Although most owners let their pet pigs outside to graze on fresh grass, there are times that isn't always possible. Feeding hay is an excellent source of fiber (helps combat constipation), various nutrients and is wonderful for all livestock to graze on; including pet pigs! That includes you minis! Pigs in the wild spend on average, 8 hours a day foraging for food. They are omnivores, so anything from bugs, nuts, grasses and even carcasses (gross but true)! Hay or grass is an excellent way to combat boredom and help your pig stay full longer. Yes, most will probably want to use it as a bed but many will eat their favorite hay species readily if offered. If they don't like one, try another!
Unlike horses and some other livestock that may have a more difficult time digesting different species of grass, pigs can pretty much have their pick. Swine digestive systems are pretty hardy overall; just don't let them gorge themselves on other food items that should be given in moderation. Hay can be free fed to any pig willing to graze on it!
Hay bale prices differ in cost based on how available they are that year/how many cuttings, geographic availability and species. They also varry in size depending on the equipment used to bale it. A bale of hay, regardless of species, is quite affordable in comparison to manufactured mini pig feed and other alternatives. So it makes a great addition! You cannot cut out the staple diet though, this is only for grazing purposes. If your pig takes to the hay exceptionally well and a little weight gain is seen, cut back manufactured feed a small amount at a time till a more manageable weight is achieved. Some pigs on pasture during summer months can be slightly cut back on grains as they will spend ALL day grazing. It is a balancing act with those that adore it, it is easy to adjust grains to more optimum levels. Grass/hay won't hurt your pig even when indulging!
Here is a guide for hay you may see available for purchase.
A palitable hay that horses and most livestock really like the taste of, this is the hay often used to make cubes & pellets. Alfalfa is easy to digest & high in protein, energy, vitamins & minerals. It is also produced & sold in every state of the US. Pigs typically love this hay as it is very rich and palatable!
This is a good flavored hay & generally animals like the taste of it. Be careful and try to purchase high quality of this species especially if bought in bulk.
When dried, clover hay doesn’t preserve the green color & becomes dry looking. This is normal. Clover is often mixed with grass hay & comes in red, white, crimson, alsike & landino. *Be aware when you feed clover hay that if it becomes damp, the mold can make some animals very sick.
Oat hay has thicker, tougher stalks than the other options available (which some animals won’t eat). It is a hardy hay & seems to take a while for them to eat. Can be higher in sugar – not a good option for insulin resisting animals. Most pigs won't eat this species and instead will use it as bedding or a ding area.
Orchardgrass hay is not as sensitive to time of cutting with regards to end-stage nutrient content. While it is not as nutrient rich as alfalfa hay, it has good flavor & is high in fiber. This is some of the best hay and most animals find it highly desirable if fresh or recently cut.
Fescue –This is a long, soft hay which also yellows as it dries. You will find this mixed in to a lot of home lawns.
Timothy hay is easier on the digestive system than some of the others, it is high in fiber & low in calcium content. Timothy has a tendency to be more expensive, but high in nutrients for aged animals & growing young.
The 2016 summer here in the states has been a bit brutal to say the least. We have had everything from major flooding to extreme heat waves and wild fires galore! With crazy weather fluctuations and a blazing summer sun, our pet pigs are bound to have some skin trouble. Pigs naturally suffer from dry/flakey skin already, so adding all these other uncontrollable elements only makes our job more difficult. We thought before the summer started to fade, that we would offer our favorite skin conditioners and bug/mosquito repellents that we use on a daily basis. Maybe by offering what we use, we can give you a better starting point in order to launch your own defense.
Let's start with skin conditioners as every day dry skin is one of the most common problems in pet pig ownership. There are a couple avenues to explore when addressing flakey skin, the oral/feed dressing route and applying topical conditioners.
One of the all time favorite feed additives is Coconut Oil. There are many to chose from and there really doesn't seem to be any one brand or offering that is better than the others. Humans alike even use coconut oil to help improve many bodily functions and skin, so feeding it to your pig is totally safe! Start with feeding 1 tbs for every 25 pounds of body weight. Be sparing because oils with a lot of fatty acids can also cause obesity in pigs over a long period of time.
There is also another feed additive product that we have seen used with success, it is called Healthy Coat Show Formula. This is an apple flavored top feed dressing that is highly palatable, so your pigs shouldn't turn their noses up at all. Again, we recommend using it sparingly or at the lowest recommend does possible as it contains a lot of fat which can ultimately lead to obesity issues.
Moving along to topical coat conditioners... There is a VAST array of offerings in this department and we recommend using what works best for your individual pet. But here are some of the products we have used with much success.
Avon's Skin So Soft is our all time leading product! You can purchase this via Avon directly, Amazon tends to carry it as well and even feed/tack stores are starting to stock it because of its wild popularity! Skin so soft is a bath oil that has been used in humans for years. It can be used as a bath additive or applied directly to the skin. The oils help moisturize the skin leaving it soft and hydrated but the most unique atribute is this products natural ability to ward off mosquitos and pesky bugs. People are using it more and more on themselves to aid against insect bites and it works!
Johnson & Johnson's Baby Oil Gel is also a very popular product that can be purchased almost anywhere. We prefer the variation that includes the soothing properties of Aloe (the green label) although any can be used. This is applied topically and massaged in to the skin. This product is very reasonably priced which also makes it a favorite.
There a couple products on the market that were originally manufactured with horses as their prime target however, over the years we have found that they work very well for pigs too! Our first product is Sunfolwer Coat that offers a sunflower extract and also provides a highly desirable SPF component. It comes in a spray bottle that litterally will last a pig owner all summer. It can be purchased on line through many different companies and the price is reasonable between $15.99- $17 a bottle. It smells wonderful and after a few applications, you will start to notice a difference. This product is all natural.
Another product that is a barn favorite is EQyass Marigold Premier Spray. This stuff has a heavenly smell and is a great coat conditioner! Again, the spray bottle can last you all summer. This product is a bit more pricy but also worth the extra cash, it does not disappoint! It can be purchased at many online retailers and some Tractor Supplies are now carrying it as well. Many tack/horse stores already carry it and have for a few years as EQyss is a big brand name is the equine community.
There are a few offerings from the swine community and show pig folks that do work! They can be found at Tractor Supply or ordered online almost any where. We start with Weaver Winner's Brand. They make two products, the first is Swine Conditioner and Shine.
their next offering is a spray that you can apply with a brush. Sometimes the pigs don't like or appreciate the sound of the spray that is under pressure in the can. So keep that in mind if you have a jumpy pig. Both Weaver's products are very reasonably priced at under $10 each.
