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Friday, November 16, 2018

Eyes and Ears of Potbellied Pigs

Q: Well I went down to the barn this morning to let Pudge out to graze for a while and he was holding his head sideways. I got him to lay down for a tummy rub and looked in his ears and there was a lot of wax buildup. He let me look at the right one and when I started trying to look at the left he had a fit and snapped. I came in the house and got some stuff I have for my dogs which is just an ear cleaning solution called Epi-Optic. You are just supposed to squirt it in the ear and kind of rub it and it loosens some of the buildup and then wipe it out with a cloth. I did the right ear and also put some in his left but he wouldn't let me rub it out. It is supposed to dry it out also. I was wondering about giving him some Rimadyl 75mg for pain. I had it for my dog after he was neutered and I know it is also used for arthritis in dogs I just don't know about other animals I'm assuming it would be OK. I have learned I can clip his hooves and I hate to have the vet out and traumatize him if I can get some suggestions.
Shanna and Pudge

A: Shanna, we never put any liquid in the ears of the pigs here as it can cause inner ear problems. We clean only as far as our finger will allow with a soft damp cloth instead. It is possible that your boy has the beginnings of an ear infection and that's why the head is tilted. Pigs will also tilt that way if they have water in the ears. If he continues with the head tilt you might want to talk to your vet about giving him an antibiotic for it.

Q: And speaking of ears, do you or ANYONE OUT THERE know of an inexpensive way to treat an PBP ear infection? I believe Ruthie may have one because she has been shaking her head a lot for some time and its gotten worse and I can't even pat her on the head without her shaking it now. She just never did that before, so all I can figure is an ear infection or stuffed up eardrums! Cindy

A: Cindy, any antibiotic will treat the infection. I'm going to ask a question though. When your vet cleans the ears does he put any liquid in them? I try to advise people that no liquids should go down in that ear. Only clean as far as your finger will go with a damp rag. All that gunk that is down deep in there is what helps keep the water out when they are in mud holes or pools or even rain. It does have a purpose. Having said that there are several things that might be the problem with your Ruthie.

It could be an infection or it could be she got mud or water in there and pigs aren't above getting a fungus in there if ears are wet a lot. If she was mine I would give her a day or two to see if she gets it taken care of herself. Sometimes they get water in there from their pools and they will head tilt and shake their heads a lot also if a bug got in there. Ear infections are a little more insidious and they may have a head tilt but they don't usually walk around shaking it. If it is an ear infection you can ask your vet for an antibiotic...again I don't like Baytril even if it is the drug of choice cause its only good if you can get it in the pig and even cross country I have never found anyone that managed to get it in the pig. Must be some terrible tasting stuff as they foam at the mouth even. I prefer the Ampicillin which I can get them to eat.

Q: My pot bellied pig has problems with her eyes. I've had her to the vets 6 months ago and he cut her eye lashes and stitched her eye lids back to keep the lashes from causing ulcers on her eyes. Now, it is back, I believe, worse. Her eyes are draining a red color. I tried washing them out with boric acid, but she is very feisty when I try to do this. Is there any other thing I can do other than take her back to the vet. I'm retired so these vet charges are draining me. I know her vision is poor, I just don't want her to have pain in her eyes. Can you advise me? Thanks. Shirley

A: Hard to tell if this pig really did have Entropion or not. Where the eyelids actually invert and scratch the cornea of the eye. Sounds more like maybe fat roll has drooped over the eyes. Even if it was really Entropion than the surgery usually only lasts a while unless they use that new technique that's out there where they staple the wire to the skull of the pig. She doesn't give the age of this pig, but I would hesitate to put him under again for that kind of surgery. She can use a squeeze bottle to help make them feel better. Squeezing the water into the eye and softly wiping but for the most part they are going to be blind when they are old no matter what you do. The eye surgery evidently was a failure. They hope when they do that that the scar tissue will grow and keep the eyelids up. As I said it doesn't usually work on a pig. This pig may benefit from a diet ....but she didn't say what kind of shape he is in.

Q: I was just wandering about my pigs eyes. He is spoiled and seems to be in good health. I worry because his eyes seem shut all the time. He has no signs of not seeing. He loves when I clean his eyes. He gets around fine. Is there anything I should look for? Thank you, Bobbie

A: As long as he seems fine to you then I wouldn't worry too much. These pigs have poor eyesight which gets worse with age. You are doing the right thing by cleaning them and checking them often. I'm thinking maybe your pig is one of the short nosed pigs with wrinkles on the face which makes the eyes appear closed all the time. Usually if a pig is having problems with his eyes he will rub them constantly on furniture, walls etc. until the hair is rubbed off around the eyes. Your pig isn't doing any of that so think we can assume he is fine.

