Chris Harrison has been a member of the pig community for quite some time and had a tragic situation occur last year, and since people are vacationing and looking for pig sitters, I felt it was important to share Milton's story with y'all.
Chris often shared stories of Milton's adventures. Milton was a great pig, and he was cherished by his family and often lovingly referred to as "big pig". As they journeyed down the path of pig parenthood, their family showed the rest of us how much he meant to them on a daily basis. EVERYTHING revolved around Milton. Milton felt the same way about his family as they did for him. There was a special love between them. Friends of Chris's were given the privilege of getting a glimpse of their family, as if you were part of it, because he posted pictures and stories of Milton all the time and we all came to know and love Milton in our pig group too. There wasn't a doubt in anyone's mind that Milton was a lucky pig that had a family that loved him very much. He was "one of the kids".
They were in the process of moving, Milton was about to be a super lucky pig because they were moving close to the beach and he would have a whole ocean as his playground. They found a "friend" (and I use the term friend loosely) to watch him while they completed their big move. This "friend" also had pigs, so she understood the complicated dynamics of introducing a pig to her pigs and it was decided to keep them separate since this would only be for a day, in order to be "pig-distraction free" so they could get everything moved into their new home. ONE DAY!
Unfortunately, this didn't go as planned. I remember it like it was yesterday, Chris posted a tribute to his BFF Milton on Facebook. I thought to myself, WHAT?!? He later explained what happened.
"Thanks to everyone for your prayers and support. My poor baby Milton had stayed overnight with a lady who was going to watch him while we moved. She had other piggies there along with various other animals. She was supposed to have kept Milton separate from the other pigs because of the territory issue. But, she did not. Two of her piggies attacked Milton. He suffered some injuries that were not able to be fixed. I caution everyone to not make the same mistake I did and absolutely know, without a doubt, someone will treat your piggy the way they should be treated before leaving them with others. My mistake has left me sad beyond belief and I am so overcome with guilt that I don't know how to handle it. These animals are the greatest things on earth. Love them and cherish them."
Milton passed away 02/01/2015 from pure ignorance. Whose fault was it? It certainly wasn't Milton's fault. It definitely wasn't Chris's fault. That leaves the 3rd party who accepted the responsibility to care for Milton and keep him safe. Milton paid for her mistake with his life. That wasn't fair. She made a promise to Chris and his family to watch over him and knew not to allow other pigs out around him, but she failed them and he was attacked. His injuries were so severe that there was no hope of recovery. They didn't just lose a pig, they lost a best friend and a family member. Chris decided that Milton's death would NOT be in vain, so he posted the story everywhere so people could, at the very least, learn from this situation. It wouldn't bring Milton back, but sharing it has prompted people to screen pig sitters better and has likely saved other pigs lives. No one will ever treat your pig like you do, it is like putting a newborn baby in the hands of strangers. Make sure you KNOW this person, you KNOW they're fully informed about pigs, they KNOW how introductions work, you KNOW that they have a safe place for your pig, secure and away from any others. This is NOT to say that no one can be trusted with your pig, this is meant to serve as a reminder to do diligence. Ask the questions you need to ask and make sure it is a good fit. But there are some amazing people and boarding facilities out there.
Milton was taken from this earth way too soon. A senseless death that was completely preventable. I know Milton is looking down on Chris and his family and proud that they were finally able to open their hearts and home to another pig, but no pig will EVER take Milton's place. He will always have a special place in their hearts as well as mine. Rest in paradise sweet baby, keep the others who were also taken too soon, company until it's time for all of us to meet again!
Milton lives on through memories and he will never be forgotten. His family has a special place in their home to honor Milton. Everything you "think" you know about pigs can change at the drop of a hat. Do not ever assume your pig will be ok. Never assume someone else knows better. Always ask questions. Know who you are dealing with. If you don't know someone on a personal level, get to know them before leaving your pig at their home. Accidents happen, but this was carelessness in addition to an accident. That shouldn't have happened. As I see people making posts asking if anyone knows of someone else who can watch their pig while they vacation, I think back to this story and will usually comment to please be selective over who watches their pig and remind them that not everyone will be as attentive as you are. We have a very small section with questions you can ask a potential boarding facility or person who may be up for the challenge. Now that you have read this, you will probably think of even more. That list also includes those who reached out to us and informed us that they'd be willing to piggy sit. We do not know the people who offered their information or services, but you can click here to see that page. Thanks to Chris Harrison and his family for sharing their story with us, their never ending love for Milton is still present and even though this was a tough lesson to learn, it was the love for Milton that taught the greatest lesson of all....One I will never forget and that is no matter where your pig is, that pig will forever remain in your heart and soul.