Espree makes a spray product called Aloe Swine Conditioner & Shine. This one isn't as easily obtainable except on the Internet from online vendors. It does work though. We also appreciate that it contains aloe vera and sunscreen.
Moving along to insect repellents. There are many brands and offerings in this department as well. Horse people swear by certain brands and many horse sprays can be used on pet pigs. But always test them first as some have a lot of chemicals and they can easily cause dermal burns on sensitive skinned individuals. We certainly have our favorite when it comes to pet pigs! We like to stay on the natural side of things since their skin is usually exposed directly to the product during the summer months, unlike horses where the product tends to sit atop a layer of hair.
Our pick is Absorbine Ultra Shield Green. It is safe for all animals and lasts all day. It has all natural elements and Absorbine is a huge name in the equine community that stands by their products! Fly sprays tend to be a little pricy compared to some other pet pig products but this one is worth it and for a pet pig will last quite awhile! Be prepared to spend at least $20 a bottle, especially on "all natural" products.
So there you have it, our favorite summer products! Remember that ALL outdoor pigs MUST have free access to shade during the summer months to retreat from heat and harmful sun rays; this is actually the law! Outdoor pigs should be provided with a kiddie pool and/or mud wallow as well; in excessive heat this is a MUST! Quite frankly we think a kiddie pool or wallow should be included in written LAW for pet pigs kept outdoors in the summer, as it is SO important for their well being and care! If your outdoor pig can't take care of its skin with a natural mud wallow (which usually naturally eliminates many common skin ailments we see in pet pigs), you can apply any of the products we have mentioned BUT keep in mind you will have to apply them a lot more frequently! Pigs not offered a wallow of mud to naturally provide a UV radiation barrier and bug barrier, need to be dressed with sunscreen on a daily basis. Pigs biggest summer nemesis is sunburn and it can be devastating to a pigs overall health! Kids or children's sunscreen with an SPF of 50 is desired, try to find a waterproof one if possible; they last longer.
With any of our above mentioned products, remember to skin test on a small area first to make sure that your specific pig won't have a reaction to it. Remember, every pig is an individual just like each human may have an allergic reaction to different products.
We also recommend purchasing a soft horse brush to help apply some of these products. Brushes can be purchased any where online and at any farm supply store locally. Pigs will learn to love their brushing time as much as forking or petting! Brushes come in a WIDE variety of choices from the all natural wood to cute and colorful dandy brushes.
We get a LOT of questions each year and have had over 10 alone this week on, "my pigs hair is all falling out! Help! Is he sick!?" This is normal. It is called blowing the coat.
Just like dogs that tend to have a major shed out in both the spring and fall, more so in the spring to prepare for summer heat, pigs will also do a major shed out of their hair. This typically happens in both the spring and fall, however there is no set timing and there are many factors that may go in to when it occurs; no two pigs will be alike as to timing, duration and how much. Remember each pig is an individual and just because one does it a certain way and at a certain time, does not mean that the next pig will even do it remotly the same. So do not get worried or stressed. Some of the factors that can contribute to coat blowing are: indoor vs outdoor pets, geographical temperatures and location, diet, stress levels with family and/or other herd members. Even in extremely healthy pets these will all be a factor and it does not mean you are doing something wrong.
Pet pigs that are indoors tend to go through multiple smaller shed cycles as opposed to a full blowing, although some still do! This is because their environment is much more regulated and they are not beholden to fluctuations in outdoor temperatures or excessive heat. They also aren't dealing with lunar and seasonal sun cycles, which can play minor roles.
for both indoor and outdoor pet pigs helping your pet shed out or blow their coat quicker can be a help to your pet and even to you, when it comes to clean up. This may prove to be a great oppertunity for your pet you get some good scratches in and maybe even some brushing sessions! There is a brush on the market that really helps in blowing or shedding situations. It is called the Slick Ez. We have mentioned it before in various capacities and you can buy one just about anywhere, including Amazon or direct from their website. This is a great tool to have in ones arsenal! You can even check out our Products Page to see what we are refering to. Click here to be redirected there.
We hope this may bring a little peace to any new pig parents out there that may be feeling stressed and losing their own hair over wondering if their pet is healthy. We assure you are doing it right and blowing the coat is nothing to lose sleep over. Happy shedding friends!
We are not all chemists, so understanding elements and nutrition is not a given! A lot of us in the swine community and more so in the pet pig community are however, all to familiar with the medical ailment “Salt Poisoning.” Although, this term is a bit misleading. It is quite difficult to give a pig salt poisoning if adequate water is offered freely. A more accurate term would be “water deprivation or water poisoning,” Lets further exams this condition, what happens in the body and how to prevent it.
Any animal can suffer from salt poisoning, especially companion animals and birds that may not have unlimited access to clean water or they tend to constantly tip over their water and it is not actively replenished. Although it has been more prevalent in swine, as the species is overall more sensitive. Regardless, all animals have a high tolerance to salt if they have unlimited access to fresh water. Salt poisoning is directly related to inadequate water intake. Without consistent water to dilute the sodium (NaCl) it heightens the sodium concentration and decreases the osmotic gradient to the brain, it dehydrates the brain; this can and will also result in neurological degeneration, edema of the brain and inflammation of the meninges. What also happens and WHY this term is so misleading, is that a pig immediately given water to counteract the salt toxicity essentially “floods the brain and nervous system” and causes edema. This is why it is SO important to only offer a dehydrated pig water in small amounts, but frequently over a 24 hour period. Do not immediately give it free access or you will flood the gradient and the brain will swell which is fatal. IV fluids by your vet are also a good way to establish electrolyte balances more effectively and also safely, so as not to end up with cerebral edema (brain swelling/flooding).
for reasons listed above, this is why when we encounter the symptoms most commonly associated with this condition we see blindness, deaf, oblivious to their surroundings, they will refuse to eat or drink and they stop responding to external stimulus. They may also start circling, bumping in to objects, hit or miss seizures, sitting on the haunches, head jerking and falling on its side and eventually opisthotonos (spasms of muscles causing a backwards arch of the head, neck and spine). At the end of life they may fall down on their side and start paddling while in a coma; they will pass within 48 hours or sooner once these symptoms become present. Increased/excessive thirst, constipation and incessant itching of the skin are the first warning signs but are often missed because pigs tend to drink a lot normally when eating a meal or in hot climates. They also tend to scratch their skin because pigs naturally have dry epidermis.
