Piggy Poop Problems: The Impact of Impaction in Guinea Pigs

Guinea pigs poop - a lot! Most piggy parents struggle to keep up with the poo-picking routine for their pets’ habitat. But what happens when the poop stops? Let’s take a smelly ride to find out what causes impaction in guinea pigs, what the signs and treatment of anal impaction in guinea pigs are, and how serious it really is!

Did you know rabbits also have a very sensitive digestive system?

1. What does it mean when a guinea pig is impacted?

Anal impaction in guinea pigs is a serious problem. Pictured is a diagramme of a guinea pig's digestive track.

Piggy parents talk about anal impaction in guinea pigs when something is blocking the pig’s gastrointestinal tract, part of their digestive system. When a guinea pig is impacted, it means they can’t pass poop because of a blockage somewhere along this tract.

Anal impaction in male guinea pigs of a certain age is most common, but any guinea pig can get impacted. Let’s find out what causes impaction in guinea pigs!

2. What causes impaction in guinea pigs?

Guinea pig impaction can be caused by a blockage of the pig's digestive track. Pictured is a guinea pig wanting to eat things that could be dangerous, like their own hair.

Anything that can put a halt to your pigs’ food making its way through their digestive system can cause impaction. It could be things they find around the home, like bits of plastic, or simply large pieces of food they didn’t chew properly, and even bits of fur they ingested. Internal tumours can also be a cause of anal impaction in guinea pigs.

The most common problem with anal impaction in male guinea pigs is old age. As piggy parents know well, our furry friends go through a constant cycle of eat, poop, sleep, and the occasional popcorn. When male guinea pigs enter the senior pigizenship stage, the muscles in their anus stretch and weaken. They then struggle to pass all their poop and - surprise - they get impacted.

Want to find out what guinea pig impaction looks like and how to spot it early on?

3. What does guinea pig impaction look like?

Impacted guinea pigs are often not behaving as normal and show signs of pain. Pictured is a lot of guinea pig poop with the phrase 'What does it look like?'.

We don’t want to be party poopers, but be warned that anal impaction in guinea pigs doesn’t look nice - and it doesn’t smell nice either. Most piggy parents first notice their guinea pigs aren’t quite themselves when they’re off their food, less active than normal, and looking uncomfortable. If the pig is straining when pooping or especially smelly, there’s a good chance you just spotted guinea pig impaction.

To make sure you got it right, you can pick up your pig - gently, because they’re probably sore - and have a look at their bottom. If there’s poop stuck in the perineal sac (the skin outside their private area) and the area feels hard, especially if the impaction has been there for a few hours, the guinea pig is impacted.

Now the good news: you can get rid of your guinea pig’s impaction - or at least the external problem. Your vet can figure out where the problem started and offer treatment.

4. How do I get rid of my guinea pig’s impaction?

The best way to help an impacted guinea pig is to get them to the vet immediately. Pictured is a mobile phone calling the vet.

When it comes to anal impaction in guinea pigs, time is of the essence. Impacted guinea pigs can go downhill very quickly, so it’s important to see a vet straight away. The vet can clean out the impaction, find out what caused it, and provide cavy-savvy treatment, including gut stimulants, pain medicine, and syringe feeding.

When it comes to chronic anal impaction in a male guinea pig, the piggy parents become hands-on in the treatment of their pet, especially when it comes to cleaning out the male guinea pig with impaction. Find out below how that works.

5. How do I go about cleaning out a male guinea pig with impaction?

When cleaning out male guinea pig impaction, you'll need gloves, mineral oil, a pad or liner, and a cotton bud. These items are pictured.

There’s no way around this: cleaning out impacted guinea pigs stinks, in more than one way. If your pig can’t do a number two, it’s a serious - and sometimes fatal - condition, so piggy parents have to deal with a lot of crap to help their pets... literally!

If your boar keeps suffering from impaction, it’s a good idea to set up a bottom cleaning routine for them. Many piggies with chronic impaction get cleaned out once a day, but some may need help more regularly. You can watch your pig to see at what point they get uncomfortable, and then clean them regularly, so there isn’t too much poop build-up.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. An extra pair of hands
  2. A pad or liner
  3. Cotton tips
  4. Mineral oil (optional)
  5. Gloves (optional)

It’s easiest to clean out a male guinea pig with impaction when you have an extra pair of hands to hold the piggy. It’s also possible to do it as a solo piggy parent. Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly before you start, and put on gloves, if you prefer.

