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Pot Bellied Pig Health and Information Articles
Just a few of the articles Phyllis has written on the care and well being of Potbellied Pigs.

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Here you will find Questions that people like you have asked Phyllis over the years with her Answers.

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Potbellied Pig FAQ's and Information

Below: Hoof/Foot Problems

Q: Hi Phyllis. Hope you don't mind me writing to you, got your address from Dottie at Pigs4Ever. She suggested a while back that you may have an idea what our problem with Bella may be. We are Graham and Gina, living in England near London. Bella is our only Pot belly, she's now 12. Problem is her front right trotter. Inside toe has had a problem for about 2 and a half years now and our local vets are now pretty much admitting they don't know what it is or how to treat it.

What she has is a deep hole in the flesh between the nail and flesh part of the toe. It bleeds and sometimes goes septic which we have been controlling by cleaning and anti biotics, but recently it's got impossible to keep on top of it. Most worrying as it is now making her lame and the flesh seems to have a dead look about it and its often pretty smelly. I've done a diagram best I can and hope it helps to explain it. I know its difficult when you can't see it for yourself.

One of our visiting vets did suggest 2 years ago of a foot condition that does rot the flesh, unfortunately then he didn't think that was the problem and has since left the practice. Current Vets have not heard of this problem.

As you can imagine we are getting pretty desperate, Bella is otherwise in pretty good shape and we are feeling pretty helpless. So we are hoping you may have heard of a similar condition and if you have we would be extremely graceful for any help or suggestions. Thanks for your time, looking forward to hearing from you, Graham.

A: Your diagram didn't come through so would you try that again. I really would like to see the area that is involved in this. Yes, there is a thing called foot rot but this just doesn't sound like the problem here but need to see which part of the foot is affected if possible.

Did your vet take a scraping to see what shows up? Could this possibly be a staff infection which is hard to cure in that area?


Hi Graham that would be my first question to the vet is to take a sample of the hole and also the dead part. To tell you the truth and you may think I'm crazy but this looks like she got bit by something that had enough venom to do this. I have seen them with rattlesnake bites on the head where the skin just peels back on the whole body leaving bloody meat underneath.

Is there any damage to the hoof itself? That's what makes me wonder cause if the skin below died off or is getting rotten than it should have gone to the hoof if it was able to do so. If it was a bite than the hoof has stopped the progression of the poison.

If she were my pig and there was any way possible I would want them to knock her out and clean that hole out with surgery, take some samples and see what they show. This is not foot rot I don't think. With that the under side of the pads and the hoof itself are involved but not the flesh up above like hers is.

The antibiotic therapy is great in any case since it is an infection of the site. I don't want to scare you for sure and its not as terrible as it sounds if the flesh is dead below the hole ...That is where the foot or hoof connects to the bone, there is a chance that either this infection or ostiomylitis might have set in in which case she will lose that toe of the hoof.

This sounds terrible, but isn't as bad as you think. We have a pig here that was frozen on one side and brought to us to care for and one foot fell off completely along with her ear and her tail. The one toe of the hoof did not grow back but she is fine with only the one toe and is living a perfectly normal life. It just took a long time.

I just tried to reach my vet on the phone and he is off for the afternoon. Let's wait till I talk to him tomorrow. If foot rot is a possibility he will tell me so but I just don't think that's the case in this one. Lets wait and see what he says.


A few weeks gone since we tried Bella on a very heavy course of anti biotics. To save on vet visits I had to administer the jabs myself. That I did not enjoy, Gina my wife no help, she runs when she sees a needle. Anyway, its good news. Inflammation gone, Bella a different pig. Not seen her quite so lively and perky for a long while. It was getting very worrying as she was starting to lay down as soon as you forced her on her feet, even food not enough encouragement.

Yes, she's much much better. Haven't had a scrape yet. Will talk about that with vet soon. The hole is still there though not bleeding anymore. Dry skin seems to be trying to cover it but it still collects the occasional small stone.

Chances are it will re-infect sooner or later so will have to keep a close eye on it. At least we know it is controllable whatever the root cause. Hope you and your Pig pals are all OK. Thanks again for all your help speak to you soon, Graham and Gina Bella says oink


I don't know if you received my previous message, in case you didn't Bella is much much better. She has been a very different pig as the inflammation has completely gone. Even the hole in the foot seems to have disappeared but we are being cautious and giving regular checks. The very large dose of antibiotic lincocin over 7 days seems to have done the trick.

