Abscesses are usually localised swellings most often caused by an injury or bite that has broken the skin allowing for an infection to develop and can be found anywhere on a guinea pig's body. However, abscesses found in the jaw area are more likely to be associated with a dental problem.
The contents of an abscess is a thick, creamy pus usually accompanied by a rather foul-smelling odour, and is not at all pleasant to view.
If the abscess has been found before it has burst your vet will lance the swelling to relieve the pressure and drain the cavity thoroughly of its yucky contents. It is important to know that an abscess must be allowed to heal from the inside out otherwise the infection is likely to recur. Unfortunately, despite correct treatment being administered some abscesses may persist to warrant surgical removal. This being the case for poor Remy, a recent guest to Castle Garth Guinea Pig Hotel.
Remy is a Peruvian guinea pig, incidentally one of the oldest breeds of guinea pigs in this country, but this breed is not for the faint-hearted as they have a soft, thick undercoat and a long, even thicker overcoat, which needs constant care as it can become matted very easily. For Remy this is excellent insulation for keeping him warm but a distinct disadvantage for his owner when it comes to checking him for lumps and bumps etc., which means when Remy holidays with us he has to have all of his beautiful, thick fur cut off so that during his spa bath the Gorgeous Guineas shampoo we use can reach deep down to his skin to clean him properly, allowing me to also feel for anything abnormal.
Remy's abscess was found on his upper thigh under the thickest part of his coat. His injury was most likely a bite caused by wifey Amelia trying to get him to move out of her way as Amelia doesn't always understand that Remy can't see properly due to a cataract and on this occasion, probably late last year or early this year, hasn't moved as quick as she would like and was told off for it.
The photos above, although out of focus - apologies for this, I didn't have the anti-shake button pressed in on the camera - show the abscess wound had grown to about the size of a 50 pence piece and was red, raw, oozing and painful, which left our vet - Andy at Natterjacks Vet - the only option but to perform surgery to remove the site of infection. Although, as you can see from the next photo the neat, although large scar will allow Remy's wound to heal completely. You can also make out how thick his undercoat is, which is already growing back ready for Winter.
Coincidentally, another guest piggy - Jimbo - who visited Castle Garth Guinea Pig hotel for a late summer holiday had previously lost one of his eyes due to an abscess and even now needs the site of the wound closely monitored for further infection.
Even so, the lack of an eye didn't seem to bother him in the slightest.
It's amazing what animals can deal with as long as they're not in pain.