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Guinea Pig With Skin Abscesses

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suzy

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I have just adopted a rescue guinea pig who is 4 yrs old and had been treated for 2 skin abscesses - not much was known about where she came from but apparently lived with a dog and other small animals but the shelter did not know what kinds. I will be taking her to my own vet in a few days but am wondering what causes this? i have read that it is likely from an animal bite. She has one on her shoulder and another larger one between her hips. They were drained and she had been treated twice with antibiotics and cleared for adoption by our Humane Society but I am still taking her to my guinea pig specialist to see is she needs surgery or not. I have 10 other guinea pigs and have never had any with abscesses. Thanks
 

Freela

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Guinea pigs are actually prone to abscesses, because their pus lacks an enzyme that makes it watery and easy for the body to clear away. It's very thick and rubbery and thus the body can't get rid of it once it accumulates, so it walls it off instead and then an abscess forms. They could be from bites, but not necessarily. I've had three pigs treated for abscesses (though one most probably was actually a sebaceous cyst that was biopsied with a needle and then failed to heal properly and had to be surgically removed. That one was on her lower back.) The other two had abscesses along their jawlines. It's possible that the original source of infection was a hay poke or other minor scrape in the mouth, but it's impossible to know for sure. However, I can vouch that none of them were ever bitten by another animal or had any noticeably surface wound prior to the abscesses forming, so abscesses can definitely arise from a very minor, even invisible, source of injury.

Edited to add: It's probably a good idea to get her checked out. Have the abscesses completely healed? Are they open? It's sometimes possible to remove an entire abscess, including the capsule/pocket of skin around it, and simply pull the skin back over the area. These abscesses are not likely to recur when treated this way. The pig with the lump on her back had the entire thing removed, as there was enough slack in the skin to do a repair. If this isn't possible due to location, abscesses can be lanced and drained surgically, but they need aftercare to allow them to heal from the inside out. Essentially, they need to be left open so that you can irrigate/clean them out, express any new pus that develops, and allow them to fill in from the bottom down. If the pig you're adopting has open abscess wounds, you may need to do aftercare to ensure the abscesses don't reform.
 

suzy

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Abscesses, or sebaceous cysts?!
I gave her a bath when i brought her home (Humane society said it would be ok) and the larger one on her but looked scabbed over, not puffy though. I couldn't find the other one but didn't look too hard cause i was trying to bath her gently and didn't want to poke around too much knowing i will be taking her to the vet this weekend.
 

suzy

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Guinea pigs are actually prone to abscesses, because their pus
Guinea pigs are actually prone to abscesses, because their pus lacks an enzyme that makes it watery and easy for the body to clear away. It's very thick and rubbery and thus the body can't get rid of it once it accumulates, so it walls it off instead and then an abscess forms. They could be from bites, but not necessarily. I've had three pigs treated for abscesses (though one most probably was actually a sebaceous cyst that was biopsied with a needle and then failed to heal properly and had to be surgically removed. That one was on her lower back.) The other two had abscesses along their jawlines. It's possible that the original source of infection was a hay poke or other minor scrape in the mouth, but it's impossible to know for sure. However, I can vouch that none of them were ever bitten by another animal or had any noticeably surface wound prior to the abscesses forming, so abscesses can definitely arise from a very minor, even invisible, source of injury.

Edited to add: It's probably a good idea to get her checked out. Have the abscesses completely healed? Are they open? It's sometimes possible to remove an entire abscess, including the capsule/pocket of skin around it, and simply pull the skin back over the area. These abscesses are not likely to recur when treated this way. The pig with the lump on her back had the entire thing removed, as there was enough slack in the skin to do a repair. If this isn't possible due to location, abscesses can be lanced and drained surgically, but they need aftercare to allow them to heal from the inside out. Essentially, they need to be left open so that you can irrigate/clean them out, express any new pus that develops, and allow them to fill in from the bottom down. If the pig you're adopting has open abscess wounds, you may need to do aftercare to ensure the abscesses don't reform.
lacks an enzyme that makes it watery and easy for the body to clear away. It's very thick and rubbery and thus the body can't get rid of it once it accumulates, so it walls it off instead and then an abscess forms. They could be from bites, but not necessarily. I've had three pigs treated for abscesses (though one most probably was actually a sebaceous cyst that was biopsied with a needle and then failed to heal properly and had to be surgically removed. That one was on her lower back.) The other two had abscesses along their jawlines. It's possible that the original source of infection was a hay poke or other minor scrape in the mouth, but it's impossible to know for sure. However, I can vouch that none of them were ever bitten by another animal or had any noticeably surface wound prior to the abscesses forming, so abscesses can definitely arise from a very minor, even invisible, source of injury.

