Thursday, October 11, 2018

The Aging Pot Bellied Pig

Life Span: I still feel that the average age for these pigs 12-15 years of age. There are cases of pigs living into their late teens or early twenty's, but I feel that the life span of these pigs is not what we assumed in the beginning (25-30). It is closer to the truth that they will have a productive life that equals the life span of the well cared for dog. This would make it between twelve and fifteen years.

Eyesight: Eyesight on the normal pig is considered very poor, and as the pig ages it appears to become even more poor. Due to the wonderful sense of smell this should not cause a problem with our pigs unless we change their environment or surroundings without using time and supervision during the acclimation period.

Body Functions:
The geriatric pig may have more problems with urination and bowel movement. It is not unusual to have problems with constipation on the older pig. The older the pig, the more of a problem it can become. In severe cases the pig will refuse to eat and appears to be in pain showing a tenderness in the stomach area, crabby and irritable, much like a human with these problems.

I know that some of you count every little calorie that goes in, but for this problem I suggest a teaspoon of low fat oil put on the food three items a week for prevention. Or something like Piggy Lax that is sold for this specific purpose. We also wet all feed for our older pigs.

Water intake is a very important part of this prevention on older pigs and should be encouraged as much as possible. We use a 50/50 mixture of cranberry juice added to the water. You can also use Pedialyte®, Ensure, apple juice or even kool-aid powder if it makes the pig drink more water. It is very important that older pigs have unlimited access to water at all times.

If you have one of the pigs that takes a bite of food and then a drink of water, this is sometimes a habit. It will work to simply move the water bowl across the room if you object to the pig doing this, and by wetting his food he will continue to eat well.

Exercise is another important part of keeping your porcine friend on schedule. Not only is exercise good for the pig in general, but it also encourages the pigs body to lose the waste material. Just as older humans tend to lead a more sedentary life style, our pigs are no different. Sometimes we have to push them to get them to do what we know is best. In the older pig the more frequently that they can go the better off they are.

For those pigs kept outside this is not a problem, as they have free access to potty time. For the house pigs however, this is not always the case. These guys tend to have absolutely wonderful house habits, and are generally creatures of habit, period. Meaning that they are used to going at certain times during the day. Heaven forbid that we should ask them to get up from a nap to go out and do their business when it's not on their internal schedule!

Pigs that have been going out three times a day are in the habit of going three times a day. Just as in humans, when they get a little older they may really need to go more often. Since it's not their habit to do so, they just don't and they don't ask, nor do they really think they should make this break with routine.

We really need to push this issue with them when they get older for their own good. The more time that they are given the chance to do their business, the less problem we are going to have with the pig in respect to the bowels and urinary tract.

The idea behind all this is to prevent any problem rather than trying to cure the problem once it exists. For pigs that show they do have a problem, we use the age old remedy of buying cans of stewed prunes and feeding them a few spread out over the day. Encourage more water consumption and less feed until (no pun intended) this problem passes.

Exercise: Along with what was talked about above, the benefits of moderate exercise cannot be stressed enough. It makes the blood flow, gives the heart a boost, supplies oxygen to the lungs, and is imperative to the older pigs health and well being. (Not to mention your own health if you are the one supplying the exercise for the pig.)

This does not mean that your pig has to run a marathon daily to be healthy, but by giving him the incentive to do as much walking as possible (in between his naps) you are giving his whole system a chance to wake up. If the snow, rain and mud prevent you from taking him outside for walks then make him follow you around the house for ten or fifteen minutes at a time.

This is not as easy as it sounds. I know from our experience with older house pigs, that these guys seem to almost go into a hibernation mode in the winter. They really don't want to do much of anything, and are crabby and irritable most of the time. This means it is up to you to find some creative way of making them want to stay up and do some walking.

Teeth: As the pig gains years he also has the potential to lose teeth and to develop sores on the gum line. While this problems isn't necessarily an age related one, the potential for problems increases with the age of the pig.

