Head and neck abscesses are caused by infected animal bites and sharp objects that work their way back into the soft tissues, such as wood splinters, pins, chicken bones, and quills. Some are preceded by a sore throat, tonsillitis, mouth infection, or abscessed tooth.
Head and neck abscesses appear suddenly and are accompanied by fever. They are extremely tender and may give a lopsided look to the head, face, or neck. Opening the mouth may cause extreme pain. Affected dogs refuse to eat and drink.
A retrobulbar abscess occurs in the space behind the eyeball. It is accompanied by tearing and protrusion of the eye. A submandibular abscess is a swelling in the floor of the mouth that extends beneath the jaw bone. An abscess in the frontal sinus causes swelling beneath the eye.
Treatment: Head and neck abscesses should receive immediate veterinary attention. You may be asked to apply warm, moist packs for 15 minutes four times a day to bring the abscess to a head. Antibiotics help to localize the infection. Once the swelling becomes soft, it is ready to be drained by a veterinarian.
After incision and drainage, a wick may be used to keep the edges apart so that the abscess cavity can heal from below. Aftercare is similar to that described for Cellulitis and Skin Abscess.