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Monday, January 26, 2015

Gooey Guinea Pig Abscess

Guinea pigs are generally sweet, low maintenance pets.  They don't need vaccines and their nutritional requirements are pretty simple to meet.  When they do get sick it tends to be from a rather small list of common ailments (and a large list of uncommon ones).  One of the more frequent problems I see in small rodents is abscesses.

**WARNING**  Some graphic images to follow.  You've been warned. 

This patient was an otherwise healthy female guinea pig who developed a swelling on the right side of her lower jaw.  It didn't take long to confirm this as an abscess, and we scheduled to have it drained.  In almost every case this requires some degree of surgery to fix and antibiotics alone won't resolve the issue.  The material within the abscess is thick and doesn't drain easily.  Sometimes it's as thick as toothpaste, or nearly so.  So we have to sedate them, open it up, and thoroughly flush and evacuate the pocket.

Here are some pictures after she was sedated and I was preparing her for the procedure.  You can see how large this was on her jaw.

And here's what it looked like when I opened the abscess and started squeezing out the material.  It had a consistency not unlike runny cottage cheese.

I expressed the pus and flushed the pocket with a disinfectant liquid until there was nothing coming out.  Here's what she looked like when I was finished.  By comparing to the pictures above you can see that the size is significantly diminished.  I left the incision open to allow further draining and sent her home with oral antibiotics. 

About 30-50% of the time we have to repeat the procedure or decide to surgically remove the tissue forming the pocket, as it can reoccur.  In her case the location on the jaw prevents us from being able to completely remove it without having significant issues closing the site.

She recovered well and went home.  Now we just have to keep our fingers crossed that it doesn't come back.


  1. Do you culture it? Or use systemic antibiotics?

    1. Most clients won't authorize cultures, so I typically use a broad-spectrum antibiotic. The best one for most rodents is enrofloxacin (Baytril).

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