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Thread: Elderly pig, anal sac issues/impaction - how much discomfort is too much?

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    Elderly pig, anal sac issues/impaction - how much discomfort is too much?

    Hello, all. Our pig Kip Ruffalo and the current light of my life is getting pretty old at this point (he is well on his way to eight years). So far he has been remarkably healthy, though he is definitely getting to be a tired old man. About a year ago, he started having anal sac problems about once every couple of weeks. (His poop is still well-formed when it comes out, but it has a tendency to get stuck in his anal sac and can sometimes become impacted.) This has gradually increased over the past few months, and as of this week, I have started having to help him go to the bathroom pretty much all the time. The first thing I do in the morning when I wake up and the first thing I do when I come home from work is help with with impacted stool. I'm fine with this (and Kip is very well-behaved about it as long as I treat him with veggies), but after our Chewbear died from no obvious health issues a year ago, I worry that Kip is in pain and, as a prey animal, is just hiding it really well. He still eats plenty, is keeping up his weight, doesn't seem to have any teeth issues, and enjoys laptime - he just doesn't want to play or explore or leave his pigloo or fleece forest, and falls asleep in my lap as soon as we're done helping him poop. I don't know if it's just because he's sleepy and old, or if something else is wrong. He has started waddling out of his fleece forest whenever he's having bathroom trouble and just laying in the middle of his bed, waiting for one of us to come home and help him.

    I've also started having nightmares that he dies from getting clogged up when I can't help him (in the night when I'm sleeping, or while I'm at work). I'm planning on taking him to the vet soon for his geriatric check-up but I wanted to know from you guys - I am afraid of making the choice to help him go too soon (I don't want to "give up on him"), but I also don't want to be selfish and make him live with something that is too painful. Have any of you gone through this with a piggy? How have you made your decisions, either way? (I'm tearing up as I write this.)

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    Re: Elderly pig, anal sac issues/impaction - how much discomfort is too much?

    He can manage ok through the day or night without being cleaned out. Twice a day should be plenty.

    But do offer him the greenish cecal poop you get from the sac and see if he'll eat it. One of the reasons for increased impaction issues in older males is that they can't bend over to get the cecal poops to eat, and that affects the consistency of the fecal poop. So things get mushy and clogged up instead of forming "beans." He may or may not ever get back to normal consistency, but eating the cecal poop may help things along.

    Also encourage more hay than veggies. Veggies tend to soften the stool, which makes it more likely to fill up the anal sac. One person I know who had an 8+ year old male gave him a large glob of Critical Care a couple of times a day. It's mostly hay, and it tends to absorb moisture, so may affect the consistency of the stool in a positive way. Start him with some once a day, and if things improve, then add another. If you're lucky, he'll eat it off the plate.

    I'd ask for an x-ray to see if he's got arthritis in his knees and/or hips. I've got a sow that's something over seven years old, and she has severe arthritis in her knees. So far, she's doing ok on a dose of metacam twice a day. Metacam's not really supposed to be given over a long period of time, but given the choice between a shorter, more pain-free life and a longer one in misery, I'm opting for the metacam. And, not all pigs develop problems with it even after taking it for years. At seven+, I figure she's had a good long life, and I'd rather not see her suffer.

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    Re: Elderly pig, anal sac issues/impaction - how much discomfort is too much?

    This sets my heart at ease. The impacted stools just seem so enormous. Thank you. I don’t see much cecal stool in the impactions (it looks the same shade as his normal stool to me), and he doesn’t seem interested in it (not sure if I should try to force it or not). I’ve also looked into critical care (I wasn’t sure if it would be helpful for this or not, but we’ve been vigilant for other health cues in the past couple years), and it seems like there are a few different varieties/flavors/types. Do they all do the same thing or is there a particular type I should be looking for?

    Thank you so much for your insight and help. I really appreciate it.

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    Re: Elderly pig, anal sac issues/impaction - how much discomfort is too much?

    Mine have always liked the plain CC. But if your pig has a favorite strong-flavored herb or veggie, you can put that in a blender with some water and use the resulting slurry to mix the CC with. Whatever it takes to get it down him.

    I wouldn't force the cecal poop on him. Usually pigs will take it right down.

    Do you have access to another pig so that you might get some cecal (or even fresh fecal) poop from that pig and syringe him some? That might help restore his gut balance.

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    Re: Elderly pig, anal sac issues/impaction - how much discomfort is too much?

    We don't have access to another pig who we have established is in good health yet, unfortunately. That may change shortly, if all goes well. He does particularly like strong-smelling dried basil (I honestly think he likes the crunch, too) so I will try that. This has been so helpful and has set my mind at heart at such ease - thank you so much.

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