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Impaction in Guinea Pigs

Impaction is a condition that commonly affects older male guinea pigs. However, even younger ones aren’t exempt. Many older boars will encounter this issue during their lifetime. While it’s a permanent and incurable condition, it’s manageable with regular care.

The condition arises when the rectum loses its tightness, leading to an accumulation of caecotrophs (soft poops) in the perineal sac, a pocket located between the anus and genitalia.

As well as caecotrophs, the impaction can include other debris such as shavings, hair, and hay. These accumulate and solidify within the perianal sac to create a sticky, smelly mass. 

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Impaction symptoms

  • Presence of a bulge just behind the testicles. It may also look like he has a swollen bum.
  • The perineal sac is filled with a brownish-grey, foul-smelling substance.
  • When lifting the guinea pig, you might notice some regular droppings fall out, which have been collecting near the sac’s opening.

How to treat an impacted rectum

Treating impaction can be a bit messy, so wearing surgical gloves is advised. The procedure is straightforward and doesn’t take much time, making it manageable for most adult owners. While it’s an uncomfortable experience for the guinea pig, it’s not painful. 

  • Lay your guinea pig on his back, slightly elevated, using a small cushion for support.
  • Hold him securely with one hand around his middle
  • Lubricate the rim of the sac with some olive oil for easier removal.
  • Gently push the lump out of the sac, using your thumbs from behind and roll the opening with your fingers. 
  • If the lump seems particularly solid, a cotton bud (Q-tip) can be useful to scoop out any remaining debris.
lunkarya guinea pig next to food bowl filled with pellets

The frequency of this treatment depends on the rate at which the buildup occurs. Guinea pig specialist, Peter Gurney, recommends addressing it every few days or daily for severe cases. However, it’s common sense to administer this only when needed. 

If your guinea pig shows signs of impaction, monitor them regularly to see how quickly the matter accumulates. This will guide you in deciding the necessary cleaning intervals to prevent health issues for your pet.

Though the treatment is brief, it’s vital for the guinea pig’s well-being, as neglecting this can reduce their lifespan. If you are not comfortable handling this yourself, you will need to schedule regular appointments with your vet to undertake this task for you.

How to prevent impaction

A balanced diet of quality hay, fresh food, and clean bedding goes a long way in impaction prevention. Exercise is also essential, so ensure your guinea pig has plenty of space to run around. If you notice that bedding contributes to the problem, consider alternatives like fleece or bath mats.

Regular checks can prevent this condition from becoming a significant health issue. Find out how to do weekly health checks on your guinea pigs at home.

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