How Do I Care For My Pig In The Winter?
Remember wind chill makes days colder than actual temperature readings. Hair or fur does not protect a potbellied pig; therefore be attentive to your pig’s body temperature. You might consider limiting the time your pig spends outdoors on bad days. If freezing weather is not common in your area winter’s chill can make it even more dangerous to a pig that is not accustomed to cold temperatures.
Adequate shelter from freezing precipitation and blowing, cold wind is an absolutely necessary for your pet pig. On the floor of your pig’s house put a washable, rubber mat. A piece of carpet, which you can change frequently should it become soiled or wet, is another alternative. You need to provide the pig with appropriate bedding such as quilts, blankets, or straw. It is important to check and change your pig’s bedding often, especially during the cold winter months. Do not assume that the bedding will stay dry. Your pig will bring in mud and snow on its feet. Over time the bedding will become wet. Warmth during the winter is important for the health of your pig. Wet bedding and cold temperatures can lead to a sick pig. You want to completely change the bedding if you find it to be wet or soiled. A piece of carpet attached to the top of the doorway of the pig’s house is an excellent choice as a pushable door for your pig. The carpet door will help keep your pig’s house warm and draft free.
Should the temperatures become extremely cold and you are warned to provide shelter for your pets, bring your pig inside for the night. If this is not possible it will be necessary to provide your pig with an additional heat source. If you choose an electrical heat source such as a heat lamp or light bulb, be sure that it is securely attached to the house and that all electrical cords are well away from your pig’s reach. Potbellies can tolerate cold temperatures, but no animal does well outside without adequate protection when a real freeze happens.
Also, don’t forget to keep your pig warm, dry, and away from drafts when it comes inside your home. This time of year your pig will need to snuggle up in a warm, dry blankets or quilts. Many pigs love the fireplace warmth and will stand or lie in front of it while the fire blazes. Make sure your fire screen is sturdy enough to withstand a pig lying close by. In general be very careful of supplemental heat sources. Fireplaces, portable heaters, and heat lamps can severely burn your pig. To avoid a fire make sure to keep all heaters and lamps are kept away from bedding and out of your pig’s reach.
Pigs need exercise even during the winter months. If you take your pig for a winter stroll, be extra careful when walking on frozen areas. Potbellies can slip and be seriously injured. Towel or blow-drying your pig if it gets wet from rain or snow can help prevent winter illness. To avoid tiny cuts and cracked pads, it is important to clean and dry its hooves. Since your pig does not have much hair protect it against winter’s cold weather by using a coat or sweater to help keep it warm.
It takes more energy in the winter to keep a body’s temperature regulated, so you might need to provide your pig additional calories if it spends a lot of time outdoors. Giving your pig additional food can also be necessary if you live in a snowy area of the country and your pig has no opportunity to graze.
Remember not to leave your pig alone in a car. The interior temperature of your car can very quickly get too cold with no heat. A running engine is extremely dangerous because of the potential for carbon monoxide poisoning. Since pigs cannot tell us when they are sick, it is important to pay special attention to your pig’s condition and health during the winter season. Like all of us, pigs seem more susceptible to illness in the winter. Make sure to take your pig to a Veterinarian if you see any suspicious symptoms. Be sure to consult your veterinarian before administering any over-the-counter medications.
Along with a winter cold or flu, cold weather brings many pet health hazards. The most common of these is antifreeze. Antifreeze is a sweet tasting liquid that can kill animals if they drink it. Two ounces can kill a dog and one tablespoon may kill a cat. A pig can sniff out and lap up a puddle of antifreeze very quickly, as it investigates the new smells in a garage or on the ground. Any quantity of antifreeze can make your pig sick. It does not take much to kill your pet. If you know that your pig has ingested antifreeze, contact your Veterinarian immediately for advice. Should you be unable to locate your Vet give your pig hydrogen peroxide until it begins to vomit. Early signs of antifreeze toxicity may be subtle. It takes from 12-24 hours for you to become aware of the more obvious signs, such as vomiting, not eating and depression. It is imperative that you watch out for antifreeze, because early recognition of your pig drinking it will make any treatment more successful. Another health hazard during the winter is rock salt, which is used to melt ice on sidewalks and roads. It may irritate your pig’s footpads. It is wise to rinse and dry your pig’s feet after a winter’s walk. To prevent frostbite on your pig’s ears, tails, and feet do not leave your pig outdoorsfor long periods of time.
Your pig is just as likely to get dehydrated in the winter as in the summer; therefore provide it plenty of fresh water. Snow is not a satisfactory substitute for water. Pigs always need fresh water available, even in the winter. The water bowls should also be checked at least twice a day to make sure that the water is not frozen. Frozen water bowls will prevent your pig from getting a drink. Carefully monitor how much water your pig is drinking. Many pigs seem to lose interest in drinking their daily requirement of water during cold weather. Lack of water during the winter months can cause severe constipation in some pigs. To prevent this add fruit juice to your pig’s water bowl to entice it to drink more often. Another trick is to fill your pet’s water bowl with hot water. This will extend the time before the water refreezes and hot water seems to stimulate more water consumption by pet pigs.