Thursday, June 14, 2018

Pet Pig First Aid Kit

 As pig owners we need to be ready for an emergency with our pig(s) as they are known for getting sick or hurt on weekends and holidays. Always keep your veterinarian’s phone number and poison control in easy reach. They should be the first ones that you call.

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center is your best resource for any poison-related emergency, 24/7, 365. If you think your pet may have ingested a potentially poisonous substance, call 888.426.4435. A $65 per case fee may apply.

NOTE - check with poison control BEFORE you administer charcoal or induce vomiting. Some poisons are corrosive and will cause more damage to the esophagus with vomiting. Also, caustic substances when aspirated into lungs may cause further damage. Do not induce vomiting if pig is unconscious or convulsing.

A first aid kit is good thing to keep on hand and change it out every year or 2 with fresh items.

Animal Rectal Thermometer - For Pig Only (normal temp is 98-101)
Petroleum or K-Y Jelly: for easy insertion of thermometer
Antibiotics (Ampicillin 500mg or Amoxicillin 500mg)
Antibiotics - Injectable (Pen-Aqueous Sterile Penicillin G Procaine and Liquamycin LA-200)

PENICILLIN G PROCAINE AQUEOUS SUSPENSION is an injectable antibiotic for the treatment of cattle and sheep for bacterial pneumonia (shipping fever) caused by Pasteurella multocida; swine for erysipelas caused by Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae (insidiosa); and horses for strangles caused by Streptococcus equi.

LA-200 is a long-lasting, broad-spectrum antibiotic containing 200 mg oxytetracycline per ml. LA-200 is effective in the treatment of a wide range of diseases, including pinkeye, footrot and pneumonia.

Disposable needles (18 or 20 gauge) & Syringe
Ensure / Pedialyte - Dehydration
Canned Pumpkin - Constipation
Styptic Stick / Blood Stop Powder (Corn starch if necessary)
Benadryl Chewables (Allergic reactions/other itchy stuff caused by something other than usual itchy pig.)
Pepto Bismol tablet - liquid can end up all over things for upset tummy's
Ascriptin (coated aspirin) or Baby aspirin

Antiseptic: spray bottle for large areas
Triple Antibiotic ointment : prevent infections
Betadine Solution: topical anti-microbial
Bandages: Assorted sizes - sterile gauze squares, adhesive tape
Hydrocortisone Cream:  to relieve itching
Baking Soda: insect stings, rashes, itching
Swat: keeps insects away from wounds
Cotton Tipped Swabs: for applying topical ointments
Bulb syringe or plastic syringes (with tubing): for administering medications
Hollow handle medicine spoon: for administering liquid medicines
Zip-Lock Bags, or other clean containers: for collecting samples of
vomit, feces, or urine for poison analysis.
Precision Tweezers: for removing debris from wounds and splinters
Scissors, Sterile Latex Gloves

Check with vet or Poison Control before using:
Activated Charcoal: to absorb ingested toxins/poisons
Syrup of Ipecac:  to induce vomiting
Hydrogen Peroxide: to induce vomiting

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Mushrooms - Are They Safe For My Pig?

Hello again Miss Dottie may I ask your opinion on something again please? We have some wild mushrooms pop up in our back yard from time to time and I'm always on the look out for them as I don't know any thing about them being poisonous or not and worry I might miss one and Diesel eats it. Have you ever come across this before?

It's one of those questions that you might get different answers on, but I believe that mother nature has given our pigs the good sense to know the good or safe mushrooms from bad or poisonous ones. They are pigs after all. They eat to live and love to eat.

Where I live here in central FL we get the garden variety mushroom that pops up now and then and none of my pigs bother with them (see picture above). In fact I have watched them eat around them.  I have also lived in the beautiful mountains of Idaho where several varieties of mushrooms grew. Some were for eating (morel mushrooms) and some not. Again, my pigs didn't want anything to do with any variety...good thing we never went truffle hunting.

Mushrooms from the store are fine, and the pigs here prefer either the ones from a can or that the fresh ones be cooked either in water, olive oil, or butter! They don't like them raw. Who said pigs aren't picky eaters.

There is no reason to panic when mushrooms pop up in your yard, our pigs instinctively know to stay away from the poisonous ones. However, if you feel better checking your yard for mushrooms before your pig goes out please do. Remember these pigs have survived on their own for MANY years in the wild without our help. I am a firm believer that mother nature has instilled in them which plants are safe and which aren't...which mushrooms are safe to eat and which are poisonous.

