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Impaction - How To Help Your Guinea Pig.

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LisaAli

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Please always have your boar vet checked promptly when you suspect impaction!
- What you think is impaction may actually not be the thing in the first place!
- Impaction can also not the be main cause/problem but a complication resulting from another health problem, which may go unnoticed until it could be too late (problems in the penis shaft, bladder stones, hernias or internal abscesses or tumors).
- Long time unnoticed impaction can cause infection, which need antibiotic treatment.


The following videos have some graphic scenes depicting Impaction.

How to check for impaction (with permission of Worthing Guinea Pig Rescue)

How to remove Impaction.

Before and After.

The videos are reproduced by the kind permission of Guinea Pigs Today.
 

Magician

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See the old threads here: Impaction? (tmi) and here: Impaction Recurrence....please Help!

Impaction in Older Boars - a members experience in dealing with this

I read it’s quite common for older boars to get impactions and, given my recent experiences with Aladdin, felt it might help others in a similar situation if I compiled everything I’d learnt. If you read the other threads you’ll know what I mean by ‘my recent experiences’!

Diagnosing an Impaction

Obviously, the most noticeable sign of an impaction is a plug of faeces in the guinea pig’s anal sac. However, sometimes this isn’t visible, in which case look out for a lethargic pig who seems to be pooping less than usual - unless the impaction is very bad and has gone unattended for a long time, then they won’t necessarily completely stop passing faeces. Also, check for a bloated appearance. Does the pig look like a little furry pear from above? Can you hear fluid sloshing about in his abdomen? These can be symptoms of an impaction and are worth investigating.

If in doubt, gently pull back the anal sac and thoroughly check inside for any visible left over faeces. If these are present then your pig likely has an impaction.

It’s worth checking your boars daily for symptoms, even if this just means lightly squeezing their anal sac, to check for the beginnings of an impaction.

What causes impactions?

- dehydration

- inadequate diet, lacking fibre

- not enough exercise

- weak back end either from bad care (see above point) or poor genetics

These are all the causes I know of. There may be more, but either I or my vet’s aware of them if that’s the case!

Treating the impaction in the short term

It doesn’t really need saying but the first thing you need to do is remove the impaction.

Firstly, put your boar on his back, either by simply laying him over and putting your hands so he can’t wriggle up; or, if he’s a little tyke, wrap him in a towel with his back end sticking out. It’s a good idea to have a helper if you’re not used to doing this, by the way, especially the first few times.

Pull back and “invert” the boar’s sac, and gently tease out the offending lump of faeces with your (gloved...it really stinks) hands. Then, using a damp ear stick (Q-tip or cotton bud, I believe it’s sometimes called) clean out the sac so that there is no trace of faeces remaining. Be VERY gentle.

It’s also worth cleaning his penis too whilst you’re at it, as guinea pigs who get regularly impactions likely don’t clean themselves enough, so will have a dirty bums! These need cleaning to prevent fly strike (particularly if the affected piggy lives out) and infection caused by poor hygiene. To clean the penis pull back the skin so it is ‘stretched’ out, then wipe with damp tissue or ear sticks.

You can also give your pig a bum bath with piggy safe shampoo by submerging his hind quarters in shallow warm water in a washing up basin and pulling the water over his back end, then massaging in the shampoo before carefully and thoroughly rinsing out with warm water.

Treating impactions in the long term

Aladdin needs checking daily, quite often multiple times, to make sure he is clear of an impaction. We do this by taking him out of the cage, holding him like a baby on his back and gently inverting the sac. We also will palpate the sac sometimes up to 3 times a day to check for signs of an impaction.

To keep your pig impaction free, there are several things you can do. The most important is FIBRE. You must give your piggy a diet that is maxed out on fibre. Ad lib hay should be given anyway, but if necessary, bed your pigs down on hay to ensure they eat it. I’ve found, with early impactions that aren’t really yet under control, feeding things like apples can help enormously by softening the faeces so that they are easier to pass, especially for a lazy guinea that dislikes cleaning itself. You can also buy special fibre supplements, from your vets and from pet shops. In the first hours after discovering an impaction, especially if it is severe, it is always worth

Increasing exercise, with a larger cage and/or increased floor time, will also help by strengthening the muscles in the back end. We are investing in a C&C cage for the boys soon (once we've finished rearranging my room so it fits in! We've ended up having to buy a new floor, new bed and new wardrobe in order for this to work, but I'm sure it will be worth it!)

The most important thing though is SEE YOUR VET. They can make sure it actually is an impaction, and give extra fibre things and what not....impactions can sometimes be a symptom of bladder stones, which DO need to be seen and diagnosed by a knowledgeable cavy vet.
Aladdin got given this oral stuff which was administered with a syringe once a day, an electrolyte solution for his water and some medical grade fibre pellets, as well as being checked thoroughly (twice!) for bladder stones. I was so relieved when the vet told us he was in the clear. :)

As a last resort you can neuter your boar, but I really wouldn't recommend this. Like all operations it carries a lot of risk especially for something as small and fragile as a cavy.

Tips

- Don’t mollycoddle them or try to confine them so they can ‘recuperate’.

A lot of pigs have long term impaction issues from weak back ends and though it’s tempting to keep a sick pig in its cage to stop it overexerting itself so it can 'rest', with impactions this is the worst thing you can do. Exercise really helps in aiding the pig to pass healthy faeces as well as encouraging it to clean itself.

- Be careful if they live with others (which they really should!)

With Aladdin’s brother Lenny we had to check him daily too, to make sure the added fibre wasn’t giving him diarrhoea. It’s also worth, if your pigs are litter mates, to check them too as the causes of impactions are often genetic.

- Don’t leave out the love

One thing we found when treating Aladdin was we began only ever picking him up to check his bottom. Well, he still came out to play and still had cuddles and lap time, but we’d always check his bottom during this time, meaning he came to hate it whenever anyone opened his cage, because he thought we were going to squeeze his sac every time! Obviously don’t scrimp on the bum-checks, but don’t overdo it either. Fiddling too much can actually do more harm than good, by spreading germs on you to your pig. If you must check him every time you get your pigs out, then do it when putting them BACK not when getting them out. This way they’re actually more likely to not want to go home! (Not a bad thing really - or at least not with my two, who are either complete lazy so-and-so’s, or utter randy rascals! :lol: )

- Don’t despair!

It can seem horrid sometimes. Especially if the impaction is serious if can actually cause your pig a lot of pain and discomfort and make them very withdrawn and subdued. My father actually said to me when things looked particularly bleak ‘he’s not going to make it, is he’ (regarding Aladdin). But we upped his fibre and gave him lots of love and devoted lots of time to sac-cleaning, and he’s almost completely okay now, though we do still check him once a day at least and sometimes have to clear away a bit. But it’s not half so bad as it was, and I have my precious piggy Aladdin back now, all happy and fine. :)

***Sorry about any typos or anything if there are any!***
 
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