Weight: As a rule around here we keep a close eye on the weight of the older pig. If they look like they are losing weight then we up the feed. This is one of those things where you will be the best judge on their looks.

Vaccination Schedule: This is a controversial one that can be seen more than one way. My vet personally sees no reason to vaccinate pigs over the age of seven. (Not a stand that would be very popular with some vets.) The thinking behind this is that if the pig has had the vaccinations every year for most of his life, that the immunity is there and has been built up over a period of time, so to continue after this age is not a necessary thing.

This is a personal decision to be made by the individual and their vet. We do not vaccinate after the age of seven here (pigs or dogs) if we know the history of the animal. We just feel that this is one less stressful situation for the older pig to have to go through.

One has to remember that pigs at a sanctuary do not go to shows, are not around other pigs, and older pigs are not adopted out. Therefore these pigs are at low risk to begin with. This is a question that you may want to discuss with your own vet and then make a decision.

Anesthetic and the Older Pig: One can only assume that we all know that Isoflurane gas is the choice when it comes to our pigs having surgery or any of the other pig related things done that require them to be asleep. This is by far the safest method but even that method, on older pigs may alter. It may take less to knock down an older pig as time goes on. It is a good idea to remind your vet that the pig is getting up there in years.

We never give an older pig a tranquilizer by injection prior to the use of the gas. I know that most people here have the type of pig that can be taken in for the gas, but for those who may have the rescue pigs or pigs that may be too large or not dispositionaly inclined to this there must be an alternative.

We have used an injectable for the last two years on a multitude of pigs needing vet care without any problems. Following is the dosage and drugs that we use on these pigs. It may be something that you want your vet to have on record just in case it is ever needed by you or someone you know. My vet was very impressed with the way it works, and as I said we have used in many occasions at the sanctuary.

Also, please remember that we are saying that the Isoflurane gas is the BEST but, if you can't get the pig there or the pig is one that has not been handled this is the next best bet. This may enable pigs to get vet care that otherwise may not get the care needed and this is the only reason we included it.

Rough Formula:
For Larger Pets (50+ pounds)
1cc for every 50 pounds of body weight of Telazol
1cc for every 100 pounds of body weight of Rompun

Put both drugs in the same syringe and give in the neck muscle. Wait five minutes, pig will go down and be asleep.

GIVE NO OTHER DRUGS OR TRANQUILIZERS AND DO NOT GIVE ANY MORE THEN THE DOSAGE PER BODY WEIGHT. (By no other drugs we do not mean antibiotics. Antibiotics can be safely given following the procedure.)

More Detailed Formula:
For Smaller Pets (40-50 pounds)
2 mg for every pound of body weight of Telazol
1 mg for every pound of body weight of Rompun

Put both drugs in the same syringe and give in the neck muscle. Wait five minutes, pig will go down and be asleep.

GIVE NO OTHER DRUGS OR TRANQUILIZERS AND DO NOT GIVE ANY MORE THEN THE DOSAGE PER BODY WEIGHT. (By no other drugs we do not mean antibiotics. Antibiotics can be safely given following the procedure.)

After Care: Put sleeping pig in a quiet place. We use a carrier for this part with blankets and leave them alone other than checking quietly on them for the next 12 hours. No food or water until the pig can walk out of the carrier on his own, and no food or water for 8 hours PRIOR to giving the injection.

The Last Hoorah: For that time that we never want to think about but is as much a part of life as anything else. What is the most humane way of putting a pig down? The less stress the better for all concerned. When this time comes (and only you can decide this very personal issue) the thing we all want most for our porcine friends is to have them go peacefully to the Rainbow Bridge.

We use the above formula and after the pig is asleep we use the Jugular, the same place most of you use for blood testing, and administer the pheno barb solution. The pig is already asleep and this can be done easily. Needless to say that you need not be as careful with the dosage of the first injection of Telazol and Rompun when it is used for this purpose.

