Warning - Contains Yucky Images
Brothers Ben and Jerry are a matching pair of teddy guinea pigs that have been regular guests of Castle Garth Guinea Pig Hotel since 2013.
This is Ben's recent abscess story.
An abscess in a guinea pig is a pus-filled cavity which has grown in response to a localised infection. It is not a condition in its own right, merely a sign of an underlying problem and can appear and swell very quickly.
Depending on its location, size and how furry your guinea pig is depends on how quickly the abscess is noticed. If the swelling has already burst you will notice a foul smell and find a cheesy substance oozing from the wound.
Treatment will always begin with antibiotics. It is almost always necessary for the abscess to be opened, drained and cleaned, although some do resolve themselves it all depends on the cause and/or deeper issue.
In Ben's case, the abscess had formed but not burst. He visited his local vet who lanced and drained the cavity of pus and immediately started him on a course of antibiotics. However, either not all the infection had been removed or the cavity had partly refilled before the antibiotics had had a chance to work or maybe one of Ben's teeth had rotted. Either way some of the pus had calcified - meaning that the substance still contained in the cavity had hardened into a heavy conker-sized lump, which I forgot to photograph !!!
Because an abscess has to heal from the inside out, any opening created to allow for the infection to drain whilst the antibiotics get to work should not be sealed. Unfortunately, Ben must have felt quite uncomfortable with this hard lump pulling at his skin under his throat, and scratched at the opening which caused the skin to rip apart, allowing the calcified lump to fall out but exposing a large area of his neck in the process.
This is what I found. The white substance you can see amongst the red is more of the sticky pus that needs to be cleaned out.
After speaking with Ben's family, I phoned Natterjacks who were able to squeeze Ben in to their already booked surgery schedule for the cleaning process. At this point his back teeth were also examined.
Guinea pigs have four incisors that you can usually see when they are eating or drinking. The two teeth at the top that grow down are called the 'Superior Incisors', while the two at the bottom that grow up are called the 'Inferior Incisors'. At the point where they meet the inferior incisors sit just behind the superior incisors and create a small indent in both the top teeth called the 'Caudal Notch'. Along with their tongue these teeth are what your guinea pig uses to pick up his food and manoeuvre it into the right position to chew with his back teeth. A guinea pigs back teeth or molars are separate to their incisors which run almost parallel with their tongue. As you can see Ben's incisor teeth were slanted at an angle. This is always an indication there is a problem with the molars. In Ben his molars had grown so long they had crossed over trapping his tongue, making it almost impossible for him to eat and finally explained his weight loss.
When I went to collect Ben I was shown how to fill the exposed area of Ben's wound with Manuka honey. I was already aware of the positive attributes associated with honey for more than just a sore throat, but I had not seen the benefits of using honey for a skin infection.
This was Ben's cleaned wound. Basically you fill the hole with as much honey as you can squeeze in there.
A little messy, but the honey sticks really well.
And now you can see how well Ben has healed, and, taking only two weeks. Remember how open the wound was. How amazing is that :)
Unfortunately, for any guinea pig some abscesses can occur more than once. This is when your vet will need to investigate further with x-rays and blood samples, especially if the teeth are involved. In this area infection can come from deep in the jaw, which is why Ben's family will need to be vigilant. I have everything crossed this won't happen to Ben.