Guinea pigs make fantastic pets, especially for the younger members of the family. These interesting creatures are full of personality, and best of all, they’re hardy too.
Unlike rabbits and smaller rodents like mice, guinea pigs are not skittish, forming strong, loving relationships with their owners. For first-time pet parents, or those not quite ready for the responsibility of cats and dogs, guinea pigs are an excellent choice of animal companion.
As with any pet, of course, it’s good to know what to expect from guinea pigs health-wise. While they’re not prone to illness, they often develop sebaceous cysts, particularly on their backs and thigh areas.
Fortunately, they’re usually benign and not a cause for concern. If anything, they’re more of an irritating growth than a real medical emergency. Nevertheless, it’s best to attend to them as they can grow to a substantial size and cause more severe issues over time.
This article will look at exactly what a guinea pig sebaceous cyst is and what could potentially cause one to grow. I’ll also detail how to diagnose and treat such a cyst or whether it’s best to visit your vet.
I will warn you; sebaceous cysts are not for the faint-hearted! But in good news, they’re unlikely to harm your guinea pig in the long run, and the best you can do is deal with them before they get too big.
What Causes Sebaceous Cysts In Guinea Pigs?
As the name suggests, sebaceous cysts form from guinea pigs’ sebaceous glands. These tiny glands, which are most prevalent along a guinea pig’s dorsal area and around their anal openings, may become blocked due to a build-up of excretion and, subsequently, start to form uncomfortable cysts.
They can also result from trauma, a wound, or a skin infection. Irrespective of the specific cause, they generally present in the same way – as a round, malleable, putty-like cyst.
While they grow very slowly, it often takes guinea pig owners a fair amount of time to notice sebaceous cysts. By this stage, they’re usually quite large.
Identifying a sebaceous cyst is simple, as they are typically round, and if you roll them between your fingers, they feel a bit like clay or putty. A further indication that you are dealing with a sebaceous cyst is its location on your guinea’s body, usually on their hindquarters or sides.
Sebaceous cysts are filled with protein and sebum, and while they are not painful, they can become problematic if they’re located too close to your guinea pig’s anus or other organs.
A further complication is that guinea pigs love to bite and chew on these types of cysts, which can cause infections and encourage regrowth. When it comes to benign growths, their underlying cause is not as crucial as their treatment.
How To Treat A Guinea Pig’s Sebaceous Cyst!
The best way to treat a guinea pig’s sebaceous cyst is to drain it and remove the protein and sebum contents. This entails lancing the cyst and applying gentle pressure to squeeze out the cyst contents.
After that, the affected area needs to be treated with a disinfectant liquid, and once clean, an antibiotic spray should be applied. Using a cold spray ahead of this process will help numb the area and, by default, your guinea’s discomfort.
Treatment of guinea pig sebaceous cysts is relatively straightforward. These cysts are quite malleable and feel like nodular putty. You should begin by locating the cyst and feeling around to determine where it’s base is positioned.
Once you’re confident you have the area of the cyst locked down, you can shave the area to make it easier to lance the cyst and prevent matting and infection.
Before lancing, identify the area of the cyst with the thinnest skin. A small incision should suffice as a means through which to press out the cyst’s contents gently. It is very important to work slowly and ease out the sebum in as few pieces as possible.
Indeed, it is equally important to ensure you drain all of it, or you’re likely to see the cyst regrow. Once the area is depleted, the wound must be disinfected and treated with an antibiotic spray to heal.
Should You Treat A Sebaceous Cyst In A Guinea Pig Yourself Or Get a Vet?
While it is not difficult to treat a sebaceous cyst, it can be complicated if you’ve never done it yourself or had someone show you how to. Therefore, it’s better to take your guinea pig to the vet so that they can show you how to drain sebaceous cysts.
If you’re a long-time guinea pig owner familiar with this process, you should be able to treat your pet yourself with no further issues arising.
If you’re not sure how to deal with a sebaceous cyst on your guinea pig, or you’re worried that it is in a difficult spot, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and consult your vet.
For the most part, these cysts are completely harmless, and you may even find that your vet tells you just to leave it as is. In some cases, cysts sort themselves out, puncturing and draining of their own volition with no further intervention necessary.
On the other hand, guinea pigs also tend to bite on them, which can cause infections. If you notice that an otherwise nondescript sebaceous cyst is discharging or is suddenly red, inflamed, or scabbed, it’s a good idea to take your critter to the vet for a check-up.
Don’t panic if you notice a lump developing under your guinea pig’s skin. An old wound of a gland blockage may be causing the growth of a sebaceous cyst, which is easy to treat and recover from. If you’re uncertain of how to proceed, consult your vet for a treatment plan. However, if the cyst is small and not causing any further issues, you can also just let it be.