I discovered a huge, hard mass under Rocco’s chin one night. It happened very fast as I had held him the day before and did not see it. I panicked and took him to an ER vet (it was the middle of the night) who said he thought it was a tumor. We followed up as soon as my regular vet opened and thankfully he diagnosed it as an abscess. He lanced it, and took a sample of the fluid to send off for a culture.
Rocco was immediately started on the antibiotic Orbax as he doesn’t tolerate Baytril well. He also took Benebac probiotic. We waited a few days to see if the orbax alone would shrink it but that didn’t happen. The vet decided to open it up and clean it out under anesthesia.
The night before surgery it started to leak awful smelling fluid. I was terrified of putting him through surgery but he came out of it like a champ. The abscess turned out to be multi-chambered with a deeper pocket filled with blood under the superficial pocket that had pus. Because of this my vet installed a rubber drain going through both pockets.
The vet never found an obvious cause of the abscess. The bacteria revealed by the culture suggested a hay poke injury. I flushed it once a day for a month. The flushing process was difficult and a few things really helped me.
I had to insert the syringe in between the rubber drain and the skin in order to squirt into the abscess. This was very difficult with the traditional tapered flushing syringe so my vet gave me a larger syringe with a thin flexible catheter tip. I found this so much easier to slide into the opening.
Also the skin around the drains would scab up and instead of pick off the scabs we dabbed hydrogen peroxide to dissolve the scabs. Not ideal for internal use but really helped to keep the abscess open and accessible for flushing. I also think it was less painful for him than pulling the skin apart and picking the scab off. I flushed first with a hibiscrub (anti-septic) solution and then 20 minutes later with saline.
Flushing is definitely a 2 person job someone needs to hold the pig and the other needs to flush. It was really frustrating at first but it got easier. We covered a large storage tub with towels and sat Rocco on it. My boyfriend sat behind the tub holding Rocco up and I sat on the floor slightly underneath his head to flush. We both wore latex gloves so as not to worry about the flushing fluids getting every where.
My boyfriend found it best if he kept Rocco's butt against his body so that he couldn't scurry backwards when being flushed. The main challenge was finding a position that kept Rocco immobile during the flushing. During the whole ordeal Rocco remained on Orbax and probiotic for about a month and a half.
Thankfully the abscess shrank up over the course of 4 weeks and his drain was removed. We continued to flush until the vet gave us the OK to stop. I am happy to say the abscess has been gone for about 7 months. It was very difficult, disgusting and frustrating and hopefully never happens again!
The drain was only used to keep the abscesses from closing. So I couldn't squirt the liquid directly into the drain itself as it would simply come out the other end and not reach the inside of the abscess at all.
The vet told me to push the tip of the syringe in the tiny space between the side of the rubber tubing and his skin surrounding the drain in order for the liquid to fill up the abscess and not simply flow through the rubber drain.
This is where the catheter tipped syringe helped immensely! The regular curved syringe was much fatter than the thin catheter tipped syringe and much harder to fit in-between the drain and his skin.
I had to push the plunger very slowly and softly because of the super thin tip. It was nothing like pushing on the curved regular syringe and took much longer but it also held a lot more liquid (35 ml).
My vet came up with the idea of using it because I told him how hard it was to fit the regular one in such a tight space. It was a really great brainstorm on his part.
By the way his name is Dr. Danielson of Ehrlich Animal Hospital in Tampa FL. He is a great vet and consults with Ann Evans of the Cambridge Cavy Trust. He should be added to the list of savvy vets.
Ehrlich Animal Hospital
8009 Gunn Highway
Tampa, FL 33626
Tel. 813 920-0566
Fax. 813 920-0549
Dr. Danielson and Dr. Saleh are great cavy savvy exotics vets. They defer to Guinea pig specialist and rodentologist Ann Evans. I particularly like Dr. Danielson. He is compassionate and very invested in the health of guinea pigs and exotic pets.
- You can quote me
I think the flexible catheter syringe extension is also called a cannula (or a cannula is something somewhat similar that can also be used). It's an awesome technique that more vets should employ.