I only bring this unwanted subject up because there are people I here from all the time telling horror stories of what has happened. There have been many cases of giving the pig the injection directly into the heart without the pig being asleep first. While this method is fast, I have trouble going along with it if there is a way to do it that I feel is more humane. This is something that you need to discuss with your vet before the time comes when you may not be thinking as clearly

One last note here would be to ask if it's okay for you to stay with your friend until it is over. A hard thing to do for us, but a good thing for the pet that has given so much to us. In twenty years there has never been an animal here that went to the final sleep without the touch of many hands on their heads and the sound of my voice in their ear. A hard thing for us to do but so little compared to what they have given in the short time we are allowed to have them with us.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Stairs vs Ramps For Mini Pigs

Can pigs use stairs is a question we get a lot. Yes, pigs can use/do stairs, but that doesn't mean that they should. We find that younger pigs can handle stairs much better than older pigs, and as they get older they no longer want to use the stairs. And in most cases they won't go down steps, but will come up them. They prefer to go down a ramp and will come up the step(s). This is something that you need to consider when getting a pig for a pet.

Personally, I don't like steps at all. If a pig is midsize and not overweight, they may be able to do it okay. But if they are 'weight challenged' they will not be able to see well. Remember: Their eyesight is not the best in the world to begin with. Steps that are 6-7 inches deep may look like a canyon to them. Also, stairs can eventually cause leg and joint problems for the pig as it gets older. So, your pig may be able to do stairs when young, but will not be able to when she gets older.

Doing steps can put an enormous stress on their joints, which can produce hairline-size cracks at the elbow joints. Those little cracks can sometimes make the pig lose footing and fall to one side often resulting in a pinched nerve. This could be temporary, if you are lucky, or it could cause permanent damage.

Pot belly pig's skin is so tight it compresses the pinched area and when the nerve gets pinched it will generally swell up in that area. This is very painful for the pig.

This is another reason you should not let or encourage your pig to jump off and on furniture. Not only could they end up with a pinched nerve, they might end up with a broken leg or back. This has happened many times before and is very sad.

When Ziggy and Flower were younger and a bit smaller they loved going upstairs and getting into trouble. Well when Flower would come down the steps she would almost every time skip the last step and jump to the floor below. We were very lucky and no pinched nerves or broken bones here. We no longer have to worry about them going upstairs. They decided on their own not to do them and we don't even have to gate it off when we leave the house.

Bottom line: Pigs are not really made for jumping (on or off of furniture) or climbing stairs (they do not jump or climb stairs in the wild). Try not to encourage this, particularly if they are adult pigs.

I highly recommend that if your pig must go up and down a few steps to get in and out of the house that you either buy or build a ramp. Teach them now while they are young and get them used to it. They might also need a ramp to get in and out of your car.

The most important thing to remember when buying or building a ramp is to make sure it sturdy. Some pigs don't mind a little movement, but others will not get on it if it moves the slightest amount. They need to feel secure on the ramp.

Our ramps were made of wood, and very heavy.  Make your ramp as fancy or simple as you want. Just make it sturdy. You can try putting some carpet on it, non-slip tape, diving board materials or slats. Use what makes your pig feel safe.

Portable ramps that are made for dogs are nice for your vehicle. Just make sure that it will hold the weight of your pig. I have a portable ramp that is from PetStep and will hold up to a 500lb animal. I had a friend add 2x4’s under it though for extra support since it was being used on a regular basis.

When first training your pig to use the ramp just lay it flat on the ground and get your pig used to walking on it. Teach a command, such as "up ramp," "down ramp." Keep it simple.

Some recommend treats only when the pig has reached the top or bottom of the ramp. We taught ours by putting a treat every few slats and then rewarding at the top and bottom. Once they were comfortable doing the ramp we stopped putting treats on the slats and only rewarded at the top or bottom of the ramp.

