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Pot Bellied Pig Health and Information Articles
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Potbellied Pig Health Care Articles and Information

Salt Poisoning? Or More Correctly Water Deprivation Sodium Ion Toxicosis
by Phyllis Battoe (November 2002)

There have been a few too many cases of what is commonly called salt poisoning this last year to not address the problem.

While many think that salt poisoning is a direct result of feeding salty foods such as potato chips or pretzels, that isn't the case. While I don’t advocate feeding gross amounts of salty products to your pet the occasional treat of one or two of these isn’t going to cause salt poisoning. Salt Poisoning is really what its true name implies, Water Deprivation Sodium Ion Toxicosis. In other words NOT ENOUGH WATER TO DRINK. One more important reason to know that fresh water should be available to all animals at all times. Salt toxicity is directly related to water consumption.

Some of the areas that might cause your pet a problem with Salt Poisoning is if he should get into chicken feed or turkey feed which is high in salt and overeat. Some pigs have come up with this problem after doing so. Generally speaking though its more of a concern with people who tend to limit water to the pig for a number of reasons. NOT something that should be done especially with a pig. They are more prone to salt poisoning than other animals.

A pig that has been deprived of water can over drink. When this happens the fluid goes to the brain and causes swelling. This and other problems can cause them to go into seizures, paddling motions with the feet, coma and death.

Should something happen where you find yourself faced with the problem of your pig being deprived of water long enough to be over thirsty, or should your pig have been one of those to get at a fifty pound bag of chicken feed, then first call your vet and alert him to the situation. If it’s a weekend or Holiday put your call in and give water slowly just a little at a time over frequent intervals until your vet gets back to you.

One-fourth a cup of water at a time, but done every 20 minutes is in the ballpark. Your vet may recommend slow administration of Hypertonic Dextrose or Isotonic Saline solutions if needed and time is important in the success of treatment.

This is for extreme cases of water deprivation, not for the mom who put the water down in the house that morning and came home at five to discover it was spilled during the day. For those cases it would be just how thirsty is the pig? If you give him a fourth a cup of water every 20 min until he catches up with his thirst than you are doing the right thing. Of course other than the ground bird feeds there should never be a case of a pig going without water long enough to cause this major problem.

Water should NEVER be rationed to any animal!

There are cases where its hard to keep water available to outside pigs in the summer and that can be solved by putting in a harder plastic pool that can't be smashed up or putting the water container in a hole dug in the ground for stability. If the pig is outdoors then we try to always have more than one supply of water for the animal in case something goes wrong. That and we are here to watch all the time, but that may not be possible for everyone.

A word about this for winter is also needed. Pigs outside and inside will almost drink more water in the winter than the summer. It is vital that they have it available to them when its needed. Snow DOES NOT TAKE THE PLACE OF WATER. Snow is not considered adequate water by even the Humane Societies standards for dogs.

If your pig is an outdoor pig and you don’t have the heated water bowls to keep them from freezing you can slow down the process by using Styrofoam packed around the water pans or small birdbath electric heaters safely attached to it. The prime element is vigilance. There are few shortcuts for that. It is much easier to check it often if possible and for sure no less than twice a day to make sure there are no problems and that the pig has a drink.

As important as the salt poisoning is there are so many more reasons that your pig needs the fluids. Older pigs are habit bound and they sometimes don’t drink as much as we would like, but if the water is available at all times he will drink when he needs it. This is important for his well-being and his body functions.

Copyrighted by Phyllis Battoe - All Rights Reserved
Copying or Linking Without Prior Permission is a Violation of Int'l Copyright Laws

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