An entry from a pigs diary
I walk up to the house from my mud pit and see my family crying. I don't understand what's wrong, but I go to my 8 year old sister to see if I can comfort her. The tears she was crying hit my back like bullets. I do not know what I did wrong. I didn't know I wasn't allowed to dig. I wasn't aware that the bag of apples on the floor weren't for me. Nobody told me that I can't take dirty clothes and put them in my area, I just love my family so much that I want them around me all the time and that pile of clothes gives me at least their scent when they can't be at my side.
It's impossible for me to build my life when there's so much chaos. The reason I run away is because I do not like to be put in a crate for 12 hours, that section of your fence is perfect for me to move so I can taste the green grass on the other side and those kids who chased me are the reason why I ran so far. I couldn't find my way back home.
The dogs food tastes better than mine, but I can stop eating it if y'all will stop crying! I promise I will be a better pig. I swear that I will stop eating so much so I can lose weight, I know I'm big and fat, and you thought I would stay much smaller, but I do love those treats you're always throwing outside for me. I only try to bite your hand because I want more of them, but I am so so sorry I did that.
I dump my water because the ground is hot and I'm trying to get some out of my bowl, but the bowl burns my neck as I try to drink it out of the bowl.
I apologize for standing up on my back legs and taking the sandwich you had on your plate, I hope I didn't get you in trouble. I would tell them I made that mess, if I could talk. I did run away when dad was yelling about the peanut butter smeared all over the floor because I was frightened. But, I am pretty sure he knew I made that mess.
I only squeal at night now when nobody is there to talk to me, but I do it because I'm scared, I promise I will be quiet if you stop crying.
I heard mom tell you to get my things together, are we going on a trip?! I am so excited! Where are we going? Why did you pack up ALL my things? We will be back soon, right?
Now I am in a strange place, these people aren't very nice, I saw them give you some paper, I think she called it "fifty dollars". I don't know what that is, but I'm laying here in my crate trying to figure it out. Where did my family go? When will they be back? This woman picked me up, you know how much that worries me, so I started squealing and she almost dropped me! Thankfully she put me back in my crate, I feel safe there. I haven't been hungry lately, so I haven't eaten any of the dog food she has put in my bowl (and you know dog food is my favorite) I feel so sad and I really miss my family....I just want to lay here and wait for y'all to come back and get me. There are some other animals here that are trying to get me, I think. He barks so much and puts his face right up to my crate. I really need to go to the bathroom, but no one has let me outside in days. I guess I will have to potty right here in my crate. I hate this.
Finally this woman opened the door again, she grabbed me by my legs and dragged me out of this crate, I bumped my chin on the bar as she was pulling me out. She picked me up and rubbed my nose in my Pee! Gross! Then she smacked my butt. What's wrong? Why did she hit me? What did I do? Where is my family?!? Now she put me in a tiny room with a slippery floor WITH that mean barking thing. He keeps showing me his teeth. I don't see anything in them, so I don't know why he's showing them to me. I tried to talk to him, but I don't think he understands me. Oh no! He grabbed me by my head and now there is something wet on my head dripping on the floor. I see that mean lady now, but I can't hear what she's saying. I see her lips move, but I don't hear anything coming out. My head hurts so bad. I wish my family was here.
That lady picks me up and puts me in a box, it's not a big box, but I don't feel too good, so I think I will just lay here. Maybe I'll say a prayer, maybe God will bring my family back. We used to have so much fun and I miss them so much.
Dear Pig God,
I promise I will be a good pig if you bring my family back to get me. I won't steal any food or rugs or clothes anymore. I won't even dig up holes in the yard. I will not bite anyone, I will eat only my food and I will not squeal when I'm in my crate. I promise you I can be a good boy.
If they don't come back, I think I will die. I still can't hear anything, when I opened my eyes, I was back in my wet crate. I do not like this place and I wish the people who loved me would come get me. But I don't think they're coming. I think I was a bad pig. I wish they would've taught me what I needed to learn and I wish I had been a better pig. I am really really tired, my head hurts so bad, why would my family leave me at this horrible place? I know I will never see them again, but I wish I was worth more than the first person with fifty dollars.
