Weather changes and your pot-bellied pig
Here we go into the blahs of cold weather once again. It is a time for fluctuating temperatures that go from one extreme to another, and that is not good news for the precious porkers that live with us.
Our porcine friends do not like change in anything and the weather is no exception. Pigs are prone to respiratory problems and drastic change in temperatures can cause them even more problems. How much is too much for a pig? It depends on the pig. Even house pigs have a problem sometimes going from the heated house to the outdoors for potty time.
Around here we start watching close anytime there is a twenty degree difference in temperature up or down. The outside pigs are not immune just because they live outside and the house pigs just because they live in the house. What can we do about it? Keep a close eye on the pig and its actions.
We don't leave our house pets out for any extended length of time to do their business when there has been a sudden change and we bed outside pigs very well when the forecast calls for a sharp change. This is the time of year when I urge people to make sure that they have some kind of antibiotic on hand for those weekends and late nights when a vet may not be available. A few hours can make a difference.
As always prevention beats a cure but we cannot always control the environment of the pig. We want to watch for any change in a pigs eating habits. These guys are not like dogs and cats that may just have an off day over food. When a pig does not eat at all, the pig has a serious problem. NEVER ignore the fact that a pig turned down a meal! If this should happen then take his temperature. As a rule a pig with respiratory problems will run a fever.
Call your vet and explain that your pig is not eating and has a temperature and tell the vet that you know that these guys are prone to respiratory problems. ASK for an antibiotic. If its a time when you can not get your vet then use what you have hopefully gotten from him to keep on hand for emergencies. There are a lot of safe antibiotics that are tasteless that you can put in some kind of treat. We keep 500 mg. Ampicillin here for emergency situations.
If you catch it before it gets too bad the pig will usually take a favorite treat. If it is beyond that, then the only other solution is an injectable antibiotic or you go the hard route and put the powder from the pill, or crushed pill in a syringe without the needle on it, mixed with a little water and give it to them by mouth.
If treated early the pig should respond with in twelve hours and they have been known to get up and eat a meal after four or five hours. If is so very important to catch this at the beginning and save yourself and your pig a lot of stress.
These little critters seem to be very hale and hearty most of the time, but it is amazing how fast this problem can come on. We have seen it happen from the morning feed where the pig eats normally to the evening feeding when he is uninterested, lethargic and almost down. It is far better to be prepared then to be on the phone at 2 am looking for a Dr. and or making a long trip to pick something up from him for the pig. Most vets won't have a problem with giving you a mild antibiotic for this purpose.
I do not advocate treatment of your pig without a veterinarians advice. What I do advocate is something to help the pig until the time that he might be taken into the vet for treatment. This is what this is all about, a way to get something in the pig in a time frame that might make the difference for the pig until he can be seen by a veterinarian. It is far better to be prepared and never need it then to be stuck in a situation where you do need it and it is not there.
So as the seasons change get prepared and keep one eye on the sky, and the other on your piggy friend.