Willie Bean
PIG PALS SANCTUARY, pot bellied pig sanctuary and rescue center
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Potbellied Pig Health Care Articles and Information

Helping The Rescue Pig
by Phyllis Battoe

I would like to take a bit of time to talk about the rescue pigs. This is for all of us that routinely find ourselves taking yet one more little porker that needs our help. This may only be a one time thing for some and an everyday occurrence for others. Just what is the best route to take when these homeless ones come to us?

We need first to realize that we have no background information on the pig. We may only have an idea of the environment that the pig came out of. We have no knowledge of any of its proclivities in the genetic make up. In other words, we really know squat about the animal. While all of us know the care needed for a porcine friend we may not necessarily know what is good to do at one time versus what may be good the next time. And what may be too much for the animal to stand in the beginning, another healthy pig with a good background would have no problem handling.

Over enthusiasm can be almost as dangerous as not doing enough. If a pig comes into your home in very bad shape then those are the ones that need a careful evaluation before any kind of medication, worming, mange control or hoof care should be done. Stress for these animals is at a high point while general health is at a very low point. A pig with a healthy immune system and in good shape will throw off excess medications.

A debilitated animal cannot do that and by putting the pig into this situation you could possibly be open to even more serious problems. What do we consider safe? Here at Pig Pals when a new pig comes in we evaluate his health to the best of our ability..these are pigs that have no clinical symptoms of illness or disease, but just a general unhealthy look. Very thin, very scared, showing signs of mange, showing indications of worms etc.

In all cases the number one priority is to let the pig rest and to feed well. We feed these pigs in bad shape a small amount very often throughout the day and evenings for a week or two. You do not want to overload a stomach that is not used to food. Small amounts often, is better than a large meal.

We do not try to catch, to pet, to trim or anything else for a period of time. As for the ones with mange and worms…..FEED THEM! We put vitamins in the food from day one. There are very few cases of mange or worms bad enough to cause death if that pig is still up and eating. The worming and mange treatment can wait until the pig is stable and better able to handle the medications. We just feed enough to keep the worms happy too.

Most of these pigs after a couple of weeks are more in condition to work on. Even then we do not do more than one thing at a time due to the stress involved, no matter if it be from medicine or hoof trimming or worming.

Remember, you have no idea of the background of this pig so you really have no way of knowing what may be too much for him to handle. Patience is truly a virtue. If your concern is other pigs that may be there and that this new pig may be contagious then quarantine them if possible. Quarantine is probably the most important word in a sanctuary. At PigPals we do quarantine, but just as a precaution against disease not because of mange or worms. We do not worry too much about the mange and worm issue as all other pigs are treated on a regular basis and even if they come in contact the control program should cover it.

I guess what it amounts to is making sure you move slowly with a pig that appears to be in bad shape. Take time and give them a chance to gain some ground before you try to fix the things that are wrong with them. This method has certainly worked for us over the years and it is so much easier on these poor animals that depend on us to make them well and happy again.

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