More pigs than you can imagine are thinking this or saying a prayer to the pig God to take their pain away or bring their family back to save them. If your pig could have these thoughts, maybe you should reevaluate your methods. Your pig is only as good as you train your pig to be. Take the time and teach your pig manners, respect and basic training. Otherwise your pig may be laying in a pool of their own blood with no hopes to ever recover. If you can't keep your pig for any reason, do NOT hand your pig over to just anyone, please make sure a new family understands pigs, make sure they're able to care for your pig and if you can't do any of that, and you can't work with your pig to improve things, then don't get a pig to begin with!
We hope to make this an ongoing "journal" as written like a pig would write it. We welcome others to contribute to this, if you have something you feel strongly about, send it to us, if you can't come up with the right words, let us know the topic and we can try our best to do it for you. No one will ever learn anything if no one makes it clear how their actions affect pigs. This is how we thought may be able to get through to people and show them how every decision they make can affect their pig. Feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or message our Facebook page with your suggestion/diary entry. (We may need to edit them slightly, but we will not change the overall message you are trying to get across.)
Written from an unfortunate pigs point of view
Life with a pig can be tough sometimes....have you ever wondered how you can do something easier? I am sure you've heard of simple ways to do complicated things....well, we wanted to tell you how to do some of those things with pigs. Simplify your life....there is no need to reinvent the wheel if someone found a more efficient/effective way to do something.
Hack number 1. Your pig keeps tipping or dumping over the water dish. You're worried that this will result in water deprivation/salt toxicity and want to know what you should do to be sure your pig always has fresh water available.
There are actually a few ways to accomplish this. If this is outside that your pig is doing this, there are several methods you can try. 1. Create a space "in-ground" for your pigs bowl. If the bowl is level with the ground, your pig cannot tip it over. 2. Use a watering system such as a water nipple. These self watering systems are something that you'll have to work with your pig so they can learn how to get the water. This isn't something they'll automatically know how to do. The water nipples can be used directly on the spigot, used with barrels that are filled up or other water holding tank items. 3. Get tip proof bowls, if you already have tip proof bowls and your pig is still tipping or dumping the water, then take a bowl and fill the underside with concrete. This will not only give the bowl weight, but it will also eliminate any buckling it may be doing allowing your pig to dump it out. 4. Use your pigs kiddie pool as their water bowl. If your pig is dumping out anything you put out there, then make sure your pigs pool is cleaned everyday and refilled. This should be adequate for drinking water if your pig dumps their bowl out. Please remember, regardless of what system you use, the container needs to be cleaned throughly every day. Do NOT take a 1/2 full bowl and keep adding water to it. Pigs will turn their nose up to a dirty bowl which can lead to water deprivation issues. Biofilm can be harmful to your pig, this is the slimy film either floating on top of dirty water or even inside of the bowl. Click here to read more about water deprivation and what you should do in case your pig has gone without water for an extended period of time. Click here to read more about biofilm and other summertime concerns.
Hack number 2. How to weigh your pig. Did you know there is a method of estimating your pigs weight by measuring them? This method is typically within 5% of their body weight making it easier to find out how much your pig weighs when they're too heavy to pick up!! Weight is not the way to judge your pigs health, that should be done using body scoring. Remember, pigs come in all different shapes and sizes, so while 100 pounds may be obese for a shorter pig, that may be emaciated for another taller/longer pig. The formula for this is below. Girth x girth x length/400= the estimated weight. This is the farmers almanac method of estimating a pigs weight without a scale.
Hack number 3. Crate training. Crate training is recommended for many reasons, most notably is for transport purposes. If your pig is used to a crate, when it comes time to take your pig somewhere, your pig will be much more willing to hop in and go. Using a crate is much better versus letting your pig just sit in the back seat or the trunk area of an SUV. They can easily fall as you brake or try to get to another area of your vehicle and have a fall. This is also good for times when you need your pig contained in a smaller area, whether that is bedtime because your pig can't be trusted or because your vet is coming by to see your pig. Make it comfortable with soft bedding and keep it open in a quiet area of the house, so the pig can utilize it when needed.
