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Abscess in Guinea Pigs (Symptoms, Treatment Costs & What To Do)

Tim Rhodes
Written by Tim Rhodes Last Updated: Sep 18, 2022

Did you know that abscess in guinea pigs can occur at least once in the lifetime for as much as 50% of all guinea pigs?

I know that after having multiple guinea pigs with abscess, it’s usually best to try and treat it as soon as possible so that your guinea pig avoids any sort of pain.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to help, provided that you catch it quickly enough.

I’m going to show pet owners how to catch the symptoms of abscess in your guinea pig, treatment options and what to do if your furry friend happens to get it.

What is an abscess?

Skin abscesses in your guinea pig happens when collections of pus (dead tissue, bacteria, and white blood cells) have built up within bodily tissues.

In small animals like guinea pigs, abscesses form under the skin or on the foot. However, they can also occur in other tissues such as muscle or bone.

surgical removal

A skin abscess can be caused by a bacterial or fungal infection, trauma, or foreign bodies such as splinters or plant thorns.

Most abscesses will eventually burst open and drain on their own. Nevertheless, this can often be a slow and painful process for the animal.

Additionally, abscesses that do not drain properly can become recurrent or even lead to septicemia (blood poisoning).

How do guinea pigs get abscesses?

There are many reasons why guinea pigs develop abscesses.

Infections are the most common cause, with Staphylococcus aureus being the most frequently isolated bacteria.

However, other bacteria such as Streptococcus, Pseudomonas, and Proteus can also lead to abscess formation.

vital organs

Injuries and foreign bodies are other common causes of abscesses in guinea pigs. Due to their small size and curious nature, guinea pigs are prone to getting cuts and scrapes. If these wounds become infected, they can lead to abscess formation.

Finally, abscesses can also be caused by cancerous tumors. While this is not as common, it is still something to be aware of.

What are the symptoms of abscess?

The most common symptom of an abscess in a guinea pig is a visible lump under the skin. This lump will often be hot to the touch and may be accompanied by redness, warmth, and swelling. Sometimes the lump may even be draining pus.

Other symptoms of abscesses can include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Difficulty breathing (if it is located near the chest or throat)

Abscesses can attack the internal organs of your guinea pig as well as the skin. When this happens, the guinea pig can develop a fever and stop eating. If the abscess is located near the chest or throat, it can cause difficulty breathing.

If you notice any of these symptoms in your guinea pig, it’s necessary to take your guinea pig to the vet right away.

What to do if your guinea pig has an abscess?

The first thing you should know is that catching an abscess early is vital. If you wait too long, the abscess will become chronic, and much harder to treat.

An acute abscess will be hot to the touch, and your guinea pig will likely have a fever. A chronic abscess will be cold to the touch, and your guinea pig will likely be losing weight.

lymph nodes

If you catch it early, you can often treat an abscess at home with some simple home remedies. Carefully clean the area around the abscess with hydrogen peroxide or betadine. Then, apply a warm compress to the area for 20 minutes three times a day.

Another option is to mix two drops of tea tree oil with two tablespoons of water and apply it to the area with a cotton swab. Repeat this process three times a day until the abscess heals.

If you don’t see any improvement within three days or if the abscess looks like it’s getting worse, take your guinea pig to the vet.

How are guinea pigs diagnosed with abscesses?

local pharmacy

Abscesses are typically diagnosed based on a combination of physical examination and radiographs (x-rays). X-rays can even find internal abscesses, which are not visible on the surface of the skin.

Your vet will likely start by feeling around your guinea pig’s body for any suspicious lumps. If they find anything, they will then take x-rays to get a better look at the area in question. Other imaging modalities such as ultrasound or CT scan may also be used.

Sometimes, your vet may also recommend a biopsy of the abscess. This involves taking a small sample of tissue from the abscess and sending it to the lab for analysis. This can help to confirm the diagnosis and rule out other potential causes of the lump.

How is an abscess treated?

If your guinea pig has an abscess, the vet will likely prescribe antibiotics to help clear the infection.

They may also recommend draining the abscess or performing surgery to remove it.

You may find that sometimes the abscess may need to be lanced at home. This means making a small cut in the abscess to allow the pus to drain out.

These are the most common treatments for abscesses, but your vet may recommend something different depending on the specific case.

Treatment cost for guinea pigs with abscess

The cost of treatment for an abscess will vary depending on the severity of the condition and the course of treatment recommended by your vet.

In general, you can expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $200 for the initial consultation, radiographs, and biopsy (if necessary). Treatment with antibiotics will likely cost an additional $20 to $50.

veterinary care

Draining the abscess or performing the surgery will be more expensive, and may cost anywhere from $200 to $1000.

If you decide to buy a chewing deterrent for your guinea pig, to prevent it from licking the surgical wound, it will cost an additional $10 to $50 in your local pet store.

What happens if your guinea pig’s abscess isn’t treated?

veterinary attention

Guinea pigs are prone to abscesses due to their large amount of body hair. This hair provides a perfect breeding ground for bacteria and can make it difficult for wounds to heal correctly.

If an abscess is left untreated, it can eventually burst and release pus onto the guinea pig’s fur. This can lead to further infection and may even be fatal.

Abscesses can be painful for guinea pigs, so it is essential to seek veterinary treatment as soon as possible.

How to prevent your guinea pig from getting an abscess?

There are several things you can do to help prevent abscesses in your Guinea pigs: 

  • Make sure they have access to fresh water and hay at all times. 
  • Clean their enclosure regularly and remove any soiled bedding or food immediately. 
  • Provide them with plenty of toys and chew toys to keep their teeth healthy. 
  • Take them to the vet for regular checkups and vaccinations to help prevent infections.

By following these simple tips, you can help keep your guinea pigs healthy and happy.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

It is important to understand everything about an abscess before you get one, so here are some frequently asked questions that will help:

How long does it take for an abscess to heal?

The healing time for an abscess will vary depending on the severity of the condition and the course of treatment recommended by your vet. In most cases, you can expect it to heal within two to four weeks.

What is the best sterile wound wash solution for abscesses in guinea pigs?

There are several sterile wound wash solutions available for use on abscesses on the skin in guinea pigs. Some of the most popular brands include Betadine, chlorhexidine, and iodine.

Can abscesses in guinea pigs be caused by fungal infections?

Abscesses in guinea pigs can be caused by fungal or bacterial infections. The most common type of fungus that causes abscesses is called Candida albicans.

Can guinea pigs die from an untreated abscess?

Guinea pigs can die from an untreated abscess if it goes untreated for too long.

Do all guinea pigs get abscesses?

Not all guinea pigs get abscesses. Still, they are more common in guinea pigs than in other animals.

These are just a few of the questions that you may have about abscesses in your guinea pig. If you have any other questions, be sure to ask your vet.

Final Thoughts

Abscesses can be painful and dangerous for a guinea pig and other animals as well, so it is necessary to start treating them as soon as possible.

There are several things you can do to help prevent abscesses, including providing your guinea pig with fresh water and hay, cleaning its enclosure regularly, and taking it to the vet for regular checkups and vaccinations.

By following these simple tips, you can help keep your guinea pig healthy and happy.

References

Author

Tim Rhodes
Tim Rhodes

Hi there! My name is Tim Rhodes and I'm a guinea pig enthusiast through thick and thin. My mission is to teach others useful tips and tricks about these cute creatures. When I'm not writing, I enjoy kickboxing and work as an animal trainer.

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