Experiences with Impaction; Frequency of cleaning

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Post   » Thu Jan 08, 2015 9:27 pm

I hope to update the impaction page in the near future and was hoping to get some feedback (and maybe some stories) about boars with impaction problems.

It's my understanding that though impaction can sometimes clear up with good care and diet, some boars still require daily or every other day cleaning.

It would make sense that a boar that is more active (has a companion), lives in a large cage, is fed a good diet with lots of hay, and is bedded on fleece would develop problems much less frequently.

Besides boars that experience impaction problems, it's been recommended to check your boar for debris and clean things out if they are collecting in the anal sac.

So I'm wondering with you boar lovers out there, how often you check the anal sac and how frequently does it seem to need "maintenance". Please note what bedding you use, if the boar has a habit of dragging his butt, and anything else that might be helpful.

And what are your experiences with impaction?

Stories welcome!

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Post   » Thu Jan 08, 2015 9:44 pm

One story:

Slavetofuzzy once cared for a guinea pig that was extremely overweight and impacted. Bear had been kept in a tiny pet store cage with a pigloo and had barely enough room to move around. He was only fed crappy pellets with colored bits and lots of carrots. Bear was impacted so severely that it was suspected that he had a tumor.

Once cleaned out, Bear was put on a strict diet and housed in a large cage with a buddy. At first he needed to be cleaned out twice daily. As he lost weight and became more active, it dropped to once daily; then as needed. They now check him regularly but he keeps himself cleaned out. Every now and then there will be a lump of poo in the cage that he has dislodged himself. Bear rarely requires help these days.

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Post   » Thu Jan 08, 2015 10:37 pm

Its an interesting topic. I have seen several youtube videos showing how to "regularly clean out your boar" and many articles written about the same.
Some advocate cleaning out the boar's anal sack monthly, using a q-tip and mineral oil. One video was releasing impaction using olive oil. Another thread using coconut oil, many advocate the use of Vaseline!

So, I'm now gonna offer my 10 cents, and say this is ALL wrong!

Because we tend to keep our pigs on shavings or hay, because they are in captivity and well fed, rather than out in the wilds running for their lives, living on copious grass, our pets are prone to anal issues that a wild cavy would not.

Butt wiping (scent marking) on substrates such as wood shavings, carefresh or hay can certainly lead to foreign particles being rammed up into places they shouldn't be. Diets high in carbohydrates and/or protein but low in fibre, can increase a boars risk of impaction, as can a sedentary lifestyle of a well-fed pig.

Long-haired pigs that wouldn't occur in the wild have issues with hair being caught around their penis as well.

So, I am a very staunch advocate of checking your boars for any foreign objects or impaction on a regular basis. I check mine with every cage clean, and those with known impaction or penile issues, are check more often.

I remove the foreign objects and impaction from the anal sack, I extrude the penis and check for smegma build up or hairs wrapped around the penis, I check for sperm rods and any signs that they may have a urethral stone (rare, but it has happened!). If they have any impaction that has adhered to the side of the anal sack, I place that piggies bottom end into a shallow tub of warm water and gently manipulate the anal sack until the faeces softens. Sometimes, I've had to resort to using a syringe, and squirting a small amount of warm water into the anal sack, around the impaction, to soften it and release the contents. I only ever wash the anal sack using the warm water bath. If there is any sign of yeast infection, I may apply some canesten cream into the sack but, in all honestly, prefer to use oral Nilstat/Mycoststin/Nystatin drops due to the pigs need to eat their caecal pellets - the oral treatment would be safer to ingest that the cream!

I wash the penis and the anal sack in warm water only, I will never use oils, either to loosed the impaction or to clean the sack. Things like olive oil and coconut oil are digestible oils. That means, bacteria living in the anal sack - both beneficial and detrimental bacteria - can feed off this nutrient source, increasing the risk of unwanted infections. Mineral oil and paraffin oil are non-digestible, so theoretically less of a risk. But I will still not use these. My reasoning is that the anal sack does NOT need regular washing out.

The lining of the anal sack contains secretions critical to the health and well being of the animal, ingested when they eat their caecal pellets. For us to play around with this is not appropriate, nor responsible, unless they clearly have a serious infection in the area. In all the years I've done rescue, I've had lots of impaction pigs but none with an infected anal sac. One with an infected grease gland that then extended into the scent glands, but this could not be resolved by cleaning the anal sack!

