Help - My Guinea Pig Has An Abscess

by Always-Writing

Once in a while, guinea pigs can get a large lump near their throats or on their shoulder areas. It is horrifying to see, but can be taken care of. Our guinea pig survived it!

Caution! The images shown here of our guinea pig's abscess, are graphic. While they are not pleasant to view, we are sharing them for your enlightenment and encouragement.

Abscesses in guinea pigs look like huge lumps. If a large lump suddenly appears on your guinea pig, do not panic. Most of the time, it is an abscess - not a tumor. Usually, the abscess can be dealt with successfully by an exotic veterinarian who knows about guinea pigs. If you do not have one available to you locally, you may be able to help your guinea pig at home, as we did.

We have had a LOT of guinea pigs, but only one who developed an abscess. This is the story of Amber's abscess, and what we did to help her.

Introducing Amber Lynn

Our guinea pig who had the abscess
Amber Lynn 3 years later
Amber Lynn 3 years later
Image by author
The Happy Couple
The Happy Couple
Charcoal and Amber Lynn

Amber Lynn's Arrival Into Our Home

We brought Amber Lynn into our home, to be a companion for our sweet male guinea pig, Charcoal. He had recently lost his little cage buddy, Buckwheat, and we knew he was lonely. After looking in several local pet shops, we found a tiny, pumpkin colored female who won our hearts.

When we purchased her, she fit into my husband's large hand with room to share. She was just a little nugget of an animal, and wormed her way into my husband's heart with ease.

After we had her for a few months, we introduced her to Charcoal. We wanted her to get a bit of growth "under her belt", before he decided it was a good time to start a family. At first, she wanted nothing to do with him, which occasioned Charcoal to make many quizzical trips to my husband, for advice. He simply could not understand why she did not understand his advances.

Eventually, Amber Lynn gave in, and the peaceful cohabitation began in earnest.

Cavies Love Companionship

Another name for a guinea pig, is a cavy. Cavies are social creatures, and seem to be happiest when they have another guinea pig around.

Usually, they get along well with other cavies. We have had a few solitary guinea pigs, but normally try to provide a cage mate for them.

Our Guinea Pig Developed A Huge Lump

WARNING - The Photos Are Not For The Faint Of Heart!

One day, we noticed that Amber seemed to have a lump on her shoulder, or what would be considered the side of her throat, right below her ear. I was horrified! My family has owned a LOT of guinea pigs, and we never had one develop a lump.

The evening before, she was normal. The next morning, a lump that was roughly the size of a regulation golf ball, had appeared. By the next morning, it was even larger. Because we did not know what was afflicting her, we removed her from Charcoal's cage, and set up a separate cage to keep the two of them apart.

Frantically, I looked online to see what it might be. We had recently spent over two hundred dollars at a local vet, to try to get another beloved guinea pig well. He did not recover from whatever it was that was ailing him, and his demise devastated my husband and me. I was not anxious to repeat the experience.

Unfortunately, I did not take a good photograph of Amber, when the lump was at its largest. This first photo below will give you a fair idea of its size, though.

The Lump Grew and Grew and Grew

Poor Amber Lynn - the lump was HUGE!
Poor Amber Lynn - the lump was HUGE!

Through Research, I Discovered What The Lump Was...

and what to do about it!

I spent some frantic research time, online, reading about guinea pigs and lumps. Because this was the first time anyone in my family had encountered a fast-growing lump on one of our cavies, it created quite a bit of consternation.

The lump appeared to be an abscess. It had all of the characteristic signs:

  • The guinea pig was apparently healthy.
  • She did not appear to be in any pain.
  • There was no loss of hair around the lump.
  • It grew rapidly, and made her look like she had swallowed a golf ball.
  • She was not bleeding in that area.
  • Her appetite was not diminished.
  • The abscess can develop from a bite from another guinea pig
  • Sometimes, an abscess can grow from a mating encounter that got rough.

Some of the stories I read online, about other people's guinea pigs with abscesses, gave me a bit of heartache. I know that cavies, as a rule, can have difficulty with being put under anesthesia. Over and over, I read how many guinea pig owners have taken their beloved animals to an exotic animal vet for abscesses, and the guinea pig succumbed.

Please do not misunderstand me - I know there are some wonderful veterinarians who DO know how to properly care for guinea pigs. However, we had just lost one, and I did not have the heart to lose another if I could care for her myself.

I went to the "guinea pig expert", Peter Gurney. Although he has now "passed on", he left behind him a wealth of information about caring for cavies. I paid particular attention to this article of his:

Abscess: Guinea Pigs

Peter successfully treated many abscesses, and never lost a guinea pig due to his treatment. I was encouraged by his successes, and decided to list to the expert.

Amber's Abscess Photo Gallery Below

Her abscess burst open, a couple of days after it started to grow. Below, are photos of what it looked like. I hope you have a strong stomach, because they will not be easy to view - especially if you are an animal lover.

Amber's Abscess And Progress

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The Contents of The Lump Smelled Horrible!

Not for the squeamish or faint-hearted...

When Amber's abscess burst, of its own accord, the aroma was atrocious! It was overwhelming, to say the least. If you have ever smelled the scent that permeates a garbage dump, start with that. Add to it, rotten, moldy cheese, and perhaps several full baby diapers that have been sitting in a hot, humid atmosphere for a few weeks. Now, you have a fairly accurate description of the repugnant smell that came from the rotting contents of her abscess.