Hack number 4. There are plenty of DIY pig treats you can make using basic ingredients. Some can be used to keep your pig cool in the summer by taking fruit and adding it to water, freezing and using that as a treat or enrichment item. You can use rope in the water and freeze it directly in the ice or you can use a pan with an opening in the middle that can easily be tied up using rope or heavy duty string and hang from a deck rail or from a lower tree branch to provide an activity that will keep your pig busy for hours! But, if you have a pet that needs daily medication, and you don’t want to spend money on store-bought pill pockets, you can make your own by using frozen blackberries or blueberries if you want to give your pet another healthy anti-oxidant-rich alternative. Just run the berry under water to thaw, and push the pill in! Remember, not all berries are good for your pig to eat so be sure that fruit is on the piggy approved list by clicking here.
Hack number 5. Pet doors! Does your pig have free access in and out of your house? Do you worry that your pig may be too hot or too cold outside? Is there a storm coming and you're at work worried about your pig? Have you considered installing a pet door so your pig can have access to inside of the house? Maybe your house isn't ideal for your pig, but you do have some space in your garage, you can install a pet door wherever you'd like. I will warn you, whatever area your pig has access to needs to be piggy proofed prior to giving your pig permission to explore. (Just make sure the pet door you choose is large enough for your pig to get through.)
Which brings us to Hack number 6. Child proof locks and gates. These are a "must have" when you have a pig in the home. Pigs will watch you go into a cabinet and get something out and as soon as you turn your back, your pig will have its head inside that same cabinet and will attempt to grab what he/she can and run back to their area with it. Sometimes its harmless, but more often than not, there is something in this cabinet your pig shouldn't have or ingest. It is so much easier to put child proof (and sometimes actual locks on appliances) locks in areas that have items you do not want your pig to have.
Hack number 7. Buy a sorting board. Every pig home should have a sorting panel. This is an relatively cheap item that can save time, energy and a lot of headaches. Sorting boards are used with uncooperative pigs to guide them to areas you need them to go to or for protection for that group of pigs with an attitude problem. What makes this product nice is that it is light and easy to store. It can go under or behind a couch without being seen yet accessible to you should you need it in a hurry. Even for pigs that are super nice, this can come in handy when it's time to get into the vehicle and your pig doesn't exactly want to get in or go up that ramp, simply place behind them so they feel pressure from something and cannot back down. Overall, a great product that can be used in more than one way. If you aren't sure where to get one, you can click here to order one from this vendor-Hog Slats.
Do you have a lot of old newspapers or old phone books? Do you frequently get junk mail? Hack number 8. Pigs LOVE ripping paper. I don't know what it is about paper that attracts the to it, but every time there is a shred of paper on the floor at my house, my pig is on it. One hoof on the paper and the other side being torn. My pig will chew the paper but spits it out after a few seconds and she always goes back for more. This is can be an "enrichment" activity for your pig when it is storming outside or way too hot for them to be out there for long periods of time and also a great way to get rid of excess papers laying around your home.
Hack number 9. Emergency preparedness. How would a fireman know you had a pig inside the house if you weren't there to tell them? Answer-they wouldn't. We created a document to help alert emergency personnel that there is a pig in the home. People do sell these stickers for doors and/or windows, but I wasn't able to find one with a pig, so we re-created what was already out there. Click here to learn more about being prepared in case of emergencies.
Hack number 10. Baking soda and vinegar remove urine smells. Soak up the urine with a paper towel, spray the stain with a mixture of half vinegar and half baking soda solution, and let it soak in for 10 minutes. Then, absorb the excess moisture with a paper towel, sprinkle the spot with baking soda, and let it dry. Just keep pets away, as baking soda is toxic to pets. Once dry, vacuum it up. Remember, pigs will eliminate where they smell their previous markings, so it’s very important to deodorize as well as clean to prevent repeat accidents. Enzymatic cleaners work much the same, but this is a DIY method.
Hack number 11. Saving your pig with CPR/Heimlich maneuver. DO you know how to give a pig CPR? Did you know they make a small breathing apparatus designed especially for pigs? Click here to learn how to hemlich a pig, as well as proper CPR instructions. This information can literally be life saving!! Click here for first aid tips and items you should have on hand for emergencies.
Hack number 12. You can make your pig a bed with 2 items. A crib mattress and a fitted sheet. Pig bed done! Instead of looking for a traditional pet bed that will support your pigs weight and won't leave him/her practically laying on the ground, buy a cheap crib mattress and a sheet to fit it and your problem is solved. (Or you can test out different dog beds for your pig for 3 years until you find the perfect one)
Hack number 13. The Paw Wash device. Does your pig come in with muddy hooves? This device may work for you. It is intended for dogs as a way to quickly clean their paws off, but this could work for pigs too. (I ordered one, but it hasn't arrived yet) http://www.thepawwash.com. Definitely looks like it would work for pigs and this would be sooooo much easier than trying to wipe them off with baby wipes AFTER your pig comes inside.