Are wild mushrooms safe for pigs is the question on one forum. There is a man the comes around and picks them all, dries them and sends them to Italy as presents for his family. Two of the answers are: I've found with our Kunes, they seem to be very careful about what they eat - they seem to know not to touch bluebells or foxgloves for example. I'm guessing if this guy is picking them, then they'll be OK unless he's fallen out with his family. 😉 Another reply; we have a lot of wild mushrooms here and the pigs aren't ill.

Pigs know what to eat in their foraging. It is a very hungry pig who will eat any wild food that is unsafe.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Grass and Grazing for the Pet Pig

Do Our Pigs Need Grass? It depends on the type of grass, but they should be allowed to graze and root around in the yard. Grazing is not a luxury, but a necessity for good health. Our pigs should be allowed the opportunity to root in the soil and graze in the yard. Grazing keeps digestion working, keeps the immune system healthy and provides nutrition that they do not get in feeds.

Below is Porky grazing in the yard. There isn't much grass, but he is up and about a good part of the day finding weeds, roots, acorns depending on the time of year and I"m sure some bugs.

Grazing occupies about a third of the pig's day, providing  great emotional satisfaction as well as nutrition. The experts say that pigs seldom root if there is adequate grazing area...there are a few here that root no matter what. A yard that is just dirt will get rooted as they search for roots underground. Pigs know what they need to be healthy. They will seek it out and won't eat dangerous toxic weeds or roots unless starving. On a warm spring day they will graze and then sprawl out to enjoy the sun.  

Have you ever found chewed up clumps of grass in the yard? Presumably, the pigs are taking big mouthfuls of grass, chewing them to extract the soluble nutrients, and then spitting out the fibrous remains. Pretty interesting if you ask me, but does it tell us anything useful about swine nutrition?

Why are the pigs spitting out the grass instead of swallowing it? Obviously, we can't ask them, so here's a guess: The pigs have a finite amount of stomach and intestinal space. The only way they can extract nutrition from the fibrous parts of the grass is to let it get through their digestive tract and into their large intestine, where microorganisms can go to work on breaking down the cellulose, pectins, etc. They're not particularly efficient at extracting the energy from the fiber, and thus are better served by ingesting more digestible material. By grinding the plant matter in their mouths, they extract the easily digestible juices, then spit out the hard to digest parts. Of course, I don't think they make this a conscious calculation, but rather rely on instinct.

While our pigs will eat just about anything, but they still have preferences. They know what to eat in their foraging. It is a very hungry pig who will eat any wild food that is unsafe. Nor do pigs generally overeat to the point of it being a problem. 

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Fencing For The Pet Pig

Fencing is a must if you are going to have a pig for a pet. It will give your pig a place to be a pig - to run around, root and potty. It keeps your pig from wandering off and strange animals from coming in your yard. I don't care how many acres you have you need to have a fenced area for your pig. A pen is okay, but still should be inside of a fenced area. A pen is not a safe place when you aren't home. If you are going to be gone for the day or only a few hours the safest place for your pig is inside the house.

Types of Fencing

If you have full-time outside pigs good, no great fencing is a must as these pigs are outside 24/7. The best pen fencing is hog or cattle panels. They are 16 foot long and either 3 or 4 foot high depending on which you get. They are too heavy for the pigs to lift and difficult for dogs to climb. We have used this for inside the yard only...never to fence the property.

Below are pictures of Porky's pen. It is made with hog panels on 3 sides, the back is 4 board fencing with field fence on the backside. You can do this yourself as long as you have the right tools. I put fence posts at the corners, tall T-posts every 8ft and smaller T-posts in the middle as you can see for extra reinforcement.

Horse or board fencing is pleasing to look at, but should have at least 3 to 4 boards and wire fencing behind it as you don't want dogs crawling through it or trying to dig under it.This is good for property fencing. This what I currently have fencing the property and works well. Turtles seem to be the only animals digging under it.

Field fence or woven wire fence is fair. It is best with a board at the bottom to keep animals from digging underneath it. Must be put up correctly. When pens had to be added they put up field fence with a board across the top. I added the 2 bottom ones so pigs would have support if they leaned up against it.

Chain link will not hold a pig...dogs can dig under it or climb over it.

In our opinion property fencing is a must if you are going to have a pig for a pet. It can be the whole yard or just part of it, but fence an area off. DO NOT trust that just because you have lots of acreage that the pig will not leave and strangers will not trespass. If you are not going to be home put your babies back inside where they are safe while you are gone.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Winter Tips for Your Outside Pet Pig

It's winter out and you want to know how to keep your pig warm and safe from the elements. The outside pig needs a shelter out of the elements.


