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.