Pot Bellied Pigs Blog: You Have A Sick Pig

Pot Bellied Pigs Blog: You Have A Sick Pig

The best judge of the health of your pig is “YOU”. You live with the pig, you see the pigs normal actions on a daily basis. You can tell when things are just a little off with your porcine friend. This is the time to take action as most things if caught in time, won’t be fatal to your pig.

A sick pig looks sick! Pigs that do not feel well have a tendency to show it in their coat first. The hair will stand on end all over the pig much like a porcupine effect. Pigs also do this when cold, but not to the same degree.

A pig that is not interested wholeheartedly and one hundred percent in his food is a pig that is not well.  A pig loves to eat, it is the natural way of things. Unlike dogs or cats who will occasionally turn down a meal because it may not suit their taste that day, a pig is not picky. This cannot be stressed enough.

A pig that is not ready to eat is a pig that is not feeling well or is in extreme pain. (The exception to this is the boar pig who seems to have more interest in his testosterone than in the food supply.)

A pig standing with his back hunched and his hind legs far under the body is a sick pig. This is a stance that is seen with constipation, blockage, stomach aches, hernias, urinary tract problems and general pain in the abdominal or genital area.

What problems are most common? The illness of choice for these guys appears to be respiratory problems. There are several different forms of pneumonia’s, some more critical than others, but all can be serious. Pneumonia is not always accompanied by coughing. Most of the time the first symptom is just not eating and elevated temperatures. Sometimes with the more serious forms there is labored breathing.

For what we call just plain old pig pneumonia, a good antibiotic shot will make all the difference in the world. Usually after one shot they will be up and eating again by the following day and then can go on to oral antibiotics for a period of five or six days or another shot in 3-4 days. This is a treatment that we use on any pig that decides it does not want to eat and is running a temperature.

If it’s not pneumonia then the shot is not going to hurt them and if it is pneumonia the shot can save their lives and give you a head start on fixing the problem. You might ask your vet to dose at the high end of the scale as it appears that a pig takes a good dose to get through to the problem. A pig with pneumonia will run a temperature so first order is to get a temperature on your pig.

Constipation seems to be the second most common problem, especially in the older more sedate pigs. This usually occurs during the winter months when they aren’t walking around as much. Sometimes they will give no symptoms at all other than a less than eager appetite and sometimes they will strain to go and pass very little as a result. This is where watching your pig can make the difference. You should know if your pig is going to the bathroom or not. Constipation can be serious with your pig if he does not show symptoms early.

First of all you want to make sure that there is something, even a small amount going through. When and if you determine that there is indeed a small amount being passed than you can try several methods to help him along.

I can’t stress strongly enough that you need to make sure first that there is fecal matter being passed. A constipated pig will pass hard balls that crumble when stepped on and they will be few in number.

A few things to help your pig with constipation are Piggy Lax and Bulky Lax Plus. Used on a regular basis will help to keep constipation at bay. Canned pumpkin will help if you haven’t been using Piggy Lax or Bulky Lax Plus. In extreme cases Dulcolax suppositories will help. All of these things are to be used ONLY on pigs that you see passing fecal matter. If the pig is not passing anything at all DO NOT USE ANY OF THE THINGS MENTIONED ABOVE as you could be dealing with a blockage instead of constipation. The pig does not usually run a temperature with a constipation problem.

Blockage is serious and life threatening. This is when the pig can’t pass anything due to a blockage in the bowels. A pig with a blockage will not eat. They may not strain but they will be lethargic and may dig at the ground continually. The will stand hunkered up with their legs far under the body.

It is imperative that you get medical help for that pig as soon as possible. Most vets will be able to tell with ultrasound or x-ray just where the blockage may be and a blockage usually has to be dealt with using surgery. DO NOT give an enema or laxatives to a pig that is not passing anything as this could cost the pig its life.

By trying to force a blockage out it can rupture the intestine leaving the pig open to peritonitis which can be fatal. A pig with a blockage can go on for several days. He will not eat and is in pain. If it is a blockage his chance of recovery is good if taken to a vet early.

It is very important to remember if there is not stool from the pig DO NOT GIVE AN ENEMA! You must see something coming through before you even think about that treatment. A pig with a blockage will not necessarily run a temperature until the problem has become very serious.

The main tool for you and your vet is the pigs temperature. When a pig does not eat with his usual gusto there is a reason. The temperature can help you and your vet diagnose what the problem may be. This is done in the rectum and is fairly easy for even the novice to handle.

There was a study done on potbellied pigs in 1999. We discovered that the normal resting temperature for potbellied pigs is indeed lower than the commercial farm hogs. If your pig’s temperature is 102 then your pig is running a fever and you and your pig need help.

Rudy’s temp when he wasn’t feeling well and the vet was called to come out.


Know what your pig’s normal temperature is. Take your pig’s temperature
once a day for one week at the same time each day. This will help you
and your vet know what your pig’s average temperature is.

a study (JAVMA, Vol 215, No. 3, August 1, 1999) it was concluded
that potbellied pigs have a lower rectal temperature than farm pigs (or
swine). We did this on our pigs for 34 days straight in January/February
of 1999 as part of a larger test and discovered that their average
temperature was 99.3 degrees F, far less than what was believed to be

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