Retrobulbar Abscess in Dogs

Retrobulbar Abscess in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

Most common symptoms

Anemia / Lethargy / Poor Appetite / Redness / Skin Lump / Swelling

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Rated as moderate conditon

8 Veterinary Answers

Most common symptoms

Anemia / Lethargy / Poor Appetite / Redness / Skin Lump / Swelling

Retrobulbar Abscess in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

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What are Retrobulbar Abscess?

Like many other carnivores, canines have an incomplete orbit for their eyes. This allows for the carnivore to open its mouth wider, but also leaves the orbital socket unprotected by the bony floor that we have protecting ours. This leaves canines, and other such carnivores, more susceptible to trauma and infections to the eye. Infections and foreign objects in the eye cavity can cause eye bulging and damage to the ocular nerve. When the infection causes a pocket to form behind the eyeball itself, it is known as a retrobulbar abscess.

Retrobulbar abscess occurs when an infection or intrusion causes a pus filled cavity to form behind the eyeball. This disorder requires veterinary care to mend.

Symptoms of Retrobulbar Abscess in Dogs

Although the retrobulbar abscess is actually located behind the eye, the pain seems to spring from the jaw, due to the proximity of the orbital cavity to the jaw.

  •  Bulging eye
  • Discharge from around the eye
  • Fever
  • Foul breath
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pain on eating
  • Redness around eye
  • Reluctance or refusal to chew
  • Squinting
  • Swelling around eye
  • Unilateral nasal discharge
  • Yelping when mouth is opened

Types

 

Abscesses are not the only thing that can invade the area behind the eyeball. There are a few types diseases and disorders that can be located behind the eye. Although many of the symptoms are similar, they tend to vary on the amount of pain, pressure, and growth rate. 

  • Cysts
  • Hemorrhage
  • Mucocele
  • Neoplasia
  • Parasitic infection
  • Tumor

There are also other disorders that have many of the same basic symptoms as a retrobulbar abscess, but with slightly different origins. These can include disorders such as: 

  • Craniomandibular osteopathy
  • Extraocular polymyositis
  • Masticatory muscle myositis
  • Physical trauma
  • Various vascular anomalies

Causes of Retrobulbar Abscess in Dogs

Adjacent Infections

Infections of the sinus cavities and in the gums can travel to the eye and cause abscesses. 

Foreign Object

Abscesses caused by foreign objects occur more frequently during dry months. This is usually caused by a splinter or other types of dry, pointed plant material. These fragments of wood or dried bits of plant material can get caught in the back teeth, then migrate to the orbital socket, where it lodges. Pus generally forms in the orbital socket, and bacterial and fungal infections can also develop.

Penetrating Trauma

Infections can also be introduced to the retrobulbar area through penetrating trauma through the roof of the mouth.

Diagnosis of Retrobulbar Abscess in Dogs

The symptoms that are present with a retrobulbar abscess in dogs will prompt a thorough eye exam to be completed. The cornea will be checked for ulceration and the pressure within the eye will also be measured. Pus that is found behind the eye will usually be evaluated for the presence of bacteria or fungi as well. Standard tests, such as a complete blood count, urinalysis, and biochemical profile, will usually be completed at this time to check for systemic infections and other concurrent disorders as well. 

The mouth area will also be carefully examined and evaluated. Sometimes the pain in the mouth and jaw area necessitates sedation or anesthesia in order to complete this evaluation. Both x-ray and ultrasound technology are frequently used to better visualize the space behind the eye as well as the bones around the eye. These forms of imaging can help to discover not only abscesses but also to evaluate growths and to determine the health of the underlying bone structure.

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Treatment of Retrobulbar Abscess in Dogs

The first step in treating a retrobulbar abscess is to drain the abscess from the orbital cavity. This is accomplished by a surgical procedure, in which an incision is made in the top of the mouth, behind the last molar. The surgeon will then allow the abscess to drain completely, ensuring that none of the infected material falls down into the throat.

Any foreign objects that do not flush out with the pus from the incision will also be removed at this time, and the wound is left open during healing to ensure no new infections are allowed to collect in the area. If an infection is found when the pus is cultured, then medication will be given to counter it. Bacterial infection is more common and would be treated with antibiotics. The antibiotic therapy is frequently started intravenously at the clinic, then changed over to orally administered antibiotic therapy and is generally quite successful. Fungal infections are treated with antifungal medication and can be harder to defeat.

Recovery of Retrobulbar Abscess in Dogs

After oral surgery, as with the drainage of a retrobulbar abscess, most pets will be able to eat fairly effectively again within just 6-12 hours, but canned food or moistened kibble is advised to avoid pain for 10 to 14 days, and there is likely to be more salivation and mess than usual as your dog’s mouth is healing. If any antibiotic or antifungal medications were prescribed, it is essential to complete the full course in order to prevent a reoccurrence of the infection. With most antibiotics that can be around 2-3 weeks and courses of antifungal treatment can be even longer.

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Retrobulbar Abscess Average Cost

From 463 quotes ranging from $750 - $2,000

Average Cost

$950

Retrobulbar Abscess Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Lou lou

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Pekingese

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7 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Eye Bulging

I have a pekingese. She's been with me since she was a puppy. Recently I noticed her cry whenever she yawned. It's hard to tell if her eye is swollen but I can notice there is some pressure in her right eye. I think she may have retrobublbar abscess... Im super tight on money. I barely have enough for me, my family, and my dog. I don't think I can afford any of this. What is the best option to do if my dog does have retrobublbar absecess.

