Neutering: Generally, pigs are clean, odorless animals. However, once mature, male pigs (boars) secrete very strong phermones in their saliva that have a strong odor that is offensive to most people. For this reason, males should be neutered or not kept in the house after they become sexually mature. Boars also develop large tusks that protrude from either side of the upper and lower jaw. If the pig becomes aggressive to humans, pigs or other animals, these tusks can cause serious injury. Annual trimming of these tusks is recommended.
Diseases of the skin: Purple discoloration of the legs and ears can occur due to poor circulation. This is often seen in very sick pigs and is a sign of severe disease. Nutritional diseases (zinc and fatty acid deficiencies), parasites (mites, fleas and mosquitoes) and drying of the skin can result in flaky, dry, itchy skin. Pigs may suddenly loose large amounts of hair developing bald spots. This is “blown coat syndrome”. Although the direct cause is unknown, it is commonly associated with stress. Regrowth of hair usually occurs over 6-10 weeks.
Sarcoptic mange due to mites, is a common cause of very itchy skin conditions in pigs. Treatment involves both injectable medications and medicated baths and dips. Bacterial and viral infections may cause lesions on the skin and require specific medications.
Diseases of the bones and muscles: Pigs are prone to lower back and hindlimb weakness and injury. Pigs may show stiff gait, lameness, inability to stand and loss of control of rear limbs. Injuries include: torn ligaments, muscle pulls or tears, bacterial joint infections, fractured vertebrae or long bones, luxated hips or vertebral disc protrusion. Obese pigs and pigs on slick surfaces are more prone to slipping and injury, especially if hooves have been allowed to overgrow. Injury may occur to the front limbs by picking up the pig by its front legs. Keeping your pig’s weight under control and providing adequate flooring, to give secure footing, will go a long way in preventing joint, muscle and bone injuries.
Disease of the nervous system: Bacterial infections of the nervous system are relatively common in young pigs. Sometimes the pigs die suddenly with few, if any, signs of illness. Others may show tremors, circling, seizures, abnormal gait, depression, head tilt or aggressiveness.
Salt poisoning may occur in pigs when they drink excessive amounts after prolonged time without water. Swelling of the brain results. To prevent this, always have water available for your pig. If it goes without water for a long time, allow it to drink only small amounts, frequently, over several days to prevent illness.
Disease of the respiratory system:
Atrophic rhinitis (AR) is a disease of the sinus in which constant irritation and secondary bacterial infection results in degeneration and atrophy of the nasal turbinates (bone of the nose). Signs include: sneezing, watery eye, stunted growth and deformity of the snout. Constant exposure to high concentration of ammonia fumes from urine and manure predisposes pigs to this disease. Vaccination against this disease is recommended.
Bacterial pneumonia is another cause of illness in young pigs.
Mycoplasma is a common cause of pneumonia. Vaccination against this disease is recommended.