Chocolate Polish Lop

Cavy Impaction
6/4/2012 4:00:00 AM

CAVY IMPACTION– Linda Mason, Greener Acres Caviary


Guinea pigs, like rabbits, must supplement their diet by coprophagy, which is the eating of their own feces. Besides the normal hard feces that you normally see, they produce special soft feces (night droppings) that contain vitamins, fibre, and bacteria required for proper digestion. In older boars, uncommonly in younger boars, the muscles which allow these softer feces to be expelled can become weak, not allowing the cavy to pass them and creating a condition called impaction. Impaction does not happen that often within a herd but if it does, you will want to know how to recognize it and how to treat it.

The symptoms of impaction are 1)a bulge behind the testicles and when the guinea pig is picked up some normal dropping usually fall out, having collecting in the lower end of the sac by the anal opening. You can usually see the feces stuck in the sac. 2) the cavy gives off a very unpleasant odor.

Once a cavy develops this problem he will usually have it for the rest of his life. However, this will be a very short life if it is not taken care and cleaned out on a regular basis (this can be every few days in acute cases) as a guinea pig needs the nutrients from the night droppings which are denied to the animal by the impaction. It takes less than a minute to complete and any adult owners should be able to do it.

The lump of feces has to be expelled from the sac by pressing gently but firmly from the top of the bulge with the thumbs while the fingers roll back the anal opening.  It usually pops out without trouble. Alhough uncomfortable for the animal, it is not painful.  Sometimes the lump may be a little harder or larger than usual.  On these occasions it is advisable to smear some petroleum jelly inside the rim of the sac first. It can be a bit of a mucky job (use latex gloves) but such a simple thing to enable the animal to live out its normal life span. Also much cheaper than a trip to the vet. 

Impaction is a nuisance condition that certain animals and their owners have to live with. It seems to be more prevalent in some breeds than others, especially large smooth coats. Initially, it is a yucky thing to discover but it is also very easy to treat and something all cavy breeders must be aware of.

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