Wildlife - Canine Absess

July 2008
Dr Gerhard Steenkamp

You are translocating a 6 year-old cheetah, and while it is anaesthetised you do a through clinical examination on him.  When performing an oral examination you see the following:

 Wildlife - Canine Absess July 2008-01 Wildlife - Canine Absess July 2008-02


a) What pathology can you see from the 2 photographs of the patient?

b) What is the most likely diagnosis for 104?

c) How could this affect the free living wild carnivores?

d) Does pulp pathology differ between carnivore species?


a) There is a discoloured right maxillary canine (104) with gingival recession.  There is also slight calculus deposits present on the 108 and 409, with some plaque on the rest of the teeth. The crown of 104 is not as sharp as the mandibular canine (404).  On the close-up view there is a parulus present where and abscess is draining into the oral cavity (probe inserted into it).

b) Canine abscess, probably due to canine fracture or abrasion that exposed the pulp canal.

c) These lesions can affect the ability of the animal to catch prey.  Very often they will adapt to try and take smaller prey but farmers have reported that wild carnivores with fractured teeth may catch prey less frequent and they will loose condition as a result of this.  These animals will also be reluctant to defend their territories and may be moved out by stronger individuals.

d) The only thing that may differ between carnivore species are the bacteria present within the pulp canals after exposure.  This will be a combination of bacteria present in the oral cavity, the diet and environment it is in.  As for the rest, the pathogenesis is the same.  Wild carnivores can not form a seal of hard or soft tissue to cover a fractured tooth where the pulp is exposed.  It will lead to pulpitis, pulpnecrosis and then abscessation or even osteomyelitis.  Colleagues should please be vigilant on dental disease of carnivores and treat them as you would any domestic carnivore.  This specific case was treated with a surgical extraction.  When the gingival flap was elevated, the abscess was seen to have also affected the root of the 3rd premolar (107) which was also extracted.

 Wildlife - Canine Absess July 2008-03  




   Back to top     |      Print this page   |     Bookmark this page