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Abscess on dog's neck.

Species: Dog
Breed: Boxer
Age: 5-8 years
We have been keeping an eye on a hard lump on my boxers upper neck, by ear. It sometimes will leak puss occasionally. It grew exponentially in the last day or so. I tried getting an appointment on Saturday at my vet, but couldn't. In the last 24 hours, she started developing fluid in the lower part of her neck below her jaw. Also, the hard lump on the upper neck just burst and lots of blood like fluid drained out along with puss like fluid. A couple of other details...she yelped twice when it was touched inadvertently. It has never seemed to hurt her prior to this time. She also hasn't had much of an appetite. However, her appetite is always sporadic so that may not mean anything. She was scratching at it too, which probably caused it to open up. I went ahead and drained it the best I could so it wasn't all over our house (using peroxide and paper towels). I will go to my vet tomorrow, but is there anything I should do in the meantime? Should I go to a 24 hour emergency vet? Any thoughts on what this could be? I sent 3 photos for your reference. Thank you for your help!


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Aw, sorry to hear about your dog. I'm also sorry I'm only just responding to you now as you likely have already seen the vet.

This really does sound like an abscess. Abscesses usually start with some sort of break in the skin. It's odd but I seem to see more boxers with neck abscesses than other breeds.

Thanks for sending some excellent photos. Your girl looks like a real sweetheart. She doesn't look very impressed about the lump:

abscess on dog's neck

dog abscess

There's not a whole lot that you can do for this at home other than take a warm cloth and wipe away the pus that you see. I don't recommend trying to lance the abscess or open it up. As you have discovered they can be quite messy. Also, if this abscess is on the neck then if you try to lance it you run the risk of puncturing the jugular vein which would definitely not be good.

You may find that you can give your dog some relief by putting a warm cloth on the area for 20 minutes at a time occasionally throughout the night. This might help reduce some of the swelling.

If you have any anti-inflammatory medicine such as Metacam, Rimadyl or Deramaxx or other medications that have been prescribed for your dog for pain at some point then giving a dose of this would help. However, if you don't, I don't recommend giving anything over the counter. Medications like aspirin could potentially cause an increase in bleeding.

Peroxide is not a bad idea if there is a mess caked on the fur, but if you continue to use peroxide it will sting and it can cause tissue damage. Really, just warm water is best.

If she is painful and not eating well then it's possible that she has a fever associated with this abscess. Your vet will check this and may possibly prescribe medication to bring the fever down. Most likely they'll prescribe antibiotics that will help.

I have seen some abscesses that heal with good antibiotics. But, many of them will need some type of surgery so that they drain completely. Your vet will advise you on whether surgery is necessary.

Hopefully she is feeling better soon!




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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.