It should be quite easy to avoid salt poisoning in pet pigs. These days we have access to well balanced pellet feeds from manufactures that have already done the work to properly balance all of our pigs nutritional needs and requirements. Feeding appropriate rations and even more, offering the pig the ability to forage for its meals, will make sure that your companion is being properly maintained. Never offer a salt or mineral block freely to pigs, especially pasture pigs that may spend time outside with other livestock species where mineral blocks are provided. It would be ideal to remove them from the pigs access. Do not over treat your pig with food items that are high in sodium, offer them sparingly. Have free choice, clean water provided to your pet at all times. Pigs are notorious for spilling or knocking over their water dishes/tubs so that they can play in them, this is especially true of outdoor pigs. It is imperative to refill and offer continuously clean water to your pigs, even if they are outside. A a rule of thumb is to check on an outdoor pet pig’s water dishes/pans and refill or clean 3 times a day. In the summer offering them a clean children’s swimming pool is also recommended. In conclusion, know the signs, know the warnings, don’t overfeed treats high in sodium, and MOST importantly… offer your pet pig free choice and clean water!
*Although a human video, it gives a very accurate depiction of what we are talking about when it comes to water intoxication. It shows what happens in the body and why the body can no longer regulate itself.
Written by Jodi 2016
Department of Pathology, College of Veterinary Medicine, The University of Georgia Athens- http://vet.uga.edu/ivcvm/courses
Merck Vet Manual, Salt Toxicity. Larry J. Thompson, DVM, PhD, DABVT 2014
When Pet Pig Education was sent a message a couple weeks ago from a devoted follower regarding her pet pig Theo that saved her life, our hearts broke. As she haphazardly relived her terrifying tragedy to us, tears streamed down our faces for her loss but the amazing sacrifice her pet made for her was nothing short of amazing. We tried our best to help Courtney with her GoFund Me campaign, in hopes she could raise enough money to cremate him and to help ease the burden of the financial loss of replacing everything their family had lost. To date and in 14 days, her campaign has raised just shy of $7,500. We knew we had a story that just HAD to be told. We wanted the story only Courtney could tell in her own words...
"Grieve not, nor speak of me with tears, but laugh and talk of me as if I were beside you... I loved you so -- 'twas Heaven while I was here with you."
I vowed to write about my beloved Theodore and tell his story because it is one that deserves to be heard. Theodore was an impulse purchase I made a year ago and from that day I realized I would never eat pork again. During our year together I brought him everywhere. I thought it was important to see how much of a personality he had and to show people pigs are so much more than food. I can't count how many times I heard, "well we don't eat the cute tiny ones like Theodore, we eat the big fat ugly ones." Comments like that infuriated me. Yes I'm aware people do not eat mini pigs, but are you aware the "big fat ugly ones" are just as smart? They live their whole lives in small pens and are deemed disgusting because they have no ability to separate themselves from an area they soil, to an area in which they sleep or eat. Pigs are actually one of the smartest animals in the world and have cognitive abilities above the average 3 year old. They are smarter than both cats and dogs, are hypo-allergenic, and (Google it if you don't believe me) and considered one of THE cleanest animals in the world. Theodore opened my eyes to a whole new world of compassion for them.
He and I fell in love from day one, I actually found him at a park. A couple had him, he was still a baby (8 weeks) at the time and I melted as soon as I saw him. I got the bravery to go pester them about him and I'm so glad I did. After about half an hour of playing and holding Theodore, he started rooting on me. This wasn't a dominant rooting, this was a clear "I want to sit with you" gesture. They said he usually didn't do that to people and must really like me, I've never been so flattered. They then proceeded to tell me because they just had a child, they were going to have to sell Theodore and wanted to give him a good home and if I was interested. We exchanged contact info, and by the next morning I was at their house picking up my new baby.
Having Theodore was like having a child, a hungry child. He loved to snuggle. If I was sitting on the couch he would immediately jump in my lap to get under the blanket with me. I would wake up to the sound of oinking noises around the house in the morning as he was ready for his breakfast. He would actually wake up at 4 or 5 am because he knew breakfast was first thing in the morning. I taught Theodore how to jump through a hoop, play a toy piano, and spin around. It literally took 15 minutes for him to learn any of those tricks. He was already potty trained when I bought him at eight weeks old. Theodore went everywhere with me- and I mean literally everywhere. Be it OKC, Dallas, KCMO, Austin, just to name a few. He was a local favorite at a mid-town brunch spot (R- Bar and Grill Tulsa) and I will never forget the kindness, openness, and friendliness they showed my sweet child with on a regular basis. He went to work with me, any vacation I went on (the beach being his favorite), errands, and we slept together every night. We were completely in love with each other. My friends thought I was crazy when I randomly said one day "I think I'm gonna buy this pig I just found at the park," but they soon realized when they met Theodore why I did it. I actually turned down a job in the Hamptons because my employer that was going to provide my housing did not even want the chance to meet Theodore before he decided if he would allow him in the home. I respectfully and instantly declined.
A week after our year anniversary of adopting him, something horrific happened that no one ever thinks they would be the victim of. Theodore woke me up in the wee hours of the night as he usually did, because of his strong sense of smell he could smell smoke coming from outside the condo, before I could. I mistakenly thought he was hungry because that was our usual gig, mom gets up, puts food all over the kitchen, he eats it all and then jumps back in bed. As I walked back to my room as soon as I stepped in the doorway, I saw flames. I grabbed a water bottle to pour on them and then everything engulfed, (it was an electrical fire). My friend was in bed right next to it and I woke her up to get her out the door of the condo. I then went back to wake up my elderly father who was in a very deep sleep and didn't hear anything. By the time we were at the front door the house was filled with smoke and the whole back half of it was in flames. We were screaming for Theodore. My dad tried to force me out but I wouldn't go, I got on my hands and knees yelling and searching for my baby. The firefighters had to pull me out and would not let me back inside the condo. I burned the top of my hair to the root and obtained a small burn on my hand but am so lucky that's all it was... I still wasn't giving up. The firefighters made us go outside of the courtyard but I ran back in and up the stairs screaming for them to find my baby. I was then forced back downstairs and outside of the courtyard where it was safe, where I then found every single fireman to tell them my condo number, my pigs name, and where I thought he was. It was over half an hour before I got any news, and what they told me was devastating. Theodore had passed out from smoke inhalation and although they recovered his body, he did not make it. I am crying just typing this, I think every day how I could've reacted faster or better to save his life, how I could've done more, how his precious life was taken too soon. I know we wouldn't have made it out in time that night without him waking me up, the fire spread so fast. Theodore was more than just a pig, he was more than just a pet, he was a best friend, and now he's an angel. He was my angel. I hope his story can encourage people to open their minds and hearts to the wonderful animals that pigs are. They are the most loyal and loving creatures I have ever came across. They are so much more than food. Without my sweet Theodore I wouldn't be writing this today and I feel a huge hole inside my heart that I don't know if it will ever go away, I don't even know if I want it to, because that's the space he took up in it; there will always be a void. I know the saying "when pigs fly" - well, that was confirmed, they can. And on that tragic night I learned this first hand because I know my sweet baby is now flying high in heaven. RIP Theodore.