The first step is to get a clear view and good access to your pig’s bottom - either by turning them very carefully onto their back or sitting them up on the pad or liner. Many pet owners recommend applying some mineral oil with a cotton tip to the area because it helps ease the poop out.

Now you can use your thumb and pointer finger to gently press down around the poo mass and ease it out. The area feels soft when all poop has been removed. If you’re struggling to get hard poop removed, a few minutes in warm, shallow water can help soften the mass. Just make sure you dry your piggy after, just like you would for a bath.

When you’re finished, make sure to wash your hands thoroughly and give your pig a gentle hug. Some pigs may eat the poop you removed, as the cecal pellets are part of a healthy diet (find out more about guinea pig poop here!).

Still unsure on what to do? Here's a video on how to clean an impacted boar by the Kavee Rescue's pig-expert Tara:

6. Is there a cure for impacted guinea pigs?

Whether you can cure guinea pig impaction really depends on the cause for the impaction. Pictured is a guinea pig thinking about the reasons for impaction, like old age.

The best way to help an impacted guinea pig is finding out what’s caused the issue as soon as possible. Have they eaten something they shouldn’t have? Did they not chew their treats properly? Is there an internal mass? Or is it simply old age?

Once you’ve figured out the reason for the impaction with a vet, you can move on to finding the right treatment for them. If an object or mass is blocking the pig’s digestive system, the vet can try to remove them. There’s a good chance the guinea pig can recover fully from this, so you won’t need to worry about anal impaction in guinea pigs afterwards.

If the situation is related to anal impaction in an older male guinea pig, there’s unfortunately no cure for it. Regular cleaning and a good diet is the way forward for these pigs.

7. Is there a way to prevent anal impaction in a male guinea pig?

Pictured is a guinea pig in a large cage with lots of hay and a good diet to show how to prevent anal impaction in male guinea pigs.

 

Vets suggest that a great diet with lots of hay and plenty of cage space for exercise to prevent anal impaction in a male guinea pig. You can find our guide to C&C cage sizing here. Also, pairing your pig with an active furry friend is a great idea for added exercise. Help them popcorn together, so they can poop-corn better. Impaction can be linked to a lack of fibre or weakening muscles, so keeping your pig healthy from a young age can make a big difference. However, there’s no guarantee when it comes to guinea pig impaction, especially for older boars, so regular checks of the perineal sac are a good idea.

For more tips and tricks on elderly piggy care, check out this guide!

8. Can guinea pigs die from impaction?

Pictured is a worried-looking guinea pig with a pile of poop, as guinea pigs can die from impaction.

Unfortunately, guinea pig impaction has a huge impact on a pig’s wellbeing, so guinea pigs could die from impaction within hours. The small furries eat constantly and pass poop, so when the impaction blocks the digestive track and stops gut movement, it’s a serious condition. To avoid the worst case, any impacted guinea pig should see a vet immediately.

Older boars with chronic impaction should also be monitored for eating habits. If they are showing signs of extreme discomfort, another vet visit is in order.

Frequently Asked Kavees: Q; Do male and female guinea pigs get impacted? A: Both sows and boars can get impaction from eating something they really shouldn’t or having an internal mass. When it comes to chronic impaction at an older age, you’ll find it in male pigs. Q: What happens if a guinea pig isn’t treated for impaction? A: Impaction is a very serious issue because it stops vital functions in a guinea pig’s body. If it isn’t treated immediately, the guinea pig can even die. Q: Do guinea pigs still get impacted if they are neutered? A: Some piggy experts suggest that neutered males are less likely to get impacted. However, neutering doesn’t guarantee an impaction-free pig, and there are some neutered boars with impaction.

Conclusion

When it comes to anal impaction in guinea pigs, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Taking the pig to the vet is the best way to help an impacted guinea pig. The vet can clear the impaction, offer the right treatment, and also find the cause for the impaction.

Older boars often end up with anal impaction in a male guinea pig, so they need help with their poop every day (and sometimes even several times a day). And although there’s no cure for this condition, piggy parents around the world manage it well.

About the author


Fine Mayer

Fine is an ardent animal lover and particularly enjoys the company of her three guinea pigs, Tiberius, Ziri, and Henry. With more than 15 years of pigsperience, she knows the ins and outs of guinea pig care. Today, Fine lives in Glasgow, Scotland, with her three pigs and three noisy birds.

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