Severe impaction will improve with regular cleaning the sack of impacted faeces (and offering the good stuff back to the pigs to eat!). Old, adhered impactions only need softening with warm water butt-baths to loosen them. Washing the penis with warm water, and if needed (for issues such as cauliflower penis), use KY personal lubricant to coat the penile shaft to allow it to slip back into the prepuce nicely - that is about the extent of the works required on boar-butts over here at Chuffnut!

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Post   » Thu Jan 08, 2015 11:29 pm

That sounds pretty reasonable. And long haired pigs definitely can end up with hairs wrapped around the penis. Of the lubricants, I think of coconut oil as being one of the better ones (edible and with a quite long shelf life).

If soaking successfully loosens debris, there is no need to use an oil or other lubricant for softening. It sounds like you are fairly proactive in making sure everything is working correctly. It's always been my belief that the reason for lubricating the anal pouch in boars with regular impactions was because it makes it easier to remove the impaction if required frequently. If this is not an issue with an impacted boar requiring maintenance, it would not be needed.

And I wanted to add (hope it's okay with you two!):

Lisam feels if a guinea pig has a large cage, a cage mate, and proper diet, there is very little chance of it becoming impacted until later in life, if even then. The large cage and cage mate keep the pig active. A more active pig will be healthier and less likely to develop impaction.

She does a weekly check but very rarely finds she needs to do any cleaning. Sometimes after a neuter a pig will have some slight impaction, but that goes away with time.

bpatters advises people to check the perineal sac daily or weekly (depending on the pig's history, the kind of bedding, the length of the pig's hair, whether he flips his sac open a lot, etc), and clean only as necessary. Some vets do not recommend cleaning unless the pig is impacted or the anal sac full of debris.

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Post   » Fri Jan 09, 2015 5:08 am

I've only ever had boys, about 14 of them I think. None of them neutered.

One suffered from impaction daily and needed help at least once a day. He had terrible genetics though and his impaction started when he was diagnosed with arthritis.

My second boy had it on occassion. He had heart problems and towards the end of his life had muscle failure around his back and his penis would also hang out.

I would help them by standing them in warm water and easing the mass out. They never struggled so I assumed it didn't hurt. Especially Arnold as sometimes the ball that came out was pretty big.

I never clean them regularly but will check them during my routine checks. And if there's anything stuck up there I'll remove it, using warm water and cotton wool if needed.

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Post   » Mon Jan 12, 2015 8:15 pm

Percy: 6 yrs, intact, on kiln dried pine. I check him every couple weeks, usually just penis cleaning is needed. Every couple months he might need a sac cleaning

Bubba: 7.5 yrs, on fleece. I check him weekly, he gets more impacted now that he's older (every 2-3 weeks). Otherwise, he gets a penis cleaning monthly during his spa day.

Spa day: butt bath/full bath if necessary, nail trims, all over body check.


Post   » Tue Jan 13, 2015 6:49 am

I haven't had guinea pigs so long (2 years), and only one case of impaction. I cleaned Bizonte out once and now I check him regularly, but he seems to be doing fine. It seemed to be a one time thing. I had brought him to the vet, but my vet didn't notice the impaction and send me home without an answer. It was at home, checking Google and Guinea Lynx, that I figured it might be impaction.

I was very happy though to have a clear YouTube video on how to clean him out. If you want (or can't find) a good video to put on the website, I'd happily help out there, film the cleaning and add a text of your choice.

I liked Chuffnut's contribution, for practical reasons mainly, and because it eases my guilt about not using the right products. Here in Venezuela the only oil available is soy oil, due to our sucky political situation. I'm sure there are people in other countries who are also, for various reasons, without access to Amazon and / or the right products. It would be nice to list several visions and alternative ways of cleaning.

A small anecdote: the other day I saw one of my guys rigorously clean his penis. He pulled it out completely and licked it from top to bottom. I caught him into it halfway, so I'm not sure if it was actually dirty. It took him a good few minutes, and then he went about his business again. I'd never seen any of my other guys do that and never read about it. It made me happy that they know how to take care in some amount of their personal hygiene.