Q: Hi I have written you before in regards to my pig Chulo. As an update he is almost 5 months old. He got his tummy caught on something and his intestines were hanging out. He had emergency surgery and seems to be fine. Today however he started to head tilt to the left. The vet has him now but if it happens again what can I do? Also is there anything you can give pigs for gas? Any advice will help. Thank you.

A: Most of the time the head tilt is an indication of an ear infection. This is why we tell people to not put any liquid in the ear for cleaning etc...vets will sometimes do this during a routine visit and it always causes problems. An antibiotic should take care of the problem. The gas problem is usually caused by gassy vegetables.

Q: Thank you for your swift reply. I did talk to vet hospital at UC Davis and they will take him in and do a tusk, toe, ear. I am glad so many people care about pigs. Thanks again, Dayna

A: Dayna, all sounds good except the "ear" part. Most vets tend to want to clean ears when they do other things. With pigs that is not a good idea. We have found and lots of other potbellied pig people that these guys get ear infections and yeast infections when liquids are put into the ear canal for cleaning. We tell people to clean with a damp rag and ONLY as far as your finger will reach in the ear. The gunk thats in there deep keeps water and dirt out. 

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Traveling With Your Pet Pig

Q: Hello! So great to have somewhere to ask some piggy?'s! I'm writing in regards to my 300 pound (UGH!) pot bellied piggy "Mr. Wilby Never Bacon" He is the love of my life and I need to have him transported to Montana from Alpine,Ca (outside San Diego). He is currently in CA. with his grandparents, but I miss him so. I've done some research via the web on a few places that ship via airline and on land. Would it be better if I try to do the shipping by myself or pay a company? I do have a horse trailer. I realize it will be very stressful either way but it needs to be done.

Do you know of anyone who has used such places or done a cross country trip themselves? He is soooo big and is also fat blind so I don't trust him with just anyone, as you know being a fellow pig owner. He has a valid vet cert. and blood work ready to go. I heard you should not tranq. either. I'm so worried....I am making a deluxe insulated place for him to live here. Thanks so much for your time, I'd love to get some feed back! Megan

A: Hi Megan, always nice to hear from pig moms! As for your travel plans. It has been my experience that it's always better to do it yourself cause no one knows your pig like you do. I assume your horse trailer has rubber mats for non skid traction and he will do fine in the trailer. It would be best for him for you to do this before the really hot weather hits if possible.

Airlines are almost out of the question for a boy his size. They demand a crate large enough for him to stand and turn around...yuk yuk and by the time you have a crate like that it won't fit through the airliner cargo door!! Dept. of Ag made that a law....thinking about dogs that can bend in the middle...not fat pigs that can't turn corners. We have a couple of pigs here that came via a van line service called Fin, Fur and Feather....I wasn't impressed too much with them when they thought the pigs should "jump" out of the van themselves upon arrival. 

For the trip you have in mind I would think the horse trailer would be the best route to go and be less stressful than being in a crate. Most pigs settle down after a couple of hours on the road and if it gets too warm during the day you can travel at night when these guys are sleeping anyway. I know many people that used to show and they hauled pigs from Indiana to TX and left early evening so the pigs wouldn't have to be let out all night when they would be sleeping. 

If your boy has the trailer to himself he should be just fine...he may be a little sore the first couple of days after you get him home but that will wear off quickly. Some tips on loading....try to back trailer against a fence or solid wall and make a runway to herd him up. Doing it right the first time will save a lot of stress on both of you. Hope this helps and let me hear from you.

Q: We have to move and it would be about 4 hour drive or even more and we have a nearly 2 year old pig, what would be the best way of "transporting" him the pig? 

A: The best and safest method is to put him in a large size pet carrier. A four hour drive isn't really that long and even if he can't turn around in it he will do fine.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Nose Problems and Questions

Q: I am very worried about my pet pot-bellied pig who has been very lethargic, struggles to get up and has now developed a nose bleed. We live in quite a remote area so help is scarce and I do not wish that he suffers. He does eat although not as he used to and his palate is very white. Please assist with any advise if you can. Debby - South Africa

A: Hi Debb, just got your email as it was hung up with the provider. Your pig needs to find a vet as soon as possible. Until you can find a vet do you have any antibiotics that you have been given for yourself on hand. I'm not sure if they will help him at this point but they sure won't hurt him.

