IS MY PIG SICK?
Micro Mini Pig Health Care - When to call the vet?
Vaccinations should include Erysipelas, Bordatella, and Pasturella on a yearly basis after an initial double dose at 6-10 weeks and 12-14 weeks. Tetanus should be given on a yearly basis. Leptospirosis 5 way and Parvovirus are recommended for breeding females. Be careful, reactions to lepto vaccinations are common. No rabies vaccine is approved for miniature pigs because of extremely low incidence of swine rabies in the United States of America. Cat and dog vaccinations are unacceptable. Lymes vaccine is not approved in miniature pigs. Remember, vaccinations are expensive and if they are doubtful in value, should be avoided, especially since occasional reactions do occur.
One of the most important decisions you will make in the health of your pig is which veterinarian you will use. Most veterinarians are either farm animal or companion animal oriented. Companion animal veterinarians in general are unfamiliar with pig diseases, medicines, and physiology and are uncomfortable handling pigs that can be quite vocal and disrupt their practice environment. Farm animal veterinarians are more familiar with pigs but not in a companion form and may find it difficult to incorporate a pet animal mentality into their thing. Also, farm vets are no longer available in many areas, so choosing a vet becomes a serious dilemma. Some recommendations may help. First, make sure the practitioner is willing to learn, has a personable manner, and is willing to say, "I don’t know." Ask about their experience with micro mini pigs or teacup pigs. Talk with other pig owners who use that veterinarian and listen to their opinions and experiences. Find out about vaccinations uses and routine care practiced by the veterinarian. Here are some guidelines.
Feeding and Nutrition
Actually, pigs do not require much food. When you first get your micro mini pig, if it is a baby, you only need to give it 1/4 cup of pig chow in the morning and 1/4 cup in the evening. In between that you can give them fruits and vegetables while you are working with them or training them. Never feed your micro mini pig or teacup pig avocado or chocolate. These are toxic to pigs. Pigs also have salt toxicity issues. Never feed your pig salted items such as potato chips or salted popcorn. Air popped corn is fine as an occasional treat. Fruits should always be given in moderation because of the natural sugars. We give ours watermelon with just a bit of fruit left on the rind. They love this. This is just a guideline. If your pig is less active and has a slower metabolism you'll need to feed less. If your pig is more active and has a faster metabolism you'll need to feed more. You'll also increase the food intake as they mature. Follow the directions on the back of your feed.
Being as smart as they are they can learn to open lower kitchen cabinets if there is food in there. Always ensure that you either keep food and poisons above the pigs reach or you put child locks on your doors. A pig will learn to open your cupboard doors and help themselves if there is food there. Also, be aware of special needs of your micro mini pig or teacup pig in the winter months.
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When to Call a Vet
Knowing when to call a vet is very important. Time can sometimes be critical. A general rule is when in doubt, call. But here are some things to look for:
Dry Hacking Cough
Persistent vomiting for more than 24 hours (especially if yellow)
Unwilling to eat with others or by himself for more than 24 hours; slow eating, dropping food, head tilted at odd angle while chewing, obvious signs of pain while eating.
Temperature below 98 or above 103 degrees
Head titled behavior with side to side movement
Reluctant to rise or join herd
Skin rashes, lesions, signs of bites or swelling
Diarrhea for more than 24 hours
Ear bothering them, shaking head and head tilt
Eyes glassy or blurry
Wheezing, gasping, groans or cries
Split or cracked hooves
Edema - swelling of the extremities
Sudden weight loss
Urination or defecation with straining
Constipation for more than 48 hours
Lethargic, confused, lying down for more than 8 hours
Unwilling to rise· Painful abdomen
Persistent bleeding· Blood in stool
Seen eating something potentially poisonous or obstructive
Sudden behavioral changes
Raised areas on skin
Lameness-All feet hurting and back arched
Lameness-Particular limb hurts
Lameness-Dragging hind leg
Dipping with lateral, bleeding, oozing stripes across the back
Signs of infection, pus or bloody discharge from vulva
Rapid breathing·/ panting
Overall unusual behavior
Some of the diseases or illnesses can be managed at home, but some will need your veterinarian's intervention.
Never hesitate to call your vet and let them know there may a problem.
Remember that sick pigs are more susceptible to debilitating stress than well pigs. Reducing stress is the key. Use a crate with a blanket inside to keep the pig comfortable and drape another blanket over the crate. This will provide a calm place for the pig to rest while being transported to the vet's office.
The vet will probably want to take a blood sample. Blood profiles and a good physical examination can help diagnose most conditions. If sedation is needed it will be in the form of an injectible to put them under and gas to keep them sedated.
Transport the pig in a closed vehicle with a temperature between 70 - 75 degrees. Excess heat will cause stress. Cold may make it worse, but in itself won't cause a serious stress condition. Don't put a pig in a trailer when it's 10 degrees and expect him to recover. Give plenty of bedding to keep him comfortable, at least a bale of hay in the nose of the trailer. If you don't have a suitable vehicle to transport him in weather, rent a mini van or cargo van, crate him and go!