Unfortunately she has got arthritis,the osteochondrosis kind. I've just e-mailed lambria-vet for synovie cre eq. This product was recommended by Dottie at Pigs4ever. Our Vets don't know of this product so hopefully lambriar might advise us. Its quite upsetting to be on top of the toe problem after a nearly 3 year battle to see her struggling on some days to walk very far with the arthritis. Any thoughts or suggestions much appreciated as always. Hope all's well Graham

Q: have a large potbelly pig, approximately 300 lbs. My husband and I have had Ralph for 11 years and we love him dearly. He is our baby and we cover him up every night with his blanket, which he loves. My problem is, his hoofs are getting very long and we would like to be able to shorten them but don't know how. We have had a vet come and do this but he sedates him which is very hard on him. We hate to have this done to him. Can you give me any suggestions on what we can do. Thank you Linda

A: Hi Linda, I agree your boy is too old to be knocked out unless it's a medical emergency. It's hard on them and there are more cases than I care to talk about that don't wake up from this.

You didn't say what area of the country you are in. We have the potbellied pig club that comes here every year and trims feet and teeth by just putting the pig on its back and in five min the job is done. Pig can't do anything when its on its back other than scream. Stressful yes but not nearly as bad as the injectables that knock them out.

What you might want to try are the hoof nippers that are used on horses and when he is down for the night just get one good whack off (they don't have to look pretty just shorter). I don't know if they are interfering with him walking yet or not but my vet is a firm believer that he never saw a pig die from having longish feet but he has from knocking them out with the injectables. So if it was me I would try the nippers first and see if you cant just get a little off at a time that way.

If they are pointing up on the ends then we have someone feed treats and while they are reaching for the treat we can nip off that part while they are standing up. You only get one chance so you have to be quick about it and since your not sure of yourself or how far to go....you just get off the worst and let it ride. Even half an inch at a time makes a difference.

The other alternative is to load him up and take him into a vet that uses ISO Fluorine gas which is the only safe stuff for pots. Unfortunately most vets tend to want to give a knock out shot first to make it easy to put the mask on the pigs face....that defeats the purpose of taking them in for the ISO fluorine. Loading him in the car and getting him in is also very high stress on him. At his age I don't think its the route to go.
Let me hear from you OK.?

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Q: Dear Phyllis,

I was given your name and e-mail address by Dottie of Pigs4Ever. I wrote the e-mail below to her in desperation. This particular episode is very hard to get under control and I wonder if you have any insight on the subject. His vet, Dr. Pamela Walker, is at Michigan State in East Lansing which is 4 hours away but even she has no idea what causes this or how to go about it. If you have any insight we would be extremely grateful.

Hello, I was wondering if you could possibly help with a major problem that keeps occurring with our 10 year old Oinky. He keeps getting abscesses (?) on his rear feet and they bleed. No one seems to know what to do and really there is no pig vet around here. We thought it was because he pees like a girl (he had a PU) So for the past year we have been catching his urine in a bowl so that his feet do not get wet. He is very inactive. He goes out only twice a day to pee and poo and spends the majority of his time laying down. The problem only seems to occur in the fall and winter. We have had some success in drying the problem up by using a thrush remedy for horses and then once it has stopped bleeding going to neosporine. This time however I am having problems getting it to stop for any length of time. I seem to clear it up but by the next trip out, it reoccurs.

Oinky is a large potbelly, he weighs about 190lbs. We are extremely careful about his feed and he is on a special diet as he has many problems mostly to do with his colon. We feed him (twice a day) lettuce topped by 1 carrot, 1 stick celery 2 large tablespoons of canned pumpkin and 1/4 cup of pig pellets. Into this is mixed Cosequin for his joints, 1 tablespoon of lactose and the same of mineral oil and devils claw for his arthritis. He has not drunk for over 2 years so this is one of the reasons why he gets so much watery food plus he gets watermelon everyday. Prior to this he was on a 20% juice 80% water drink to ensure that he drank enough to keep his manmade opening functioning.

Other than this reoccurring problem he is fine and happy as a pig in you know what! I really do hope that you can help us as we are tearing our hair out and really have no one to turn to. I am considered the local pig expert and actually get calls from vets for advice!

Both my husband and I would be extremely grateful if you have any advice for us. We have had Oinky since he was 2 days old and seeing him this way is very painful for us. Liz

A: Hi Liz, my first thought with your pig is his diet. I know that people preach keep them thin and with your pigs other problems I can understand why he is on the food he is on. But pigs are omnivores....meaning they like meat and veggies to live. Pigs cannot make their own protein and that's why most pig chows have animal or other protein added at different levels of their life time.

A half a cup of feed a day (good basic pig chow) isn't really enough for a 190 LB pig. If he was here with the other 73 pigs that we care for I would up his pig chow to half a cup at least in the morn and at night....if its a good brand of pig chow....there are some that aren't as good so let me know what he is on OK.?

Anyway I would up that and eliminate the veggies that you are giving other than the lettuce. There is no substitute for good pig chow which is formulated for the pig with all that they need in it. So the pig chow should always be the main source of their food.

