The Veterinarian And Your Potbellied
Choosing a veterinarian to treat your potbellied pig is critical to the care and well being of your pet pig. Selecting a vet is similar to and as important as choosing your child’s pediatrician. This choice should be made in advance of any medical emergency that might arise. Should your pig become ill or in a crisis situation it is imperative that a relationship already be established with your local veterinarian. To aid you in identifying a potbellied pig veterinarian in your area, NAPPA provides an online list of vets, both in the United States and internationally, who are identified as treating the pet pig.
Pre Office Visit Training
• Make certain your pig can be lifted and held easily.
• Train your pet pig to a kennel so the ride in the car will be a safe on.
• Touch your pig all over – inside her ears, her hooves. under her tail and stomach as your vet might during a physical examination. Make sure your pig is used to being rubbed/scratched vigorously on the neck and behind the ear since this is an action the vet might do while giving an injection.
Selecting Your Vet
• Ask your breeder/sanctuary for a qualified vet recommendation.
• Ask your current vet for a recommendation, should she not treat potbellied pigs.
• Ask your local pig club or other pet pig owners for a recommendation.
• Select a vet located close to your home.
• Select a vet trained or at least interested in learning about the care of the potbellied pig.
• Interview your prospective vet to determine his experience with the potbellied pig and his interest in learning more about your pig’s care.
• obtain references, if possible, and talk to them about their experience with the prospective vet.
• Visit your prospective vet with your pet pig prior to any emergency situation.
• Have your prospective vet do a “well” check-up for your pig.
• Evaluate your prospective vet as to the manner in which she relates to and handles your pet pig.
At The Vet Office
• Be prepared to carry your pig into the examination room should your pig not be able to walk comfortably on your vet’s slick floors.
• Correctly lift your young pig by placing one arm just forward of the front legs and the other around the rump.
• Use a crowding board to push your older pig into a corner allowing the vet to administer a shot.
• Do not allow anyone to lift your pig up by her stomach or by her legs.
• Correctly restrain your older pig for more involved medical procedures by standing behind your pig, placing our arms around her stomach and pulling your pig to your chest so that she is sitting directly on her tail with her head and backbone on your chest and her feet directly in front of her.
• Do not use commercial swine nose snare on your pig.
• Take a rubber mat or rug for your pig to stand on, thus providing better footing on the exam table or floor.
• Be present in the exam room, if possible.
• Talk calmly to your pig during the medical procedures so that your pig will feel safer.
• Take treats and have your vet offer a few as a friendly introduction.
• Follow your vet’s instruction should the stress to you or your pig become too great during exam.
• Take bedding should your pig need to stay overnight.
• Check the temperature of the location in which she will be housed, providing a heat lamp or a fan if necessary.
• Travel with extra bedding and a plastic bad should your pig have an accident in the car.
• Reward your pig with a very special treat after the visit to her vet.
There are several ways to anesthetize including inhalation of gases, injections, and even intranasal drugs.
Inhalation anesthesia (isoflurane specifically) is the safest means to anesthetize a pig, if available. Halothane is not recommended as it has been linked to PSS ( Porcine Stress Syndrome) in commercial pigs. Some vets might still use halothane but most have at least one isoflurane machine.
The injectable dissociative drugs are common and effective but recovery can be rough and delayed. Should disassociative anesthesia be the only choice it is imperative they you be available to either crate or hold your pig until the pig fully recovered. By doing this, you will lessen the stress and fear and possible injury to your pet.
There are many other injectable drugs that can be used that are safer and provide a smoother, quicker recovery than the dissociative drugs. The drawback to these drugs is that they are very expensive. One example is a combination of midazolam, medetomidine, and butorphanol.
In summary, there are three choices when anesthetizing your pet pig.
BEST: Isoflurane gas
BETTER: Consider a safe injectable drug protocol ( like the one mentioned above) that might be more expensive.
GOOD: The dissociative drugs.
A well-trained and prepared pig will be much more likely to cooperate with any procedures that you vet deems necessary. The training time prior to the visit to the vet is time well spent so that your pet will experience as little stress and pain possible.