Hack number 14. Have a fail safe word or phrase that will turn your pig around to come running back to you. For most of us, the sound of the dinner bowls will do it, while other pigs know the word treat. Whatever you choose as your word(s), keep it consistent so you know that no matter what, your pig will run to you when those words are spoken. The video below is from Rooterville. All it takes is a few words...here piggggggggy pigggggy piggy. Click link below for original video on Rooterville's Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/rooterville/videos/1108823459127884/
Hack number 15. Video your routine and keep it on a thumb drive. Did you know you would get in an auto accident? Did you know that your husband would cut his leg while mowing the grass and need to go to the ER? Did you know your child would have an allergic reaction to peanut butter at school? Odds are, the answer to those questions is no. There is no way to predict sickness or injuries, that is why they're called accidents or natural body responses. in the cases mentioned above. I said all that to say, who knows when you may not be home to feed your pig? You don't know when something may keep you from home for an extended amount of time. How much easier would it be to call your neighbor who has a key to your home and ask them to feed your pig(s) for you in your absence? How will they know what to do? Because you left that information on a thumb drive on top of your refrigerator and your neighbor can pop that into you laptop and watch how you measure and mix things for your pig. How awesome is that? This is also helpful for the significant other who isn't involved on a daily basis with caring for the pets in the home. Cat Drose made a cute video showing "dad" what he needed to do for Mo's feedings.
Hack number 16. The vacuum isn't the enemy! Many pets hate the vacuum, but with a bit of positive training, you can teach your pig that the vacuum only brings good things – like praise and treats. Then, you can use grooming tools like the Dyson Grooming Tool or other vacuum attachments to suck up your pig’s hair before it ever hits the floor. (How awesome would that be?) I haven't tried this attachment yet, but I do have a Dyson, so I may order the attachment to see if the hype lives up to the expectations. If you have one and have tried it, let us know!
Hack number 17. Does your pig get scared when it's storming? Is it the loud sounds or the electric charge in the air? Know how you can check? Use a dryer sheet! Many times, it’s the electric charge in the air and not the actual storm that upsets pets during bad weather. Some pigs just don’t like the noise, but if your pig just hates the electricity in the air, take a dryer sheet and rub it over him to make him feel better. (My pig doesn't like the cracking thunder an lightning) Not only does rubbing your pig down with a fabric softener sheet reduce the electric charge in the air, but it also leaves your pig smelling fresh to death.
Hack number 18. Soften dry feed with warm water. This serves a few purposes actually. 1. It provides more hydration. Pigs aren't usually big drinkers, so extra hydration is always welcome. 2. Some pigs try to eat so quick that they tend to choke on dry feed, wetting the feed and allowing it to soak can help with this because it is already broken down and swelled up, so it will fall apart in their mouths as they chew. 3. As the food swells, it obviously will take up more volume which will do the same in the stomach causing the brain to send a signal to the belly to quit eating because you're full sooner than waiting (and relying) on your pig to drink enough water to create this volume in the belly at a later time using dry pellets.
Hack number 19. Use soft music to calm down an anxious pig. Music means a lot of different things to different people, but one thing music has in common is that softer music tends to calm all people. This is the same for pigs. It has been recommended since the beginning of time (at least since I have had pigs) to use soft music, perhaps classical or even soft rock, to help your pig relax when/if your pig has dippity pig syndrome. (A temporary condition that causes painful lesions to surface on the back. Click here to read more about dippity)
Hack number 20. Lost pig tip. First, you should exhaust all other options to find your pig, such as putting up posters, posting adds online and in the paper, checking animals shelters, and personally searching. However, if you have some idea where your pig was last seen, leave something that smells like you, such as a used article of clothing, with some food and water. Leave a note asking people not to take the items. Leave your phone number on the note so that people can call you if they see your pig staying in that spot. Then, keep checking that location. If your pig is still nearby, he will be drawn to your scent, as well as the food and water. You know pigs will be drawn to food. Sometimes, if your pig isn't far away, shaking a bag of feed or a bowl of pellets is enough for your pig to come running back home. Always keep updated pictures available for "flyers" or posts that can be shared. Make sure you alert neighbors and animal control that your pig is missing as well.
