An abscess is a very common condition in Guinea Pigs and as many of 50% of Guinea Pigs can suffer from an abscess at one time or another in their lives. An Abscess is a swelling under the skin that is infected and contains pus. Many abscesses cause no problems at all, most are tiny and can sit quite happily under the skin for many years without causing any pain or discomfort; depending on what area of the body the cyst is on. Some abscesses can become very large and debilitating if left unnoticed or unattended too.
Any Cyst around the mouth or eyes needs to be checked sooner than later, as it can affect the Guinea Pigs eating and vision. Others around their backs are less worrying. Any cyst around the joints can also be very concerning, so please get these checked.
Regular handling of your pet can help you find Abscesses and Cyst early and is one of the reasons that you should handle your pet every day,
Abscesses under the skin will form a lump. The lump may become hard, and the hair on top of it may fall off. These are sometimes difficult to see, especially if the fur does not fall off the cyst.
Abscesses can develop on the skin of your guinea pig too. If you notice that the area around an open wound is swollen and red, and develops into a capsule, then your guinea pig has an abscess.
What you can do......
If you notice that your abscess has burst and white/cream looking thick liquid is oozing out, give it a gentle squeeze to try and get as much out as possible. Bathe it in salty water or a saline solution and get them to the vet to be checked out. You can buy a sterile wound wash solution from a local pharmacy, online or from a vet. I always keep these in stock, ready for such an event in our Guinea Pig First aid kit.
If blood is coming out, do not squeeze it!! Get it checked out
Treatment of an abscess:
Sometimes if the cyst is causing no problems, it can be best to leave them alone. If they are not in a problem area and they have stopped growing, doing nothing can be the best thing to do. Keep an eye on it and check them regularly to make sure they are OK.
The cause of the abscess will then determine how the wound is treated. Antibiotics, drainage, and surgery are all common treatments if intervention is needed.
Antibiotics will be prescribed if the wound has become infected and sometimes a painkiller is prescribed too.
If it is a small abscess, the vet may lance it and squeeze all the puss out to remove. These types of treatment often lead to the cyst coming back, unless the sack that surrounds the abscess is removed too.
If your Guinea Pigs needs surgery, they will feel very poorly when they arrive back home, due to the anaesthetic. Make sure your guinea pig is comfortable and clean, so it can rest and heal in peace and give your Piggy extra veggies to help them recover from surgery. ( see my leaflet on after surgery care).