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?
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.
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!
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.
- Supporter in 2014
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!).
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.
- Supporter in 2018
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.
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.
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.
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.