Post   » Tue Jan 13, 2015 7:05 am

(Btw rereading my little anecdote I hope I didn't suggest boars can clean themselves, ergo we shouldn't. I just posted the anecdote because I thought it had to be mentioned that they also *can* clean themselves, and that seems to be a piece of info missing on most websites. I hope I didn't suggest in any way that the care we give to the little guys isn't needed.)

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Post   » Tue Jan 13, 2015 7:36 am

Stephen is 6 and has suffered from mild to moderate impaction for around a year, I think. He's housed on fleece (with hay and recycled cardboard stuff in the kitchens) in a 2x5 and has a cagemate. He's not a big bum-dragger but is incredibly prone to stuck sperm rods. He's not a fat pig, he has quite a lean body type. He can easily reach down for cecals and does.

I check his sac whenever I pick him up which is maybe 3 times per day. This is more to protect my clothes from marks/smells than because he actually needs so much help though. Most times it's empty or there are a couple of beans in there but sometimes there's a clump. The clump is usually soft cecal droppings wrapped around 3 or 4 normal droppings which look like they've all gotten to the exit at once and jammed the door, as it were. In general, he can eventually pass these himself if I don't happen to be around to assist (I find clumps in the cage regularly) but occasionally he can't and the blocked matter seems quite dry where it's been exposed to the air for a few hours. These are slightly bigger and harder and what I'd view as 'proper' impaction. He's always visibly relieved when I fix that for him. I'd guess it happens once a week or so. Because I check him so regularly, it never gets a chance to dry out fully so it's quite easy to pop it out for him without need for soaking etc.

His impaction has gotten a little worse in the last few months since I removed the ramp and second level to the cage (removed as his cagemate kept picking up leg injuries). I do think the extra push needed to run up the ramp helped keep him a bit more toned.

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Post   » Tue Jan 13, 2015 11:11 am

Thanks for all of your input! Still hoping for lots more!

I would also like to hear from people who have had boars for a while and don't have impaction problems. How often they check, what they might attribute the lack of issues to (I'm sure genetics play a part - describing diet would help too).

Brambles, that sounds like a great idea! Let's see if we can get more input from other members (ALL you other members who have boars!).

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Post   » Sun Feb 01, 2015 9:42 pm

I've done a small update (suggesting routine checking vs. routine cleaning) and included a link back to this thread.

Still hoping for more advice! (I have never had boars)


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Post   » Sat Feb 14, 2015 3:27 pm

(I said I'd add this, a tad belatedly but)

When I was a kid we had lots of guinea pigs (I think 25 in total over the years), and all of the boars over 4 developed impaction issues except for 3 that we had neutered. They were kept in medium sized hutches indoors- not huge amounts of space, but we did used to let them run back to their cage after taking them out, and let them out on the floor fairly regularly. They had plenty hay, and were kept on sawdust bedding. I do think some of them liked to drag their backsides on the ground and this did sometimes get bedding stuck in with the impacted material. Their diet was cucumber and lettuce, with some carrot and tomato, and Gerty Guinea pig food (which they loved but I don't recommend because it gave cystitis to later pigs). I think they needed cleaned at least daily but we did not know how to do it effectively and merely just tried to poke out some of what was stuck.

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Post   » Sat Mar 07, 2015 12:53 pm

I have 2 neutered boars. The older is at least 3 years (I was told he was about 1 when I got him, but I don't think the rescue people bothered to ask the ones who surrendered him) and the other will be 2 years next month. I've only been a guinea pig slave for a little over 2 years, and the boys have been fixed for about a year. I've no experience with impaction, and until now, didn't realize THAT part of them needed regular checking (bad momma). I love the fact that I'm constantly learning from all of you. My owners probably wish I'd learn faster. I'm off to inspect now, lol.


Post   » Tue Mar 10, 2015 2:45 pm

Sweep - age 5 years, 5' x 2' cage indoors, bedding hay and cardboard. Food - hay, veggies, grass and some pellets. Impacted since he was neutered 2 1/2 years ago as they couldn't remove all the fat on one side. Has lived with Lulu since 6 week post neutering period ended and with Izzy for two years until she crossed the bridge last week. Can require cleaning up to twice daily. We just squeeze the lump out as its normally quite pliable. When he has a shower, we flush the mass out with the water. Very frisky - serial humper of ladies bottoms. As Izwig was long haired we had to take the hair off his winky every day she was in season.

