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.
6. 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.
Mini Pig First Aid Kit
Here is a first aid and medicine kit that you can put together for your pig so you will be ready to instantly deal with any problem that may arise.
Accidents happen, and with pigs sometimes they aren't so accidental. Your pig will get bumps, scrapes and even cuts, particularly if it lives, as it should, with another pig. It is important to take care of these small injuries as soon as they occur, if an infection is allowed to develop it can cause serious harm - even a small injury can lead to a large infection.
First, you will need a bag or box dedicated to the medical supplies for your pig. Think of a place to keep it where it will not get wet or contaminated, and keep it close to your pig's pen
for quick and convenient access. Tape to the inside of the medicine kit lid some emergency numbers such as the veterinarian and poison control for animals.
Things to have on hand, to help your pig UNTIL you get to the veterinarian:
•Strawberry Koolaid – for pigs who do not want to drink, or have low blood sugar. Can be used to give some meds since it can mask the taste of a bitter compound •Gatorade(regular/original) or pedialyte – balanced electrolyte solutions to replace fluid lost if vomiting or diarrhea occur. •Low sodium chicken broth – can be used to replace fluid lost if vomiting or diarrhea occur •Campbell’s vegetable soup – many pigs will eat this when it is warmed up when they will not eat anything else. •Canned pumpkin – high fiber to help if constipation or diarrhea occur •Applesauce – many pigs will eat this when they have poor appetite. Can be used to hide medication •Heating pad – for the cold pig. Set on low so piggie doesn’t get burned. Also adds security for new pigs – they sleep better on those first nights home. •Karo syrup – a sugar source to help very cold or inappetant pigs •Sugar – 1 teaspoonful in a cup of warm water can be put on gums to raise blood sugar of cold pigs. They do not have to drink it, i tcan be absorbed through the mucous membranes of the lips and gums. •Instant oatmeal – many pigs will eat warm oatmeal when they do not eat anything else •A few syringes of different sizes or a turkey baster so that you can give liquids orally •A digital thermometer – to be used rectally (get one for only pig use) •A fan for cooling •Ice packs(or frozen peas in a bag) for cooling and in case of a injury to a leg. Put a small towel between the ice pack and the skin. •Honey – a sugar source for cold pigs – rub some on the gums. Can also be mixed in with canned pumpkin if they are reluctant to eat it •Full spectrum light (SAD light) – can be obtained online. Provides sunlight for pigs that are indoors only – needed so that Vitamin D can be produced and used. 10 minutes per day. Especially useful for piglets •Kwik Stop – a styptic powder to help bleeding hooves if you quick them during trimming. DO NOT USE ON SKIN because it can burn the tissue •Super glue – if you quick a claw during trimming, you can glue a cotton ball onto bleeding area and it will stop. Cotton will fall off or can be removed later •Q-tips & KY jelly or Vaseline (or both) – can be used to lubricate and moisten tissue. A small amount on a q-tip can be used to clean the outside of the ear •Handy bandage material (in case of a cut, scrape, etc): •Disposable diapers or sanitary napkins – clean absorbent material, easy to store and always have about. •Masking tape (does not stick to skin, but sticks to bandage material) •A couple of pairs of athletic socks or some boots made for dogs – to cover feet •1 inch white bandage tape, rolled gauze and vetwrap
* You should then get a spray bottle,
* distilled water,
* Hydrogen peroxide,
* sterile compression pads,
* and Gatorade.
A spray bottle is handy to have around for when your pig will not let you near the injury that is causing him pain. You can put hydrogen peroxide in the spray bottle to disinfect cuts. You can put spectomycin and some water in the bottle for an antibiotic treatment (Ask the vet how to mix).
Your antihistamine should be something like Benadryl or Zyrtec. Any animal that has difficulty breathing because of the shape of its snout or muzzle can have allergies develop and cause big trouble. To get your pig to take an antihistamine, you take a pill, crush it up and put it between two slices of bread with mayonnaise, or make a paste with water and smear it in the pig's mouth. The common human dosage is probably fine for your pig if it is relatively the same weight as you are. Most pigs will eat with no problem a pleasant tasting chewable Benadryl for children.
Aspirin is handy to have in your medicine kit when you pig is injured, especially if your pig hurts a hoof or leg. This is a painful condition. Be cautious to not give too much aspirin to your pig as it can cause stomach problems, ulcers of the stomach and liver damage. Most veterinarians these days prescribe an acid
reducer like Ranitidine or Prilosec to take along with any pain medicine to avoid upsetting the stomach or the stomach lining, but that is for painful conditions like arthritis or joint issues that will make your pig need to take pain medicine for extended periods of time.