That brings us to Hack number 21. Microchip your pig!! When your pig is microchipped, the odds of your pig being returned safely go up by like 75%. Vets as well as animal control shelters check for the presence of microchips and as long as your information is up to date, they will call you to come pick up your pig BFF. Sometimes animal control will ticket you for an animal at large, but most will be thankful they don't have to care for a pig and will happily allow you to retrieve it.
Hack number 22. Pet credit card for emergencies. The vet care for pigs is usually the "exotic" rate as it is, but what happens when it is emergency hours or a holiday? There is an after hour fee, an emergency fee plus a holiday fee- so before your vet ever steps foot in your home, there is 350.00 in charges. Do you have an extra 350.00 in your purse or wallet? Maybe you do, and that's great, but for the rest of us who do not have a disposable income, we sometimes get a credit card designed for vet care (and this card can be used at pharmacies or dentist/doctor offices as well) JUST IN CASE cards. There is nothing wrong with getting one, its using it that causes debt problems. If you can get by without having to use it, that would obviously be best, but if you need little help with an unexpected expense, it is nice to have a safety cushion. Click here to see if you qualify for care credit.
Hack number 23. Pet insurance! Why not??? There aren't many companies that will cover pet pigs or companion pigs, but there are a couple. Click here to find out which companies do/will cover pigs. if you know of any others, please let us know and we will be sure to add them to the list.
Hack number 24. DIY pet ornaments. Save that hoof print forever by using the DIY kits that can be bought at most Walmart type stores. These are usually available during Christmas, but can be found online for less than 10.00. As your pig grows, you will have that little hoof print to remind you of how that little baby piglet grew into this beautiful beast he/she is now <3 **These are toxic if eaten, so be sure to keep this out of reach of your pig or other pets!!
Hack number 25. Handle your pig. Train your pig. Get a baseline temperature on your pig. Bathe your pig-all of these things when your pig is young so when your pig gets bigger and older, these things are routine to them and not out of the ordinary. Spend some time training your pig because your pig will only know what you teach him/her. A pig is only as good as the training he or she received. A pig with no manners is that way because you failed to teach your pig manners. All of these things are important in their own time, but trust me when I say to empower yourself with these basic tools to make your life much easier with your pig later on.
Hack number 26. Have plenty of pig themed items at all times. If you do not have a pig yet, go ahead and start buying household products with pigs featured on them because you're going to once you get a pig anyways, you may as well start your collection sooner rather than later. Once you make some pig friends, you'll be exchanging cards and small gifts with them, so it is best to have a few pig items ready to go should you need to send a gift. (This is a joke, FYI. But, I had to get the pig door handle in the blog somehow and this was my way) If your mouth drops like mine did when I saw this, you can order yours by clicking here.
Ten Tips for providing a safe July 4th for your porcine household:
1. Make sure your pig gets out and gets plenty of exercise earlier in the day. (Before fireworks typically occur in your area) During this time it is important that you keep your pig hydrated since it is typically hot weather during this holiday. Good hydration and meals during the day can help your piggy sleep better that night when fireworks typically take place. (Do NOT overfeed during hot weather though, the body produces heat as digestion takes place and it is miserable when the belly is full on hot days if your pig stays outside during most days)
2. Keep your pig(s) inside during fireworks, preferably with human companionship. If it’s hot, air conditioning will help.
3. Provide a safe place inside for your pig to retreat. When scared of sounds they can’t orient, and that group of pigs often prefers small-enclosed areas. Most pigs have a favorite spot, but if this spot isn't really ideal because of the noise, take your pigs' favorite bed and blankets to a more soundproof room/area in your home. This is their "safe space".
4. If possible, keep the windows and curtains closed.
5. Make sure all your pigs are wearing ID tags with a properly fitting harness. (Panicked pigs have been known to become Houdini around the 4th of July.) Make sure you know where your pig is at ALL times! And be sure to fix any fencing issues that may allow for your pig to get out. Scared pigs will run, it doesn't necessarily mean they'll run in the house, they're just trying to get away from the loud noises.
This is also the day of the year where the most pets go missing, presumably running away because of fright.
6. Leave your pig something fun to do – like a frozen Kong filled with his favorite treats or a busy ball and fill with treats. Treat puzzles can keep your pig occupied as well. If you won't be home, leave a TV on for them to try and drown out some of the sounds from the events that may be taking place near you.
