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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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Potbellied Pig Health Care Articles and Information

Tips To Make Life Easier With Your Pig
by Phyllis Battoe (December 2001)

Those Nasty Ears

We all know that it is not good to put any kind of liquid in our pigs ears (or at least not down in the ear canal), but we can clean as far as our finger will reach to get the dirt out.

We have found that if you put a little baby oil or mineral oil on a fingertip and rub it around and let it sit for a while that it makes cleaning much easier as dirt doesn't stick to the ear and pull when your cleaning them.

In this case it may not be much easier on us, but is on the pig which means we benefit in the long run. We use a well wrung out washcloth and the gently wipe as far as we can reach with a finger.

Remember that it is not a good idea to ever put liquid into the canal itself or to let it run in during cleaning. Only the outer ear gets cleaned.

Being a person that believes these pigs know how to live, I have to admit that ear cleaning is not high on my priority list as I feel maybe that helps keep the water and debris out of the sensitive part of the ear when the pig is slopping in it's pool or mud hole when outside in the summertime. Of course our pampered house pets are a whole different story, aren't they?

Reminder: We must remember that our pot-bellied pigs routinely have a thick, brown material in their ears. Also, there is rarely seen any clinical signs of ear discomfort in pigs with a "normal" brown, waxy material in their ears. An occasional pig may show a head tilt for 12-24 hours and may need to have the excess wax cleaned out of the ears.

Those Scrunch Faced Porkers

For those of us that have the pigs with the really short noses and lots of face wrinkles one helpful solution is to "grease" those wrinkles with Vaseline. Sometimes the dirt or the matter from the eyes runs in the wrinkles and can make a sore spot if left too long. The dirt mats the hair and when trying to get it clean we pull the hair out which doesn't please the pig too much.

By keeping it soft with Vaseline it is easy to wipe out and reapply for the next time.

The same holds true for the eyes of the pig that tends to run and leave crusty stuff running down their face. If you use the Vaseline around the eyes it makes it much easier to wipe out when the times comes.

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Troublesome Teeth

Those with older pigs will notice that the lower front teeth seem to sink with gravity as age comes upon them. They will stick further out in front as the pig ages. This is no big thing and as long as it doesn't interfere with the pigs eating habits there shouldn't be a problem.

If it should become a problem remember that there are no nerves in a pigs teeth like we have so when he/she goes for the next hoof trim or medical check up ask your vet to trim them down a bit.

Pigs Who Choke or Gulp Their Food

For those fast eaters and pigs who think that another meal may never again arrive, there is a fix. Most of the cases I hear about are fed in the pet food bowls that keeps all the food together. In that kind of bowl the pig can take large bites of food rather than being a dainty eater. (Like dainty and pig go together.)

If your pig chokes or coughs or gulps then get it a large flat oil pan from the hardware store or one of the soft rubber tubs found at the feed stores. These are at least 15 inches across and flat on the bottom.

When you feed your half cup or cup of feed spread it out in this pan and the pig has no choice but to pick it up a few pellets at a time. This works great for people with more than one pig as they get even greedier when there is competition.

If you really want to slow them down you can place a brick in the pan which means they have to eat around it slowing the process even more.

Treats For The Obese Pig

We all have them so don't feel too bad. It is even worse if you feel guilty because you can't give them anything when they tell you how deprived and starving they are.

We use the Quaker Oats method. For the person with only one pig it probably is cheaper to buy the oats you cook for breakfast in the box. For those of us with more than one obese pig we buy them in the fifty pound bags at the feed store. Quaker Oats is good for our house pigs (which always seem to be the ones with the major weight problems... duh..wonder why?).

In good weather we just take a handful of oats and throw them out in the yard. (The oats, not the pigs.) Before you ask...NO...we don't cook them first! These light little tidbits fly around and not only does the pig think he getting something, he also has to walk and work to get it, which helps in all ways.

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They will spend lots of time looking for every little grain. In the wintertime we do it in the house. Not much mess to worry about as our pigs work better than any vacuum cleaner that was ever made.

These same oats make for a good diet food when mixed with your regular pig chow. We don't recommend that they get all oats because there is little nutrition to them, but if your pig is too fat (I prefer to call it "porky") than you can give up to half the normal feeding in oats and the rest in chow.

If you feed a cup of chow morning and night then feed half a cup of oats and half a cup of chow. If you feed a half cup of chow morning and night then feed a fourth a cup of chow and a fourth cup of oats twice a day. The pig doesn't know that he is on a diet as there is still plenty for him to eat and our pigs love this stuff.

Two things to remember here: These are not the oats like you feed horses. These are oats that are steamed as in Quaker Oats that you eat for breakfast. Most important to remember is your pigs basic pig chow is formulated for your pig with all the nutrition that he needs to stay healthy and happy.

One needs to remember this and never take that away from the pig entirely. Even an obese pig needs the nutrition and vitamins that the pig chow gives. (Just maybe not in the amounts that are being given.)

We are firm believers that the pig chow should always be the mainstay of the diet of the pig to insure his health so this diet is for those of us that just can't stand putting a smaller amount of food out for this poor starving animal that is telling us how hungry he really is.

The Rescue Pig That Needs Weight

We love these pigs cause we can just feed, feed, feed with a clear conscious. There are some however that haven't known enough good food in their life to know what to do with good pig chow right away and some that won't eat enough at one time to make us feel better.

For these pigs we mix their pig chow half and half with either Calf manna (a feed that is sweet and smells good with lots of calories) or a farm pig chow that is made for the very first starter chow for baby pigs. (The farm pig first starter is particularly attractive as it does have milk in it and the taste must really be something.)

We also use this for sick pigs that are not eating well. You notice again that we don't feed any of this alone, but mix it half and half with the regular pig chow that they will be fed when they are up to their correct weight or over their illness.

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Getting A Pill In The Pig

Most of the time this isn't a problem when you are talking pigs. They will usually eat anything to get the pill down. There is one medication however that the best laid plans don't seem to cover. The name of that drug is Baytril. There have been calls from all over the country about no matter what it is put in a pig will not take Baytril without a problem.

We have tried just about everything that works on the worst tasting drugs, but it doesn't work with this one. My suggestion to the pet people is always the same. Ask the vet for a different drug or if you have to have this particular drug have the vet give it in injectable form.

This is a good drug, but it is only good if you can get it into the pig to work. There are other drugs just as good that you can get into the pig without the hassle. For those drugs some of the following have been proven to work here at the sanctuary.

For stinky drugs that the pig can smell we use canned cat food. For pigs that taste test everything first we used canned dog food. We feed a rolled up bite without pills then follow with one with pills and have a bite ready so they get in a hurry to swallow the pill we have the next bite ready.

Remember your pig is an omnivore, which means they eat meat and vegetable matter so this isn't going to hurt your pig. Meat was part of your pigs diet long before they had to depend on us for food, so feeding it with pills is no big deal other than it's something that they love and they don't ever get unless it's for this reason. (We also use the canned food on pigs that are ill that are not eating well.)

Copyrighted by Phyllis Battoe - All Rights Reserved
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