If you stop using the ramp for an extended period of time you may have to retrain your pig. Never punish him for this. He will only regress. There were a couple of years when we used to take trips that we had to retrain Ziggy and Flower to use the ramp in and out of the car. This is because we wouldn't take them any where during the winter. Then come spring we were ready to go again and they weren't. They just had to get used to doing it at such an incline again.

I don’t have any directions for building a ramp, but can show you some pictures and info and hopefully you can duplicate or make something similar that will work for your needs. This is a really good ramp that was built for a friend of mine many years I don't have directions. As you can see this is nice and wide and has a support in the middle (which you might want to consider with a longer ramp) along with "sides" with a couple of braces that seem to be 3 2x4's. It is just enough to keep them going down the ramp and not over the sides.

Mr. Einswiner's ramp.

Below you will see the ramp that we used for Ziggy to go down a couple of steps and up/down into the Explorer. We had slats every few inches and just a 2x4 along each side to help guide. Each pig is different so they have different needs.

Ziggy on his ramp coming out of the Explorer.
Below are before and after pictures that were sent in after someone had emailed me for help on getting their pig to go outside. Once we figured out that the issue was probably the ramp I sent them a picture of Mr. Einswiner's ramp. Their pig now goes in and out with no issues.

Ramp before

Ramp after                                 

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Pet Pig Emergency Preparedness

Are you ready should there be an natural disaster; hurricane or fire? It's never too early to be prepared.

Start getting ready now! Know the area that you live in and what is prone to.

Have an In Case Of Fire sticker on your your home. This sticker lets people know the kind and number of pets that are inside your house in case something should happen and you are not home. If you are evacuated and take your pet(s) make sure to write EVACUATED across the sticker so that rescuers can move on. 
Weather proof and can be written on with a sharpie.

Make sure to ID your pet...a micro chip is the best and this can be done when they are in for their spay/neuter. Have a harness for your pig and collars for your cats and dogs and have water poof tags that are up to date with your contact info on them. A pet that has a harness or collar on it can be handled by strangers should you be separated.

But remember: the average person who finds your pet won't be able to scan for a chip, but they will probably be able to read a basic tag! And can handle with a harness or collar on.

Have a place ahead of time for your pig and other pets to go. DON'T LEAVE THEM BEHIND! Remember that not all shelters accepts pets let alone pigs, so make sure that you check this out NOW before it is needed. This is something that might be done each year at the start of fire or hurricane season.

Make arrangements and have a safe place to stay ahead of time should you need to evacuate. Talk with family and friends in all directions as to who will let you stay and bring your pig(s) and other pet(s).

Never assume that you will be allowed to bring your pet to an emergency shelter. Before a disaster hits, call your local office of emergency management to see if you will be allowed to evacuate with your pets and verify that there will be shelters in your area that take people and their pets. You can google "pet friendly shelters (your state)" and it will bring up a list. Remember that we have an unusual pet so ask to be sure they will allow pet pigs.

Contact hotels and motels outside your immediate area to find out if they accept pets. Ask about any restrictions on number, size and species. Inquire if a "no pet" policy would be waived in an emergency. Keep a list of animal-friendly places handy, and call ahead for a reservation as soon as you think you might have to leave your home.

Do you have someone that could come to your home and get your pig and other pets should something happen while you are away or have had an emergency of your own?

Do you have an emergency to go bag for your pig? Do you have crates, vehicles, trailers...the ability to load your pig(s) in an emergency? Are you prepared?

A basic disaster kit for your pet should include:

Food and water for at least five days for each pet, bowls and a manual can opener if you are packing canned pet food. People need at least one gallon of water per person per day. While your pet may not need that much, keep an extra gallon on hand to use if your pet has been exposed to chemicals or flood waters and needs to be rinsed.

Medications and medical records stored in a waterproof container and a first-aid kit. Litter box, litter, litter scoop and garbage bags to collect all your pets' waste. (FYI: During Irma many of my friends bought kiddie pools and put a piece of sod in it and put it in the garage. Not one of their dogs used it.)

