An Abcess is an infected area of tissue that grows and enlarges until the point that it ruptures. You can think of this in many ways like you would a large boil or pimple. They can be large and small in size – with large being easily the size of a golf ball.

Typically abcesses grow relatively quickly.

There are many suggestions as to why abcesses form, but the fundamental issue is that infection is present. They can occur through injuries to the skin – such as being barbed by a grass throrn or a scratch from an altercation with another guinea pig. One reason to avoid straw, is that it is particularly hard and if a guinea pig does run into it, it may break the skin whereby it becomes prone to infection.

Abcesses are always contained within a circular area or pocket. Usually you can palpate ( feel) this area and it is like a soft ball of fluid. As the abcess grows the the area that it is contained in becomes stretched and enlarged, it becomes more like a hard ball ready to burst as the infected fluid has built up.

It is at this stage that the guinea pig will start to be annoyed by this and you will see them starting to ‘nibble’ at the area and hair will start to be removed as they try and rupture it themselves which will alleviate the great pressure that is building up.

If the abcess does burst, you will no-longer see the raised area but instead a hole. The piggie will usually clean this up.

Abcesses should always be treated and cleaned. They heal from the inside out, and can’t do this if there is still infected fluid contained inside. The hole does not need to be closed, as this is the way that an excess infected material can leave.

It is important that the area around the abcess be kept clean and clear of hair or any debri that can get stuck to that area.

The actual abcess needs to be cleaned and I recommend  a neat solution of debrisol which is a fabulous wound healing solution for guinea pigs and in particular abcesses. This can be syringed directly into the abcess and swished about and then express removed.

Abcesses do occur on guinea pigs and in different locations. Depending on the position on the body of a guinea pig  will determine if the severity on the health of the guinea pig. Certanly anywhere on throat and abdomen, and head, there are issues with breathing and vital organs that need to be considered carefully. Please contact your vet for full direction in the care of these.