SMZ is a very common and widely used antibiotic that you can find on any farm. The pills are easy to crush into powder and easy to feed to an animal. SMZ will cure a wide range of ailments. Amoxicillin and Tetracycline are also common antibiotics and can be used for pigs. At the first sign of infection you should dose your piggy after calling the vet for proper dosage instructions. Another antibiotic is called Doxycyclene and can be taken once
daily, which is good for the finicky pig that will not take its pills voluntarily.
Any pill can probably be hidden into many foods that you pig likes to eat, especially if it is a crushed tablet. If you pig likes applesauce then crush the tablet into the applesauce and give the applesauce to the pig like it is a treat. If you pig will not take medicine at all you can crush the tablet, mix with water and put into a needleless syringe to be squirted directly into its mouth. There are specially made syringes for this purpose.
There are a myriad of ways to sneak a pill into food stuff that your piggy will like. You can make any number of sandwiches with any sauce and mix the crushed tablet into the sauce. You can mix the pill into some sugar cookie dough or cottage cheese or stuffing! You can mix it into any type of drink like Gatorade or Egg Nog! You can also put into peach halves or canned apple slices. You can even put it into vegetarian hot dogs and feed it
to your piggy (ideal for capsules!). Most pigs love human food, although it should be given to them only on special and rare occasions, so the treat of human food will probably make your pig take its medicine with no problem.
Never Ever give Pork products to a pig. You can inadvertently spread disease by doing this. You should thoroughly cook any pork you ingest and never give it to your pig.
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
Post Surgical or Other After Care
Healing is an art. When you walk into your pig’s sick room believe in his recovery. A positive attitude will bolster his spirit. The beginning of after care for a pig who doesn’t want after care is rough. Keep the attitude that you will do whatever it takes to help him get well. It may be very difficult but the only thing that matters are the results of your efforts. "Doing your best" and getting no results is letting him down. Success is required if he is to recover. If you are unable to keep him hydrated or give his medications he will need to be given that care elsewhere. Discuss the problems with the vet. Creative ways may be found.
A word of encouragement to all of you care givers, the pig who begins by fighting you usually learns through his experience that he is getting better and becomes much more cooperative over the days or weeks of treatment. They even begin to appreciate the shot that makes them feel better.
• Food: The only essential to protect the stomach from acid. It is unlikely a pig will go without food (willingly) long enough to starve himself. But protecting his stomach from acid is very important. Well known pig vet, Dr Carr, has said repeatedly that even 1 day without food can cause an ulcer. If Mr. Pig will eat, vary his foods to encourage him and don’t worry about balanced diet or calories. Use nutritious foods, not junk foods and give him cooked veggies and dumplings, rice and gravy or mashed potatoes and peas, whatever he will eat and is soft and not dry. If he refuses to eat anything a thin gruel of rice cereal, will do the job.
• Fluids: Unlike foods, fluids MUST be taken in every single day without fail. The average PBP needs to consume 3 pints of fluids at a minimum.
Water, juices, Gatorade type products, thin milkshakes with nutrients blended in, all work well. Do not give caffeine such as cokes or other soft drinks (he may not need any heart stimulation) or artificially sweetened anything (quite toxic).
Getting these fluids into him may require trickery or force.
• Get the meds in with the first drink of the day (or by liquid in a syringe) to be sure if all else fails they have been ingested. You will need a mortar and pestle to grind pills to put into the juices. Very few drugs will dissolve on their own. Grind to a fine powder and add to the fluids. (Capsules open easily to dump out contents) You can buy a mortar and pestle online or at a pharmacy.
on’t heat or freeze liquids once meds have been added. Give the meds in the fluids without delay. They will start breaking down rather soon.
• Be sure to account for the amount lost in the drinking process when calculating how much he has to drink. I figure about half gets where it should..
If you have problems carrying out the vet's instructions for a sick pig, ask for help. Ask for him to change to a less frequent dosage, a flavored medicine or other way to assure that the treatment is carried out. No matter what the reason, if the treatment isn't completed it won't help him. Your best efforts may not be enough without some added help to get the job done.
How Pigs Respond to Illness and Infirmity?
A sick pig will go off by himself away from the herd. This is species preservation. Sickness has odor.. Odor that predators recognize and seek out.. Staying in the herd endangers the herd > the species.
He will be very quiet, no matter how much pain he has, this is self preservation.. Noise brings predators…
A wounded or crippled pig will not put himself into any danger by getting too close to a bluff, deep water or a gully. Pigs have a very well developed sense of self, recognizing their limitations and risk.