Has there been any coughing or sneezing with the bloody nose? There is a thing called AR or Atrophic Rhinitis that can cause the bloody nose but it is usually along with the sneezing. If you can't find a vet than see if you can't get him some antibiotics from somewhere and start him on them as soon as possible.

Even if you have a family Dr. that could write you a Rx for some. Anything but Baytril will work by mouth. My personal preference is Ampicillin 500mg capsules that can be pulled apart and sprinkled on the food. Baytril is impossible to get into a pig unless its by injection so no point in even trying that one. Please let me know how things go.

Mini Pig Tusks and Teeth

Q: All this talk of tusks has made me think (had to happen one day) When do pigs get their tusks on average, and do all boys get them? Marvin is nearly six months old now, and I think there is some dimples on his face where they would grow. Is this the first sign? Thank you lot. Jeanne

A: We have some boys out here without them....they are there, but stayed small and inside. The others started showing at about two that they were noticeable and some grew straight out and back, which is pretty, some turn and go to the face which means they have to be cut all the time. Mazda has very thick but short ones that only stick out a few inches. Hansel, Harley and PiggyD have very short ones that are only slightly bigger than their teeth.

Q: Hi we have recently been given a pig to look after. I believe is he is from the wild pig. We have had him for about 3 months now and he is getting quiet tame and enjoys our dog which he follows around like a puppy. However as he is growing I have noticed very small tasks that are growing. Is there anyway we can stop these tusks from or getting sharp to the point where they can injure our dog. Can they been removed? Do you know of anyone I could speak to this about. If we neutered the pig will his tusks still grow?

A: If the pig is neutered the tusks won't grow as long...usually about the time they are two years they need just the ends clipped off. He should be neutered anyway to be a good pet. Un-neutered pigs can show behavior that neutered pigs don't have. These tusks are really part of the jaw and the only way to pull them causes the jaw to be broken in the process so don't have them pulled.

We just do a yearly tusk trimming on the older pigs here and they are nipped off with clippers or the preferred way is to use a "gigli wire" which is a metal material that has little saw teeth in it that you pull back and forth with your hands. Again I would urge you to get the boy neutered to insure you of a nice pet. ISO Flurane is the choice for knocking them out for surgery and while he is under this time the vet could cut the tusks for you while he is asleep.

Q: Would you know where to purchase one of these gigli wires from?

A: You can order it from any vet supply house or ask a local vet that does large animals and he might let you have enough to do what you want to do.

Q: Zachary is two years old. He is kind of crabby but we love him. Is a crabby personality something that can be changed? Also, his tusk teeth are growing out sideways and he is uncomfortable and always trying to relieve the annoyance of the tusks poking into his lips. How can we trim those tusks down to the nubs without hurting him. We would need some way to tranquilize him to do this. Any suggestions? Thank you, David

A: It is normal for the tusk teeth to stick out the sides of the mouth. I only cut tusks if they show that they will grow into the face as happens once in a while. We have some here that have them that look like handlebars in their mouth. The alternative is to take them in to the vet and knock him out with an injectable mixture if vet doesn't have ISO gas. Or your vet might want to give him a light dose of Telazol before he masks him down with ISO gas.

Please ask your vet to not use Ketamine on him. We are seeing a lot of pigs that are not waking up and having after effects from that particular drug.

At two years of age I can't imagine them being long enough to cause him a problem yet. Unless its for your benefit than you might be wiser to wait until they clear the mouth where there is more to work with. You can only cut them down so far and don't let the vet try to talk you into pulling them. These teeth are connected to the jaw bone and I have never seen a case of having them pulled that didn't involve breaking the pigs jaw.

As for his personality...that happens at about the two year mark when they decide to try their owners on for leader of the herd (which in this case is you) A little "crabby" is OK but don't let him get over on you if he is charging at you. When they bite at me I use a gate and herd them into a corner of MY choosing and make them stay for a few min. You have to be regular with this just like with a child and do it each and every time he snaps at you. Don't expect him to tolerate strangers though as he probably won't.

My house pigs have their own areas and when strangers are here they aren't allowed in the pigs area because that is the pigs safe zone and I have one that has its own room and when company comes he goes in there to avoid problems. These guys tend to be territorial and sometimes its better to avoid the situation than to try and change what is part of their natural nature. Hope this helps some.

