Bathing Your Pig and other Grooming Considerations
BY Nancy Shepherd
Bathing: Pigs are so naturally clean that baths are required only occasionally. That’s not to say your pig cannot enjoy more frequent bathing. This is fine, especially if your pig has good skin and coat condition, as too much bathing can exacerbate the dry skin condition that can be such an annoyance to the potbellied pig owner. Bathing can be accomplished in several ways depending on the size and temperament of your pig. An outdoor pool with sun-heated water is a good option in the spring and summer. With your pig already familiar and happy relaxing in her pool, you can grab the brush and your bathing supplies and get to it. Float Cheerios atop the water to keep your piggy contented and busy while scrubbing behind those cute little ears!
If you have a walk-in shower, this is ideal for the larger pig. Serve your pig’s meals in the dry shower for a few days. After she is used to this routine, let a slight stream of water fall as she feasts. Gradually, she will become accustomed to this wet dining experience and you can provide the full body deal while she is enjoying the full meal deal. No problem. If you are looking for success with the least amount of stress, desensitizing your pig to activities you expect her to participate in is such an important pig rule .
Small pigs can be bathed in a bath tub or large basin, tank or sink. Be certain to provide a non-slick surface for your pig to stand on in any of these bathing situations. Whatever method you choose to bathe your pig, the water should be tepid, not cold and the pig dried quickly and kept out of drafts.
Eyes and Ears: Routine cleaning of the ears and the area around the eyes is recommended. A brownish discharge will collect in the hair and eyelashes around the eyes. This is particularly noticeable on white pigs; and, I might add, not very attractive. While quite normal, this discharge should be cleansed away on a regular basis. Use a warm, damp cloth for these grooming jobs. The brown “gunk” that collects just inside a pig’s ears is kind of waxy and gooey. Q-Tips are not necessary, but should you decide to use them, follow the same precaution that you would with yourself or a child.
A pet pig generally relishes in all this attention and physical contact from her care giver. Along with a belly rub, it is easy to do a little ear and eye cleaning. Be gentle and don’t use products that will sting or hurt your pig. Take special notice of any thing out of the ordinary. Is there excessive tearing? Does your pig tend to squint? Can you see her eye lashes? Do her lashes appear to be touching her eyeball? Potbellied pigs are prone to various eye maladies including runny eyes, matter build up, entropia, scratched cornea, ulcerated cornea and eye trauma. Work with your vet should any of these conditions exist.
Tusk Care: If you have a neutered boy pig (barrow), keep an eye on his tusks. At some point they may need to be cut back. This is definitely a job for the vet as anesthesia is required. A barrow probably won’t need his tusks trimmed until after he is two years of age.
© Nancy Shepherd 1999