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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.

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

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LOTS of pictures of pigs that call Pig Pals Sanctuary home.

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A few pictures of some of the other critters that call Pig Pals Sanctuary™ home.

King Charles and BinBin

Potbellied Pig FAQ's and Information

Below: Skin Problems

Q: We are new parents of a 6 week old pot belly pig; named Beau. He seems to scratch alot!!! I am wondering if I am supposed to put any type of lotion or baby oil on him. He is to go to the vet next week. Peg

A: Your baby may have a mange problem. Most of us use a product that your vet will probably give him by injection called Ivomectin. It does work given by mouth or by injection, but it might be best for this first time to ask your vet for it during the check up. This will fix the itching part as it takes care of mange lice and worming of the pig. We do this twice yearly as a preventative...Spring and Fall. For dry skin we use Avon Skin so soft on the pigs.


Q: Hello. My name is Lisa and I have visited and ordered items from your site in the past. We have a pig named Polly who is around 1 year old. She has been a very healthy pig the entire time we've had her, but recently, she has become sick and we are at our wit's end trying to help her get better.

We noticed on a Tuesday that she was not at the gate for her morning meal. She went from Tuesday to Saturday and would not eat anything except baby food from a turkey baster. (My husband and I nursed her and made sure she was getting food and water by using a turkey baster.) She did not always seem to want it and we knew she was not well because her appetite was way off.

She would not get up or move around but we had to be sure she ate something somehow. We took her to the vet, who said he believed she had a viral infection of some sort and prescribed antibiotics. We gave her the antibiotics for several days via syringe and she did seem to gain her appetite again.

She can now stand and walk, but it is very slow and she seems to be sore in her hind quarters. She stumbles when she walks and just does not seem like the same pig. She is not standing at the gate for her meals like she used to, and when we call her for meal time, she does not come. We have to go find her (she has a fairly large area to roam)...and then, coax her to come up to eat. ???? She eats her grain and veggies now, not baby food, but she doesn't come for meal time or wait at the gate for food on schedule, like she used to. This is a pig who was NEVER late for a meal.

Anyway, this is not the main reason I am writing...because although she is not acting quite like she used to, I am hoping antibiotics and some time will cure this problem...we believe she may not be totally better from her virus. But, she has developed something different that has us totally puzzled....we don't know if it has anything at all to do with her sickness...maybe you could shed some light or suggest something to help.

She is a black pig who has always had very healthy looking skin. Since she has gotten sick, her skin has cracked and peeled away. It looks HORRIBLE! You can now see large white cracks and it is so scaly. I have rubbed her down with oil to try to heal it, (thinking it could be dry skin), but I am not so sure that is what it is, because the oils haven't seemed to help. In some places, the black part of her skin is completely gone, and she has large white cracked spots all over her. In some areas the cracks are so deep that it looks like they might bleed.

Have you ever heard of this, and if so, what can we do? She was not like this when the vet saw her, and to be honest, I don't know if he'd know what it is either. We don't have very many doctors in our area that are very knowledgeable about pot bellied pigs and I think our vet sometimes truly doesn't know what is wrong?

I am sorry to be so longwinded but I wanted you to know a little about her, so maybe you could recommend something to help, by knowing her background these past couple of weeks.

We love Polly dearly and I feel like she may be suffering somehow. I have tried to doctor her (and taken her to a real doctor) but now I don't know what to do to help her.

Please advise if you can be of any assistance / advice. Thanks so much! Lisa

A: Hi Lisa, Dottie sent your e-mail on to me thinking I may be able to help some. First off I would like to know if your pig was running any fever when this "virus" hit? Normal for a pot is 99 to 101. Second I would like to ask if the skin problem that has come on is down the back of the pig?

My first thought was Erysipelas which usually comes with a fever of 106 for a period of days and with antibiotic treatment the pig will recover. Part of this disease is diamond shaped lesions on the back that will crack and be almost serum...blood depth. The lesions happen after the fever. The fever is the danger stage and if not treated this can be fatal. It sure would help if your vet took her temp when you took her in and I could hear what it is.

Should this be the problem she still needs to be on heavy antibiotic therapy for a ten day period of time so if you can get the vet to give you more, that would be great. Even if this isn't the problem the antibiotic should still be given if the pig is not back to normal yet.

Erysipelas responds well to Penicillin products and if you were giving by mouth in a syringe I assume you probably had Amoxicillin I would go with the strongest you can get....Ampicillin capsules would work and if your pig is in the 80 to 150 LB range.

I would ask my vet to see if he can't let you try her on 2 - 500mg Ampicillin capsules twice a day for ten days. These are capsules and you can pull them apart and sprinkle them in the food and they will eat them without a problem. (Sometimes I put them in half a can of canned dog food and they will for sure eat them.)