Q: My pig is 9 years old, and today we had the shocking revelation that she has almost no teeth. Are there any other factors besides old age that should be taken into account? Other than that, she seems to be in good health. Sincerely, Rebecca

A: They do lose a lot of teeth as they get older, however usually not all of them. As long as she is healthy in all other ways I wouldn't let it bother me too much. You may have to soften her feed with a little water later on down the road.

Q: Hello! I have a male pot bellied pig, approximately 8 years old. We can't find a vet that will give our pig anesthetic to get him to sleep so we can trim his tusks or hooves. We have dogs and cats also, and we take them to a vet who cares for livestock and horses, but even he refuses to give the pig anesthetic. Several vets we've spoken with have told us that it's just too dangerous for the pig. Is there anything that we can do to trim them? Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks

A: You don't say how big this pig is or what state you are in...you would be surprised at the difference in vets across country. I'm glad to know that some of the vets are getting the message that injectables on a pig are dangerous. We use them here only for a very serious health problem on the larger people shy pigs that we can't handle. The only one hundred percent safe knock out for these guys is ISO Flurane gas and some vets don't have it. Yes it's nice if you have a pig you can handle and can get them into the vet without a lot of stress. On the other hand most pigs are the other story.

We only do tusks if they are growing into the face of the pig. When that happens or they need a foot trim the potbellied pig club comes once a year just for that purpose and they do all the pigs at the sanctuary without knocking them out. They try to get the pig down for a belly rub then quickly turn him on his back. (Yes they scream but it is very quick) A pig on it's back is helpless and one holds the head in their lap while one holds the back feet and one trims the front feet.

The same thing can be done with two strong men ...one picking the pig up under the front legs till the feet clear the floor and pulling the pig back toward him till pig is sitting on his tail bone with four feet not touching anything. We do even the large pigs here with that method, but it certainly is easier with a smaller one. Having the right trimmers helps a bunch and tusks are done with a gigli wire that your vet probably has on hand. It's a wire with little teeth in it that works like a saw when it's pulled back and forth on the tooth.

Word of caution here...if the tusk is long enough it is a good idea to have someone hold the end of the tusk your working on so that the piece doesn't go down the throat of the pig while he is screaming bloody murder. So it's better if you work the wire pulling toward you and away from the pig. You want to always watch that none of the tooth is unaccounted for as there have been cases of pigs inhaling the tusk end because they are screaming and the tusk lodges in the lungs. This can be fatal. We don't take it off at the gum because older pigs gums grow further up the tusk it is always safe to take half. This should be done by someone with experience.

Now for another route. Your vet could call ours and talk to him about using Telazol in a small dose just to make the pig groggy and you will be able to put him on the ground and do what needs to be done with limited problems. He won't be knocked out, but it does take the edge off and with small amounts it is safe to use. Valium DOES NOT work!! Hope this helps.

Q: Hello, I found your website...it's very nice! I do have a question for you. My Delilha is 3 years old. All of a sudden she is drooling from her mouth. This is so not like her. She has plenty to drink and eat. She acts normal other wise. She loves to go outside and graze. Should I be worried? Thanks for any information you can give me. Sincerely, Janet

A: She is probably having a tooth problem...these usually fall out on their own without a problem. It is possible that they can get an infection in there, but it doesn't happen often and don't think I would be too worried. Also if you have a lot of clover in your grass this will sometimes happen.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Blockages and Constipation

Q: I'm at my wit's end. My Wilbur has been constipated for over 2 weeks. He went several days without having any stool. Now, he strains for hours at a time, and only passes about 1 golf-ball sized stool a day. As soon as I noticed him having problems, I started trying all of the 'tricks': pumpkin, olive oil, mineral oil. Nothing helped. I then tried glycerin suppositories, the first time he held it in, but there were no results. I have tried twice since then, but he just pushes them back out. I tried a mineral oil enema, but that just leaks right back out. Last night I finally resorted to 'the fickle finger of fate.' I was able to remove a moderate-sized stool, and a couple smaller ones. I tried again this morning, but the stool was too far for me to get, and my pig had enough of me. His appetite has decreased, which I completely understand.