If you have pigs outside for the winter there are things you can do to ensure they are warm and well. Insulate their house. This can be done with sheets of insulation between ply boards, or placing bales of hay around the outside of their house. We have also placed them on the top to help keep the heat in. Houses should be full of straw, a natural insulator, not breaks up easily. Try to NOT use blankets in the wintertime. They become wet and soggy from the pig going in with a wet belly and can cause problems. You will need to change/add straw often.

Placing a sack-cloth, moving blanket, rug, or similar over the entrance is a must in the winter. This can be lowered over the entrance way at night, and will prevent loss of heat or drafts. This is key to ensuring your pigs don't catch pneumonia in the winter months. Make sure the entrance is facing away from the prevailing wind. The last thing you want is for rain, sleet, or snow to blow through the doorway and into your pigs sleeping area.

We are not fans of heat lamps as there reports of fires each year. Usually with good insulation; lots of straw they will be fine. If you want something extra for really cold nights and older pigs we have used heat mats successfully here.

The brand is Stanfield and they can be found at either eNasco or QC Supply

The mats are screwed on to a sheet of ply board. That is then put on the rubber horse mat that is their floor so that they are not directly on the cold ground. We then put straw on top of the mats. The mats are plugged into a control that is needed to regulate the temperature of the mats. The highest setting we used all winter was 3. This kept their bellies warm and the chill off of their condo. Our lows were generally in the low teens.

Food and Water:

Make sure that you feed well in the wintertime as food helps make body heat. We normally doubled the amount of pig can worry about a diet come springtime. Try and make the last feeding in late afternoon.

Your pig MUST have water…it doesn’t matter how cold it is outside he still needs water. Snow is NOT considered an adequate supply of water and neither is ice. A pig would have to eat a bucketful of snow to get an adequate drink and their stomach isn’t made to hold that.

Some people give warm water in the winter...we don’t because the warm water will freeze faster than plain water will. I don’t know if they just seem like they do or if they really do, but our pigs seem to drink more in the winter than they do in the summer. Could be that they just enjoy the fact that we have more work to do in the bad weather and like to watch. Heated water bowls are nice, but keep an eye on them as some pigs will still dump them.

Potty Time:

Make sure your pig is going to the bathroom on a semi normal schedule. Some pigs will try to hold it and they can cause problems for themselves this way. Weather permitting they should go twice a day...once minimum. Constipation is more common in the winter months than in the summer. We add some Piggy Lax to the feed of all the older pigs just to make sure. Getting them up and walking to go potty also helps prevent constipation.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Pigs and Holiday Safety Tips

December means that the holiday season is upon us. The holidays can be stressful enough without having to worry if your pig has been poisoned or has gotten into something that he shouldn't.  There are lights, plants, ornaments, presents, the Christmas tree and food, lots of food. Here are a few tips to help make the holidays a little less stressful for you and your pig.

Room of Their Own: If you are going to be having guests or hosting a party be sure that your pig has a safe place to go. Visitors can upset pigs, as can the noise and excitement of holiday parties. Even pigs that aren’t normally shy may become nervous in the hubbub that can accompany a holiday gathering. Give your pig his own quiet space to retreat to complete away from the commotion and where your guests won't follow.

As you count down to the new year, please keep in mind that strings of thrown confetti can get lodged in a pet's intestines, if ingested, perhaps necessitating surgery. Noisy poppers can terrify pigs and cause possible damage to sensitive ears. And remember that many pigs are also scared of fireworks, so be sure to secure them in a safe, escape-proof area as midnight approaches.

When you leave the house unplug decorations while you're not around. Pigs and other pets are often tempted to chew electrical cords. Take out the trash to make sure your pigs can’t get to it, especially if it contains any food or food scraps.

Christmas Tree: If you are putting up a Christmas tree you may want to securely anchor the tree so it doesn't tip and fall, causing possible injury to your pig. Place your tree in a corner where you can block it off or up off the ground on a table.

Flowers and Holiday Plants: Although they have a bad rap, poinsettia plants are only mildly toxic. Amaryllis, mistletoe, balsam, pine, cedar, and holly are among the common holiday plants that can be dangerous and even poisonous to pets who decide to eat them. If you normally use these plants to decorate your home, they should be kept in an area your pet cannot reach.

Food: Keep people food away from pigs. If you want to share holiday treats with your pigs, make or buy treats formulated just for them.

Make sure to keep your pigs away from the table and unattended plates of food, and be sure to secure the lids on garbage cans.

If your celebration includes adult holiday beverages, be sure to place your unattended alcoholic drinks where pigs cannot get to them. If ingested, your pet could become weak, ill and may even go into a coma, possibly resulting in death from respiratory failure.