Things You Should Learn From Your Vet
1. How long before I see improvement?
2. When should I call you again?
3. If he gets worse, how do I get in touch after hours?
4. Call him with the results, after you see him, discuss the treatment.
5. Loading and vet visit are hard on a sick pig. Try to keep your own stress in control, keep children and dogs out of the loading process. Load him with patience and as little rough handling as possible.
3. Keep him warm and dry as he is transported.
You and Your Vet
Whether you have a six month old piglet or a 14 year old adult pig, he will at some point need medical care. Pigs need dental checkups and abcesses drained and at the end of life, diagnostics, perhaps euthanasia. Pigs don't die of old age. Age related diseases, yes, but these are often treatable,always manageable, even if its only controlling pain. .Pigs are subtle in their communication, but a pig who dies without warning is a rarity. A pig that dies before it reaches 15 years is a tragedy. It is very important that you have a vet that will see your pig. There is no substitute for a veterinarian!
Start developing the vet relationship while the pig is young. Pigs ten years old should have had a dental checkup, tusk trimming or other basic care. The truth is that very few vets will see pigs because they can be difficult patients; hard to pick up, screaming, even dangerous. This is why I encourage you to harness train your piglet as soon as possible to make the visits to the vet less stressful for not only the pig but for you and your vet. Appreciate your vet for his willingness to see your pig. Learn how to be an easy client so he will look forward to the challenges your pig presents.
Preparing a Pig for Surgery
I have found several things that can be done before surgery that make marked improvement in the recovery time and comfort of the pig after surgery.
1. Feed a wet diet of fruits, veggies and some bran flakes along with plenty of fruit juices and water for 2 days prior to surgery. This will assure them a good supply of soft “bulk” in their colon to preclude constipation and difficult bowel movements if they are in pain after surgery.
2. Put them in a quiet place to reduce anxiety and to acclimate them to the room or stall they will be in when they return from the hospital. Sleeping there a couple days will make it seem like “home” and they won't be stressed by the new environment.
3. Antibiotics for a few days may be advised. by your vet for various conditions.
4. Check the female’s vulva for signs of heat or bloody discharge before spaying and report the condition to the vet so he knows there is something going on before beginning the surgery.
5. Do not spay a pig in heat or advanced pregnancy. Wait 5 days after signs of heat are gone and abort a heavy pregnant girl first, wait a week or as your vet advises and proceed with the spay..
6. Preventing Ulcers: The stress of surgery, the stress of the illness itself, going without food in the stomach; any of these things can cause a deadly ulcer. You may want to give an acid reducer like Ranitidine right along with the other meds if your vet approves. If not, then be sure that some form of food gets to his stomach, even if it’s only a bit of yogurt or thin rice cereal or milk.
7. Healing takes time. It takes 10 days to heal a sutured surgical site after a spay. During this period she needs to be kept quiet and alone in a small area that doesn’t have access to mud. Getting sand, mud or fecal material into the site can cause infection. The first few days she needs to be where you can monitor her urination and bowel movements to be sure she is eliminating properly. Some pigs do not have bowel movements for many days. It is difficult to know when this is a problem and when it’s not.
8. Watch for straining, bloating, heat in the incision area, or temperature. Also watch for suture reactions which cause abscesses in the surgical site. Call your vet if they appear. They will be sizeable and full of pasty thick white material.
9. While she heals, the stitches will either dissolve or, if not of that type, will stay in the site until they rot out from within, OR they may need to be removed. Ask your vet what type were used. She/he isn’t going to like the process and you need to use great care that you aren’t creating a lot of pulling and stretching on the very site you are trying to heal.
Tasty Temptations for the Sick Pig
Throw away the calorie counter and the rules about balanced feeds and feed him whatever he will eat willingly. Of course you don't want to fill him up on junk food. Use fresh fruits, finely diced or cooked if he wants, cottage cheese, mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs.. cooked cereal with canned milk. If he doesn't want to try anything today, put some things through the blender and make a thin rue or gruel or just a shake and add it to his fluids intake. Add "whole Food" supplements like Juice Plus or Garden of Life's "perfect food" to keep his minerals and vitamins up. Its OK if he eats little while recovering.
Mashed potatoes & Gravy
Pureed peas and cornbread
Peaches and yogurt
Granola type cereal with warm water and banana
Cooked vegetables with some of the cooking liquid left in it
Quick rice meals
Anything with cooked noodles
Canned or freshly prepared spaghetti
Bread soaked in milk
Warm cereal like oatmeal and cream of wheat.
Avoid spice, over processed foods, chocolate and meats (except well cooked chicken or fish in small amounts).
Remember that pigs are omnivorous and all sorts of foods are both appealing and healthy for them. The best diet for any pig is one that is varied and contains an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables..
Bon Appetit! He will soon be back to his normal hungry self