Do you have any other secrets/suggestions? What kind of enema works best--I don't want to use saline. He is almost 12 years old, and I worry about all the straining. I'm pretty sure I know the reason for his problem--I toss corn kernels throughout the yard for him to find. I think I just did this for too many days, and he wasn't drinking as much water as he usually does. I appreciate any help you can give. Thanks - Sarah

A: After all you have done the safe way to go is an X-ray at the vets. Its quite possible that Wilbur has a blockage in there and if that's the case it can be dangerous. Constipated pigs will strain for a time when it's time for them to go, but sounds like Wilbur is straining all the time and for long periods...that sounds more like a blockage or partial blockage to me rather than constipation.


Q: I fixed my poor little piggy's constipation problem--I went to the pharmacy and bought a rubber catheter which I attached to the enema bottle. The poor thing has been passing stool the size of tennis balls. And he is looking and acting much better. The 2 vets I talked to are useless. The first one I talked to about Wilbur's constipation told me to try increasing fiber, and gave me some Valium to give so it would be easier to transport him. The 2nd vet came out after 3 days, and I think he is afraid of Wilbur. Plus, he still uses Ketamine. He recommended Metamucil for the constipation. This was after Wilbur had already started passing stool. So, I asked the vet if he would cut Wilbur's nails, and he told me that he wanted to wait until Wilbur was better. He gave me the impression that he really did not want to get near Wilbur. (Wilbur's old vet moved, and Wilbur's 'dad' was the only person who could really handle him. He is now disabled, and moved out of state.)

Unfortunately, I think Wilbur has a UTI. He is dribbling urine all over the place. I'm thinking about getting some antibiotics from Farm & Fleet--any suggestions? I trust you more than these vets! Taking Wilbur's temp is out of the question--his poor little heinie has been violated too many times for his liking. Thanks for everything! Sarah

A: Yes I would definitely get Wilbur on some antibiotics. Either oral or the injectable. If you can get the vet to give you Ampicillin 500 mg or Amoxicillin 500 mg either will work well and put him on a couple morning and night for a week.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Size and Weight

Q: Good Day, I have owned my PBP since birth. She is mostly very sweet. We love her very much. She never has nor will she ever, go to a show. She is just for us. My question is simple. I see other pigs on the web that are very huge. My pig is just 130lbs. She has been certified healthy by our vet. Is there a reason she is so much thinner? She is 7 years old. Thanks Randy

A: Randy, there is no way to tell if 130lbs is right for your particular pig. All pigs are different and some are larger than others. The average weight of these pigs coast to coast appears to be 80 to 150 lbs but there are many over that. We never go by weight alone as it can be misleading. What you want is a well rounded pig...there should be no shoulder bones or hip bones showing. Of the pigs here they are all different and all require different amounts of feed. We do tend to like well rounded pigs here...you won't see a thin one here.

The fact that your pig weighs 130lbs wouldn't matter if she was a very small pig because...that amount of weight she could be fat if she is a small pig. Same holds true if she was a large pig...that amount of weight might be a skinny pig. The best judge of your pigs weight and what is healthy for them is you. You know your pig better than anyone. You just don't want to see any bones on her at all.

Remember that the immune system is directly linked to food intake. A healthy well rounded pig can fight off a lot more problems than one that is underweight. Also since you have had her since birth I'm going to assume that she was fed well as a baby. I don't believe ever in putting babies on a restricted diet when young. We certainly wouldn't do it to a puppy or kitten or foal or even a calf so why would we do it to a pig who grows even faster.

Babies need the extra feed to make the bone that will hold them through old age. Pigs that have been raised without this tend to have arthritis at a much younger age. As for your vet....they are hard to interpret as most of them tend to want these pigs a lot thinner than I usually think is healthy. But yes to your original question....I have seen these pigs go as high as 300lbs and still not be fat....just VERY large. Hope this answers your question.

Q: Hi! I was on your web site and was reading all the questions and answers. I do have one concern with my pig Annabell. She is 3 months old and I am very careful with her weight because I just had to put my other pig down, Potbelly also she could no longer get up and walk always had a weight problem with her. She was never fed any snacks and always on a strict diet. Her jowl's got so big she could no longer see. She was 10. I don't want to be to much in fear of getting Annabell too fat that I under feed her. She eats about 1/2 cup pig chow morning and night and lettuce salad in the afternoon for a snack with her vitamins and a top dressing for her coat which I have bought from the web site. She is in the barn but comes out nightly on her halter and long rope to learn a trick or two and I use raisins for a reward. Tops maybe 10. Then she gets to run in the yard and play and get her exercise. She weighs about 24 lb now. Her mother was 50lbs and her father was 35lbs so I'm told. She will be in the barn during the winter, we live in NY quite cold, but she had a house off her stall in a barn that had been well insulated and what a condo this is. Lives high on the hog. She is very much loved and we have bonded very well. She can sit , she comes when called and she kisses. She also loves when I pick her up and love her, go figure! She is very bonded to me. I just want to make sure I don't under feed her in the winter as the exercise will be less. I can let her run inside the barn but don't know if she will want that.