_Courtney's campaign is still running and you can donate to Theo and her family at the following link: https://www.gofundme.com/8qw26tas
You would be hard pressed to find someone in today’s day and age who has not heard of the term ‘miniature pig’. But how many people really know what this term really means, or indeed, the enormous animal welfare issue this ‘craze’ is creating? And this is one ‘craze’ our latest arrival, Mister Truffles is intent on snuffling out.
The miniature pig phenomenon in our country is, in comparison to the US, a relatively new one, however the problems created by this industry are the same the world over. The reality is that there are no true ‘miniature’ pig breeds in Australia, just littler than average individuals who have been created by breeding ‘small with small’, with no true way to predict future weight or size. Whilst some ‘mini pig’ breeders do advise this fact, unfortunately many do not, with some unscrupulous breeders even offering commercial piglets for sale as ‘miniatures’ in the name of making a profit. In Mister Truffles’ case, he was purchased from a miniature pig breeder who advertises pigs in teacups and, whether intentionally or not, leads people to wrongly believe that these piglets are freakishly small ‘teacup’ pigs. This, however is not the case and sadly, Mister Truffles paid the price. However, when it comes to miniature pigs, the buck doesn’t stop at size, for this craze is an issue that is anything but ‘mini’.
Pigs are highly social, incredibly intelligent and sensitive creatures with needs that are unique and unlike any other farmed animal or pet. Pigs enjoy the company of their own kind, they love to dig and forage around for food and nutrients and they require mud to cool off and protect them from the sun and insects. Pigs form incredibly strong bonds with their human carer and can become depressed when this bond is broken, ie when they are no longer cute and cuddly, when they have begun to destroy the backyard and when they are rehomed or surrendered to an animal shelter or pound. For Mister Truffles, it was through no fault of his own that he found himself in need of sanctuary, after his carer’s relationship soured and he was passed on, nose ring and all, to another family member who, despite the kindest of hearts, was unable to provide all that this perky porcine required. In addition to his painfully placed nose ring no doubt frustrating Mister Truffles’ natural instinct to root in the soil, a poor and inappropriate diet saw him behaving very badly, and soon made every one miserable (including neighbours).
You see, this is the big problem with ‘mini’ pigs, for the educational information pertaining to their species specific wants and needs is just not often available and more and more we are receiving calls from well-meaning individuals who, had they known the truth about their porcine pal, never would have made the foray into mini-pig ownership. It saddens us to receive these calls day after day but the reality is that we simply cannot take in each and every ‘former miniature pig’ who has outgrown their home. For if we did, our sanctuary would be full in less than a day! But what we can do is try and get the message out there that ‘miniature’ pigs are not as ‘mini’ as many would like to believe and that a dog or a cat they most certainly are not.
And so, with his nose ring now removed, the ability to forage and root around in the soil as he pleases, a healthful diet in place, piggy friends to meet and a wallow to splash about it, Mister Truffles is now as happy as, well, as a pig in mud!
And on behalf of his kind, he would like to ask you to remember some of these important facts, to print them out and display them in a prominent place in your home or workplace or to whisper them into the ear of a friend or loved one. And for your kindness, Mister Truffles’ gratitude will be anything but ‘mini’.
5. Now there is small and there is huge! While they may look cute now, even tiny pigs like Thumbelina can grow to be around 60- 100kgs. Did you know that most animals (including humans) end up 20 to 40 times heavier than their birth weight? Although pigs are an exception! An average piglet is approximately 250gms when born but can burgeon out to a robust adult weighing in at 250 – 350kgs or more. That’s over 1,000 times his or her birth weight! And while there is much conjecture as to whether there is such thing as a real miniature pig, we most certainly know that pigs come in all shapes and sizes. Oh and personalities, too! Many people are breeding for a market of ‘small’ and personable pet piggies. However, what they have done to do this is breed small to small, selling the resulting offspring. Sadly there are unscrupulous people selling piglets from various breeds, stating that they are mini pigs, for the unwitting humans to then find the only thing small about their new friend has been their lack of research! What we are also witnessing is a number of genetic abnormalities in our ‘small’ piggy friends and the trotter is firmly pointed at a limited gene pool for this. Those who breed companion pigs too have a duty of care for the animals they bring into this world. While many truly do love these adorable fun loving and inquisitive little critters and go to great lengths to ensure a happy outcome for both piggy and person, others sadly do not. Please, please do your research. And despite what anyone will tell you, Australia does not have any Pot Belly pigs or Tea Cup pigs as our quarantine laws prevent their entering this country.
6. A pig is for life not a fashion accessory. Need we say more?!
Oh and one more this, pigs are for lovin’ not the oven! (Regardless of their size.)
Written by Pam Ahren 2015
*Please consider a donation or gift to this amazing rescue that has been saving animals for almost a decade! If you can't properly buy a new pet pig... SAVE ONE or sponsor a rescue! Please visit:
Recently we published a blog on defining pet pigs as therapy animals and there were a lot of people that took to it. We wanted to present the good and amazing side to the work that real and properly registered animals bestow on us. Although Emotional Support Animals are REAL and do serve most people with a very valid purpose, we want you to meet a highly registered therapy pig that helps the community in so many ways! Meet Michelle and Patsy Swine...
Hi Pet Pig Team, I wanted to share a little insight on how Patsy Swine was able to become a certified therapy pig. I'm not sure that therapy work is suitable for all pigs. I've been lucky enough to have two that have been certified, both for work in complex situations, but both are very different personalities. Patsy came to me after she had been mauled by a dog, surprisingly she's still comfortable around dogs and her other therapy "friends." Because I knew that we would be working with children I wanted to know that she was as safe as possible in any situation. Lets face it, kids are scary and pigs are strong! I worked with Patsy until she was able to complete the canine therapy dog test, since most people assume that a pig is just like a dog, they expect them to act like a dog. So far from reality some days! So many of the things that Patsy learned are very much against her normal piggy instinct but they're also things that people assume she should be fine with...again it's an assumption that shes a dog in pig form.
