Guinea Pig Abscesses: Abscesses in guinea pigs are relatively common, with the majority forming in the jaw area. These are usually caused by infection entering the tissues via the mouth of via the skin. Guinea pig teeth grow constantly, their teeth are called open rooted. This means they are more predisposed to infection entering the tooth root and jaw than other animals.
Abscesses in guinea pigs are more invasive and resistant to treatment than in dogs and cats. They often have a very thick capsule. This can prevent antibiotics penetrating the abscess well. In addition there are limited antibiotics that can be used safely in guinea pigs, due to the way their guts function. Finally, the pus contained in the abscess is also very thick compared to other animals, meaning they drain very poorly through a lance site (a scalpel blade incision into the abscess).
This all means that the best treatment choice for a guinea pig with an abscess is often surgical. If the abscess can be removed in its entirety (along with its capsule) without risk of rupturing the abscess then this would be the treatment choice. Often surgical removal is not possible due to its location or proximity to the jaw. In these cases abscess marsupialisation is the treatment of choice.
This surgery involves making a semi permanent hole into the abscess. The abscess capsule is sutured to the skin to encourage the capsule to heal to the skin rather than the hole healing over, thus keeping the wound open. This larger, more permanent hole, allows continued drainage and the application of topical treatment and cleaning. Marsupialisation surgery requires fairly intensive nursing care by the owner afterwards. This may continue for 4 to 6 weeks post surgery.
The sooner guinea pig abscesses are diagnosed and treated, the better it is for a speedier resolution.