The upper 4th premolar (carnassial tooth) of the dog has two deep roots that must be properly removed, or the abscess will remain, and the tooth will continue to drain under the eye. The tooth and its root are large in comparison to the other teeth, and must be removed in segments.

This problem can occur in any animal with deep roots, dog or cat, canine or feline, or carnivore, but it is most prevalent in the dog.

Drainage Tract

A chronic drainage tract usually is present just under the eye of the dog. Sometimes there is an actual hole in the skin, other times there is only swelling or discharge matted to the hair. Most dogs resist when you pet them on the muzzle. An odor might be present also.

Drainage tract under dogs eye

The drainage tract just under the eye where the root of  the tooth is

Dr. Analyzing Dental X-Rays

We routinely take digital radiographs to assess this tooth and look for problems in other teeth

X-ray of jaw showing tooth

Digital radiographs give us tremendous detail to find problems that are easily missed just by looking at the tooth

Dental Equipment

A high speed drill is needed to cut through the tooth enamel of a canine. It is a precision instrument that is powered by our dental unit. The high speed means there is little trauma to the surrounding tissue.

Dental equipment to remove tooth

Our dental machine has a wide array of accessories handle any tooth problem like this


These canine patients need to be anesthetized. We have a detailed page on how we anesthetize a wide variety of species at our hospital. Click here to learn more about anesthesia.

Nurse holding dog for anesthesia

All of our dog anesthetic patients are giving customized treatment that includes plenty of TLC

Anesthetic monitor showing heart rate and respiratory rate

Anesthesia is closely monitored at all times keeping an eye on heart rate and rhythm, respiratory rate, and oxygen and carbon dioxide levels

Anesthetic monitor

Our nurse anesthetist monitoring our patient while also staying “hands on” by listening to the heart with a stethoscope

Splitting Tooth

The tooth is split in half with the high speed drill. This allows us to remove each half of the tooth separately, aiding in root removal. We use a dental elevator to remove this tooth just like a retained deciduous tooth. Each half of the tooth is gently elevated out.

Cutting tooth in half with drill

Our dental equipment includes a special high speed drill to cut the tooth in half for much easier removal

Removing Tooth

The split tooth is gently removed with the elevator. This is the most arduous part of the procedure and can take 15 minutes or more to complete. It is important to remove all of the root for the problem to resolve. After removal the opening in the gums is flushed with an antibacterial solution to remove all of the infection.

Removing cracked tooth

The elevator is used slowly and gently to make sure we do not leave an root

Removed tooth

The removed tooth, root and all

Healing Process

The hole that remains can be sutured or left to heal on its own. The healing time is within 1-2 days, whether it is sutured or not. The drainage under the eye disappears within a few days also. Antibiotics are usually administered at home for 7 days.

A draining tract under the eye of a dog or cat tends to be a chronic problem and not an emergency. If you do see such a tract, or if your pet is pawing at its face, drooling excessively, painful when you touch the face, or rubbing the face on the ground, there could be other problems like a foreign body stuck in the mouth. Foxtails can enter the mouth and migrate to the skin and cause a drainage tract like identical to this tooth problem.

If you think your pet’s problem is an emergency, The Long Beach Animal Hospital, staffed with emergency vets, is available until the evenings 7 days per week to help if your pet is having any problems, especially shock, seizures, pain, difficulty breathing, or bleeding.

Think of us as your Long Beach Animal Emergency Center to help when you need us for everything from minor problems to major a major emergency. We serve all of Los Angeles and Orange county with our Animal Emergency Center Long Beach, and are easily accessible to most everyone in southern California via Pacific Coast Hwy or the 405 freeway.

If you have an emergency that can be taken care of by us at the Animal Emergency Hospital Long Beach always call us first (562-434-9966) before coming.  This way our veterinarians can advise you on what to do at home and so that our staff and doctor can prepare for your arrival. To learn more please read our Emergency Services page.

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