Edited to add: It's probably a good idea to get her checked out. Have the abscesses completely healed? Are they open? It's sometimes possible to remove an entire abscess, including the capsule/pocket of skin around it, and simply pull the skin back over the area. These abscesses are not likely to recur when treated this way. The pig with the lump on her back had the entire thing removed, as there was enough slack in the skin to do a repair. If this isn't possible due to location, abscesses can be lanced and drained surgically, but they need aftercare to allow them to heal from the inside out. Essentially, they need to be left open so that you can irrigate/clean them out, express any new pus that develops, and allow them to fill in from the bottom down. If the pig you're adopting has open abscess wounds, you may need to do aftercare to ensure the abscesses don't reform.
Guinea pigs are actually prone to abscesses, because their pus lacks an enzyme that makes it watery and easy for the body to clear away. It's very thick and rubbery and thus the body can't get rid of it once it accumulates, so it walls it off instead and then an abscess forms. They could be from bites, but not necessarily. I've had three pigs treated for abscesses (though one most probably was actually a sebaceous cyst that was biopsied with a needle and then failed to heal properly and had to be surgically removed. That one was on her lower back.) The other two had abscesses along their jawlines. It's possible that the original source of infection was a hay poke or other minor scrape in the mouth, but it's impossible to know for sure. However, I can vouch that none of them were ever bitten by another animal or had any noticeably surface wound prior to the abscesses forming, so abscesses can definitely arise from a very minor, even invisible, source of injury.

Edited to add: It's probably a good idea to get her checked out. Have the abscesses completely healed? Are they open? It's sometimes possible to remove an entire abscess, including the capsule/pocket of skin around it, and simply pull the skin back over the area. These abscesses are not likely to recur when treated this way. The pig with the lump on her back had the entire thing removed, as there was enough slack in the skin to do a repair. If this isn't possible due to location, abscesses can be lanced and drained surgically, but they need aftercare to allow them to heal from the inside out. Essentially, they need to be left open so that you can irrigate/clean them out, express any new pus that develops, and allow them to fill in from the bottom down. If the pig you're adopting has open abscess wounds, you may need to do aftercare to ensure the abscesses don't reform.
I gave her a bath when i brought her home (Humane society said it would be ok) and the larger one on her but looked scabbed over, not puffy though. I couldn't find the other one but didn't look too hard cause i was trying to bath her gently and didn't want to poke around too much knowing i will be taking her to the vet this weekend.
 

Freela

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I gave her a bath when i brought her home (Humane society said it would be ok) and the larger one on her but looked scabbed over, not puffy though. I couldn't find the other one but didn't look too hard cause i was trying to bath her gently and didn't want to poke around too much knowing i will be taking her to the vet this weekend.
Did the rescue tell you what procedures were done and how long ago? Hopefully they have managed to clear the abscesses completely before sending her home with you. The only concern I would have would be if there is still something brewing underneath that scab. If there is, you will likely see swelling and oozing/leaking from under the scab. There is really no way to miss an open abscess that is still active... the smell alone would tell you something was infected! If you contact the rescue where you got her, will they tell you if the abscess was removed completely or merely lanced and drained? Complete removal is unlikely to recur... lanced and drained bears watching to make sure they are completely cleared and not going to fill back up.
 

suzy

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Did the rescue tell you what procedures were done and how long ago? Hopefully they have managed to clear the abscesses completely before sending her home with you. The only concern I would have would be if there is still something brewing underneath that scab. If there is, you will likely see swelling and oozing/leaking from under the scab. There is really no way to miss an open abscess that is still active... the smell alone would tell you something was infected! If you contact the rescue where you got her, will they tell you if the abscess was removed completely or merely lanced and drained? Complete removal is unlikely to recur... lanced and drained bears watching to make sure they are completely cleared and not going to fill back up.
yes they said they just lanced and drained them which is why i want to take her to my GP specialist to have her looked over thoroughly. The shelter admitted they are not equipped to operate on guinea pigs.
 

Wiebke

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yes they said they just lanced and drained them which is why i want to take her to my GP specialist to have her looked over thoroughly. The shelter admitted they are not equipped to operate on guinea pigs.
It is great that you are giving this poorly girl a loving home! Abscesses in guinea pigs are not rare; they are also not very good at fighting them off. A good vet can decide the lumps are actually abscess or sebaceous cysts (which are harmless, but which can return).

Abscesses need to heal from the inside out, so the wound needs to stay open and you need to remove the scab needs to be 1-2 times daily to allow the abscess to drain continuously and to flush it out with saline solution for as long as possible. Any bit of infection that stays in the abscess will allow it to come back. It is not pleasant, and you wil have to be tough. Abscesses can be very tenacious. :(

Your vet will also have to look at a stronger antibiotic than just baytril, which often doesn't cut through abscesses. Zithromax (azithromycin) is what is working best for stubborn abscesses.
 

suzy

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It is great that you are giving this poorly girl a loving home! Abscesses in guinea pigs are not rare; they are also not very good at fighting them off. A good vet can decide the lumps are actually abscess or sebaceous cysts (which are harmless, but which can return).

Abscesses need to heal from the inside out, so the wound needs to stay open and you need to remove the scab needs to be 1-2 times daily to allow the abscess to drain continuously and to flush it out with saline solution for as long as possible. Any bit of infection that stays in the abscess will allow it to come back. It is not pleasant, and you wil have to be tough. Abscesses can be very tenacious. :(

Your vet will also have to look at a stronger antibiotic than just baytril, which often doesn't cut through abscesses. Zithromax (azithromycin) is what is working best for stubborn abscesses.
i checked and the vet at the humane society did use zithhromax on her - so good to know. I have set an appt with my own vet who specializes in pocket pets for next Tuesday.
 
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