7. Encourage your pig to play, and play with him/her, but don’t allow them to collapse into your arms at the first bang or whistle. Many pigs want to do just that, as their fear overcomes their play drive. Diversion therapy can be extremely useful in situations like this. The sudden loud noises can be terrifying even for an older pig, so your pig may bark like a dog; this is a sign of fright. Your pig feels safe with you and if your pig runs to you for protection, reassure them that everything is ok and provide support to calm them. In the area where I live, fireworks are illegal, but that doesn't stop the ignorant neighbors and people in the surrounding communities to light some off themselves. The BIG firework display happens miles away, but can still be heard at my house. I try to comfort my pig because I know she's scared and although I know she is in no danger, she doesn't understand that.
8. Sound Therapy: Play music to calm your porcine companion. It is most effective when you first play the music well before the fireworks start; at a time the pig is already peaceful and relaxed. He will begin to associate the music with being calm and content. Then play the music a couple of hours before the fireworks start and continue to play through bedtime. The music doesn’t need to be loud to be effective, as it has been clinically demonstrated to calm the nervous system in animals.
9. If you have pigs that are not exhibiting fear, play with them. This will often distract the fearful pig as he/she is always vying for your attention.
10. Get away from the fireworks. Take your pig to a quiet place, perhaps in the country, and stay with a sympathetic friend or family member.
At the risk of repeating myself I most emphatically recommend, as in tip #5, you make certain your pig is harnessed, tagged, and micro-chipped because some will try to run away from the horror that is taking place around them. Having identification like a tag with your contact information attached to your pigs harness can help your pig get home quickly should he/she run away. If animal control happens to find your scared pig, if there is a micro-chip (that is up to date with your contact info), it will be a lot easier to get your piggy back home.
What foods are actually "toxic" to pigs?
We have all heard the horror stories, seen the panicked pig parents post, SOMEONE PLEASE HELP! My pig ate....
Toxic does not necessarily mean fatal. It usually refers to a substance which may cause a reaction in an individual pig (or person) ranging from a mild irritation to death. Let's be honest, if you do enough research about the foods you buy and eat for yourself as well as your pig, you will likely find something, somewhere saying there was exposure to a toxic substance, maybe a pesticide or component of the item, but nonetheless, now attached to being "toxic" when ingested.
Guess what? Your pig may have eaten something that you thought was toxic, but it may not be "deadly". Assuming you will use common sense, pigs can eat pretty much whatever people eat, there are a few exceptions though. Milk, fish, meat in general aren't advisable to feed to pigs. There are a lot of foods that you should avoid for one reason or another, but high carb, high sugar, obviously high sodium foods should be avoided. What are the reasons that certain foods are considered toxic? Well, that is the reason for this blog...to get to the truth. Scientific evidence to support anything we add to the list. What SHOULDN'T be fed versus what CAN'T be fed are two entirely different topics. A food that isn't good for them is much different than a food that is toxic to pigs.
What happens if your pig eats large amounts of one of the foods posted here on this blog? Your pig may not have any reaction or your pig could've eaten a small amount and had a massive reaction.
We would suggest calling the Pet Poison Hotline or your veterinarian for instructions if there are ever any questions about what a pig has eaten and if there are any reactions to the food item.
Apple and pear seeds and the inner stony pit (kernel) of apricots and peaches contain a naturally occurring substance called amygdalin which is a cyanogenic glycoside. Amygdalin can release hydrogen cyanide in the stomach causing discomfort or illness. It can sometimes be fatal. The age and size of your pig will impact the effectiveness of the seeds. It would likely take larges amounts of seeds to truly harm an older, bigger pig, but a lesser amount for a piglet or smaller framed/sized pig. A food fact that you may not know is that pesticides cling to the peel of an apple and can be absorbed into the flesh below, so be sure you always wash fruit before eating.
It is always better to be safe than sorry, if you can, remove the seeds from these foods before feeding them. If your pig ingests one single seed, odds are your pig will be ok, but if your pig shows signs of distress after eating this, that is an emergency and should be treated as such. My pig is around 140lbs and almost 4 years old, she used to get an apple a day, a whole uncut apple, she has survived. However, as you read, you can see the seeds are toxic, but again, usually in large amounts.
