Case File

Ozzy is a very handsome 2 year old rescue Guinea Pig - a Case Story

by Amy Bowler BVSc MRCVS Veterinary Surgeon

Ozzy is a very handsome 2 year old rescue Guinea pig that came to see me one evening after his owner noticed he had been squinting with his left eye. This eye was also teary with his fur being wet underneath the eye. Ozzy brought along a couple of his Guinea pig friends for company and reassurance for his visit. His owner knew how important it is to keep Guinea pig groups together at all times to keep their friendships strong and so they can help keep each other calm.



Ozzy felt most comfortable on the floor for his examination as it can often be pretty scary for a Guinea pig to be up so high on an examination table. It also meant he could have a little explore of the exotics consult room and we could go at his own pace allowing him breaks if he needed a moment to gather himself. I always try to tailor each consultation to the individual pet and take into account what feels most natural for the species in question. As ground dwellers and prey species Guinea pigs often like to have somewhere to hide which is why we kept Ozzy's carrier close and had a towel at hand to snuggle into and cover him up if he wanted to run or hide away to calm himself down. Ozzy is a very brave and social fellow so we had no problems and he was more than happy to stay still and have a full clinical examination.



Usually then an animal squints it means that their eye is painful, so I started by applying a local anaesthetic eye drop to help numb his sore eye which meant he felt comfortable enough to open it. With his eyes fully open I had a much better view of what was going on and could fully examine them with the ophthalmoscope. The ophthalmoscope magnifies and shines a light into his eye so I can look at all the tiny details on his eyelids, surface of his eye and even look into the back of eye. I was able to see a small defect on his cornea (surface of the eye) with some blue cloudy discoloration around it (corneal oedema) plus some new blood vessels coming in from the corner of his eye that were trying to start healing the defect. His conjunctiva (soft tissues around the eye) were also very inflamed and sore.



With gently pulling his lower eyelid down I could also see a little piece of debris in his eye. With some delicate forceps I very gently removed the debris from under his third eyelid and what seemed like a small piece kept going and going! Poor Ozzy had a long piece of hay stuck in his eye! This unfortunately is a common occurrence for Guinea pigs as they often like to go head first into big bundles of hay to hide and munch on it! Ozzy was a super star for this and stayed perfectly still. He must have felt so much better with it no longer rubbing against his eye. After I removed the pesky piece of hay I put a special orange dye called fluorescein into the eye to check for damage to his cornea. The defect I could see earlier glowed bright yellow/green when I shone a blue light from the ophthalmoscope onto it which confirmed that it was a corneal ulcer. The piece of hay had rubbed poor Ozzy's eye so much it had taken off the first few layers of cells from his eye causing an ulcer. Corneal ulcers are very painful which is part of the reason why Ozzy was squinting so much.



To help heal his ulcer Ozzy went home with some corneal healing gel eye drops to keep his eye lubricated which promotes healing. He also had an antibiotic eye ointment to tackle any infection and make sure his eye didn't get any worse. Importantly we also started Ozzy on some pain relief. Luckily for him the pain relief medication he needed came in a sweet tasty liquid so he was more than happy to gobble this up twice a day. After a few days of eye drops and pain relief Ozzy's eye ulcer healed up and he was back to normal. We check that the ulcer has healed by using the orange dye test again at a recheck appointment.

Ozzy has made a full recovery and his sight is back to normal. He is obviously still provided with dust free high quality soft hay that he loves to eat but hopefully he'll avoid getting any more in his eye!