A sick pig will often stay motionless under a pile of hay or leaves.
A sick pig, even of the friendliest kind, will often scream at your attempts to touch him. At the instinctive level you are still a predator.
Pigs get worms, lice and mites. Fleas aren’t a significant problem and ticks are a seasonal/environmental problem that passes quickly. It always amazes me that people who will follow a precise schedule to worm their dogs will let the pigs go un-wormed for years and expect nothing bad will happen. Just as with dogs, worms can kill.
The worst possible means of coping with parasites is to put poisons onto or into the pig. Poisons are exactly that.. It’s all a matter of how much it takes to kill a particular organism. Any amount of poison in the system is bad. More is worse. And with pigs going into water holes and pools they are ingesting poison not only through the skin but by mouth. The types of wormers that deal with a parasite's specific physiological weakness are so much safer it is unconscionable to use anything else. These wormers would only hurt your pig in huge overdoses.. like 20 times the dosage. And even then are not the kind of cumulative toxins that are stored forever in an ever weakening liver.
Use Ivermectin 1% for Cattle & Swine . The injectible Ivermectin is given IM at the rate of 1 cc (1 ml) per 75 pounds of weight. The brand name is IVOMEC and the generics are many, all are the same Ivermectin drug. Just do not buy any Ivermectin product with additional ingredients for other conditions. These may not be safe to give orally. You can give your pig the Ivermectin paste though. Sqeeze a pea size dollop onto their food once every 3 - 4 months.
Vets differ on what they recommend for vaccinations. Many are available. Others are available "off label" ( not specifically released for pigs but effective, such as Rabies if you live in an area where rabies is prevalent and your pig is exposed to the areas where rabid animals have been known)
Here we vaccinate for prevention of enterotoxemia caused by clostridium perfringens types B and C, long-term protection against tetanus, and erysipelas only. Your vet will know best your risks.
Conditions, Causes, Treatments
1. UlcersPain medicines, stress, (result of} not eating, particle size in feeds - Nexium, Prilosec, omeprazole, ranitidine, famotidine (note: some heal, some control)
2. Reproductive disease; open or closed pyometra, endometrial hyperpalsia, cancer
ALL are fatal conditions and all are easily prevented.- Spay
3. Discharge from the vulva, abdominal enlargement, inappetance, discomfort lying down - Spay, Spay Spay!
4. Pneumonia; sinus infectionsBacterial, ViralDraxxin, Penicillin, Naxcell, other antibiotics Strep SuisBacterialAntibiotics / (short term) anti inflammatories 5. ErysipelasBacterialAntibiotics 6. Osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease)Injuries from impact with hard surfaces on fragile/juvenile legs, result of septic arthritis, age relatedGlucosaminoglycans, Cosequin,
(short term) cortisone/sarapin injections, environmental corrections, pain medications
7. Rheumatoid arthritisAuto immune dysfunctionGlucosaminoglycans, (short term)prednisone, pain medications 8. Septic arthritis (Only one joint affected)Infection introduced through a wound at the site or carried internally from infection elsewhereAntibiotics, flushing affected joint, pain medication, (short term) anti inflammatories
Too little moisture in the diet, lack of regular exercise, wrong kinds of fiber in the diet, fever, illnessHigh moisture diet (pumpkin, cantaloupe, greens, tomatoes, soaked prunes and juices), Fleet enema for low colon dry feces, mineral oil 10. Salt Poisoning (water deprivation)Insufficient sources of water to keep ingested salts flushedNone. Resulting brain damage leaves pigs with dysfunctional senses of sight/smell/hearing/ ability to think clearly 11. CancerMany sources act as carcinogens from treated water to household cleaners. Pigs develop most of the same types of cancer as humans. White pigs have a high risk of skin cancers.Surgery, chemotherapy, immune system protagonists
12. Urinary Calculi/blockages/infections
Mostly in boys, caused by unknown factors but may be linked to diet.As long as they can dribble urine they are usually treated with urinary acidifiers and antibiotics. In severe blockages they may require surgery where a tube is put directly into the bladder to drain it. 13. Heart diseaseResult of infectious diseases, age related, diet may have a roleLasix, prednisone, specific heart drugs for particular ailments 14. AbscessesMany external (i.e thorn or.bite) or internal bacterial invasionDrain, flush OsteomyelitisUntreated abscesses or infections near a bone. Drain, flush, deep wound antibiotic methods such as "beads"