July 28, 2018

Lou lou's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Without examining Lou Lou I cannot confirm whether there is a retrobulbar abscess or another cause for bulging eye, at a minimum you should visit a charity or low cost clinic to have the issue looked at and diagnosed so you know for certain whether it is a retrobulbar abscess or something else. I cannot give you any specific at home advice as I cannot confirm a cause and this type of abscess wouldn’t be something to treat at home. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 29, 2018

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Leo

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Great Dane

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6 Months

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Will a dog go blind if he has a retrobulbar abscess? The vet thinks my puppy may have this and after seeing the comments I'm very worried that he will lose his vision in that eye. He was put on Cipro and told to come back in two weeks.

Nov. 11, 2017

Leo's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

Whilst vision loss is a concern, early treatment with broad spectrum antibiotics, antiinflammatories and artificial tears (to keep the eye lubricated) is the initial treatment of choice; treatment usually occurs over a month and your Veterinarian will check Leo after two weeks to see if there is any improvement in the symptoms. In some cases, surgery is indicated where the abscess is drained from the mouth; this can be discussed with your Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Nov. 11, 2017

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Layla

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pitbull

dog-age-icon

3 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

My dogs eyes have watered a little bit but i noticed they were watering more lately.I just gave my dog a rawhide stick. While she was chewing I noticed her eyes was wondering and buldging. Could this be a abscess?

Oct. 22, 2017

Layla's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Normally abscess formation occurs behind one eye, it is uncommon in both; exophthalmos (bulging eyes) may be caused by a few different causes which may include abscesses, hematomas, myositis, salivary issues, increased ocular pressure and other causes. I would recommend that you visit your Veterinarian for an examination and red our page on exophthalmos. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM https://wagwalking.com/condition/exophtalmos www.cliniciansbrief.com/sites/default/files/attachments/ASK_%20Diagnosing%20Canine%20Exophthalmos.pdf

Oct. 22, 2017

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Rori

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Mix

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1 Year

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

My dog was just diagnosed with a retrobulbar abscess. She is on antibiotics (oral and topical). Will the antibiotics be enough to cure the abscess? I am a struggling graduate student and I do not have the funds to pay for such a procedure. Is removing her eye a possibility? From my research, that seems more cost effective. Please help. I'm distraught.

Sept. 18, 2017

Rori's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

Whilst removal of the eye may be the cheaper and quick fix method, we Veterinarians prefer to treat medically first and if unsuccessful will perform surgery to drain the abscess in an attempt to save the eye. I understand Veterinary care can be expensive and many people do settle for the cheaper option; dogs do compensate well with only one eye but a Veterinarian would prefer to not remove an eye which is otherwise healthy unless for financial reasons or other reasoning. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Sept. 18, 2017

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benjy

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Labrador Retriever

dog-age-icon

11 Years

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Serious severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Red Eye
Swelling Above The Eye And The Eye Red

hello I been told my dog has an abscess in his eye, Ive taken him to the vet several times and he has antibiotics for 20 days. The eye is still swollen and red, but the vet will not give any further antibiotics, he recommends surgery to remove the eye. Please help my dog is over 11 years old and surgery is my last resort.

Aug. 30, 2017

benjy's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

Whilst I understand you may have some concerns about surgery at Benjy’s age but it is probably the best course of action at this point is to drain the abscess or to remove the contents of the orbit cavity (obviously including the eye). Surgery and anaesthesia is getting safer and Benjy isn’t too old for surgery with preanaesthetic blood test and post surgical management; many people do not like to think of their dog without an eye, but dogs adapt quickly and it will make him more comfortable as well. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 30, 2017

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Schatzie

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German Shepard Mix

dog-age-icon

9 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Tooth Decay
Swollen Snout
High Eye Pressure

My parents dog is a german shepard mix, she is elderly (9) and has been having issues with one of her eyes, likely glaucoma. However, recently she had a flare up where both of her eye were droopy and the whites were very red. We took her into the vet and they noted that her bad eye had increased significantly in pressure. The redness and droopiness went down after some anti-inflammatory pain meds. However, a few days after her snout swelled up and she was taken to the vet hospital where they stated she has a very bad tooth infection down to the root and it is very painful for her. This is on the same side as the bad eye. Is there a possibility that the higher eye pressure could be due to the tooth problem?

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Bandit

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Pug

dog-age-icon

13 Weeks

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Swelling
Eye Bulging

Our puppy got a cat scratch on his eye which resulted in an abscess. We brought him in to emergency care vet immediately, what worries me is that they did not drain the abscess and the sealed his eye shut. His eye has since drained on it's own and all swelling is gone but his eye is sealed shut now they said they will remove his eye when he is older. Could his eye have been saved if so I just wish we were giving that option, and will not draining it before sealing it not cause him health problems

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Brodie

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Shepherd

dog-age-icon

3 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Jaw Pain
Swollen Eye
Drainage
Swollem Eye

Our shepherd just finished with jaw pain. Some gabapentin and metacam helped the pain, but then his 3rd eyelid became inflamed for about a week. Next, he woke up with a bulging and draining eye. Emergency vet diagnosed as the retrobulbar abscess.already draining but the dog was licking the air continually from the discomfort. So...more metacam and antibiotics. My question is...what about eyedrops to prevent dryness to the 3rd eyelid. And would starting eyedrops sooner have helped?

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Beaux

dog-breed-icon

Labrador Retriever

dog-age-icon

1 Year

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Drooling

I was just looking at my dogs teeth and the biggest tooth has what looks to be a cavity on the tooth on both sides of his mouth. My dog doesn’t yelp in pain and eats very regularly no loss in appetite, no watery eyes or swelling, no warmth or swelling where the tooth is located. Just wondering what that could be.

Retrobulbar Abscess Average Cost

From 463 quotes ranging from $750 - $2,000

Average Cost

$950

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