The only gauge I can give you on weight is at 7 weeks she was 10.5lbs and at 12 weeks she was 24lbs that's 14lbs in 5 weeks is that a lot? Thanks for all your time. I'm not ashamed to say I love my Annabell very much any input would be great.

A: Sounds like your baby is very much loved. I don't usually worry about weight until they are done with their growth spurts as no baby animal should be underfed, but sounds like your girl is doing about right. You are the best judge of her weight as all pigs have different metabolisms and different bone structures. Just watch her and keep an eye on it. Young pigs will run a lot off with activity and older pigs don't move around enough to use all the food. Her picture looks really good to me so you must be doing a good job with her.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Behavior Problems

Q: Temper Tantrums??

I could use some help. The family went to a barbecue yesterday...gone all day. This is not normal for our family. Someone is ALWAYS home. Well, Frenzy was left home by herself...first time ever!! When we got home...we found kitchen chairs tipped over...a pair of curtains which were folded neatly, were wadded up on the floor...the baby gate to the upstairs was wide open...and Frenzy was upstairs in my granddaughters room.

Since then, her attitude has been terrible. She nips every time someone walks past her and when I try to pet her and talk with her, she walks the other way!! It's obvious that she's mad at me... so what do I do to get her back on my "good side"! I don't want to reward her for her temper tantrum, but I don't want her to be upset with me either. Any ideas??

A: You are in the proverbial "poop house" with Frenzy. When they get mad they are mad...they have a memory like an elephant and can seem to be very unforgiving.

What I do is talk nice, but ignore them completely. I don't ask for a kiss nor do I pet them. Usually they will decide that they don't like being on the outs with mom and will go back to their nice selves again. You have the same problem that I have...home all the time...so it's a big deal when there is no one around all of a sudden.

When I leave I explain that I am going and give them something that is above what they always get when I'm home, whether it's a treat that's special or a plaything that is new. The Busy Balls we sell are great for those special times (although they can wreck a house trying to get the ball when it gets stuck under the furniture) and I confine them to one room if possible.

They know when they go to that room that mom is going to leave and they have their bed and play things and an extra good treat. When you come home...if all is well than you give another extra good treat and tell them how much you missed them.

Q: OK everyone, here is a question. Harley sleeps under our bed, well not for much longer as she gets bigger. Plus she has a bundle of blankets on the floor at the end of our bed. BUT I am going on a girls 4 day trip to Vegas and to see CHER so she is going to stay home with my husband.

If Harley gets up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom I hear her and take her right out but I know my husband will not hear her nor feel her getting out from under the bed.

So my thought was maybe I should get her a nice size crate for her to sleep in that way when my husband gets up to get ready for work he can just let her out and take her outside. She will spend the day outside with the dogs while he is at work then when our son gets home from work he will let her back in the house. Where do your indoor pigs sleep? Erika

A: Erika, what kind of dogs do you have. The reason someone ask about the dogs is that at least four times every year we get the terrible stories of dogs tearing up a pig and the end result is pretty bloody. The famous last words of most of these heartsick people is "they were raised together and never saw a problem". Small dogs are better than medium or large dogs, but even small dogs if they work together can do a pig a job.

It is usually the pigs fault that it gets started and granted it usually happens after the pig is grown, but even a young pig, if something scares it and makes it scream...that's the turn on for the dogs. Most of us have dogs too, but we don't leave them alone unsupervised with the pigs because nature is funny in it usually shows itself.

Dogs are predators and pigs are prey and a pig doesn't really have a chance with them if there should be something that upsets them. The last story was a good friend of some of us on the list that left her two Jack Russel's with the pigs...they killed two of her oldest pigs. It does happen and it happens often because the pigs wont back off when they should. (Kind of pig headed) and they are the losers in the end.

