Guinea Pig Lover



Posted by  on Monday, July 9, 2012

I adopted my first pair of boars, Ethan and Hobbes, from OC Cavy Haven several years ago. It’s fair to say that I love boars and I’m often surprised by the fact that people tend to want to adopt sows. We tend to keep boars in the rescue a lot longer than sows and, while I certainly am not anti-sow – to me, a pig is a pig and they’re all great! – I have a hard time understanding why anyone would not want an awesome herd of boars like mine!

Perhaps it’s the boar cleanings?

I got so lucky the day I adopted Ethan and Hobbes because their foster mom, Holly, would not let me leave her house with them until I knew how to do a boar cleaning. They had lived with her for quite awhile and I could tell she was not letting them leave her without being assured they would be taken care of – and that means boar cleanings. So she picked up Ethan and demonstrated the technique. Then she picked up Hobbes, handed him to me, handed me a q-tip and watched carefully as I did my first boar cleaning. So I left that day with my two adopted boys and the idea that boar cleaning was just another thing to do, just a part of the routine. So all these years later, when ‘boar cleaning’ shows up on my calendar every few weeks, I just get out my gear and do the routine and it seems very simple and ordinary to me. To be quite frank, I actually enjoy it because I love helping my boys feel comfortable and clean.

For those who are not familiar with the routine, here are some tips:

Clean the Anal Sac
This should be done about every three weeks, more often in older boars who have lost some elasticity in their muscles and are more prone to impaction. Have your mineral oil and q-tips ready, then place piggy on your lap with his back resting up against you so his back is supported because, of course, his spine does not bend backwards. Then use one hand to gently pull the anus back so you expose as much of the sac as possible – do not be rough here as you don’t want to stretch out piggy, but you do want to make sure the sac is being cleaned well. With the other hand, dip the q-tip in the mineral oil and insert it into the anal opening, then scoop all around to move any debris from the sac. Sometimes there will be a lot of build up and you will have to repeat the process with several q-tips. Just do this until the q-tip comes out clean.

Address Impaction
If your boar has not been cleaned regularly, he may develop an impaction, which will interfere with him producing the caecal feces. Caecal “pellets” are the softer pellets that are rich in Vitamin B complex, the ones you see your piggies reaching down to eat. Those of us less well versed in technical terminology often refer to this process as “taking their vitamins.” If you are not fully comfortable with boar cleanings, an impaction will require a trip to an experienced cavy vet who can do a deep cleaning to remove the impaction. If you are comfortable with it, then you should be able to remove the impaction with a liberal amount of mineral oil and some patience. You may even want to enlist a friend to help hold piggy still as you gently try to loosen the impaction.

Clean the Penis
A thorough boar cleaning includes checking piggy’s penis to remove the smegma that can build up around the shaft. This requires holding piggy securely with his back against you and gently pushing down on both sides of the penis so the shaft comes out. Remove any white debris with a moistened tissue. If done regularly, the build up will stay at a minimum.

Check the Grease Gland
The last step in the boar cleaning process is to check piggy’s grease gland. This is a dime-sized area located about half an inch above the anus which has a leathery and often greasy feel to it. If grease has built up, you can use coconut oil to break up the build-up. Some people swear by Dawn dishwashing detergent. You can lather some onto the grease gland and let it stand for a few minutes. Then just rinse thoroughly and continue to clean the area so the grease doesn’t clog it, which can lead to infection.

Dispelling a Myth
It is commonly believed that neutered boars do not need to have boar cleanings. While it is often the case that neutered boars will not be prone to build up of debris in their anal sac, it is not always the case. According to my vet, who is one of the premiere cavy vets in SoCal and has been seeing guinea pigs for over 15 years, the most impactions he sees – by far – are on neutered boars. This may be due to the fact that their owners believe boar cleanings are not necessary. So to be on the safe side, my neutered boar gets his cleanings right along with the rest of my herd.

Happy boar cleaning

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