Giving the lettuce for the colon problem is fine too as long as it's not considered a major part of his feed. The canned pumpkin is fine along with the your other additives EXCEPT the mineral oil. I would not give mineral oil to him at all. There have been pigs across the country showing up with problems from the long term use of mineral oil as it leaches some of the vitamin's and minerals from the pigs body.

Instead of the mineral oil you can go with fish oil capsules which they will eat for you or go with a generic brand of veggie oil or olive oil. Now for what I would do if he was here and had this problem.

First I would add a one a day children's vitamin to his regimen just so I could be sure about vitamin intake. Then I would wonder why this only happens in the fall and winter? Could he be so dried out that the season makes this happen? Or is the grass wetter those times of year when he goes outside? If he is extremely dry than the fish oil will help a lot but I would try to keep those places on his feet and legs lubricated going into fall. (NOT mineral oil)

You didn't say if these were for real abscessed or not or if they are just cracked open skin that bleeds. It is hard to think that they are staff infections if they only happen during fall and winter. But any brake in the skin can cause infection to set in and it might be a good idea to ask the vet to put him on a good antibiotic for a ten day period to see if that helps.

My choice is 500mg Ampicillin twice a day. This capsule can be pulled apart and sprinkled on the food and my pigs don't seem to mind it at all. Don't bother if she recommends Baytril cause you can't get those in a pig even the dog flavored ones.

The neosporine is good but I would still want to put something on there to keep the skin more supple the rest of the time. Even if you have to use Vaseline and rub it in good. We have used a horse product called Hoof Flex on some with the cracks at the top of the hoof line into the foot with pretty good results but I'm sure there is something that works better. You just want to keep it soft so instead of tearing and bleeding the skin will give. Get back to me OK.?


I took some photos of Oinkys foot. Not the easiest thing in the world as he is lying on his side and I have to lift his leg, shine a torch (flashlight) and photo it all at the same time. However here are 3 photos basically the same. There is not a photo of the other foot as that was too hard an angel to get. Hope this is going to ring a bell for you. Liz Oinky's Foot

A: Picture came through good. This does look a lot like the pig last year that had this problem....he was in England. They put him on a strong antibiotic therapy and it worked for him. Their vet used Lincocin injectable but if you don't want to give shots every day than you could go with the Ampicillin 500mg and you have to give at the high end of the scale...like two of the 500mg capsules three times a day. (That's six total for the day of the 500mg ones)

They did it for seven days but ten days would be even better. This looks almost like an abscess that is now inside so you have to go after it there first and it takes a lot of antibiotic to get to the root of the problem. If you talk with your vet you might ask her to give it a try....nothing to lose but a sore and I really think this is a bacteria of some sort or it could be staph.

In either case the treatment would do nothing but help. I couldn't find other pigs original post but am going to send you the last one where the pig healed up and is doing fine....other than now he has arthritis.

Q: Max is currently taking Ampacillin for possible foot rot. The doctor has Max taking 500mg twice a day. Does that sound right? Max is 100lbs. Tammy

A: That dose sounds about right to me for a hundred lb pig. I think the last one I helped with we put on the 500 mg three times a day for the first few days to hit it hard in the beginning than dropped to the twice a day but that was an extremely bad case. If he is doing well on the two than that's fine too....you do see an improvement...right?
It sounds like Max is going to make the move with no problems....I have a feeling that anyplace his mom goes is going to be home to him.

Q: I have a pet pot bellied pig named Luther and I just wanted to let you know that I LOVED your web site! The photos were great, especially BADASS. We Canadians have yet to catch on to the idea of pigs for pets so I'm in a bit of a minority here! Still, I loved reading about everything you do and learning some things too. (It's hard to get information here.)
I would like to know if you have any tips for trimming hooves. I'm very new at pig ownership, and PLEASE UNDERSTAND, this is my BABY and I'm so very worried about stressing him or hurting him. Am I perhaps better to let our vet do it? Any advice would be SO much appreciated. I don't want either one of us traumatized. Keep up the good work and I'll visit again (and often). Christine

A: I'm glad you enjoyed the site and glad your a potbellied pig lover. Too few of us out there. You didn't mention Luther's age but if he is a young pig that you have had handled his feet a lot you might be able to do them. If he is older than it could be a problem. Feet don't usually need trimming until the pig is older and if they aren't long enough to cause him a problem than don't worry about it. I have trouble doing them too and I hate the stress of doing them by force and yet I hate to see them knocked out by the vets to have it done even more. Most vets don't use just the ISO Fluorine gas and tend to want to give an injectable first....the injectables cause lots of problems for our pigs. Our vet tends to agree with me that he never saw a pig die from having long feet but has seen them die from being knocked out to have them trimmed. On our older guys who tend to have long long feet we have a strong man pick the front end up and back onto the butt and we use horse nippers to get the worst off...not pretty and they yell a lot but its safe if done quickly.

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