Abscesses happen with guinea pigs, and knowing the treatment can help soothe your worries. An abscess is one of the injuries that you should seek treatment by a vet. Improper treatment for abscesses may result in a very sick guinea pig or death.
Remember, Guinea Pig Center is not a substitute for veterinary advice.
What is an Abscess?
Abscesses are a swollen pocket containing pus that can appear on any part of the body. They’re not specific to guinea pigs; any critter can get them, including you. Generally, abscesses result from a bacterial infection that the body tried to wall off from the rest of the body. However, fungi and parasites are also potential problems.
There are two types of abscesses, skin and internal. You’ll be most likely to notice a skin abscess on your guinea pigs and think it needs treatment. The interior variety form between organs and are much more challenging to spot.
Abscesses are dangerous. If the abscess ruptures, the pus can spread rapidly. The bacterial infection that started it all right along with it. That leads to sepsis in most cases, which can be fatal.
How Guinea Pigs Get Abscesses
Unfortunately, guinea pigs can get abscesses that require treatment in a few different ways. Your best bet for preventing abscesses is keeping your guinea pig’s area clean and making sure they don’t have anything sharp near them.
Abscesses in the jaw are common in guinea pigs since their teeth are constantly growing. The teeth structure that accommodates the growth also allows bacteria into the jaw. These jaw abscesses require treatment so that the bacteria do not end up in the guinea pig’s digestive system.
Bites are another common issue for guinea pigs, and you should monitor your guinea pig regardless of the species that bit them. Every animal has unique mouth bacteria, so that increases the chances of an abscess forming. Plus, abscesses can slow the healing of the puncture if it’s not treated properly.
Abscesses that require treatment can also form if your guinea pigs encounter a foreign object and cannot remove it themselves. Items like splinters, bent bits of the cage, or plant thorns puncture the skin. That, in turn, serves as an entry vector to the bacteria that leads to abscesses.
Typical Veterinary Treatment for an Abscess
Abscess treatment for guinea pigs should be done by a vet, especially since guinea pigs are sensitive to many treatment options. Fortunately, even general vets have experience with abscesses and should be able to help your guinea pig.
Surgically draining the abscess is a common choice for veterinarians since it can be done on most abscesses regardless of location. Some lance and wash out the infected pocket, while others create a semi-permanent opening using stitches to facilitate healing. Your vet will decide which option is best for the guinea pig.
The other option is surgical removal. A surgical removal is only a treatment option if your vet is sure they can get the entire abscess out of your guinea pig without rupturing it. This method is actually preferable since there’s less risk of spread but can only be done under specific conditions.
General Post-Vet Treatment for Guinea Pigs
Your vet will provide specific instructions on how to handle the post-operative care. It’s vital you follow these instructions to the letter. This is particularly vital when speaking of antibiotics since guinea pigs cannot handle many of them.
Continued flushing with a syringe helps the area remain clean and free of additional infection. Typically, you’ll want to place your guinea pig on a towel to do this part since the liquid should run back out. Your vet can point you towards an appropriate flushing liquid, especially since water won’t do the job.
Your vet may also provide a topical cream to complement any oral antibiotics. This helps maintain the skin around the opening, so don’t scrimp on it.
Make sure you follow all the instructions for as long as the vet recommends it to facilitate proper healing and minimize your guinea pig’s risks.