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. 

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