Q: Why has my potbelly pig started eating her feces? Is it a vitamin or mineral deficiency? Any suggestions? She is kept outdoors in a pen and has shelter. Thanks, Sheryl

A: First off I would like to know how old this pig is, what part of the country does she live in and what diet is she eating right now. Being outside in a pen....is there any grass available or is it a small pen that has nothing for her to do in it? They usually only do this if there is a problem with AMOUNT or QUALITY of the food they are getting.

Pigs that are bored have been known to do this also. My first thought would be that she isn't getting adequate nutrition from whatever she is eating that's why I would like to know what she is being fed. I also would put her on vitamins. Children's chew-able ones no matter what she is getting in the way of foods. A pig on a well balanced pig chow should not have this problem. There are cases of pigs that have internal problems doing this, but I need more info before I can help much.


Q: Just thought I would get back to you about Miss Piggy. I started her on vitamins today. To answer your question she wasn't eating the Mazuri food, but when I saw her eating her feces I thought maybe the pig chow wasn't giving her something she needed. I also stopped feeding her shelled corn.

She is still eating good except she didn't like the Brussel sprout leaves yesterday. She had Chinese cabbage today. We live in southern middle Tennessee. I would like to have her spayed, but don't know if any of the vets around here have ever spayed a pot and am afraid it might be too expensive. It might be too traumatic to load her up and take her to the vet. I did go to your website and saw the pictures last nite. I'll stay in touch.

A: I wouldn't think that Miss Piggy would like Brussel sprout leaves! My spoiled group won't eat anything like that. I'm talking about ten pigs, the outdoor pigs will eat anything I think. Let's see if the vitamins work or the putting her on Mazuri feed. Sometimes this can be a habit too. Not a very nice one that's for sure.

It sounds like you spend a lot of time with her so it shouldn't be that she is bored and does this just for something to do (that's why I ask about the size of her pen and stuff). A bored pig will do that too. Let's give the vitamins time to get in her system and see if it doesn't help her a little.

I agree with you on the spaying. If you don't have a male there then it isn't as necessary. The trauma is pretty bad and if it's a vet that doesn't know pots they give them injections to knock them out instead of the ISO Florine gas and the injectables are BAD news for pots. So until you find a vet that knows about pots than I would hold off.

We try to spay all females that come in because of the down the road problem that seems to come with some un-spayed females. Lots of tumors and cancers and Pyometrias (infection in the uterus) but this is by no means all un-spayed pigs...maybe one in a hundred.

As long as you keep an eye on her then not spaying her is an option for you. I would rather go that route. Now is the time to find a vet that you are comfortable with that does potbellied pigs. I will check our database and see if there are any vets listed for the TN area ...these are vets that do work on pots. I will send you the names and numbers if I can find any for you. Thanks for the update on miss Piggy and give her a belly rub for me.


Q: I will try to answer your questions about what Miss Piggy is eating. We had been feeding her swine food. It was a maintenance food for pigs and then we finally located a place locally to get pot belly pig food. What they had was Mazuri Mini-Pig food, Youth. We got Miss Piggy from a woman who had bought her at a yard sale for her mother and she didn't want her and the daughter had already been abusive to her that afternoon. Miss Piggy was scared and it took a while to get her tamed.

We got her in July and we guess that she may have been 2 or 3 months old. I feed her a cup of food in the morning and another cup in the afternoon. We also have a garden and we raised broccoli, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, and Brussel sprouts this fall. I go out every day at lunch and pick the leaves and broccoli florets , usually a gallon bucket full and feed them to her. We had an Amish friend make her a hot pink harness and leash and I have got her used to it in her pen but she is still too wild to take out in the yard yet and now the weather is not cooperative.

She has also been eating persimmons because her pen is under 3 persimmon trees but they are about gone now. I would mix a handful of shelled corn in with her feed in the afternoon but Kathleen Myers said this might be part of the problem. She had mange mites a couple of months ago but we got medicine from a vet and it cleared up. Thanks for any help you can give. Sheryl

A: Sheryl, nothing wrong with feeding pig chow...we have 73 here that have had nothing but for the last 16 years since we started the sanctuary. I ask about what you were feeding cause there are some potbelly pig foods out there being sold that are not adequate in nutrition. These are companies owned by single individuals not the big ones like Purina.

I ask because I wanted to make sure she wasn't being fed one of those that might not have been giving her enough of what she needs but any commercial hog chow is complete in giving what a pot needs as well as the farm pigs. The Mazuri is good, but I can't say it's any better than the regular pig chow.