Hank - age 5 years, 2' x 1' cage indoors, bedding hay and cardboard. Same food as Sweep. Lives alone currently although we do hope to bond him with the trio of girls in the future. Came as impacted from the rescue following neuter. Has now cleared up although Vedra did say she thought there were signs of fungal in his poo.

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Post   » Sat Mar 14, 2015 7:30 pm

Currently have 9 boars, ranging in age fro 2 years to 6. None of them currently have any issues with impaction.

I have a monthly grooming checklist. On cage cleaning day, I do nails, and butt cleaning. I just toss a couple of Q-tips in a jar with some mineral oil. I use the Q-tip to wipe out any icky stuff and check their boy bits.

All guys are housed on fleece. Their cuddle cups and hideys all have pads in them which get changed every other day or so, so they're not sitting in wet stuff long. Several of them really like sitting in the hay boxes. But the hay gets cleaned every day, so it's ever wet for long.

And of course, there's lots of space for the to run around in.

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Post   » Sun Aug 02, 2015 9:47 pm

I seem to have had a lot of boys and only one had an impaction issue. Harry was extremely well endowed and as he got older he began to have issues. When he passed the age of 7 he needed an occasional cleaning. By the time he passed 8 it was pretty much part of our morning routine. In the beginning I followed the standard instructions with q-tips and oil to dislodge the contents of his sack. Later on I depended less on this procedure. For my precious old man I assembled a disposable underpad, sugilube, some disposable gloves, and the q tips. I used the lube on q-tips to lubricate his sack and then dislodged any hard chunks with the q-tips - very gently scraping them out. After the lubrication was done I would very gently squeeze the remaining material down and out with thumb and forefinger on the outside of his sack. Oh I forgot the first step in the ritual - the lighting of a stick of incense to help with the smell. Using the underpad allowed me to fold over the end covering up the cleaned out mess as we went avoiding my arm in it and him stepping in it when I needed to set him down. For some reason cleaning him out made him have to pee.

When we got done the sugilube wiped off easily and if needed a warm damp washcloth took care of the rest. He always got cuddled afterwards and a nice treat. Harry enjoyed his life. I would have done anything I could to prolong it for him and a daily cleaning was a small price to pay to see him dance and prance when feeding time came along. He loved to play and right up until a few days before he died at 8 1/2 would toss around a light toy.

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Post   » Sun Aug 02, 2015 9:50 pm

Harry sounds like he was a great guy.

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Post   » Mon Aug 03, 2015 10:39 am

He was a rescue that came to me at a year old and outlived his first younger cage brother. He was a nipper at first and soon learned better with love and gentle handling. Snowy taught him how to eat hay and veggies and then when Snowy grew up Harry decided it was time to tell little brother who was boss. A tiny bit of fur flew and Harry was top pig and was always top pig, never mean or violent just the boss. He was spirited when younger and loved toys more than any pig I have ever seen. We went through so much together his ashes are in an engraved box on a special shelf with his vital statistics engraved with his name. As he got old and frail he ate critical care for me right off the spoon to help maintain his weight. They are all special in their own way. He was a good nanny boar to his second younger brother and taught him everything he knew.


Post   » Wed Sep 30, 2015 6:45 pm

I had a male guinea pig who died about 14 years ago. He had impaction in the last 6 months of his life. I had to clean out his sac once every day and a half, checked it daily.

Not hard to clean out but you don't want to let it go too long since the poop ball just gets bigger. He took it all in stride rather nicely, we just knew he had to be "pooped" regularly. Was smelly of course, but it just went into the toilet so no big deal.

He didn't do any dragging of his behind, or at least not any more than he'd done before the impaction happened.

I'd say that the one thing to be aware of is when the poop vol. starts to slow. He made some small balls of poop first before the big impaction came on, so look for what seems like clumps of poop together sitting in the cage in a small ball first. It's probably a sign his anal sac is beginning to let down.


Post   » Thu Mar 24, 2016 5:59 am

I check my piggy's anal sac quite often and when it's needed, I use only warm water to clean.

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