When an animal is bitten, it might just appear to be a puncture wound but the very nature of teeth and claws is that not only do they easily puncture skin but they can inject bacteria which propagates under the skin of the affected animal.

There is often relief to owner and animal when the skin heals quickly but the downside to this is that unfriendly bacteria becomes trapped under the site and soon develops into infectious cells. They start to swell and materialise as abscesses.

Abscesses vary in size depending on the injury and maturity, whilst some may be appear to be very small on the surface or indeed extraordinarily large, they often generate heat and can feel warm to the touch.  Even the smallest are can be extremely painful

Apart from physically feeling or seeing the abscess, there may be other signs such as animals becoming depressed, and depending on how they react to sickness and pain may hide in inconspicuous places in the home.  If you notice this type of unusual behaviour it is important to thoroughly but gently inspect the animal.

It may be that you noticed the abscess because it ruptured, but it is worth mentioning that abscesses of the anal glands can easily be mistaken for rectal bleeding after they have ruptured. Look out for ‘scooting’ on the floor!

Another common mistake is identifying a swelling below the eye which is more likely to be a tooth root abscess. It is important to observe these because they may burst and bleed.

Another sign is that the animal may stop eating due to the pain or eat very cautiously, perhaps only on one side of their mouth because they are experiencing pain when chewing.

Do not under estimate the seriousness of an abscess, even small, simple abscesses may respond to home treatment with a vet recommended product. However, it is highly likely that larger and more extensive abscesses will require veterinary treatment involving surgery.

Do not attempt to drain the abscess yourself.