Friday, January 31, 2014

Pot Bellied Pigs and skin conditions

I have had more and more people asking lately about skin conditions their pigs have. First off, I am not a vet and always recommend that if you have any health concerns about your pig you talk to your vet so that you know exactly what you are dealing with.

Pigs naturally have somewhat dry skin. A healthy pig's skin (even though it is dry) does not usually bother him. He will occasionally rub against hard corners, etc. to scratch, but it shouldn't be something that consumes him and he should not look uncomfortable. If you find that your pig is scratching a lot, has redness or bumps or seems to be uncomfortable a lot of the time, there is probably something going on.

The most common skin problem I have seen in pigs is mange. Most of the pigs I have rescued have come with varying stages of mange...from mild to horrific. The symptoms of mange include 1)dry, scaly skin (with "dandruff") that often leaves a white track where the pig rubs against dark surfaces. 2)Tiny bumps and/or scabs just below the surface of the skin, usually behind ears, under front legs and chest, between back legs down to the hoof. The skin in these areas will take on an orange color. 3) Eyes develop an orange/brown crust in the corners and can begin to tear, leaving brown stains. 4) Ears have excessive brownish debris and can have an odor. 5) Excessive itching.

A pig can have all or some of these symptoms. Left untreated, this condition can become chronic and can lead to other health problems. It is very important to treat it at the first sign of a problem. I have seen pigs so infected that their hair and skin was literally falling off.

For my pigs (again...I am not a vet and always recommend speaking to your vet with any health concerns you have), I use Ivermectin for Cattle, Sheep and Swine. I give a TOUCH more than what the box says and I give it orally, spread evenly over their food. It's important if treating more than one pig at a time this way that you be sure they eat only their own food so they are getting the proper amount. I clean/wash all shelters and bedding areas thoroughly and then repeat the dosage in 14 days. Very severe cases may require a 3rd dose in another 14 days. This treatment has cleared up even the most severe case of mange we have seen. 

I also routinely give my pigs the same '2 dose over 14 day' treatment of Ivermectin every spring and fall for worms and parasites. This has kept mange from being an ongoing problem with even the very severe cases we have encountered. Even though I am very against over medicating animals, I do recommend this for all pigs, regardless if they are showing symptoms or not. Because they are so susceptible to worms and parasites, preventative measures can nip the problems before they start.  

There are other skin conditions that could be causing your pig's problems such as ringworm and other fungal issues. I have not personally encountered these issues with my pigs so don't feel confident talking about them, but they are something to speak to your vet about. A skin scraping is usually all it takes to diagnose the problem and the treatments are not usually difficult. Left untreated, they can lead to very painful open sores on your pet. Always be sure to take note of the condition of your pig's hair and skin daily and pay close attention to any changes. Even poor diet can cause skin conditions.

Often times a pig with a severe skin condition will look VERY bad. Some might even think it would be kind to put such an animal "out of it's misery," but I don't believe this is the case. With treatment, every pig I have seen has made a full recovery. I realize I have not seen every pig out there, but only after making every effort possible, will you truly be in a position to make a serious call like that. Treatment is often very simple and recovery in such a sad pig is always such a joy to watch. 

12 comments:

  1. My pot belly pig has got something on him. I thought it was dried mud. looks like the bottom of a dried river bed. But now its going from his back down the neck and both ears. Is it mange? He lives in my house with 2 dogs and 3 cats and none of them have it. Can I get it?

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    1. Hi Susan,

      I have never seen something like you have described. It could be a severe case of mange, but I would definitely have him looked at by a vet as soon as possible in case it is something more serious. Mange, ringworm, etc. are something that can be passed from animal to animal/human. I hope it is nothing serious. Please let me know what you find out.

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  2. Hi i am an 11 year old girl with a potbellied pig named Bootsie who means the world to me, lately I have noticed that his eyes are goopy and there is a lot of pimple like stuff on the bottom of his stomach, his butt is also white (he is a black pig)from scratching it so much he also has an awful lot of dandrif and I don't know if my family can afford to take him to the vet since the only vet that works on pigs is an exotic animal vet this is super expensive. DO you have any tips on how to treat these symptoms?

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    1. Hi Grace

      I would do just what I said in this post. You can buy Ivermectin (for cattle, sheep and swine) at any farm supply store or vet clinic. It should help, but I suggest you keep searching for a vet who you can take Bootsie to so you are not without one if something serious happens and he needs emergency medical attention.

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  3. Hi Lorrie!
    I have a 13 year old gal that gets clear colored random small blisters on her skin. She has lived inside for the past year due to arthritis. However she is still mobile. The blisters do not appear to hurt her nor does she try to itch them. Any ideas?

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    1. Hi

      I am sorry, I really can't give an experienced answer as I have never dealt with clear blisters with my pigs. How long has she been getting them? How big are the blisters? Do they ooze fluid? Do they come in clusters? All over her body, or just in certain areas? (Blisters can be a symptom of hoof and mouth disease and are generally found around the mouth, snout and feet.) Does she have them always...or do they come and go? Is she dewormed regularly to eliminate the possibility of mange or other parasites? Has she had a sunburn recently? Does she have a fever?

      I strongly recommend talking to your vet about any concerns you have. It is always better to catch something in the early stages when you don't know whether it is serious or not. I would also ask about giving her glucosamine for her arthritis if she is not talking anything already. I have two senior pigs (18yrs) and am planning to call my vet this week about giving it to them. Our vet recommended it for our senior dog years ago and it helped with her pain.

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  4. Hi I found some blisters on my pig. They're the same color as her skin but they look like little bumps. It doesn't seem to hurt her but I'm just worried. I found them under her neck and stomach.

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  5. I have a miniature pot belly and she has developed wht looks like a rash down the back of her on both her sides going up behind her ears it's very red and looks raw any ideas of what this may be? I put bag balm on her but it does not seem to be working! Sincerely concerned momma

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    1. It sounds like it might be mange. I would give the dose of Ivermectin as mentioned in the above post for mange. If this doesn't clear it up, I would talk to your vet.

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  6. Maybe you can help... I have a 1 one yr spayed pot belly who lives indoors with us. I treat her twice a yr( spring & fall) with Ivomec. When I got her she had a severe case of mange. I've cleared that up and since then her skin has been perfect. I have noticed on the top of her head in her mohawk area the hair has gotten very course since it has gotten colder out. Now she's started getting pimples in some of the hair follicles. I've been treating them with peroxide & Neosporin but, no change. I called her vet and he said it's mange which I know it's not. Unfortunately he's the only vet around that treats pot bellys. I changed her laundry detergent and have made sure nothing is pulling on it. Any ideas?

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    1. Hi Nycholee,

      The only experience I've had with actual "pimples" was with my very first pig about 11 years ago. His were ALL OVER his face and legs like a severe case of acne. They were often huge, puss filled and caused him discomfort. We took him to numerous vets and none were able to offer a real diagnosis or help. That along with a lung problem (both they say were due to horrible living conditions for the first 5 weeks of his life) caused his death at 5 years old. With yours being in her mowhawk area though...it doesn't sound like the same thing. I would call around to see if you could find a vet in surrounding areas that might be able to look at her. It could be a result of her having a severe case of mange at one point in her life...as recurring skin problems can stem from that... but I would sure try my hardest to get it checked out. I hope it isn't serious. I would love to hear more about what this is if you wouldn't mind updating me with any news. Good luck.

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