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

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Quality Time With Your Pet Pig

With our busy lives and having a pet pig it's important that we remember to spend some quality time with them. Whether it's 5-10 minutes here and there or an hour or more. Make that time with them count.

For most people with an inside pig this can be an easy thing to do. Let them sit or lay with you while catching a favorite show on TV or catching up on reading. We did this for several years with Ziggy and Flower. Every afternoon we would stop what we were doing and take a break to watch a favorite show. The pigs had an hour of our attention and even learned to recognize the opening music. Take this time to love on them and groom them..they will look forward to it. Ours knew that I would be checking their ears and eyes and picking off any flakes that they had.

Years later when it was just one house pig we would go for evening walks around the property and even the cat would tag along. It was quality time that we spent together. As well as that hour with me sitting on floor in the evening with him.

Now all of the pigs here live outside and it is harder spending quality time with those that want it, especially now that life is busier. Yes there are some days when a real effort had to be made to spend that extra 5-10 minutes that they want. Rudy is that pig that is always into something and we have to wonder if he is doing it for the attention. He really just wants 5-10 minutes of our time for a belly rub and to be loved on. Gracie seems to be more independent and does enjoy a belly rub, but is always alert...never seems to really relax. Harley also enjoys a good belly rub. Of the rest 3 don't want to be touched and the other 3 will let you touch them, but are always cautious. They seem to be fine with a roof over their heads and food in their tummies.

Now with Porky who was an outside pet even before coming here seems to go through stages as to how much attention he wants. The end of summer we started taking a walk around part of the yard shortly before he was to go in his pen for the night. It is our one on one time. He hasn't been much for belly rubs until lately or letting me clean his face, but now he wants the belly rubs and puts up with me trying to clean his a point. We have missed some of our walks lately with Hurricane Irma and trying to get things cleaned up, but we are continuing to bond and have our one on one quality time every evening. Remember it is about quality not quantity...make that 5-10 minutes count! They will remember.

Dottie and Porky

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Pigs and Sunburn

Can my pig get sunburned? Yes, pigs can get sunburned just like humans. They do not have dense fur protecting their skin like most animals do. They can get very bad burns from the sun if they are not properly protected.

Sunburn is common in the white non pigmented pigs, some of which can be highly susceptible to ultra violet radiation. The symptoms are similar to those in humans with rapid reddening of the skin and considerable pain.

This is why pigs like to wallow and coat themselves in mud, which protects them from the sun, helps to keep moisture in their skin and protects them from bugs.

Most people provide a wallow for their pigs, that is a mud hole, so that they can coat their skin with mud for protection from harmful UV rays and cool themselves down at the same time.

Trees, a shade structure such as a lean-to or barn left open so that the pig can go inside when it gets too hot.Various types of shade sails or fabric also work; see example below. It should be made with fabric providing 70% UV block or higher.

A sunscreen made for pigs is a good idea when you know that they will be out in the sun for a considerable time and don't want them to get dirty with mud.

There are several degrees of sunburn and sun stroke. Both are very harmful as you probably already know.

Sunburns can show up as a slight redness of the skin.The skin is warm and tender to the touch. In more sever cases the skin is very irritated and red. Often swollen and pressure sensitive. It can peel after a couple of days due to the top lay of skin being damaged. Proper moisturization is required (Aloe Vera gel is highly recommended) in order to help heal the damaged area and an anti-bacterial ointment is recommended for open sores.

Unfortunately, there is no real cure for sunburn. The best treatment is prevention. Using a sunscreen, mud, staying in the shade and staying hydrated are the best ways to prevent sunburn and sunstroke.

Sunstroke often goes along with sunburn, especially the stronger degrees of sunburn damage. The precursor to sunstroke is called heat exhaustion.


Heat stroke usually occurs where ventilation has failed or in extremely hot weather and/or high humidity.

The pig is a relatively poor controller of its own body temperature, not sweating (other than from the snout) and if it is unable - due to environmental conditions - to wet its skin and thus allow latent heat of vaporization to cool it (the exact process that occurs with sweating in man) it cannot lose heat from the skin.  Even if able to wet the skin (wallowing, playing a kiddie pool, etc) if humidity is very high, the water will not evaporate and thus there will be no cooling.

