Case Of The Month
Fur-tunately, spring is on the way! Sunshine, blossoms and … something paw-ful!
Popcorn is a sweet 9 month old female poodle cross. She presented to us at Elgar Road Vet with a lump on her neck which had come up quite suddenly. The lump was approximately 3cm in diameter and soft to palpate. Dr Lee put a needle into the lump and extracted pus. It was clear that Poppy had an abscess, but what was causing this?
There are many different causes of abscesses. If Poppy’s abscess had been high up on her face (just below her eye), we might have thought it was a “Tooth Root Abscess”. These are caused by an infection in the tooth root. Poppy’s wound was on her neck, so we thought this was unlikely. Other times, puncture wounds and scratches from fights can cause abscesses, but again, this seemed unlikely as Poppy had no history of fighting! Another cause of abscesses is foreign bodies (for example glass) which puncture through the skin and cause an infection. These types of abscesses tend to be seen on the paws (where our pets are more likely to step on something).
Dr Lee started Poppy on antibiotics straight away, and recommended that we put her under general anaesthetic so we could explore the abscess a little further and try to find a cause. Dr Isobel incised over Poppy’s lump which released a lot of pus. She explored the wound and, alas, a grass seed was discovered! You can see the picture of the grass seed on the left. The neck is a very unusual place for a grass seed abscess. We typically see them as swellings between our pet’s toes, but Poppy must have had her head down sniffing in the grass, which caused one of those pesky seeds to penetrate her skin and cause an infection.
Dr Isobel thoroughly cleaned the wound and flushed the abscess out with saline. Poppy’s incision was left open to allow drainage of any remaining fluid and to get oxygen into the wound which helps kill the bacteria. We started Poppy on anti-inflammatory pain relief and continued her antibiotics until the infection was completely cleared. Poppy recovered extremely well! Doesn’t she look gorgeous?!
Poppy’s case teaches us an important lesson as we approach these warmer seasons. Grass seeds are very common during Spring and Summer and unfortunately we regularly see abscesses that are caused by them. The grass seed may penetrate and get stuck in the tissues under the skin, or it may penetrate the skin and come back out leaving a nasty infection. It is essential that you check your dog’s paws (and head/neck!) after walks in grassy areas this season, and remove any seeds that you spy. It may also be beneficial to keep your dog’s coat trimmed short so that grass seeds are less likely to get caught.
So with that in mind, enjoy Spring-ing into this warmer season!