In any case diet does not seem to be the problem since it sounds like she gets a pretty well rounded diet. Most pigs that eat their own stool are pigs that have not had a good start in life. Sounds like she didn't have it too good till you got her. Some of these pigs do it because they are bored. Can't imagine that being under three persimmon trees!! Which leads me to another question:

What does she do with the seeds?? I ask because there have been several cases of pigs getting blocked intestines from the seeds in persimmons and peaches. Some pigs spit them out, some swallow them.

Have you noticed any change in her behavior or her digging a lot? Some pigs will eat their own stool (and dirt) when they are in pain. If this pig is acting normal in all ways and anxious to eat like a healthy pig than you can rule pain out as a reason. If you can do that then you might want to start her on a one a day children's vitamin. We use the generic Flintstones ones that come in flavors and they will eat them from your hand.

Also would ask if she started this AFTER you switched her feed or was she doing it before? And what area of the country are you located. If she didn't do this on the pig chow and is doing it on the Mazuri than the answer would be that Mazuri doesn't have the selenium added and your farm pig chow does. If you are in a selenium deficient area that might be your reason. If it started before than that is not the case.

I would rule out habit since this has not always been a problem for her and I can see no reason why she would be hungry enough to do this with what you are giving her so if we rule out pain (which you would know by watching her and how willing she is to eat). That means it has to be a deficiency in something she needs. I would try the vitamins for a time and see if this helps but get back to me on the questions I ask OK?

Q: Hello, I have a 5 month old potbelly pig and I have had her since she was 3 days old. She was the runt and was not feeding on her mom. The people that had her gave her to me and she almost died. I had to inject fluids under her skin and she pulled threw. I had her spayed about 3 weeks ago.

Charlotte is attacking my Dobermans and they try to run from her but she chases them and they will bite her back. She used to play with them and since she's been spayed, she is twice as bad about attacking them. It's not play anymore! It's a good thing that my dogs are not nasty temper or they would of killed her by now.

She lives in the house and is house broke and sleeps in a crate at nite. She goes to work everyday since she was 3 days old. I wonder if she's spoiled! I called my vet and they said that it will take 2 to 3 months for her hormones to die. I hope she gets sweet with the dogs again.

When will I know how big she will get? She is 5 months old and is around 23 pounds. Other then my problem with the dogs, she is a great buddy and I love her so much. She sets on my lap and rolls over for me to rub her belly. She sits on command and has not pottied in the house or shop since she was about 2 to 3 months old. She goes out the door on her own and comes up the stairs by her self. Please help me about the dogs. Cindy

A: Cindy, your dogs and pig are an accident waiting to happen! I can't stress enough the importance of keeping them separate. Dogs are predators by nature...pigs are prey. Large dogs and pigs don't mix. The pig will instigate the problem because they don't back off like another dog would do and it's just a matter of time till your dogs turn on her, not because the are mean, but out of self defense. Wish I had a dime for every email received about pigs raised with a dog for months who got along well together and one day the dog killed the pig! We also have large dogs here but NEVER are they left alone with our pigs.

Please make some kind of adjustment where you can make sure that you don't come home some day from shopping to a terrible scene. Pigs reach an age where they are territorial and your girl will probably never be friendly with the dogs again....they also should never be fed in the same room with dogs. With certain precautions you can avoid trouble but you need to start now. It's just a matter of being careful and never feeding dogs in front of the pig or vice versa and making sure that they can't get to each other if you are not there to keep an eye on them.


Q: Thank you for the info. I don't ever leave her alone in the room with the dogs. My dogs would never hurt her if she wasn't going after them. I started letting her out by herself in the house when they are outside and at work they take turns running the shop. How big do you think she mite get? She is 5 months old and is 23 pounds. I still hold her in my lap every night. She's a great little piglet and we all love her. Thanks. Cindy

A: It's hard to answer that one since they can grow till they are three years. Just don't underfeed her to try and keep her small cause that ends up with lots of health problems down the road. She is no different than any other baby animal and needs good feed to grow bone and a good immune system. She will grow to her genetic size no matter what, but she can do it healthy or not healthy depending on you. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that she probably won't be one of the larger pigs....do you know who mom and dad are and did you see them as grown pig? Chances are if she is 25 lbs at 5 months she is not going to go over the 80 lb range when grown...but that's not written in stone. It all depends on her genetics.

Eyes and Ears of Potbellied Pigs

Q: Well I went down to the barn this morning to let Pudge out to graze for a while and he was holding his head sideways. I got him to lay do...