Always provide your outside pig with plenty of shade, mud hole to wallow in and/or pool. On those high humidity days when it is dry and dusty out wetting the ground down with the hose will help keep pigs cool. This gives the pigs a cool place to lay.

Symptoms are a very high respiratory rate, muscle trembling, red skin, high temp, vomiting.

Immediate attention is needed. Cool the pig down slowly with cool water (NOT ice cold) on the belly and behind the ears. Depending on the pig you can do this with a hose or cool washcloth. Offer water (cool NOT ice cold) to drink a little at a time. 

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Pet Safety Tips for 4th of July

Fireworks, picnics and other Fourth of July traditions can be great fun for people; but all of the festivities can be frightening and even dangerous for our pigs and other pets. Noisy fireworks and other celebrations can startle animals and cause them to run away; holiday foods can be unhealthy; summer heat and travel can be dangerous; and potentially dangerous debris can end up lying on the ground where pets can eat or play with it.

The safest and best bet for celebrating this Fourth of July with your pets is to exclude them from holiday festivities, at least this time around. Instead, find a safe, secure spot in the home for your pets while you go out and enjoy the loud bangs, bright lights and spectator fun. Your pets will appreciate the quiet a lot more than you’ll enjoy the noise.

Here are a few simple tips on how to keep pets safe… plus a bonus tip on how
pet owners can have a better chance of finding a lost pet.

1) Stay inside: Try to keep your pet indoors at all times during holiday celebrations. Ideally, someone stays home with your pet.

2) Make them feel safe: Comfort your pets with petting, hugging, talking to them in a soothing voice, providing a treat and staying nearby if possible. Make sure they can access their crate or “safe place.”

3) Avoid the noise. Try to drown out the fireworks sounds as much as possible by closing windows, playing music or turning on the TV. You can also do the same thing for pigs that in barns.

4) Act normal! Your pig takes cues from your and your family’s actions. It will help if you go about your normal routine as much as possible, talking and playing with your pet as usual.

5) Make sure your yard secure and that you have a current photo of your pet, just in case.

Preparing in advance:

  • Make sure your pets have identification tags with up-to-date information. If you have horses, you might consider marking a safety (breakaway) halter with your contact information and leaving it on your horse during this stressful time.
  • If your pets aren’t already micro-chipped, talk with your veterinarian about micro-chipping. This simple procedure can greatly improve your chances of getting your pets back if they become lost. If your pets are micro-chipped, make sure your contact information in the microchip registry is up-to-date.
  • Take a current photo of all of your pets.
  • Make sure the environment is safe and secure. If your neighbors set off fireworks at an unexpected time, is your yard secure enough to keep your pet contained? Are pasture fences secure enough to keep pigs or other animals confined? Evaluate your options, and choose the safest area for your animals; and make improvements if needed to make the area more secure. 

Safety during July 4th celebrations:

  • Leave pets at home if you are going out to parties, fireworks displays, parades and other gatherings. Loud fireworks, unfamiliar places and crowds can all be very frightening to pets, and there’s great risk of pets becoming spooked and running away.
  • If you’re hosting guests, ask them to help keep an eye on your pets to make sure they don’t escape. Better yet consider putting your pets in a safe, escape-proof room or crate during parties and fireworks.
  • Keep outside animals in safely fenced areas and as far from the excitement and noise as possible. 
  • Keep your pets inside if you or your neighbors are setting off fireworks.
  • Keep sparklers, glow sticks, fireworks, charcoal and kabob skewers away from curious pets.