What I Did To Clean Out The Abscess

Materials and method

During my research, I learned that abscesses in guinea pigs have to heal from the inside out. Forget trying to close up the wound, and disinfect it from the outside. Usually, the abscess has eaten rather deeply into the guinea pig's surrounding flesh, and like a puncture wound, the healing has to start from within.

Materials:

Despite reading cautionary statements about not using particular products, I assembled a few things, and "went to work" on poor, frightened Amber Lynn.

My assemblage consisted of:

  • A few different sized needle-less syringes, with straight and curved plastic tips
  • Sterile saline solution
  • Hydrogen peroxide, which some people caution against, but I used it
  • Betadine
  • Colloidal silver spray and liquid
  • Vitamin C drops for guinea pigs
  • Several small hand towels
  • A few small sterile containers

Method:

I lifted her gently from her cage securely, wrapped a hand towel around her, and escorted her to the bathroom counter. I held her there, wrapped in the towel, and reassured her that I was trying to help her. She was not convinced, as you can see in the photos, from the frightened look in her eye.

Then, I filled a syringe that had a long, soft, curved tip full of hydrogen peroxide, and thoroughly flooded the deep cavity the abscess had left. Lots and lots of putrid cottage-cheesy looking debris bubbled up from the hole, and spilled over onto her fur. She was NOT happy with me, and let me know it by pathetically, frantically "tweeting". I felt awful, but I had to clean the infection out.

Next, with a different syringe, I flushed the infected cavity out with the sterile saline solution. Then, I washed the area outside with Betadine, and sprayed it thoroughly with the collodial silver spray. Finally, I poured some collodial silver liquid into the hole, dried her off, and held her and comforted her for a while.

Please do forgive the quality of the photos. Amber Lynn was scared, squirming, squawking, and squeaking!

The Slow Healing Process

Amber Lynn starts to recover
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She Was Almost Well

I was exhausted!

By the end of a week, Amber was just about back to normal. Notice, if you will, in the last few photos, I trimmed back her hair, around the abscessed area, so I could treat it easier. When the decayed flesh bubbled up from the wound, it tended to stick in her hair. Keeping the surrounding area cut back made the cleanup go a lot faster.

I repeated the process described in Materials and Methods, above, twice a day for a week. My husband simply could not bring himself to help me, as Amber Lynn is his little darling. She has never forgotten that I was the one who inflicted so much "pain" on her. In all fairness, she had no way of knowing that I was helping to save her life. To this day, three years after the incident, she protests if I attempt to retrieve her from my husband's loving arms.

In the photo below, you can see that the wound is almost completely healed, and about a week later, it was covered with fur. The procedure was a success!

Amber Survived!

But, it was a long week.
The last of the abscess
The last of the abscess

December 2011

These lumps were not frightening!
These lumps were not frightening!

About Two Months Later, On Christmas Day

Amber gave us back a gift of life!

Actually, she gave us three gifts. Before I was awake, on Christmas morning, 2011, my husband was hollering - "We have babies!". He said he never saw me get out of bed that fast!

Amber had just given birth to three darling baby guinea pigs - all males. She had just cleaned up the last of them, when my husband looked in her cage.Within the hour, they were all running around the cage, frisky and furry, with their eyes wide open, making little squeaking noises.

Just think, if Amber had not survived that nasty abscess, we would not have had the best Christmas gift of all time - three tiny darling baby guinea pigs, parented by Charcoal and Amber Lynn.

Tubby, Brewster, and Ears

Our Christmas gift from Amber and Charcoal
The Three Musketeers
The Three Musketeers

The Materials I Used For Amber's Abscess

...and some hand towels!
All items are easy to obtain.
All items are easy to obtain.

Three of the products I used on our guinea pig's abscess

Sovereign Silver Fine Mist 2oz

Sovereign Silver Immune Support by Natural Immunogenics 2 oz Spray Sovereign Silver Immune Support 2 oz Spray Bio-Active Silver Hydrosol Immune Support To support your immune sy...

View on Amazon

Natural Immunogenics Sovereign Silver Bio-Active Silver Hydrosol -- 4 fl oz

To support your immune system for all of its needs, choose Sovereign Silver Bio-Active Silver Hydrosol - the #1 selling silver supplements in America. It has a unique combinatio...

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BETADINE ANTISEPTIC SOL HOSP 16OZ

View on Amazon

DISCLAIMER

This may not be the best solution for your guinea pig...

We just wanted to tell you - if you have a good veterinarian in your area that is familiar with guinea pigs, see the vet. Many people live in areas that are quite remote, or they may simply not have an exotic animal veterinarian around, at all.

Since I wanted to be a veterinarian, I tend to be bolder than some, and I do try to help our animals first, before seeing a vet. If your cavy develops an abscess, at least you will know by our experience, that they not only CAN survive them, but ours did!

Photo Credits

With the exception of the materials that I used to treat Amber's abscess, the images portrayed here were photographed by the author - "Always-Writing".

Updated: 12/04/2014, Always-Writing
 
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Always-Writing on 10/30/2014

Thank you, Emma! I was a bit reluctant to write about it here, because the images are graphic, but I wanted to encourage cavy owners not to panic if it happens to their pet. I searched frantically, online for advice when it happened to ours. We thought it was sweet, too, for her to birth the babies on Christmas morning!

Guest on 10/30/2014

Always Writing, Thank you for sharing this fascinating, horrific experience. Amber's abscess looks so horrific that it is astounding to realize that, after you bravely treated her, her healing occurred so quickly. And such a joyous epilogue that Amber birthed babies on Christmas Day.

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