Follicular Cysts in Guinea Pigs
Ovarian cysts are most common in female guinea pigs that are between the ages of eighteen months and five years of age. This condition occurs when the ovarian follicles do not rupture to release the ova (eggs), resulting in the formation of cysts on the ovaries. The cysts usually occur in both ovaries, but on some occasions only the right ovary is affected.
Ovarian cysts can be felt by gently pressing over the guinea pig’s ovaries. If left untreated, the ovarian cysts may continue to grow and could potentially burst, placing the guinea pig's life in danger. The only effective treatment for ovarian cysts is spaying, in which the ovaries and uterus are both removed from the body.
Symptoms and Types
- Loss of appetite and subsequent loss in body weight
- Abdominal pain and discomfort
- Avoidance of touch due to pain
- Hair loss on or around the abdomen
- Disturbance in the levels of reproductive hormones
- Ovarian follicles fail to burst and release the eggs, resulting in the formation of cysts
Ovarian cysts are one of the conditions that need to be ruled out when diagnosing the cause for abdominal pain or discomfort. The cysts can often be felt in the abdomen by abdominal palpation, but an abdominal ultrasonography or X-ray will be needed to confirm the diagnosis of ovarian cysts.
Hormonal therapy for treatment of ovarian cysts is not a viable option for guinea pigs. The only effective treatment is spaying (removing the ovaries and the uterus). If left untreated, the cysts may continue to grow and could potentially burst, placing the guinea pig's life in danger. Antibiotics are usually prescribed after the surgery as a prophylactic to prevent infections.
Living and Management
You will need to provide your guinea pig with a clean and stress-free environment, away from high activity areas and household traffic while it is recovering from surgery. As much as possible, restrain your guinea pig from grooming the surgical site, which could interfere with efficient wound healing. Your veterinarian will schedule a follow-up visit to assess your guinea pig's progress and the effectiveness of the treatment, making changes as necessary. If you have any questions, consult with your veterinarian regarding changes in diet (e.g., foods that are easiest to digest to ease strain on the abdomen), or what you can to meet the needs of your guinea pig during the recovery period.
Ovarian cysts as such are not preventable in guinea pigs. However, you might be able to prevent the cysts from progressing to a potentially life threatening situation by observing your guinea pig for any changes in health and behavior, making sure that she is diagnosed early, and having a spay performed to prevent the ovarian cysts from bursting.