After the celebrations:

  • Check your yard for fireworks debris before allowing pets outside to play or relax. Even if you didn’t set off fireworks yourself, debris can make its way into your yard, where curious animals may pick it up to play with or eat.
  • Check your pastures and remove debris to protect horses and livestock.
  • If you hosted guests, check both your yard and home for food scraps or other debris that might be dangerous to pets.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Ear Care For Your Pet Pig

Pig ears sometimes will get a little wax build-up. This is normal! That stuff that is down in the ear is there for a reason.
DO NOT try to clean deep inside your pigs ear. When the build-up gets bad on the pig ears (the lobe area), You can use your finger nail or Q-tip to scrape it out, being careful not to let any of the gunk fall back into the ear. Some people prefer a cotton ball or warm washcloth, we do not use any type of foreign object or ear cleaner. It is not necessary. Make sure your vet knows this if you take your pig in for maintenance.
That 'stuff' that builds up is their natural defense against dust, particles and tiny insects getting too far into their ears. It is also what keeps the water out of your pig’s ears when he is in his pool, or for outside pigs the mud hole.
DO NOT put any liquids in your pigs ear EVER! This can get in their inner ear and cause them to have a head tilt, putting them off balance. If liquid gets into your pigs ears, it can cause serious problems like a yeast infection.
For those of you that like to hose your pig down to cool them off during hot days, make sure you do not allow the stream of water near their ears or face as they are jumping around.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Ticks on Pigs

What are ticks? Ticks are small arachnids, part of the order Parasitiformes. Along with mites, they constitute the subclass Acari. Ticks are ectoparasites, living by feeding on the blood of mammals, birds, and sometimes reptiles and amphibians.

Ticks can be a serious problem in our pet pigs depending on where you live. Whether your pig spends most of their time inside or outside, they are bound to run into a tick at some point. Ticks carry many diseases that may affect you, your mini pig, or other pets. Below are some suggestions on prevention, how to remove a tick and control/repellents.

Tick growth over 7 days:


Mow it right. Mowing your lawn to the proper height and frequently reduces flea and tick hang-outs
Avoid over-watering. Fleas and ticks prefer moist environs. An over-watered or poorly draining lawn can extend an invitation to these insects.
Remove leaf litter.
Clear tall grasses and brush around homes and at the edge of lawns.
Place a 3-ft wide barrier of wood chips or gravel between lawns and wooded areas to restrict tick migration into recreational areas.
Consider cedar. Cedar mulch repels fleas and ticks. Use it to border areas where your pig likes to play or rest to keep insects from migrating into those areas. Place cedar mulch along the edges of your yard to form a barrier.
Stack wood neatly and in a dry area (discourages rodents).
Keep playground equipment, decks, and patios away from yard edges and trees.
Let the sun shine. Both ticks and fleas like shady, moist areas. Prune trees and shrubs to allow more sunlight to enter your landscape.

How to remove a tick:

If a tick attaches to your pig, you’ll want to remove it as soon as possible. The longer the tick is attached to the skin, the higher the risk of infection or disease transmission. If your pig is bitten by a tick, simply remove it and watch the area. If it becomes red, inflamed, or discolored, seek veterinary care. Tick bites can become infected by nasty bacteria from the tick’s mouth.

Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin's surface as possible. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don't twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouth-parts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouth-parts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water. Dispose of a live tick by submersing it in alcohol, placing it in a sealed bag/container, wrapping it tightly in tape, or flushing it down the toilet. Never crush a tick with your fingers.

There is a new tool called a Tick Twister that seems to be a better way of removing the tick than tweezers which always seemed to squish the tick when I tried to remove it. I haven't had to use it yet, but it looks like it will do a better job than the tweezers.

Control / Repellents:

Aqua Spray - Repels biting insects such as black flies (gnats), ticks, fleas and mosquitoes without Pyrethrins, Pyrethroids, DEET or d-Limonene! Non-greasy, pleasantly scented, safe for pet pigs.

Some vets are now okaying the use of Frontline plus or Advantage plus on our pigs for tick control, but please pay attention to the weight recommendation to avoid overdosing. If you have any questions consult your vet.

Diatomeacous Earth food grade can be spread on the ground, on bedding, or even added to their feed. There are different grades of DE - make sure that it reads Food Grade as it is the only one safe for consumption. While it can be put on your pig - note that it is very drying and is not fast acting.

Remember to do daily checks of your pig to see if there are any ticks when giving belly rubs. They will thank you for it. 

Friday, March 10, 2017

Dippity Pig Syndrome

What is Dippity Pig? Dippity Pig is the name given to the condition that happens when our pigs seem loose control of their back legs and "dip" their backs screaming in pain. Some pigs will also have circular type lesion(s) along the spine of their back. Dippity Pig is now also referred to as Bleeding Back Syndrome and Erythema Miltiforme.