Should your vet try to put her on Baytril ...It will not work! There is NO WAY to get Baytril in a pig other than by injection. Even the new chewable ones, pigs will not take so its no use to try them. Please get back to me OK? If you need to ask more than you can ask in an e-mail call me at 1 618-459- 3619 if the machine picks up leave your number for me.

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Thank you for your response. Any advice will help and is worth a try. I asked the doctor when we took her if she could have been snake bitten or something? I am reaching for straws here. But he said no, after looking her over carefully. He said she'd be swollen and he said he saw no signs of any bites. Keep in mind, her skin was not cracked or falling off when she was at the vet, so, he never saw what she looks like right now. But he said no, she wasn't bitten...because at first, I thought that is maybe why she quit eating, and was just laying around.

Also, today, she has been very strange. I went out there to put more oil on her, because I called the vet last night and he said to continue to put the oil on her to keep her skin moist. But, today, she will not let me near her. She has always been my pig...she has always tolerated my husband, but has always loved me and trusted me. Today, I am the enemy and she won't let me within 10 feet of her. If I get too close, she hobbles in the opposite direction. It almost seems like she has arthritis...her movements are so labored and she falters so much when she walks. But the vet said she is too young for arthritis, since she is only a year old.

Also, today, I noticed her entire right side (usually the side she lays on) has large pieces of skin just hanging off of her. It is very gross looking and can't be good? It reminded me of when a snake or lizard sheds and pieces of skin / scales fall off. She no longer is black on that side...but is white from where the top layer of her black skin has fallen off.

I appreciate your help though and if you do hear anything from your friend, the expert, please let me know. I am so worried for her and somewhat frustrated that I can't just go out there and ask her what is wrong and make it better. Too bad she can't just tell me. :-) She has always had such a loving and fun personality. We do not have any children and so I guess you could say that she has been the baby around here for a long time.

If we can't find help then our last resort is to call the vet out here because she has to get some relief somehow. I just don't think he knows more than we do about her. He tends to area horses and cows but I honestly think that pot bellied pigs puzzle him more than me. I hate to sound unconfident about him, since I know he's the medical professional, but I just don't think he's qualified in pigs. But, unfortunately, he is the only doctor I have found that will even see her.

Anyway, thanks again for your help and efforts...Lisa

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Thanks for your response. I can't tell you how much I appreciate the advice.

When we took Polly to the vet, her skin was not in the shape it is in now...but, what he gave her for the viral infection was Bactrim Suspension - I was told to give her 3 cc's twice daily until gone, and he gave me a 40 cc supply. She has used that all up. This has helped her with her viral infection because her appetite is better, not totally 100% like she used to be, but it has improved.

He did take her temp the day she went to the vet, it was an even 100. I have also taken it since then, and it is normal.

I will call the vet to see if he will prescribe me the antibiotics you suggested...hopefully this will do the trick. Thanks again for your help.

Lisa


Q: We have a 4 week old Potbelly pig. It has just gating a rash all over. What can we do?

A: Sounds like your baby might have mange mites. These usually start as a rash and itch very badly. You can either take her into your vet and ask for an Ivomectin injection or if you have goats or other animals on Ivomectin you can dose her yourself. Even though the bottle says for "injections" you can pull some up in a syringe and give it to her on her food or by mouth and it works just as well. The reason I mention other animals is that it is expensive to buy one bottle for one little pig and cheaper to get from a vet if you don't keep it on hand for other animals.

Ivomectin gets mange along with the mites, also worms and lice so it does it all. We use it twice yearly here to prevent any problems. If you don't have other animals on it you can also ask your feed store for Ivomectin paste wormer for horses. As long as it is a 1% solution it will work. Its just kind of hard to dial the weight measure for something as small as a four week old piglet but they may be able to help you with that too.

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Q: I got the Ivomectin and gave it to her yesterday about 3 drops how long will it take to work?? Thank you

A: About a half a cc would be what I would have given and it starts working pretty quickly but to kill those that are on her until it does do its job you might sprinkle a little Seven 7 dust (just like the stuff you use in your garden) in your hand and rub it in lightly.


Q: My piggy is 1.5 years old and she is starting to develop "lumps" under her skin, especially behind her ears where the skin is soft and on her belly. They are only about a centimeter in diameter. They are not visible from the surface and can only be detected by touch. They do not seem to hurt her when I touch them.

Is this a normal thing for pigs to develop? Should I be worried about these lumps? Thank you so much! Quincy

A: Is it possible that these could be bug bites? Those are all tender areas to a pig that young. Are the lumps soft or hard? Soft ones can be fatty tumors. I would just watch and see if they grow any in the next few weeks.


