Spring is here!  Besides the usual lawn, garden, camp and vacation planning, I would like to encourage you to add your piggy to this list of spring things to do.  Make a renewed commitment to spend more time with your pig to assure that her creature comforts and medical necessities are met.  This article will focus on what you can do to guarantee that your pig stays happy and healthy.

GROOMING

At Home Hoof Care:  Make the time to give your sweetie pig a good physical once over.  Does your pig need to have her hooves trimmed?  If so, can you accomplish this task yourself?  Routine hoof care at home is recommended.  Hopefully you have desensitized your pig to hoof and toe handling so regular maintenance can be accomplished without stress to you or your pig.  Some of my pigs really groove on the toe job, while others simply won’t allow it.

For those hard-to-manage types, set up a passive pedicure situation by placing concrete tiles where your pig waters (as an outside application).  When setting up a concrete pedicure platform, be sure it is large enough that all four hooves pass over it.  I use twelve inch by twelve-inch concrete patio tiles.

If your pig is strictly an indoor pig, then you will want to set up situations where she walks regularly on concrete.  This can be accomplished by either placing some concrete tiles just beyond her piggy-door that leads outside or taking her for regular walks on surfaces that provide the coarseness necessary to keep her hooves nicely shaped.  These outings will also allow you quality time with your snurdle-bird while providing you both with healthy exercise.

Eyes and Ears:  Again, regular cleaning of the area around the eyes and the ears is recommended.  A pet pig generally relishes in all this attention and physical contact from her pigstress.  Along with a belly rub, it is easy to do a little ear and eye cleansing.  Be gentle and don’t use products that will sting or hurt your pig.  Take special notice of any thing out of the ordinary.  Is there excessive tearing?  Does your pig tend to squint?  Can you see her eye lashes?  Potbellied pigs seem to be prone to various eye maladies including runny eyes, matter build up, entropi, scratched cornea, ulcerated cornea, and eye trauma.  Work with your vet should any of these conditions exist.

Bathing:  Pigs are so naturally clean that baths are required only occasionally.  That’s not to say that you and your pig cannot enjoy frequent bathing.  This is fine, especially if your pig has good skin and coat condition.  Spring is an excellent time to provide a bath or shower for your pig-a-rooter.  Bathing can be accomplished in several ways depending on the size and temperament of your pig.  I know of people with walk-in showers whose pigs delight in a supervised shower bath.  Smaller pigs can be bathed in a bathtub or large basin, tank, sink, or outdoor wading pool.  Tip:  When bathing a pig that is standing in water, float cheerios atop the water to keep your piggy contented and busy during the bathing process.  Whatever method you choose to bathe your pig, be sure the water is tepid, not cold, and that the pig is dried quickly and kept out of drafts.

Skin Care:  While bathing your pig, take special notice of her skin and coat condition.  Does she have excessive scaling or flaking?  While it is not unusual for potbellied pigs to have somewhat dry skin, you may need to make a dietary change or add a supplement to help relieve an extremely dry skin condition or dull coat.  I recommend treating dry skin from the inside out with Flax Seed or Fish Oil.  A tablespoon a day will tremendously improve your pig’s skin and coat. It will take a couple of months to see results; so don’t give up on this routine before it has a chance to work. Tip:  I haven’t found a pig yet who doesn’t absolutely adore Avon Skin So Soft applied after a bath.  It’s best when mixed half and half with water. It is an excellent bug repellant as well.

If your pig has huge flakes of dead skin, try using Blue Magic.  You will find this with the ethnic hair products.  I prefer the Blue Magic that is green in color.  This product is similar to Vaseline, very think and greasy.  Really slather it on your pig. (It works best if your pig has shed her hair.)  After a few days, you will be able to rub or brush off most of those unsightly flakes.  Follow with a nice bath.

Many products are available for shampooing and conditioning your pig’s coat and skin.  They are similar to cosmetics.  What one person likes, another may not.  Here, personal preference prevails.  Try several products until you hit upon the one that is perfect for you and your pig.  Go to your local farm store and check out their grooming supplies.  HealthyPigs.com carries a complete line of potbellied pig products including items for your pig’s toilette.