Chocolate is an essential part of the holidays for many people, but it is toxic to dogs and cats. Although the toxicity can vary based on the type of chocolate, the size of your pet, and the amount they ate, it’s safer to consider all chocolate and sweets off limits for pets. A treat that they can have is peppermint moderation of course.

When it comes to the holidays, the best thing we as pet owners can do is get educated on common household toxins and pet-proof your home accordingly. If you think your pet has been poisoned, contact your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline at 1-800-213-6680 with any questions or concerns.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Pet Pigs and Acorns

Is it safe for my mini pig to eat acorns? This seems to be one of those questions that it depends on who you ask. I say yes, BUT the key is moderation and/or limitation...and the age of the pig might also come into play.

In cows those less than 2 years of age seem to succumb to oak toxicosis more than do older animals, however older animals are still at risk. The same seems to hold true for our pigs.

Here at my place I have about 24 oak trees within the yard and pig pens. Most of the old acorns that had not been cleaned up for years were raked the pigs have to scavenge for them as they fall. The two species of oak here are the Live Oak and Laurel Oak. The senior pigs seem to enjoy them in the spring as their trees don't seem to drop too many acorns in the fall. There is one Live Oak that covers 3 pens and part of the seems to be the most popular with the pigs in the fall. Last year after Hurricane Matthew went through in early Oct. they went nuts...pun intended, with cleaning up the acorns. This year there were acorns from that tree during late August to Sept and now hardly any since Hurricane Irma. There are other trees dropping them now as I can see the pigs scavenge for them early in the morning and late in the evening. So here it is a good thing as it gets them up and walking around.

I have a friend in Texas that has a lot of ground with hundreds of oaks with millions of acorns and her pigs don't have a problem with it, but for a first timer you might want to rake them up like some people do so there aren't as many for your pig to eat. You can't possibly get them all, but it just cut's the number down. They can be fattening so that's a concern too. Or you could find a part of the yard without the oak for your pig to go in if that's possible during the time the acorns are falling.

Another friend in MS uses a shop vac to pick up the acorns on her property as one of her pigs will gorge on them and put on a lot of weight a couple of years ago...remember acorns are fattening.

On the other hand a friend in MO that ran a sanctuary would have neighbors bring in acorns for her pigs.

If you have just one or two pigs and lots of acorns you are going to want to limit their time in the yard especially if they just stand there and well pig out. Normal acorns don't seem to cause a problem other than the stomach ache that goes with eating too many of them, but the green ones tend to make them sick. A few acorns here and there shouldn't be a problem. Problems seem to arise when they eat massive amounts for long periods of time.

From The Pig Site: Whilst ruminants are more susceptible to acorn poisoning, outdoor pigs may be affected occasionally. Young oak leaves or green acorns are the major sources and signs are seen two to three days after ingestion. These include abdominal pain and constipation followed by hemorrhagic diarrhea. The kidneys may also be affected.

We also know that a hog (a non-ruminant or simple stomached animal) can tolerate a higher level of some toxins than can ruminants.

The poison in acorns (tannins) concentrates in the milk; knowing that feral (wild) hogs roam the woods, I am sure that they consume many acorns. Whether or not the tannins from the acorns concentrate in the milk of pregnant feral sows resulting in toxicity to nursing piglets, I do not know.

Why do we seem to have tons of acorns one year and not so many the next? 

Oak acorn production varies markedly year to year and by species. But every several years, like clockwork, masting oaks somehow synchronize the timing and quantity of seed production. Biologists suspect it may be some evolutionary adaptation to produce more nuts than foraging animals can eat. They aren't exactly sure how and why oaks suddenly shift into acorn overdrive, then go nearly dormant for years. It seems to happen about once every four to seven years, when oaks — even those located thousands of miles apart — produce and drop acorns en masse, in unison.

Weather alone can't explain it, scientists say.

One theory suggests oak tree masting is triggered by ideal winds. Others point to rain, drought and hurricanes. Scientists also suggest the mass acorn dumps may be something simply ingrained in the tree's genetic makeup, a hedge to guarantee germination of the next generation by flooding the ground with acorns.

Trees in canopy settings produced fewer acorns than those in more open settings, suggesting light also is a factor, the researchers found.

Some biologists speculate that hurricanes, infestations and drought also can stress oaks, possibly triggering large-scale masting, a sort of a last-ditch response to environmental stress.

Bottom line: know your pig(s) and know what they can safely handle if you have oak trees in your yard.

The Pig Site
Florida Today