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OK Lisa if the temp was normal the day you took her than we can pretty much rule out Erisyphyllis.

Now I'm wondering where you are located and what kind of outside facilities does the pig have. Reason I'm asking is the skin sloughing off like this can also be the result of severe frost bite. We had one that came in this way from up north a few years ago and she had fallen in the ice and laid outside most of the night.

She was not eating was sore to move any part of her body, but the day she came here her coat was beautiful. Then within a few days it started cracking with white lines that almost looked like a jigsaw puzzle. Then the skin on her face peeled back and over her butt and along one side showing blood.

The pig had extreme case of frost bite.....took two years with her to get her back on her feet but in that period her left ear fell off, then her tail, then one hoof. Tail and ear can't grow back but her hoof did. If this pig is in a cold climate or if she is kept in what we call an Igloo than I would assume she got frost bite or what your vet is going to call hypothermia.

We gave Prednisone to keep her appetite going and to relieve some of the discomfort though our vet said that since the nerves were damaged there was not a lot of pain after the initial time that the skin started to fall away. The antibiotics would still be a good idea for secondary infection.

We don't ever use the Igloos in winter because the condensation builds up and runs down the inside which freezes to the pig. If that is her problem than it would be much better to get her a different more roomy place to stay preferable where it is warm until she is over this. If nothing else you can get a heated mat that is made for pigs if your interested let me know and I can give you the web site where I got mine. Also if you want to see some pictures of the pig that was frozen that came here go to the web site at the line below and click on pigtures...her name is Popcycle!!. Let me hear from you.

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I do not think it is frost bite simply because we are in North Carolina and have not had very cold weather yet at all. It is 60's in the day and the lowest it has been is 35, but that was for maybe one night. It has not been intolerably cold here. She is not in an igloo. My husband has built her a "house" - it is warm and it has hay inside for her to burrow in. It has a shingled roof and is enclosed to keep her out of the elements.

It is possible though, that maybe she had a fever before we got her to the vet. We were on vacation & our neighbor was feeding and tending to her. Our neighbor, after being questioned, said she seemed fine, but our neighbor is not around her everyday to know her personality, so it is possible that she was feeling ill while we were gone.

We were gone from a Friday to a Monday. We came home on Tuesday, and noticed her loss of appetite but skin looked okay. We tried to nurse her and get her to eat, gave her fluids, hoping it was not serious. By Saturday, she was not doing well at all, would not get up at all, and had very little response to our voices. Usually, she at least would grunt at our calls, but she was very down by Saturday. That is when we loaded her up and took her to vet.

It is very possible she could have had the fever before the vet saw her. ??? There are a few days in this time that we were not here so I can not speak for the time we were on vacation.

But, as for frostbite, I don't think this is it, simply because there has not been a frost here yet and our weather has been mild so far. Nevertheless, I am still very interested in the heating mat for her...she'd probably like that alot. Let me know where I can find one please. And, again, thanks for your help.

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Nope, if your in N Carolina it isn't frost bite!! (lucky you...we are already in the 20s here)

OK, back to square one. Yes if it was a high fever from a virus she could have broken before you got back. Her house sounds really nice so that isn't the problem....now one more question.

There was a pig that we helped with in Florida a few years ago that lost all its hide starting at its head and going back. That was a snake bite. Vet had to knock him out with ISO Fluorine Gas. The safest stuff for pots and found the fang marks in the top of the head so that's where the skin first started to peel away from the body.

There wasn't much cracking of the skin but more the whole thing just peeled off leaving the blood underneath. This was a rattle snake bite but because of the thick hide of the pig the venom could only do so much damage..the pig did recover but it was a long time. That pig too went through some personality changes during the time after the bite but he also recovered from that part.

I am going to go to our database and see if and how many vets we have listed with experience with pots in N Carolina but it would help to narrow down the area. What big town or city would you be closest to in any direction. Give me more than one if you can. (An area that you could drive to if you have to take her in.)

I hate to stress her out more than she is and I would probably go with the antibiotics for the two weeks and see if she doesn't improve enough to eat well for you first but if the skin continues to peel than at some point she is going to have to go in for treatment.

You will find that the dead part will be very hard to get off if it is the skin peeling. Would be nice to have a blood sample done on her to see if all organs are doing their job and he should be able to tell if any venom was present and if not...just what is present.

If vet is willing to give you the antibiotics for her you might also ask him for some Prednosone for her...helps with the inflammation she is having in her legs and also boosts the appetite. 20 mg morning and night would help her a lot. Also would help this skin if you can put her on fish oil gel caps that you can buy at the pharmacy...generic brand is fine...most pigs will just eat them ..if not... put them on her food. I am going to check vet data now but let me know which town your closest to so I have an idea on range OK.

