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Guinea Pigs/Swollen face and white pus on eye

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Question
Bugsay
Bugsay  
My pig is about 7 yo. Recently we found a baby bunny and places it into our pigs cage for a day before I decided not to keep the wild bunny. A few days later my pig started forming a swollen face on the right.  At first I thought it was food but it started getting bigger and now it's his entire right side down to his chin  and today I spotted this white pus forming around his lower eye. The swollen neck has a small pink pigment in the middle as well.  What is it?

Answer
Your pig has an abscess on his face. It may or may not be related to the baby bunny as they get these occasionally, usually from having scratched themselves with their own dirty toenails. Sometimes the scratching causes a break in the skin and a staph infection develops.

That swelling is soft and feels like a water balloon. That's because it is filled with pus. Sometimes they break on their own, but typically these abscesses need to be opened and drained.

I've done dozens of these over the years, but because of my medical background I am comfortable doing this procedure. You are probably going to have to take him to a vet, unless you know someone that is capable of opening this abscess so it can drain.

It can't just be poked with a large needle as it would quickly close up again and the pus would continue to fill up. The fluid inside is very foul and smelly, almost a rotten odor. That's typical of staph.

Staph is a normal bacteria that is present on just about any skin. When a break in the skin occurs, if there is additional contaminates on the skin such as the poo from the cage that gets trapped into their nails, that scratch becomes a perfect medium for growth of the staphylococcus areus (aka staph) bacteria to grow wildly and cause an abscess. The small cut closes over and the bacteria is then in a 'greenhouse' environment. It's warm, moist and full of additional bacteria that is just waiting for the chance to go wild.

When these abscesses are lanced they need to be kept open so the continual pus developing will drain out as the wound heals from the inside out.

Just for future reference, you may not want to put a wild bunny in the cage with a guinea pig. Because of their wild odor, guinea pigs usually will attack the baby and often kill them. Wild rabbits also carry parasites that you may not want to expose your pig to.

It's unlikely they got into a fight and that caused this wound. The pig outweighs a baby bunny and I wouldn't think that little bunny could have gotten close enough to have caused a wound on your pig's jaw. This is probably just a coincidence.

The white discharge in the eye is a stress reaction to the abscess that is so close to it.

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Pat VanAllen

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As is sometimes the case, people in urgent need of information have a higher degree of expectation than those of us as experts are able to give. The experts on this site do their best to give the most accurate and responsible answers possible. We ask that you remember that it is not our intention nor place to criticize the professional advice given by your veterinarian, nor is it appropriate for us to comment on the correctness of a diagnosis made by a licensed physician. Our knowledge is experience based. Although many years of breeding and showing cavies gives me a wealth of experience it cannot change the fact that we as experts are not veterinarians and therefore may occasionally have to reject questions that appear to be asking us to criticize advice given by the licensed professional. Having raised and exhibited cavies for many years I have extensive experience in cavy care and husbandry. I currently have an active breeding program for pedigreed show animals but do not encourage backyard breeding for inexperienced owners. Although I don't encourage breeding for fun I'm always happy to answer any questions from an owner who is in sincere need of help. Pet owners wanting to breed should understand that even experienced breeders have litter losses. The mortality rate is high in cavies. The chance for losing both sow and pups is always present, even with experience. Although this is a site for experts to assist owners, there is no expert in any field who has all the answers. The wisest thing a good expert can know is their limitations. Not having an answer does not diminish one's ability or knowledge. It simply shows that we recognize our limitations and operate within them.

Experience

Raised and shown cavies for many years, having aquired my first cavies in the early 1970's as pets. My caviary currently handles 65 + animals in two different breeds and several varieties. Having been in the health care industry as a licensed nurse for 35 years I have hands on experience with care and needs in both humans and cavies. Member of American Rabbit Breeders Association and American Cavy Breeders Association.

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Awarded Lifetime Membership in of one of the oldest cavy clubs in the United States, on whose Board I served as Sec/Treas for six years and currently serving as President. Also editor/publisher of the club's quarterly newsletter. We are strong supporters of our youth exhibitors, most of whom are 4H members who are working on cavy projects. Through these projects they become good responsible citizens. We deal with all aspects of showing, breeding, caring for and sharing experiences in the fancy. The cavy fancy is not a new one but in some areas is still relatively unknown. Our goal is to inspire interest in high quality, responsible breeding to improve the species, not just the reproduction of guinea pigs. Our job is to educate owners to help them make the right decisions and choices in the care of their cavies.

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Graduate in nursing. Certified in emergency medicine.

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