

Feed your pet a normal diet starting the day after surgery. Some pets may have an upset stomach from the anesthesia. If this persists for more than 24 hrs or worsens, call the doctor. Limit their activity for 24 hours. There are no sutures for an abscess. The wound will stay open and drain for several days. Do not cover the wound.

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