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Guinea Pig Develops Second Abscess

What causes abscesses on a guinea pig’s mandible, and will they go away without treatment?

By Karen Rosenthal, DVM, MS
Posted: March 27, 2012, 7 a.m. EDT

Q: Our guinea pig is presenting with another abscess located below the mandible and seems a little lethargic because of it. The first one ruptured on its own the day before I was to bring her to the veterinarian, who is a small animal/exotics vet. What could be the cause of the abscesses? Should I take her to the vet this time? The abscesses grow quickly. My family is very dedicated to all animals, we have quite the menagerie at home, but my finances are extremely tight so not having to have M&M looked at would be the best-case scenario.

A: Without seeing your guinea pig, I can give you my best guess on the cause of these abscesses, but nothing takes the place of a physical exam by your guinea pig’s veterinarian.

The most likely cause of any abscess associated with the mandible would be a tooth-root abscess. These abscesses, although they may rupture, will not go away without some form of treatment. And if this is a tooth root-associated abscess, the main problem is not the abscess itself but the associated dental disease that caused the abscess in the first place.

Unfortunately, dental disease in guinea pigs that manifests as an abscess on the mandible or maxilla is difficult to treat without spending money both on diagnostics and the treatment itself. It can involve blood tests, radiographs and even surgery. Sometimes, a veterinarian can do dental trimming, but that may not stop the abscesses from forming or the teeth from becoming more diseased.

Of course, other conditions may be the cause for the abscesses other than dental disease. Sometimes, cancer will look like an abscess, and only diagnostic testing can discern cancer from an abscess.

I am sorry there is no easy or quick way to tell you what may be wrong with your guinea pig and whether or not this is dental associated.

See all of Dr. Rosenthal's Critter Q&A articles>>

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