A cot­tage cheese-like sub­stance oozed from Rags’ ab­scess

Cape Breton Post - - WEEKEND -

For some un­for­tu­nate rea­son, we of­ten use food ref­er­ences to de­scribe the most foul of sub­ject mat­ter in the ve­teri­nary field. Per­haps it’s be­cause food is one of the uni­ver­sal things we can all en­vi­sion — whether it be the cau­li­flower-like growth on the eye­lid of a gen­tly ag­ing re­triever, or the cherry-like tu­mor, red and glis­ten­ing, pro­trud­ing from the chest wall of a cranky cal­ico cat. A par­tic­u­larly un­pleas­ant one is pud­ding-like stool. It makes the con­sump­tion of pud­ding sud­denly not so palat­able, but such ref­er­ences go on and on.

It was a pretty rou­tine af­ter­noon the other day, but be­tween the puppy vaccines and an­nual health checks, there wasn’t one food ex­am­ple to be found. No lemon-sized lipo­mas or mel­on­sized mam­mary tu­mors (thank God; I hate those cases). Not even a pea-sized pa­pi­loma. But then, just be­fore the end of my shift, one lit­tle three pound crea­ture rounded out the day.

Gina brought in her Guinea pig friend, Rags, to see me. She had found a lump on his hip area. But not just any lump… a wal­nut­sized lump. It didn’t seem to bother him for me to touch it, but it had an odd con­sis­tency — soft and com­press­ible — sort of a cream cheese con­sis­tency. (I know, I’m on a roll. And pun def­i­nitely in­tended.) It was clearly an ab­scess. I spec­u­lated that nearly half of Rag’s body weight was tes- ticle, so it wasn’t un­likely that he might have ar­gued with his Guinea pig buddy Con­rad. They would some­times get into lit­tle scuf­fles, and I fig­ured Con­rad may have given him a bite to the rump, lead­ing to the ab­scess.

He was a very co-op­er­a­tive lit­tle ro­dent as I ex­am­ined him, and the lump didn’t ap­pear the least bit ten­der. With Gina’s per­mis­sion I took Rags out back to the treat­ment area to lance the ab­scess. I con­tem­plated an anaes­thetic, but Rags was four years old, just a tad long in the tooth so to speak. Th­ese small com­pan­ions usu­ally only live from four to eight years, and I didn’t want to risk it. It wasn’t a prob­lem though, with my tech­ni­cian Jen­nifer care­fully hold­ing him, he was a brave and strong lit­tle gen­tle­man.

Af­ter pre­cise poke with a scalpel blade I care­fully be­gan ex­press­ing the typ­i­cal dis­charge found in ro­dents and rab­bits: an ex­u­date half­way be­tween cream cheese and cold cot­tage cheese. With a few gen­tle flushes and some care­ful de­brid­ing, I re­moved as much of the caseous (or cheesy) in­fec­tion as pos­si­ble. With th­ese thick ex­u­dates, the ab­scesses have a high risk of re­turn­ing, so I left the wound I had cre­ated open so it could con­tinue to drain if nec­es­sary.

Gina was quite ca­pa­ble of gen­tly flush­ing the in­fected site at home us­ing the kitchen sink hose, and with the liq­uid an­tibi­otic hav­ing a sweet taste, we were both op­ti­mistic that his next visit would in no way re­sem­ble any kind of food.

Thanks for read­ing. Adopt, neuter and spay, save a life ev­ery day.

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