Patsy sits, stays, lays down and walks on a leash. The sit stay and come were difficult. Delayed reward is difficult for a piggy to understand. Patsy had to ignore people grabbing her to hug her, had to let anyone pick up her feet, check her ears, open her mouth and offer food and take it away. Take food away from a pig!? 😱 Patsy had to be non reactive during loud noises or being bumped by someone unsteady on their feet. Because of work and family commitments, Patsy and I mainly work in the libraries with a program called Paws2read. We meet with children one on one. Some kids are struggling to read for various reasons and Patsy provides support, a listening ear and the opportunity for the child to grow and feel comfortable with no fear of judgement. Funny enough, she'll often grunt during a pause or quietly "squeek" when appropriate and of course, she smiles. I had to learn as much as Patsy so I could interact appropriately as well. As humans we need to also be well trained to know how to react and simply respond in any given situation that may present itself, after all, we are the handlers. I love the work and as far as I can tell, Patsy does too! She runs to the front door and takes herself up her ramp to get in the car. Her worse tantrums are if she thinks we should be going somewhere snd we don't. All in all we only volunteer about 8 to 10 regular hours a month and some extra special events. We're starting at the Ronald McDonald house very soon.
What is the difference between an Emotional Support animal and a Therapy Animal? Great question and one that often gets very mixed up! The website at the bottom of this paragraph does a wonderful job at explaining the difference between different titles and shows the canine test that Patsy and I performed. It is basically an obedience trial. You can guess why most pigs arent suitable. 😊 I chose Pet Partners for the evaluation and registration since they are one of the largest and best known therapy and service dog organizations. I think one of the best reasons for getting registered is that we are covered with liability insurance through Pet Partners. There really is no benefit for me personally to have Patsy registered as a therapy pet. It really costs me time and money but allows us to visit hospitals, libraries, nursing homes, etc. Since Patsy is not a service animal we don't get any special priveleges. Therapy animals are bound by the same rules and regulations as any other pet. I spend more time being her emotional support than vice versa. Its hard work dealing with new and stressful situations and there are times that she sleeps for hours after a visit. Pet Partners actually limits therapy work to 2 hours a day to protect the pets health and wellbeing. Animals must be re-evaluated every 2 years and at a minimum, handlers must take a new online course every 2 years. Some animals cant do therapy work long term because the stress takes a toll. Keep in mind its a solid 2 hours of being highly vigilant and focused and non reactive. I'm fairly sure that the only animals allowed to be service pets are dogs and mini horses (This is entirely accurate, Pet Pig Confirmed that). Happily, I have noticed that there seems to be a change in some public zoning to allow pigs as pets but I cringe when people try to label their pet as therapy or support as a means to try to get service dog allowances. Those of us with registered therapy pets spent a huge amount of time and effort to accomplish the registration, we dont get any personal benefit except for what we get in helping others and we're very careful in how we handle our pets. As in the case with the pig on the plane, it just takes one pet placed in an unfair or dangerous situation to create doubt with the actual work that we do. Please visit the following link to see the exact tests Patsy and I went through:
Patsy has some of her favorite books and friends she wants to share! I hope this is a little extra insight into the life of a therapy pig. Its not for everyone but I do think it has helped keep Patsy Swine from becoming bored and spoiled! So many victories for us and for the community! 💕
Thank you Michelle for taking the time to share your story with our community! We hope it has not only enlightened some but put a smile and warm feelings in the hearts of all our readers, it sure resonated with us!
Except opening and closing remarks, this blog was written and shared by Michelle V.
Our last blog was on aggression, training and "Shifting the Pig" and yet I really feel obligated to touch on another aggressive and poor behavior issue that goes hand in hand with our last topic. There is a real behavior condition in pigs called "Spoiled Pig Syndrome" and it commonly occurs in miniature variations of pet pigs and even more commonly, pigs that are indoors and kept as house pets. We rarely if ever see it in pigs that are kept outdoors or as farm pets.
Let's see what Webster's Dictionary defines spoiled as: "To impaire, damage or harm the character or nature of (someone) by unwise treatment or excessive indulgence, etc. to spoil a child by pampering him." That's pretty accurate and no surprise when it comes to some of today's modern house pets, especially pigs. Unlike a dog or cat that you may spoil from time to time and not create any ill lasting affects from, when you spoil a pig excessively you are walking a very fine line. Why is this? Pigs are naturally stubborn and aggressive when it comes to getting what they want from you or another animal. Like we said earlier, it kind of goes hand in hand with the training methods explained in our prior blog. Sometimes a pig will start challenging you for dominance and hierarchy BUT sometimes... You have single handedly created the monster by over indulging your pigs every desire or want. In effect you are giving in and training your pig to push you and your family members around until it gets exactly what it wants. That's a dangerous president to set! So what examples of behavior patterns are out there to help understand what we are referring to?
When you are in the kitchen getting a snack for you or your family, you automatically give the pig some of the snacks you are having. Here you are teaching your pig they can have whatever you are having, whenever you are having it or when you enter the kitchen or a specific room of the house. Another, when your pig awakes early in the wee morning hours or demands to be fed at obscure times and you get up and feed them in hopes that it will keep them quiet, even if for a few minutes. Here you are teaching your pig that it can demand whatever it wants of you, whenever it wants it. If your pig squeals/screams loudly till something he wants is given to him, again, he has won and you are teaching him this behavior is ok and desired. The pig will continue to push, push, push till it gets whatever it is after and sometimes this can even lead to dangerous behavior. All these examples are prime indicators of a spoiled pig in the making.
We can't stress enough that every pig is an individual in personality and behavior. Some people will in fact get lucky and have a pig that is given in to constantly and yet the pig stays calm and easy to work with regardless. However, this is not the norm and should not be expected. With some pigs that remain on the smaller stature end of the scale, giving in to them is easy and possibly easier to deal with, even if they do start to show symptoms of a spoiled pig. It's always easier to scold a Chihuahua than it is an unwilling Great Dane! Even with differing personalities, we never suggest setting your pig up for this type of behavior, even if you, "don't think it will ever happen to my cute pig."
Once this behavior is established and engrained in to the pig, the training to get them back to a more normal and more manageable state is taxing! Some would even consider it exhausting and a stress on the owner and family, like nothing you have ever experienced! Pigs that display this syndrome will scream an ear shattering scream, charge you/family, chase you/family, bite people and even tear up other objects relentlessly in order to get your attention. Their aggression, once this behavior pattern has been established, knows no limits. If you have a pig that is already suffering from Spoiled Pig Syndrome you will want to revert to our prior blog on training and "Shifting the Pig." On top of that, you will want to start feeding all meals and even treats to your pig in a treat toy/enrichment toy. It is natural for a pig to have to work to find its food, this will help refocus the pigs energy to the toy for food and not people. It also helps the pig expend energy because it is "scavenging" for its food like they do in the wild. Always make a pig work for its food! Another tactic to add to your arsenal is forcing the pig in to a "time out" as soon as it starts to exhibit poor behavior. Put them away in their crate, confined area or specific room of the home for an allotted amount of time or until the behavior has completely subsided and calm is restored. You must be consistent with this in order for it to work. The pig needs to know any poor behavior will not be tolerated or given in to and they will be consistently punished by not only NOT getting what it was originally seeking but he must now be locked away for a period of time from any human interaction. Trust me, that can be sincere punishment for a pig use to his humans.
