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Walter

Potbellied Pig Health Care Articles and Information

Across The Country
by Phyllis Battoe (Originally Presented at the National Pot-Bellied Pig Congress - March 2001)

It would seem that some of the same old problems are still out there as they keep coming to our attention from different areas of the country.

We are still losing pigs during simple surgery done with injectable anesthesia. This usually involves the same OLE culprit, Ketamine. We know we don't like this form of anesthesia and we know the pigs don't like this form of anesthesia, but we still can't get some vets to believe that it is a problem unless it's done in a professional setting with a professional anesthesiologist.

Seventeen pigs that we have been contacted about in different areas of the country have died in the last 12 months during simple procedures such as spays, neuters, and tusk/hoof trims. Anytime an animal goes under any anesthetic there is a possibility of problems. Just as people, but these cases don't seem to be from the surgery nor the pig having a problem. It seems to be more of an overdose problem.

All of the above pigs got more than one knock out injection because they were not under as soon as it was thought they should be. Most of these pigs never woke up, some stayed like that for days before they died and some came out with some real personality changes and paranoia's that made them hard to live with. (Standing in the corner facing the walls with occasional bouts of hyper activity that you would see in a frightened running wild pig.) Flash backs? Brain damage?

My vet does not use it and instead uses the formula that we acquired a few years ago from another sanctuary that had good results. There are times when the injectables have to be used in a sanctuary setting with pigs that are not easy to handle and there are some vets who still don't have Iso Fluorine gas to use. There are some pigs that would not get any vet care if not for the injectables and for that reason we say they have a definite place in our lives, but know your vet and his knowledge of the potbellied pig and don't be afraid to voice your concerns and ask questions. (Don't be afraid to offer the formula of Rompum and Tealizole that you were given either.)

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Obstructions and Constipation:

More house pigs than outside pigs are showing up with these problems. Our house pets in the winter tend to do nothing except sleep and eat. They don't want to go outside. Believe me they can hold it for a long long time to avoid snow or cold. For the pig indoors it's a pretty simple thing to keep track of bowel movements and urine output. Our older pigs are more prone to constipation because of  the sedentary lifestyle they lead. That is a nice way of saying they are lazy.

A constipated pig will eventually turn down its food; they are uncomfortable and may get up and down a lot and drop a small amount at a time. I prefer prevention rather than cure so we keep canned pumpkin in the house and give half a can a couple of times a week to the larger older pigs. You can use a little oil on the feed daily or there are products out there that you can add for this problem. (We DO NOT use mineral oil on an ongoing basis.)

Obstructions are a serious life threatening problem that can be fatal. It has been our experience that you watch and see if anything is moving through the pig. A pig with an obstruction will sometimes vomit, walk in circles, refuse food, dig at the floor or just lay down and not get up. There have been several cases where the pigs were impacted and owners thought they were constipated.

If you think your pig has an obstruction than get him to a vet immediately. We DO NOT EVER give a pig we think may have an obstruction an enema or a laxative. Let your vet decide if it's an obstruction or not and if surgery may be needed.

Constipation can be little hard pig berries, a few at a time, but on a regular basis. Obstruction is nothing or very little coming through for longer than normal periods of time and a pig that is in increasingly more pain.

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Prolapsed Pigs:

Some of that is also showing up in the older pigs, but not as much since we have learned to make sure our pigs are doing their business with bowels and urine flow. They can strain so hard that they prolapse through the rectum. Females can prolapse through the vagina and males can prolapse through the penis. Not a pretty sight to see and would scare the pants off most owners.

Pneumonia:

This is still the most common illness that is connected to our pet pigs. The common pig pneumonia (not micoplasma pneumonia) is still costing far too many pigs their lives for something that is fairly easy to fix if caught early.

A pig can eat in the morning and be completely down by evening. Very few pigs show symptoms other than refusing feed and running a temperature. There is seldom coughing and for the most part not even labored breathing in the beginning.

It is important to have medical help as soon as possible for these pigs and is the primary reason that we preach that pet owners try to keep some sort of antibiotic on hand for late nights, holidays or weekends when your vet may not be available for some time.

Even a few hours can make the difference in how or if your pet responds to treatment especially if that temperature is high. If at all possible and you have a good working relationship with your vet as for just 4 or 5 antibiotic pills to keep on hand for emergencies. We use the 500mg Ampicillin for this.

The "new age" vets seem to have more of a problem letting you have medication without seeing the pig, but in this case it's really important that you start treatment as soon as possible and if it's a weekend or holiday you need something that you can get into the pig until you can get into the vet.