I got my mats at Enasco That is what I put in on the search for them on my browser. Then I went to farm supply then to hog then to mats. They have a toll free number and I called and ordered them over the phone by product number. The mats come in different sizes but the control is separate and living where you do you would need the control to keep the mat from getting too warm. They are kind of expensive but here in IL I have to have something for the rescue pigs that are older who tend to have arthritis.

Another thought is the Kalglo infer red heater and you can check those out at Kalglo a small one of those might be more economical for you in her house but it has to be a taller house so it can be hung from the ceiling. Also Enasco has dog heating pads also that are more reasonable depending on how rough she is on things....mine would tear those up too quickly. The ones made for pigs are tough and wired so they cant chew the cords.

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We are in the small town of Oakboro, NC. The closest larger cities to me are Monroe (which is mid sized), Charlotte, and Concord. Charlotte is probably the largest one. It is about an hour or an hour and a half from here. I have placed a call to our vet, but he hasn't returned my call about getting the antibiotic. I will call him tomorrow again to see if he will give them to me. I will hopefully get them, and then try her for 2 weeks, as you suggest. I will keep you posted on her progress. Also, it has been pouring rain here today, so we were unable to do this, but tomorrow, if it is clear enough to go out and take a digital photo, we will send one to you of her skin.

Maybe this will help you to determine if it looks like the snake bite you saw in Florida. Thanks so much for all of your efforts. I would have gone nuts by now with worry if you hadn't been so helpful. We may not be able to cure her, but has been driving me up the wall knowing I could not at least try to help her in some way.

I'll keep you posted...let me know if you find anything in your database for our area.

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Phyllis, you are a God-Send! :-) The vet on the list (South Ridge in Kannapolis) is where I took her to on Saturday. Dr. Parker was nice but I just got the feeling that he thought of her as a farm animal rather than a pet. (I guess I'm a little protective over her :-) He mainly sees horses and cows and just didn't seem to know a lot about pots.

The other one on the list that I didn't know existed is the one you show in Albemarle. That is actually closer to me than South Ridge was...so, maybe I will try there. I will call them tomorrow because I can get her there in about 25 or 30 minutes. Loading her up is never fun because she hates it and since she is feeling a little better (she ate alot today)...she might put up a fight. I always hate to take her from her "home" because she doesn't like to be picked up. But, it is for her own good. So, she'll have to deal with it every now and again.

Thanks for your help! Let me know if you hear anything from anyone in your group. We didn't get to take the pics today because it is still raining but we will get them, just so you can see what her skin is like. Although her skin is bad looking still, she acted a little better today - so, maybe she is coming around personality wise. She still isn't standing at the gate waiting for her food like she normally did, but she was ready for it when I brought it up to the entrance to her house. She ate more today than she has in a while, so maybe that is a good sign?

Talk to you soon! Lisa


Q: My name is Baylee and we have a pot belly pig (Petunia) who is about 1 yr. old. I have noticed lately that she is loosing some of her hair around her head area. It's the hair that stands up like a porcupine. Is this normal? Is there anything we need to do? She is very healthy (70-75lbs) and eats well. We also noticed that sometimes she has a bad attitude and doesn't want to be bothered. Is this also normal? Please write back.

A: It's normal for her to blow her coat at that age. Some pigs do it more than once a year and its not a pretty sight. As for the temperament problem....is she spayed? That's usually the reason for change of temperament once a month.


Q: Our twelve year old, black potbellied pig, Winston, has very dry skin. It is cracked in several places on his rump and back and looks very scaly. I give him one cod liver oil jell cap every morning with his Flintstone vitamin (recommended by his vet). I'm considering increasing his dosage to 3 softgels (since the recommended dosage is 1 - 3) but I wonder if you have a suggestion for a skin lotion? We only bathe him once a year or so, and hose him off now and then but when his hair falls out in the spring, he looks as if he could be uncomfortable. Living in Southern California, we're short on Vietnamese-like "leafy pools".
Thank you, MJ

A: Older pigs just do have this problem. We use the fish oil capsules which also helps with arthritis problems giving two a day.


Q: I have a pot bellied pig named Wilbur that is about 2 years old. We have a 65 acre farm that he roams.

We think that he is not a full blooded pot bellied pig. He actually looks like a minature rhinosearaus. We noticed about a week ago that he was missing hair on his back. We thought that it was from him going under fences. However, he has now lost the majority of his hair. His skin is more gray looking than black and it looks very dry. Any thoughts or suggestions? Terry

A: At about two years they start "blowing" their coats. This is normal for them and some do it more than once a year. It's not pretty....but it is normal. He will grow new hair in that looks like a crew cut.



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