One of the worst things I hear and see people do and they even make light of it by joking, is giving in to your pig and feeding it whenever it wants to be fed. Not only does this pave the way for obesity, but the behavior you are establishing is horrifying! You wouldn't let your teenage children push you around like that and TELL you WHEN you will do everything for them, so why on earth are you doing it with a 150 pound pig that is already sleeping in your bed? We come across others that are trying to "teach" other people about pig behavior, but doing exactly what they are telling others not to do. They are spoiling to no extent and creating a monster, then wondering why they have an ill behaved and grumpy pet or passing it off as a joking matter. I see it every day and with multiple people in the pet pig community. The first step is to never start this pattern! Remember, a pig is not a dog. It is a stubborn, smart and demanding animal that when given an inch will always demand a mile! If you find yourself in the Spoiled Pig Syndrome boat, stop immediately and start addressing the behavior head on. You will have to change and address YOUR behavior before you can effectively change the pigs. It's like parenting to an extent... We have to stop enabling them and fix our behavior first!
For more detailed information on pig behavior and how to address training issues, please see our website page on behavior and our last blog entry on Training & Behavior dated December 31, 2015.
*Although the term "Spoiled Pig Syndrome" may have been originally coined by someone else (we are not sure on who that was originally), this blog was entirely written and produced by Jodi Register and did not use any references. We always site references when they are used but none were for this article. It was all free written based on experience and my own studies.
Lucy the HIGHLY intelligent pig displays just how smart pet pigs are! Thus, we must positively stimulate and work them accordingly.
our website has a pretty great page dedicated entirely to pet pig behavior, the daily challenges most of us face and introducing pigs. It encompasses natural/wild pig behavior and why pigs act the way they do. You can access that page here, by clicking on this sentence.
With that aside, I am still asked and sent private messages daily about pet pig behavior problems and training. An interesting statistic... every person that I know that has had a problem with poor pig behavior/attitudes, are indoor house pets. Don't get me wrong, these individuals let their pigs out daily for play (weather permitting) and some even take them on walks! But honestly, this statistic does not surprise me one iota! Why you ask? Pigs, for as long as we can identify them through out history, have been outdoor livestock or feral. Even in the wild they THRIVE being outside in nature and in small herds. Swine learn appropriate behavior and survival skills from their heard mates and siblings on a continuous basis. Pigs also thrive with companionship from the same species. Pigs were never meant to be house pets, we forced them to be that way over the past few decades. We have bred them to be smaller and smaller in order for them to make even better indoor pets and we have requested they abolish all their natural and instinctual behavior patterns so our houses are not destroyed in the process. Although there are CERTAINLY individual pigs out there that happen to get the perfect genetic make up and are blessed with an ideal attitude and size for being a house pet, we need to mention that the majority will not be this way! That it cannot be expected out of every pig and it WILL be a daily challenge for us as owners!
There are a plethora of behavioral problems in pigs as indoor pets. The one we may notice first, even if they are young piglets, is tearing up the home and their enclosure. This is natural behavior. Instead of punishment, which never works with pigs, we need to redirect the behavior to an appropriate item or toy they CAN destroy. When they destroy or successfully start playing with the item/toy of our choice, we immediately reward! With pigs, the reward is typically food as they are without a doubt food driven creatures! Plain Cheerios or fruit are usually the treat of choice. Even when we redirect them and praise them for the desired behavior, it is not full proof. Pigs are curious, inquisitive and highly intelligent animals by nature. They explore by rooting and eating what they are interested or curious about. Just like a baby that learns by placing everything in its mouth, so will your pig. The problem is, the pig never grows out of that infantile phase! You are stuck forever with a toddler that will always push its boundaries! When it comes to destroying the home and personal belongings our response is this... 1)Pick up stuff you don't want them to have access to because otherwise, it is free game! 2) Find good enrichment toys or exercises for your pig that encourages natural behavior, this includes rooting! There is a great indoor rooting rug out there that we suggest on Etsy! Visit our blog on Top 10 Pig Enrichment Toys. 3) Limit the area your pig has access to, especially while you are away. If there is damage sustained, at least it will be to a smaller area and probably more economical to repair or fix. 4) Our MOST important recommendation! Slowly introduce your existing pet to a new pig (if possible) and create a safe environment or enclosure outside for your pig/s to romp in. Pigs typically do SO much better with companions and more outdoor time than being confined indoors! Even if they can't be permanently outdoors, having them in a secure, fenced location, for the majority of the day and left alone to "be a pig," is so much better than having a pig that rarely gets out of the home. Above, is the BEST and most IDEAL situation that we promise, both you and your pig/s will benefit from in the long haul! We do understand that there are a few rare exceptions out there whose pet pigs actually have no desire to ruin things in the home. Please understand that this is not the norm and count yourself blessed. A pig may also lose interest in being destructive as they age, that is entirely possible too.
Aside from a pigs naturally destructive behavior inside and outside, some of us get "that pig" that manages to push every boundary on the attitude scale and fights relentlessly for total domination of the family leadership role. Again, although not everyone will end up with a pig like this, this is a common problem in "house pigs." There are a few reasons this happens and your pig challenges you and possibly anyone it comes in contact with. It's a natural response to fight for dominance in the family unit and with guests... They are trying to establish his spot in the "herd". Some people are even afraid to let guests in to the home because the pet pig will corral and harass them to no extent and furthermore, some are blatantly dangerous! As annoying as this behavior is, it is natural and innate behavior for a pig to respond this way. Let's address some reasons as to why this happens.
Let's kick it off with spaying and neutering your pet pig. Getting your pig fixed regardless of its gender and ESPECIALLY if it will be a pet that is indoors at any time, is KEY to pig ownership! Spaying and neutering, although it will not completely fix the problem, is always the first step to better behavior. It does lessen the hormones and obnoxious attitudes that are typically seen with them. With lower amounts of these associated sex hormones coursing through the body, your pets attitude won't be as bad as it COULD be. Trying to live with an unaltered pig in the home (either sex) is literally an impossible feat. Pigs that are under normal circumstances house trained, during heat cycles or mating season, will urinate all over the home and in front of people to get attention. Males may even try to mount people and objects. They will also behave exceptionally poor in all other areas, because they are seeking attention they would usually receive from a mate. Not only is spaying and neutering a fabulous idea for any pet pig because you are also granting them a longer life by abolishing reproductive organs from getting cancer (one of the number one killers in pigs), but you are arming them with a solid opportunity to being a better house pet. See our page on why we suggest fixing your pet.
