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Abscesses in Guinea Pigs

By: Dr. Branson Ritchie

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An abscess is a localized collection of pus in a cavity formed by the disintegration of cells. Abscesses form when infectious agents (bacteria, fungi, parasites) or foreign bodies (like splinters) lodge in tissue and cause a persistent inflammatory response.

Abscesses are typically filled with a creamy material called pus and can form in any tissue in the body. Clinical changes that may occur vary with the location of the abscess.

What to Watch For

  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Signs of focal irritation or pain
  • Areas excessively groomed
  • Discharge or moistened fur
  • Firm or doughy painful mass
  • Excessive salivation
  • Bad breath
  • Facial swellings
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss

    Diagnosis

  • History and physical examination
  • Complete blood count
  • Blood chemistries
  • Cytology (microscopic evaluation of cells)
  • Biopsy and microscopic evaluation of affected tissues
  • Culture and antimicrobial sensitivity testing
  • Radiographs (X-rays)
  • Ultrasound

    Treatment

    Surgical removal of affected tissues or surgically opening the abscess are the most common treatments. Often, the affected area is flushed with sterile saline and/or antimicrobial solutions, which are solutions that kill or suppress the growth of the microorganisms. Additional treatments may include:
  • Systemic and local antimicrobial agents
  • Fluids and supportive nutrition

    Home Care and Prevention

    Keep sharp objects away from your guinea pig and keep his living area clean and sanitized. Avoid contact between guinea pigs and other animals that may result in puncture wounds from teeth or nails.

    To prevent life-threatening foot infections (pododermatitis), make sure your guinea pig does not become obese, keep the bedding clean and dry and use a soft bedding material.

    Prevent your guinea pig from chewing on sharp or fibrous objects that may cut the gums or inside of the mouth or that may splinter and cause penetrating wounds in the mouth.

    If your guinea pig is scratched or cut, see your veterinarian as soon as possible, so the wound can be cleaned and treated properly.

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