Sturdy leashes, harnesses and carriers to transport pets safely and to ensure that your pets can't escape, should you need to evacuate. Make sure that your cat or dog is wearing a collar and identification that is up to date and visible at all times. Carriers should be large enough to allow your pet to stand comfortably, turn around and lie down. (Your pet may have to stay in the carrier for hours at a time.) Be sure to have a secure cage with no loose objects inside it to accommodate smaller pets who may also need blankets or towels for bedding and warmth as well as special items, depending on their species.

Written information about your pets' feeding schedules, medical conditions and behavior issues along with the name and number of your veterinarian in case you have to board your pets or place them in foster care.

Other useful items include:

Paper towels
Plastic trash bags
Grooming items

In 2017 and 2018 we were hit with hurricanes. 2017 not so bad, but in 2018 we had no idea exactly where Irma would it and it really didn't matter as she was huge and covered the whole state. It wasn't a matter of if she would hit, but how strong she would be when she reached us and the damage she would bring.

What I learned is that you need to be prepared. I learned that you need to know what kind of hurricane it is that's coming. Besides the classifications from 1-5 you need to know if the hurricane is expected to dump a lot of rain and/or have strong winds. This will help to determine whether you should evacuate or not. I still remember a post of a young lady that was in the Miami area, terrified by the winds and left her pig behind. Thankfully Miami was spared this time, but please don't ever leave your pet behind.

From a local meteorologist: When to evacuate and when not to during a hurricane. "I am getting a lot of questions asking about when we should evacuate. You only evacuate to escape storm surge flooding...You do not evacuate from the wind unless you live in a mobile home. Water is the killer. Wind is not. You run from water. You hide from wind."

Know if you live in a flood prone area and have an evacuation plan. Be prepared!

Know if you live in an area that is prone to fires and have an evacuation plan. Be prepared!

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Weight: How To Weigh Your Pet Pig Without a Scale

How to properly weigh your pig when he/she is too big to pick up and put on a scale and you need an accurate weight.

If you cannot get your pig on a scale, you can still weigh her by using the formula below. You will need a fabric measuring tape similar to those used by tailors. The formula is not exact, but it comes within about three percent of the actual weight. The formula is as follows:

1. Girth Measurement Take the heart-girth measurement. Your measuring tape needs to go around the body just behind the front legs and over the shoulder area. As an example for you I will use the measurements of Flower. Her girth measurement is 43 inches.

2. Square the result (Multiply the measurement by itself). Example: The measurement was 43 inches. 43 X 43 = 1,849.

3. Length Measurement: Measure the length of your pig. Start at the top of his or her head right in between the ears and measure down to the start, or base, of the tail (not the end of the tail). Flower's length is 39 inches.

4. Girth Result X Length: Take the girth measurement result (in the example above this was 1,849) and multiply that times the length of your pig. In our example this would be: 1,849 X 39 = 72,111.

5. Weight Calculation: Divide this result by 400, and you'll have a weight accurate to within about three percent. In our example: 72,111 divided by 400 = 180 pounds. Factoring in the 3% variance (5.4
pounds), this means Flower weighs between 174.6 and 185.4 pounds.

Credit for this formula goes to the Old Farmer's Almanac 1993

Some potbelly pigs have a naturally "plump" appearance. They have full round jowls, a rounder body and more of a "pot" belly. Others are slender and more athletic. If you can see the ribs, hips or other bones your pig is underweight. If your pig looks like it has swallowed a melon when looking down at him from above your pig may be overweight. Another indication of an overweight pig is when their eyes are surrounded by folds of fat.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Diarrhea In Mini Pigs

Diarrhea is a condition in which feces are discharged from the bowels frequently and in a liquid form.
E. coli is the most common cause of piglet diarrhea identified by diagnostic laboratories and veterinary practitioners.