After your pet is altered we recommend using some strict training techniques, starting when the pig is young and under a year old. This way you are teaching and using proactive behavior with your pig the moment it steps foot in the home. Just because your pig is small and cute when you get it, doesn't mean it isn't learning from you! If the pig knows at a young age and is consistently reminded who is in charge, it will never need to aggressively challenge you or the family once it gets the opportunity; it will clearly understand its place within the family hierarchy. Addressing the behavior issue before it EVER starts is the responsible thing to do as a pet pig owner. It is SO difficult to retrain the pig once it has established dominance with people and it becomes a danger to even keep in the home, this is when most pigs with behavior issues find themselves in shelters or euthanized. Do yourself and your pet pig the biggest favor in each other's relationship... And do it correct from the start! It truly is the gift that never stops giving and allows you and your pet to live stress free and responsibly throughout their entire life. We don't recommend working with your piglet till it is comfortable in the home and with you/your family. Trying any of this with your pet while it is still trying to adjust to a new environment will stress the animal out. So what training techniques do I use? How do I start?
We like to call this training technique "Shifting." In the "mini pig" world you will also often hear it referred to as "Move the Pig." Even before pigs were pets, hog farmers, FFA students and 4H kids did this type of training to get their pigs in and out of the show rings or from one barn to another. The basics of it is getting the pig to go where you want it go and WHEN you want it to go. This is not done in a cruel manner no matter how upset the pig gets with you because a pig that feels attacked will fight or push back. Punishment or hitting will never work with a pig, consistency and persuasion reigns supreme! We repeat, NEVER under any circumstances hit or strike your pig. Let's start.
With a pet pig in the home start by walking up to a calmly sitting/laying pig that is in a relaxed state. Nudge the pig on its shoulder to get up. The pig will need to move away from you, and in the opposite direction from where you are standing/nudging. Say you nudge the pig on its left shoulder, the pig needs to move away from the pressure exerted on its left side and go right. If you apply pressure on him from the right, he needs to go left. They can get up and go straight as well but they HAVE to leave the spot they were in. They have to respond to the pressure on their body to GET UP and GO. They cannot come towards you or try to push you out of their spot. You must "shift" them from their original starting spot/position. Even if the pig never displays poor behavior, you need to keep shifting him accordingly and on a, several times a day basis. This clearly establishes that you are in charge and you will be telling him when it's time to get up. Keep doing this at different and varying times through out the day. You can even do it at or near meal times. Once they have shifted away and politely left the area you wanted them to vacate, stop and calmly walk away and go sit down or go back to what you were previously doing. Do not pester the pig when it is responding and listening to instructions. Pigs behave like this naturally with each other in the wild, so in no way is it cruel. The dominant hog always forces its herd mates to shift spots, this lets them know they need to do what is asked of them if peace wants to be kept within the unit. Top hogs are typically challenged by younger males for the dominant position in the herd and shifts like that do take place from time to time; a new boar wins the breeding rights to the herd this way.
How hard do you nudge? This entirely depends on the size of your pig. The pig must be able to feel what you are asking of it, so it can't be a light tap. But your pig should never be hit and should never lose balance because you nudged too hard. A happy medium is best!
In addition to YOU shift training your pig, your family members MUST also get involved. If you are the only one working the pig in his training routine, he will not respect the rest of the family (herd), only you. This could be detrimental to the overall balance in the home if every family member doesn't get involved. Make sure your family members that are old enough, are willing to jump on board with training and "working the pig," if you decided to get one. It is a life long commitment that the entire family needs to accept for it to work. They don't need to do it as many times a day as the main owner but they certainly need to willingly partake at least once a day for the training to be effective. You can even have willing guests shift your pig from time to time and a training exercise to respect guests.
Outdoor pigs, especially ones with a companion, don't typically display behavior as bad as indoor pigs. This is because the pig has been taken out of its innate outdoor environment and is forced to find it's way and establish hierarchy with a foreign family and foreign "litter mates." Even right after birth, piglets that are left with their mother and mates not only gain better overall health but establish the basics of how to appropriately interact with mother and its siblings. This is a very important first step that sadly a lot of piglets these days miss out on. Alas, pigs asked to live in the home still do better with a sibling or friend. It is difficult to introduce two pigs after too much time and growing has elapsed but it still can be worth it! They will usually exert playing and dominance behavior on each other till hierarchy is established, as opposed to taking it out on the human family. This won't alleviate the problem but it tends to make it better. A pig will calm down as it ages too, so keep that in mind. It's not always the case, but typically due to slowing health, metabolism and possible arthritis issues.
WORKING THE ALREADY AGGRESSIVE PIG
There are some pigs, especially rescues that may come from deplorable situations and thus come with extra behavioral baggage. The most important thing to remember in these situations is safety. Always make sure to have a legitimate hog board on hand in cases like this. Please refer to our Products Page to be directed to a store where you can purchase these boards. The hog board has been used for as long as I can remember when sorting hogs to various locations and to separate fighting which then calmly redirects the pig. They are a large straight board that is either made of solid wood or plastic and has holes at the top for hand holds. They also keep the pig from hurting or attacking you if it becomes obsessively aggressive. This is a great tool to have in your arsenal!
Once you have obtained a board or a large piece of material to safely separate you from the aggressive pig, you will work the pig typically the same way you work a calm pig, just with the board in between and the board doing the nudging. Make the pig move away from you and in the opposite direction. As long as it keeps going forward, this is fine. It cannot stop and try to come back at you or push you. Keep working him till he stops and he stands away from you quietly. He cannot be smacking his lips either, this is still an aggressive behavior. Some large pigs may require a walking cane or sheaprds hook. These were originally used in showmanship classes and on the farm to steer the direction of the pig and keep them going forward. They are not a torture devise to hit your pig with, but an extension of your arm, which is HIGHY desirable if you have an aggressive pig. With the cane, you nudge the pig and get it back off and redirect it in another direction. Do NOT let up on the pig till the behavior stops, do not let it stand still and continue to express aggressive behavior, this is a NO NO. Keep it moving and moving away from you, either with your cane or your board.
You will always want to feed an aggressive pig its meals via an enrichment toy. This is ideal for all pigs though, not just aggressive ones. Make the pig work for its food, that's how they do it in nature, work to find it! This always helps curb bad behavior associated with food or meal times and provides exercise at the same time.
