Healthcare for Pet Pigs

Basic Healthcare for Pet Pigs

The best way to enact good healthcare for pet pigs is to spend time with them every day. This will allow you to catch problems early on and you will become familiar with your pigs when they are healthy. This means you will be better equipped to recognise any changes in their behaviour or physical state that may indicate illness or injury. Have a basic first aid kit to hand with antiseptic spray, thermometer etc. Keep an eye out for loss of appetite, excessive thirst, lethargy, vomiting, problems moving or walking, as well as any skin, hoof, mouth or ear problems.

Conduct regular checks on your pigs to ensure long-term health
Get your pig used to regular examinations

Watch out for heat exhaustion in summer. A pig’s temperature should be 38.6-38.8 degrees C, so keep a thermometer handy in case you need to check for fevers. If you suspect heat exhaustion, call the vet and cool the pig down by sponging cold water over them and spraying the air around them.

Vets can vary widely in their pig knowledge and experience. Unfortunately, some can be lacking in care and compassion for pigs as they are used to treating them as livestock rather than much-loved pets. Don’t be afraid to shop around for a vet that you feel really has the best interests of your pigs at heart.

This website has excellent information about pig anatomy, illness, ailments and healthcare.

Neutering and Spaying Pet Pigs

We may require a pig be spayed or neutered before it is rehomed with you. If you keep male and female pigs together then one or both of them must be made infertile. Usually it is the boar who will be castrated. We absolutely do not permit any pig we rehome to be used for breeding purposes under any circumstances. Some of the sows we rescue have been used as nothing but breeding machines for their whole lives and have had entire litters of piglets repeatedly taken from them.

It is fairly common practice in the UK to castrate male pet pigs.
It is more common in the UK to neuter boars

Neutering can make some pigs easier to deal with if they are particularly hormonal. It can also offer some long-term protection from certain types of tumours such a uterine in females. Despite the potential benefits, spaying pigs is relatively uncommon in the UK. You should consider discussing the risks and benefits with a qualified vet, but you may have to have to widen your search to find one with experience.

Vaccinations are a great way to practice good healthcare for pet pigs
Consider vaccinating your pigs against a range of diseases

Worming and Vaccination for Pet Pigs

Pigs should be wormed regularly, usually every six months.

It is also advisable to vaccinate every six months to protect against Erysipelas. Without treatment this disease can kill pigs or lead to long-term health issues like heart failure. Erysipelas is very common as the bacteria can be picked up from soil infected by birds or rodents, and it can be easily passed from pig to pig.

It is also wise to consider vaccinations against Parvovirus, Escherichia coli, Clostridial infection and various parasitic agents, such as mange, lungworm and lice. A well-informed vet should be able to advise you on these.

If you choose not to vaccinate, you should be familiar with all the early symptoms of common diseases. You can find more information here.

You must notify Defra of certain diseases by law. Make sure you know which ones you need to look out for and report, take the time to read up on the government website. Pigs don’t have to be in contact with each other for these diseases to spread. Just because you only have a couple of pet pigs this doesn’t mean there is no risk of contracting disease.

Pet Pig Hoof Trimming

Hooves should be trimmed from an early age so your pig gets comfortable with the process. It is a good idea to get your pigs used to having their hooves handled and getting them into a position you can clip from before a trim is needed. You can do this starting from any age if you adopt an older pig. Use a good pair of clippers and a willing helper with lots of rewarding treats to hand. Some pigs will need their hooves trimmed regularly whilst others will never need it at all. You can minimise trimming by having hard-standing areas for your pigs to walk on every day.

Getting pigs used to hoof trimming from an early age is a good idea
When possible, get pigs used to hoof trimming from an early age

Some pigs may be hard to manage during hoof trimming, especially big pigs. If necessary, you can enlist the help of an experienced vet and possibly, as a last resort, consider sedation. Overgrown hooves can cause problems which can lead to lameness. Keep an eye on the hooves and your pigs’ gait and check for any splits and cracks which may need treatment.

This website site has some really useful advice on what to do and photos of what to look for.

Light-skinned pigs are particularly prone to sunburn
The pink pig here is at a greater risk of dangerous sunburn

Skincare for Pet Pigs

Pigs can get very dry skin so it’s a good idea to give them the occasional rub down with pig oil, which can be bought at any farm supplies shop. Keep a bottle of antibacterial spray handy for wounds and scratches and some Hibiscrub for washing infected areas. Light-skinned pigs in particular can become sunburned in strong sun, which can lead to painful blistering and even skin cancer. Invest in a suitable sunblock and apply it to the pigs head, shoulders and back, paying particular attention to the delicate areas around the ears.

Most pigs adore a good scratch and a horse brush can provide a great piggy massage.

Basic personal care should be part of your regular pet pig healthcare routine. Spending time with your pigs every day means you can give them a quick check for any issues. Get your pigs used to you holding up their hooves, looking in their ears and mouth, and treating any minor cuts or scrapes.

Pet Pigs in the House

If your pet pigs will be coming into your house check which houseplants and household products can cause poisoning. Keep them well away from your pigs as they will eat most things. They can easily get themselves in trouble by swiping things out of your bags or cabinets. A lot of healthcare for pet pigs involves planning ahead and remaining vigilant.

Pigs can get up to all sorts of mischief when we let them into our homes
A hopeful piglet tries to reach the table top