We cleaned out our first impacted anal sac today. It was a two-person job, involving warm water, vaseline, cotton pads, pet shampoo, kitchen roll, bad smells, and soaked clothing. The sac in question belonged to Twogoose the guinea pig, whose back end has been looking odd lately.
According to my book The Proper Care of Guinea Pigs, some males are prone to accumulating big wads of poo in the cavernous hollows just beneath their anuses. Says the book: “it is a very simple matter to take the boar into the lavatory and clean it out over the pan.”
“Good to know,” I thought.
The book continues, “the job is done by pushing the lump out from behind while rolling back the opening of the anus.”
It does not explain which “behind” it means. It does not mention which way up or which way round the guinea pig is meant to be. It does not explain how one “rolls back” a bodily orifice. It made absolutely no sense to me at all. So I googled for clues.
It turns out you squeeze the sides of the anal sac like it’s a huge zit the size of an acorn, and then it turns inside out and you simply wipe off the poo.
You know how oatmeal goes when it’s been stuck to the side of a bowl for a few hours? That was the wall of Twogoose’s anal sac. Bunty held him on his back, trying to distract him with murmurs and stroking, while I chipped away at his back end. I managed to pull some hay and fur and ghastly stuff from the top surface, but the concrete-like subtance beneath required more elbow grease.
I tried to soften it with warm water, which didn’t have much effect until I had poured half a cup’s worth over the three of us. I tried to winkle Vaseline beneath the encrustation to encourage it to move, but that merely made it too slippery to get a proper hold of. Then Bunty suggested soap, so I applied a liberal smearing of pet shampoo to the area.
Twogoose, who had been moaning like a small ghost since he had been turned on his back, stopped moaning and relaxed. When I rinsed the lemon-scented suds down Bunty’s jeans, most of the concrete came away, leaving behind a weird growth of white stuff all over the sac wall. It looked like fungus.
“That’s not right,” I said. “Maybe we should take him to the vet.”
We examined his companion, Horatio, for comparison. Horatio has a very clean anal sac, lined with fur. So the fungus was actually Twogoose’s anal sac-fur. One successful treatment of anal impaction completed. Hurrah.
The Guinea Lynx care guide makes a final, important point: if this condition occurs, it’s necessary to clear the impaction every day.