Diseases caused by bacterial or viral infections and/or parasite infestations can cause intestinal tract disease. Clinical signs include: diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, loss of appetite, stomach pain, bloated or thin appearance, dehydration or rough hair coat. Overeating and motion sickness from car travel may cause pigs to vomit. Intestinal upset should be considered seriously in any age pig, however, these diseases could rapidly lead to death in young pigs. In baby pigs, bacteria (E. coli and Clostridium), parasites (coccidia and strongyle worms) and viruses (rotavirus) are frequent causes of diarrhea. If allowed to go untreated, can rapidly result in dehydration and death. Strict attention to sanitation and prompt diagnosis and treatment with oral electrolyte solutions and appropriate medications is needed.
Stomach ulcers are common in pigs. Clinical signs include: vomiting, blood in vomit and/or stools, decreased appetite and abdominal pain. Feed too finely ground is a contributing factor to the development of ulcers.
Prolapse of the rectum (protrusion of the intestine out of the anus) is a frequent complication of excessive straining caused by diarrhea or constipation. These conditions should be treated as an emergency, as the fragile tissues must be replaced quickly to avoid permanent damage. To reduce the chance of damage, exposed tissues should be gently washed and covered with K-Y jelly to help prevent drying of tissue. Contact your veterinarian immediately.
Parasites in Pot Bellied Pigs
Miniature pigs are commonly infested with internal and external parasites.
Roundworms, whipworms and nodular worms are internal parasites in pigs most frequently encountered. Routine fecal examinations should be performed on all young pigs and at least annually on all adult pigs. This should be part of your pig’s yearly comprehensive physical examination performed by your veterinarian.
Lice and sarcoptic mange are common external parasites in pigs.
Sarcoptic mange: Pigs with sarcoptic mange mites are typically very itchy and have thickened crusty skin on the face and axillary (underarm) regions. These mites are microscopic and burrow into the skin. Diagnosis is made based on clinical signs, skin scrapings and response to treatment. The mites will infest humans, causing small areas of skin irritation. In people, these lesions are transient with the mites preferring their natural host, the pig.
Lice can be easily seen on the surface of the skin. Infestations with mites or lice are treated with injectable medications and medicated sprays, powders and dips.
Vaccinations for Pigs
All pigs should be vaccinated for Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae, Atrophic rhinitis (Bordetella and Pasteurella), Erysipelas and Leptospirosis.
Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae vaccination is recommended (at 3 and 6 weeks of age) for all pigs because:
1. The disease is very prevalent;
2. it interferes with the lungs’ ability to fight off other secondary bacterial invaders; and
3. miniature pigs cannot afford the loss of any functional lung tissue because of their lack of functional lung capacity.
Atrophic rhinitis vaccination is recommended (at 3 and 6 weeks of age) for all pigs because:
1. The disease is endemic in pigs;
2. it can be spread by other species such as dogs and cats;
3. it is a common cause of rhinitis in pigs of all ages; and
4. it can cause permanent deformity of the snout.
Erysipelas vaccination is recommended (at 6 and 9 weeks of age) because it is endemic and causes crippling arthritis in pigs.
Leptospirosis vaccination is recommended (at 6 and 9 weeks of age) because leptospirosis is endemic in pigs and it causes urinary tract disease and reproductive tract failure.
**Continued vaccination for all four of these highly contagious diseases are recommended (every 6 months starting at 6 months of age).