Though Dippity Pig can happen anytime of the year it is most common in the spring when temperatures are changing; meaning it is warming quickly with nice sunny days when most days have been cloudy.

It is scary to watch, but if you know what is happening to your pig and why, you will be prepared to handle it and not panic as much. 

The cause of Dippity Pig is still unknown. Some believe it to be stress related, but we have found that it seems to have something to do with heat, or exposure to sun after cloudy days. This has been the case here.

Take note that the condition is much more common in pigs under two years of age and won’t happen at all or frequently with older pigs.


  • Dipping or temporary loss of back legs - usually when trying to look up
  • Screaming in pain
  • Sores on the back - usually along the spine and can ooze 
  • Untreated will usually last 2-4 days
  • Comes on quickly with no notice


There is no treatment for Dippity, nor is there any preventive medication available at this time since the exact causes have not been determined. There are things you can do to help your pig feel better while Dippity Pig it runs its course.  Leave pig alone as much as possible. Do not make it look up at you, doing so puts a strain on their back and will cause their back legs to collapse. Reduce stress by keeping the pig in a quite area with dimmed lights.

Skin lesions can be painful and luckily, topical creams or sprays can help reduce their severity. Vitamin E liquid or Aloe Vera gel can also help reduce the pain and discomfort of the lesions.

What can you do for pain? For more sever cases, you should take your pig in to the vet. There they can administer a dose of an anti-inflammatory such as Prednisone or another steroid in extreme cases. Aspirin can be given by the owner, but you must make sure to give the appropriate dose.

Remember, although very frightening to the owner (it has happened to 3 different pigs here), the distress and symptoms typically resolve with no treatment, within 24 hours. Your pig should still be eating, drinking and going potty normal. Anything else and it is probably not Dippity Pig. See your vet.  

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Fruits and Veggies For Your Pet Pig

First and foremost, your pigs pig chow should be the mainstay of their diet. It has all the protein and nutrients that our pigs need. Everything else is a bonus and moderation is key as with most foods. 

Though our pigs can eat most of the same foods that we do it doesn't mean that they should. Just like us some pigs also prefer to eat their veggies cooked rather than raw.  

In addition to their diet of pig chow, most pigs will enjoy a daily salad of fresh vegetables. Dark leafy greens are best as they provide ample amounts of vitamins. They also make delicious snacks.

Fruits are an especially delicious treat for pigs, but one that should be given only occasionally. Because of the sugar content found in fruit, pigs should only be fed one or two small portions of fruit a day as a treat. Small pieces of fruit can also be used as a reward if you're attempting to train your pig; they'll love the sweet prize. Pigs can eat a wide range of fruits, so long as it's in moderation. Give your pig opportunities to try a variety of fruits - from bananas and apples to strawberries and pineapple - to see which they like best.

There is nothing cuter than watching your pig’s face as they try something new. If they don't like it or want it they will spit it out.

As for fruits, most seem to like apples, melons, grapes and berries. We have found here over the years that most don’t care for oranges or grapefruit. There have only been 2 pigs that would eat them and it was always fun watching them peel the orange. We watched as Oshay would go around the orange trees searching for good oranges knowing to avoid the rotten ones. 

When feeding fruits with seeds or pits; we do not worry about the seeds as the pigs either eat them or spit them out. If it is a food with a pit we do cut it out. And depending where you live you might end up with new plants growing in your yard. 

Foods with rinds like melons can be fed, but beware as they can choke on them as well as banana peels. Know your pig and what he can handle. We do feed melon rinds here, but try to leave some meat on them and slices are of a size that we know they can handle. 

We have found that our pigs are pickier with veggies than fruits. And like us will eat those certain vegetables if they have been cooked first. We have one picky eater here and he will not eat any kind of lettuce, squash or zucchini, he prefers soft fruits. Our senior pigs also do not like pumpkins.
Again, moderation is key with most foods. Remember that most fruits and some vegetables contain natural sugars that turn into fat if not burned off.