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Old 25-02-2017, 12:42 PM   #1
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Default Impaction - please help! Am I doing the right thing about it?

Hello everyone,

This is my first time posting on this forum so please correct me if I make any mistakes!

We have a 5 year old boar named Pebble (PB as a nickname). He now lives alone after we lost our other piggy two years ago. He has always been fit and well, other than once having a UTI which was treated with antibiotics.
Recently, we found a huge lump of poo in his cage - around the size of a ping pong ball. We were worried and took him straight to our local vet who informed us that he was previously impacted. She looked at him, showed us how to remove the blockage and sent us on our way. We check PB every night and squeeze out the blockage.

This had been going well until last night. We had not felt it necessary to remove the blockage the night before as he seemed to be doing it quite well himself as we couldn't feel anything when we checked him - or so we thought. He began drinking and eating less, such as wheeking for fresh food but not showing any interest when he actually got it. We both leave the house at different times in the morning when we change his water bottle and both assumed the other had done it as it was still full - we didn't realise until we came home that he had only drank around 30ml of water in around 36 hours, so naturally we were very worried. When we tried to get him to drink through his bottle by offering it to him, he would run away from it as if he was scared of it. The only thing we could get him to eat was celery, so I gave him as much as he would eat with it being quite watery. We checked him again and he had a huge impaction again - all I can think is that we totally missed it the previous night and it had built up significantly, maybe collecting other bits we had missed along the way making it so huge? And perhaps, as he hadn't been drinking as much, it was harder?

We tried to remove it for him but he seemed much more uncomfortable and really tried to wriggle away. He was very vocal and felt like he was close to biting at one point. We gave him a few minutes break now and then but really struggled to get anything out because of how much pain he appeared to be in; it felt like we were doing more harm than good. We tried one last time and managed to get a very small amount out, and despite being so wiggly and reluctant he bent down instantly and was desperate to eat it. He even caught himself with his teeth trying to get more out.

After this we thought we would have to take him to the vets first thing in the morning (all closed nearby) and keep a close eye on him overnight. He really wanted some lap time cuddles (who wouldn't after that!) so he sat and watched a bit of telly with us. After a while he climbed up onto my arm and positioned himself in such a way that his feet were all on my arm but with his bottom (especially where the impaction was) sticking out over the side. We tried again with plenty of warm water to remove the impaction and he was much less reluctant. It came out much easier too as we weren't having to keep him held in an uncomfortable position and press around his tummy etc. We offered back whatever we got out and that was a great distraction, too. We got out as much as we could but I do think there is still some in there.

When he returned to his cage he was much more lively. He began eating and drinking lots and checking this morning he seems to be drinking a normal amount again.

I have a couple of questions I would really appreciate anyone answering if they have experience in this:
1 - Could his not eating/drinking have been because he felt so uncomfortable or is it probably a different underlying issue?
2 - When we are squeezing out any blockages from him,we worry that we see a lot more of his bottom that we usually do, so we are very sure to stop when it seems too much. Can a guinea pig prolapse as a result of this or is this usual practice?
3 - Does it sound like we are doing the right thing?
4 - Is it likely that the muscles will mend themselves over time? I've seen this suggested on a couple of websites but unsure as to how often this is the case.
5 - Is there anything I am missing?

I really do appreciate any help anyone can offer. Thank you. Sarah x
Old 25-02-2017, 11:29 PM   #2
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Default Re: Impaction - please help! Am I doing the right thing about it?

Hi Sarah
I've had one boar with major (and very longterm) impaction and one with minor/occasional problems. Without explicit detail I can't tell whether you're 'doing it right', but Doris wrote a good guide to it here:

WARNING: explicit language!

Depending on the amount of poo in the perianal sac (the pocket between the sheath and the anus where the poo collects), you may be able to massage it out with PB upright (in his normal position) rather than lying on his back. It may even help him to lie on his side. Whatever works, basically. Squeezing either side to make the poo come out works for vets but I find that as likely to squeeze their testicles Ouch!! In some cases it's easier to ease the lump out with a Qtip/cotton bud (term for US/UK readers), but you MUST be careful not to poke it too deeply into the sac. Some vaseline around the sac's opening can help.

As you've found, sometimes it'll come out of its own accord like shelling a pea, but you can't rely on this, and you do need to check daily if it's become a problem. It may not always need attention, but best to check.

My pigs often decide not to drink water for a while, others drink regularly. You're right to spot changes in behaviour and take action - celery is a good option and sounds like it helped, cucumber is also good.

I've never heard of it fixing itself over time. Victor's just got worse and worse, and ended up golf ball sized. Kevin has some lumps he deposits from time to time but he doesn't appear to be impacted on a regular basis.

There doesn't seem to be any other eating disorders associated with it - if there are other problems PB is showing I'd get the vet to check his teeth (especially his molars) are fine, but I'm loathe to let vets do their teeth if they want to give them anaesthetic. Depending on where you live, you might find a rodentologist who's been trained by the Cambridge Cavy Trust to do dental work, which is far preferable IMHO.

Giving him a bath (or just a bottom bath, or standing him in a sink soaking his sac) is probably a good idea.

Good luck.

Last edited by eppingstrider; 25-02-2017 at 11:30 PM..

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