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.
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.