I would like to stress again that this is just a temporary fix. That pig still needs to be seen by your vet as soon as possible for follow up treatment and a positive diagnosis as there may be other problems that you are not aware of.

If it's plain old pig pneumonia you will see an improvement sometimes in as short a time as five hours after the antibiotic. Some pigs are up eating the following morning. This does not mean he is well, it means you bought him some time so that you could get to the vet. There have been far too many that have died because treatment was too slow in coming at the onset of the pneumonia.

Copyrighted by Phyllis Battoe - All Rights Reserved
Copying or Linking Without Prior Permission is a Violation of Int'l Copyright Laws

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Entropion:

News on new surgery for Entropion problems. My vet had a conference in Ohio last week and he tells me that there is a new procedure out there that has been shown to be effective for our pigs with turned in eyelashes. This is not the same problem as short-nosed pigs who just can't see because of wrinkles. This is a very real problem that is uncomfortable for the pig as the eye lashes brush the cornea of the eye causing pain and eventual blindness. Up until now I have not heard of real great results with the different surgeries be used.

It seems that a Dr. Wilkie of The University of Ohio is doing this new procedure on a fairly regular basis with our pigs. What I could understand of the procedure is that the eyelid tissue is attached to the connective tissue on the skull of the pig. The problems before seemed to be that the fat tissue did not hold very well and that this method attaches to the connective tissue on the skull, which holds better. I would suggest if anyone has problems in this area that you ask your vet to contact Dr. Wilkie and ask about his procedure.

Humorous Note: I understand that they are picky about this so make sure you ask for "THE" University of Ohio. Apparently there is more than one and ego is involved.

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Stomach IV for ill Pigs :

This method of giving IV solution to the pig is from my vets point of view, not a new one. It has been used for a long time in the farm pig community. Personally I think it's marvy! It was probably the saving grace of at least three pigs at the sanctuary last year.

We use it on animals that are down with fever for more than a few hours if regular antibiotics haven't shown an improvement. Good points are: it's fast running, it can be run full out and is finished in about 15 minutes. You don't have to worry about the small vein in the ear that sometimes seems to disappear on a sick pig. This can be done at home if you are lucky enough to have a vet that comes to the house. No need to stress a downed pig by taking it in nor wait till you round up help to load a 200 pounder into the car.

Antibiotics can be added to the fluids and eliminate more injections that you might have to give. We have talked before about how quick these animals can go down and there are many of you out there that have called me telling me the pig ate in the morning and pig was down and prone by night.

This is how it works with these guys and that's why I learned to do this myself at home. (Another reason being my vet refused to move in the house with me.)

Any drawbacks I have heard about this method seem to be only that you could possibly end up with infection. Even though chances are slim of that happening. But let's face facts. If the pig is down, he is on his way to the Rainbow Bridge anyway, and at that point you do not have a lot to lose.

Our Big Harly pig at 250 pounds went down even with Banamine given for that purpose. After four days of stomach IV's with a mixture of drugs in it given four times daily, Harly came back in style! (You know you have it fixed when the pig says your not putting that in my stomach again!) The only bad result I have seen with Harly is that he no longer likes me. We have used this several times since and had good results from pigs that I would not have thought were going to make it.

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New Injectables:

Sandy Scott got this formula that is used at the University of Missouri for us after watching it and how it worked on her pig Casy. You might want to keep track of it and pass it on to your vet. We have not had a chance to use it yet at the sanctuary (thank goodness). So I can't say too much about how it works other than it was explained that a mixture of the drugs puts the pig under and another mixture of drugs brings them back out of it.

The old formula of Tealizole and Rompum meant the pigs were going to be goofy for half a day. The same caution holds true with the new formula that we preached with the old one. Make sure that your vet knows what that pig weighs and give NO more than his weight dictates. We all like the Iso Fluorine gas, but there are times when it just can not be used. We have many pigs at the sanctuary that the stress of getting them in and masking them down would be worse than the stress of the injection given to them.

0.5ml Butorphanol (5mg) .15mg/lb
1ml Medetomidine (1mg) .03mg/lb
1.5ml Glycopyrrolate (.3mg) .09mg/lb

An equal volume of Antisedan was given to reverse the detomidine. Reversal of Rompum, Yohimbine or Tolazaline are used to reverse Zylazine depending on the species.

Note: As of 2004, the formula below is now the one we prefer. The formula above is still a good formula and can be used if the formula below is not available:

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

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 Tealizole
1 mg for every pound of body weight of Rompan

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.

Copyrighted by Phyllis Battoe - All Rights Reserved
Copying or Linking Without Prior Permission is a Violation of Int'l Copyright Laws

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