It can be dangerous when pigs’ body temperatures get just a few degrees above normal. Fortunately, with a little planning and preparation, keeping our hooved friends safe in warm weather can be a breeze. Here are eight easy ways pig parents can help their pigs beat the heat:
- Chill out with a tasty treat. Freeze pieces of fruit in a popsicle mold or ice cube tray for pigs to enjoy on a hot day.
- Hose down hot pavement, patios and porches before letting your pigs outside. A little water could go a long way toward keeping hooves cool and avoiding unnecessary pad burns. Pig parents can also run cool water over their pig’s feet.
- Say yes to ice water. Adding ice to pigs’ water bowls creates a game for curious pigs—they’ll bob for ice cubes and stay cool and hydrated in the process!
- Cool the crate. If your pig will be crated while you’re away, try freezing two-liter water bottles and placing them on top of the crate. They’ll give off cool air and help keep the spot cool.
- Wear a cold compress. A refrigerated wet bandana will help keep a piggy cool and stylish this summer. Most pigs will not allow you to use things like this, but since some are more receptive than others, it was worth a mention here. A wet towel placed on the back can accomplish the same thing. And don't forget sunblock! Pigs, especially lighter skin pigs, can get sunburn very easily. Carl pigs can burn too, its just isn't as evident as it is in the pink pigs. Dippity pig syndrome has been linked to excessive sun exposure. Click here to learn more about this non-life threatening illness some pigs get.
- Make a splash. A backyard baby pool is a great way for pigs to stay cool (and it’s fun too!). Most pigs will get in a pool that has a cutout leaving easy access while others may be hesitant. Use cheerios or grapes as enticement for pigs who aren’t huge fans of pools and/or get a pool with lower sides so your pig doesn’t have to struggle getting in or out of it.
- Place water dishes in shaded areas so 1. The water stays cooler longer and 2. The dish itself doesn't become so hot that it burns the pig.
- Create a summer oasis by mounting a misting system in your pigs area. These can be purchased relatively cheap from eBay and can be set up on a timer to give a mist every so often. (Click here to read more of our summer tips) You can also use large fans which can not only help with creating a breeze for your pigs, but since mosquitos aren't very strong flyers, it will help keep some of the insects from biting them too.
Most vets will also stress that pet resting areas should be kept cool, indoors and out. For pigs seeking relief from the hot weather, provide outdoor areas of shade with open-air tents, awnings and umbrellas. Indoor resting places can be kept cool with air conditioners or fans, and by keeping the curtains closed so there is no direct sunlight. Also, bare floors in the house are great spots for pets to lie down and cool off.
If a pig gets overheated, it’s best to aim for a gradual cool down rather than an abrupt immersion in ice or cold water. Try using the hose, a gentle shower or wet towels first. If a pig shows signs of hyperthermia like excessive drooling, a very red tongue or gums, panting, weakness, dizziness or vomiting, take cooling measures immediately and get your pig to the vet ASAP. Have icepacks wrapped in small towels in bed for the pig to lay on if it wants to. (Or a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a towel). Put rubbing alcohol on its feet for evaporative cooling. Use cool, but not cold cloths on head, neck and abdomen. Avoid bathing your pig at this time. If the animal's temperature is over 105 degrees, moisten the pet's hair coat with cool (not COLD) water and pay particular attention to the ears and feet, which are sites of heat exchange. Direct a fan on the moistened areas.
Heat stroke can be fatal within 15 minutes, and even when it isn’t deadly, brain and organ damage can result from exposure to extreme heat.