E. coli also produces enterotoxins that affect the intestines of pigs causing a secretory diarrhea. These enterotoxins can cause significant death loss and are responsible for most of the pathogenic problems associated with E. coli diarrhea.

Scours, or diarrhea, are the excretion of feces containing excess fluid. There can be a variety of causes, and therefore a multifaceted approach to prevention is necessary. Piglets are particularly vulnerable to scours as their digestive system is still immature and an upset is more easily triggered. 

New born piglets will have a dark stool to start with. This is the old stuff from before they were born that must come out. At about three days it will be more yellow. This also is normal. What you don't want to see is a clear liquid stool (more felt than seen). This is why we run our hand over the butt every day to make sure it is dry. Nothing will kill a baby pig any quicker than bad diarrhea. They dehydrate quickly and by feeding more you are feeding the E. coli which produces the diarrhea. For now just know that if that diarrhea starts, get to a vet for an antibiotic as soon as possible.

It is essential that the newborn piglets drink sufficient colostrum soon after birth to prevent potentially pathogenic organisms multiplying against the intestinal wall and causing diarrhea. It is also essential that the piglet continues to drink milk regularly after the colostrum has gone so that its intestines continue to be lined by protective antibodies.

Ideally the piglet should be left with mom to avoid any problems. Antibodies from the sow in the form of colostrum are important in preventing scours. Therefore, ensuring that all piglets are suckling well in the first three days of life is very important. Those taken away for whatever reason should be fed a proprietary sows milk replacer. This can be bought from most animal health stores. An alternative is to use a goats (kid) milk replacer. Cows milk is not ideal for a new born piglet as it will find it difficult to digest.

You warm it just as you would for a baby. A baby pig won't take much at one time so they need to be fed often when very young. (By very young we mean a few days up to a week.) At a week old they can do quite well on a feeding of every 3 or 4 hours during the day. At one week you no longer need to be fed through the night, make the last feeding around midnight and the first feeding at about 7 or 8 am. It's important to make the formula as close to the same each time as possible. Also to make sure all utensils are clean along with the dish you give it in.

Most replacer milks tell you that it is only good made up for 12 hours. Pay attention as old formula can cause you a problem. You should never change formulas as this can cause diarrhea which can take a piglet down very quickly.

Start adding Gerber's rice baby cereal at about three days, making it very liquid at first then gradually increasing the cereal as you go along. At about two weeks it will be a more of a paste. (At that time we also offer just a little water during the day.) The cereal not only gives them more nutrition, but it also keeps the chance of diarrhea down.

Baby pigs don't need an iron shot. Sometimes the iron shot can set off the diarrhea that we are trying to avoid. It is true that all baby pigs are born anemic and they do not get iron from the mother. There is a natural way to give this to them that is much safer and better for them.

Baby pigs born outside don't need iron as they get it from the dirt as they go along. If you supply a flat cookie sheet of clean dirt (dirt that has not had pigs on it) then he will walk through it and snuffle it and get his own iron from it. If it has tufts of grass in it, all the better as he will enjoy rooting them around the pan. The less you put into this baby that isn't necessary the better off he will be. No extras till he hits an age that is safe.

While is it important to get piglets eating feed, it must be remembered that their digestive systems are immature and better suited to consuming milk. Diets should contain easily-digestible ingredients, and changes to the composition should be minimized. Undigested feed in the gut creates a breeding ground for pathogens, particularly E. coli.

Treatment: Antibiotics (preferably liquid from your vet), Provide electrolytes (Pedialyte)in drinkers. These prevent dehydration and maintain body electrolyte balances. Keep piglets warm...the ideal temperature is 90 degrees.

Whatever you do if you change formulas...DO IT mixing them together little by little till you have the piglet switched.

Another suggestion is the old stand by with us. Make the formula a little thicker and weaker. Add a little more water than the formula calls for when you mix it and then add Gerber's Rice Baby Cereal. The rice cereal seems to do wonders for firming up stools.

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.