VETERINARY VISIT

Physical Examination:  Your pig needs to visit your veterinarian annually.  Your vet should perform a general physical examination including taking heart and respiration rates as well as your pig’s temperature.  If you were unable to accomplish the routine grooming jobs listed above, have your veterinarian complete them.  It’s a good idea to log a weight in on your pig’s record.  Have your vet comment on your pig’s general body condition.  Does she need to lose or gain weight?  Are there ways to improve upon her diet, either by changing kind or content of ration?  Pigs are like people.  Their digestive systems and metabolisms will vary.  Your particular pig may need more fiber in her diet or less fruit or more veggies or less pig chow.  Streamline your pig’s diet to meet her specific needs.

Tusk Trim:  If your pig is a barrow, check to see if his tusks need trimming.  Have an idea beforehand if you think this procedure will be necessary.  Your vet can tell you if you must withhold food from your pig because anesthesia will be used.

Vaccinations and Deworming:  Your pet pig needs to be dewormed at least once a year.  There are various deworming agents available.  Your vet will recommend what he feels is best.  Minimally, your pig needs an annual Erysipelas/Rhinitis vaccination.  A leptospirosis vaccination may be necessary depending upon your geographical region.  These vaccinations are only necessary for the first five years of your pig’s life.

Consult with your vet on any special concerns you have regarding your pig’s health.  Does your pig have any unusual urinary or bowel problems?  Does she drink excessive amounts of water?  Does she hold her head sideways or shake her head a lot?  This could indicate an ear infection.  Does she scratch inordinately?  This could indicate either a fungal or mange condition.  Take advantage of your annual veterinarian appointment and discuss all of your concerns.  Make a list before you go to the vet so you make efficient use of his time.  The relationship you, your pig, and your vet develop is a very important one.  Try to make the vet experience as pleasant as possible for all involved.

MENTAL HEALTH

Make sure you allow your pig to be an active member of your family’s home life and social life.  The more situations and experiences your pig is exposed to the better adjusted and happier she will be.  This is beneficial not only to your pig but to you.  Some ways to renew your commitment to this end include:

Pig Clubs & Public Pet Events:  Get involved with other pig owners.  There are clubs all over the country having lots of fun and providing needed services for pigs and their owners as well as general public education about the many wonders of our potbellied pig friends. Your pig will gain oodles of sociability at club and public events. A once shy pig becomes totally gregarious in a very short time.

Training:  Set aside a specific time each day to train your pig. The skills             she gains will equip her to meet new challenges and feel confident and in control of herself.  Your pig will be manageable because she understands what is expected of her and responds appropriately.  Everyone will gain from the training experience. Tip:  Take a look at this trainer for lots of great ideas. Christina Waggoner, Trainer, Blog: http://thedexterdiaries.blogspot.com/

Community Service:  Promote your pig as a good will ambassador.  Make nursing home visits and brighten up the lives of the lonely, old, or ill.  Help educate the general public with visits to schools, libraries, and local fairs and community events.  Offer your pig for a “kiss the pig” contest.  Use your imagination to involve yourself and your pig in positive community work.  The rewards are significant.

PIGGY ACCOUTERMENTS

Spring is a good time to evaluate your pig friend’s supplies.  Does her harness still fit correctly and match her spring wardrobe; or, does she need a new one?  Perhaps a new sleeping bed, bag, blankie, or custom-built salon is in order.  Are her feed and water bowls in good shape?  Does she have an adequate, non-leaking swimming pool?  Is it finally time to build that ramp you have promised your sweetie pig for several years?  How about a new toy or a gorgeous Easter bonnet?  Think of an extra special gift for your piggy as a spring celebration.  Get in the swing and have a spring fling with your sweet porcine thing!

 

© Nancy Shepherd

Spring: A good time to “tune-up” your potbellied pig