My glider has a bump on his face…. What do I do?

This is a very common problem seen among gliders. I find that, for many owners, it is very stressful and they are often left with only antibiotics after seeing the vet – and no real answers.

So, in an effort to arm owners with information in order to ensure success with the first vet visit – and a cure for their baby, I am going to share my experience.

Credit: Snowball – Sierra Rose

Credit: Sierra Rose - Snowball

1. Not all facial swellings are abscesses.

Though abscesses are common, please don’t assume that what you are seeing is an abscess. Possible causes for facial swelling include abscess, cyst, tooth root abscess, injury, osteomyelitis or tumor.

2. Therefore, a vet visit is ESSENTIAL.

Be sure that you request appropriate testing at the vet. x-rays will determine if it is a tumor or not. They will also confirm or eliminate tooth root abscess and can show osteomyelitis. Therefore, x-rays are a very valuable diagnostic tool when there is swelling on the face.

If the swelling is pus or fluid filled, then it should be excised and the substance removed should be sent to the lab for testing. In the case of an abscess, a culture should be completed to determine the best antibiotic to use. (Please see our abscess threads for further information on treating abscesses.) In the case of a tumor, testing will determine if it is benign or malignant.

3. Antibiotics are not the answer for all problems.

In the case of a tumor or cyst, antibiotics are not going to do much good. For all other issues, the proper antibiotic is essential for quick and effective treatment.

PLEASE make sure that you go to a VET when you notice swelling on your glider’s face. For the reasons outlined above, it is essential that an accurate diagnosis (through testing) be acquired prior to starting treatment.

The Importance of X-Rays

When a glider has a facial abscess, it is impossible to tell if there is any tooth root involvement just by looking at it. Why does this matter? Because infections of the TOOTH root involve a different treatment than infections of the soft tissue of the face.

A tooth might have to be extracted, or a gel pack inserted, in order to eliminate a tooth root abscess. So, it is NECESSARY to know if the teeth are involved when you have a facial abscess.

X-rays are necessary for determining if the tooth root is involved. Without x-rays, you are just guessing at the cause of a facial abscess.

The Importance of Draining

I have dealt with my fair share of facial abscesses, and one thing that is true of most all of them is that they are very persistent and will keep coming back time and time again.

The most effective treatment I have found for dealing with abscesses that do NOT involve a tooth is to insert a drain when the abscess is drained.

IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO CULTURE THE MATERIAL DRAINED FROM THE ABSCESS. This is the only way to know that you are using the best antibiotic for the particular infection.

IN ADDITION, talk with your vet about the use of a drain. A drain is inserted in the site of the abscess and left exposed so that any infection can continue to drain out. The abscess site is then flushed daily (sometimes more than once per day) and the drain is moved a bit to ensure that it stays open. By using a drain for 3-7 days after an abscess has been lanced and drained, IN COMBINATION WITH ANTIBIOTICS, I have found that facial abscesses are far less frequent in occurrence

Here are a few pictures of a glider with a drain made from a large suture:

Credit: Abu - Val Betts

Facial swelling prior to drain.

Credit: Abu - Val Betts

Drain and sutures.

Because we still do not know what causes these type of abscesses, we must do all we can to treat them effectively and to study them. PLEASE be sure to speak with your vet about a drain, to have the infection cultured, and to share your culture results with the SUGAR group.

Please visit this forum, it’s absolutely vital to be in touch with the right people and to review the right information in order to help your glider the best we can.

All content on this page is credit to The Sweet Spot Forum and Val Betts. Images are credited individually on the photo.