WHERE OUR METHODS ORIGINATED
I have worked with horses my entire life, litterally since I could stand and walk. I have trained horses from my young teens and on. I have taken colt breaking classes through out college and have worked with too many problem horses with odd behavioral issues to count; even abused horses that wanted nothing to do with humans. I broke my first horse to ride when I was 13 years old. I have also worked behavior modification on exotic animals, including macaws. Why is this important?
Shifting the pig is essentially the same method used in horse training. When we work a yearling in the round pen for the first time, the first thing we ask of it is to go forward and away from pressure. With a rapacious or territorial horses, we aggressively pursue them and run them away from us until they have decided we are in charge and give in to us. When they give in to us and submit to our leadership, we can easily see this by a lowered head and the licking of lips. They may even stop and face us. When they are fully ready to work with us, they will willingly follow us around the arena without even being requested or lead. When it comes to pigs and their hierarchy system, horses are almost identical.I have worked with a couple aggressive pigs but not one of mine have ever had the opportunity to exhibit poor behavior because I have curbed it at every opportunity. In addition, my pigs are typically (we have had a few come inside on occasion) outdoor pets, that have full access to acerage and pastures.
You're probably wondering why we are publishing a blog on an insect in a pet pig website and that's a great question! Although the "kissing Bug" or Triatomine insect has been around hit or miss since the 1850's, it is becoming a widespread concern in all the southern United States. It hides and lurks in common places like uncleaned dog beds, kennels, pig beds and pet housing. Life catches up to us and some days the last thing we can fathom doing is cleaning the pet's beds and enclosure. With this new emerging concern, skimping on cleanliness is not something you should take lightly.
People contract Chagas protozoan disease from insects of the family Reduviidae, in the suborder Heteroptera. These bugs are often called "kissing bugs" because they tend to bite skin where it is thinnest, around the mouth and eyes. The parasite develops over a few weeks within the kissing bug's intestine. When an infected bug bites a person, contaminated feces may enter the body through the wound or other areas of broken skin. Secondary means of of contracting the disease include blood transfusions, maternal transfer, organ transplants, and undercooked food that contain feces of an infected bug. Domestic and wild animals can also act as carriers, although this is not as common a pathway of disease transmission.
Where can I find this insect? These bugs are nocturnal, they typically only appear at night. They can live indoors but are usually found in substandard housing or very unclean areas of the home. They can be found in dirty enclosures and kennels, and would most likely hide under mattresses and nightstands. However, there are many places out doors where they can reside! For instance: Under porches, in rocks, structures built with rocks, wood piles, brush/burn piles, in landscape bark, rodent nests, animal burrows, chicken coops, outdoor dog houses, kennels, pet bedding and even under cement.
They are found in the most southern United States, Mexico, Central America and South America as far south as Argentina. See the CDC map below of the triatomines reported by state. Prevention is the best measure and keeping your home and property clean, mowed, vacuumed and free of debris is a grand first step. Keeping tabs of the insects you see on your property and working closely with a professional pest control service, can prove to be invaluable in the southern states.
The symptoms of Chagas disease have both an acute and and chronic phase. In most situations the patient will be asymptomatic (will not show or realize they even have symptoms). Thus, this can be a very tricky disease to treat and diagnosis. To be successfully treated for the disease, it must be caught in the acute phase which is the first 4 to 8 weeks, or first few months. In this acute phase, one may appear to have mild like flu symptoms with a mild grade fever and headache. It can also present with loss of appetite, fatigue, major swelling at the kissing bug bite site and swollen glands or lymph nodes. Swelling at the bite site is very common and the bites typically occur in areas where the skin is thin, around the mouth and eyes (hence the "kissing" name/reference). Once the disease enters a chronic phase, where some patients can go even decades without suspicion, it can cause cardiac disease that can result in an aneurysm or thrombus formation and even total heart failure. It can also cause a dilated heart that in turn, causes the heart to not pump well. Patients can also show signs of a dialed colon that leads to difficulties in eating and passing stool. These patients are also at an increased risk for stroke due to insufficient blood pumping abilities. In immunocompromised patients, the disease can prove deadly. In the chronic phases, treatment can be attempted but is not always successful and all one can do is try and manage the symptoms with treatment and medication.
To properly diagnosis, one would need to go to their primary care physician and request a serum draw which can be sent to the lab. The physician will also need to take clinical findings and history in to consideration. Once sent to the lab a diagnosis is made by testing with at least two different serologic tests; the indirect florentine antibody (IFA) and a commercial enzyme immuno assay (EIA). Both are available through the CDC as well. There are two drugs that work well for acute treatment, benzidazole and nifurtimox both of which are standard anti-parasitic treatments.
So what about our pets or animals!? The disease has been seen in dogs and dogs do appear to get symptoms. They will have the same symptoms as a human: fever, sluggishness, and also an unkept hair or coat. Signs of heart failure may show up after an extended period of time. If you suspect that your dog may have Chagas, head to your veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment options! In regards to other domestic animals including pigs/swine, they tend to be asymptomatic and have no lasting effects of the diseases as long as they are properly dewormed biannually. Remember though, many other animals can serve as carriers or "reservoirs" including cats, rabbits, raccoons and rodents. Dogs again, are the only animals that seem to present with problem from the infection at this time. Further testing is being done though. Keeping your pets living area clean and debris free is absolutely paramount in prevention of disease to your dogs and human family!
There are some other bugs that we want to introduce you to because they are widespread and commonly confused with the "Kissing Bug" or triatomine bugs. One is the Assassin Bug and the other is the Wheel Bug. Neither of these insects are carriers or vectors of the Chagas disease.
Even the news stations and the president have been commenting on the recent wide spread cases and appearance of the kissing bug. Do not be surprised to see even more growing reports! ABC news even just reported a new article regarding the insects migrating behavior within the states, it was only posted hours ago. What we need to take away from all these reports is the need to be diligent in our watch for the insect and "house keeping" practices. If we refuse to make an inviting home for these pests, we will never have the fear of coming in to contact with them. Like most things in life, prevention is the best method!
CFSPH Technical Fact Sheets. Chagas (Trypanosomiasis-American) at: http://www.cfsph.iastate.edu/diseaseinfo/
CDC website. Chagas' disease at http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/chagas
PetMed website. Chagas Disease in Dogs at: http://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/infectious-parasitic/c_dg_chagas_disease
ABC New Reports. Kissing Bug Can Lead to Dangerous Parasite Infection While You Sleep at: http://www.abcnews.go.com/health/dangerous-chagas-infection-kissing-bug-found-states/story
The Hog Blog...
Jodi will be keeping up the blog but we are more interested in guest bloggers! Please contact us via email if you may be interested! Check back to see who our guest blogger is and what topic we will be exploring.