It would typically take a massive amount of seeds eaten over a short period of time to pose any health threat. If the seeds are swallowed whole, the risk of this toxin being absorbed is little to none, it is simply digested whole and excreted. If a pig is eating massive amounts of whole apples and chewing up the seeds, this is when there would be a potential problem. The same goes for most fruits with seeds unless otherwise noted on a specific food in this blog.
Cassava contains a substance similar to amygdalin, like apple and pear seeds, that releases cyanide. Cultures that regularly eat cassava, know they need to cook it, or process it in other ways, to destroy the toxin. But sometimes there's more toxin than normal, or they don't cook it long enough, and people get sick or die. This makes it an inappropriate food for pigs as well.
Commercially grown and sold mushrooms are safe.
However, the Death Cap Mushroom as well as the false parasol are deadly, poisonous introduced fungus that is highly toxic when ingested. In Australia, it is responsible for 90% of deaths of related to mushroom consumption. The death cap is commonly found near established oak trees and possibly some other trees, usually during later summer to early winter after good rain or heavy irrigation. This particular mushroom is also found across the USA.
One Mushroom contains enough poison to kill an adult. Cooking or peeling does not inactivate the toxin, and all parts are poisonous. Onset of symptoms occurs 6-24 hours or more after ingestion of mushrooms. Symptoms include violent stomach pains, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. Symptoms may subside for 1 to 2 days giving a false impression of recovery. However, by this stage the toxin will have already caused serious liver damage. Death from liver failure can occur many days after ingestion.
A person who suspects that they may have eaten poisonous mushrooms should seek immediate medical attention, and where possible take a whole mushroom sample for identification. The sooner the treatment begins the better the chances of survival. Medical assistance should be sought at a vet hospital or emergency veterinarian or by calling your local Poison Control Center.
For absolute safety avoid any wild mushrooms, unless definitely identified as non-poisonous.
All potatoes contain natural toxins called glycoalkaloids. Green parts of a potato aren't good for pigs or people to eat. The levels are usually low but higher levels are found in potato sprouts, and the peel of potatoes that taste bitter. The toxins are produced by the plant in response to stress such as from micro-organisms and UV light, and damage such as bruising. The amount of toxin depends on the type of potato and the growing conditions. Potato “eye” seeds are doused in pesticides to keep insects from eating the sprouts. Then, they’re sprayed with herbicides so no other plants grow near them. They’re basically exposed to chemicals every week for their entire growing season.
Severe stomach ache and even death from glycoalkaloid poisoning has been reported overseas, but is very unusual. Glycoalkaloids are not destroyed by cooking, so it is important to avoid eating the sprouts and to remove any green or damaged parts before cooking. Do not eat cooked potatoes that still taste bitter. If you come across a green potato crisp, it’s probably best not to eat it. Remember to store potatoes in a dark, cool and dry place. Pigs do not know that the "green" part of the potato can be dangerous for them to eat, so do not put your pig in a position to get poisoned by not putting these types of foods where they can get to them. Keep foods like this in a bin or up high on countertops.
Potatoes also contain solanine which destroys red blood cells and can cause diarrhea and heart failure. It is sometimes killed by cooking at high heats, however boiling won't reduce the solanine levels. Best to stay away from all parts of the white potato including the vines and leaves and skin. Leave are toxic and the skin contains trypsin which is an inhibitor to digesting proteins.
Kidney beans or Lima beans (raw)
Many types of beans contain toxins called lectins. The highest concentrations are found in kidney beans, especially red kidney beans, but also found in Lima beans. As few as four or five raw beans can cause severe stomach ache, vomiting and diarrhea.
To destroy the toxins, soak the beans for at least five hours and then boil them briskly in fresh water for at least 10 minutes. Do not cook beans at a low temperature, for example in a slow cooker, as it may not destroy the toxin. Improperly cooked beans can be more toxic than raw ones.
Rhubarb contains naturally occurring oxalic acid. The amount depends on the age of the plant, the season, the climate and the type of soil. Highest concentrations are in the leaves and these should not be eaten. The entire plant is toxic though. So avoiding this altogether would be best.
Oxalic acid poisoning can cause muscle twitching, cramps, decreased breathing and heart action, vomiting, pain, headache, convulsions and coma. These are HIGHLY toxic to pigs.
Vitamin A Poisoning
Excess vitamin A either in the diet or by injection can cause pathological changes in the pig. If oil based injections to excess are given at weaning time high levels may interfere with the growth of the embryo and fetus. This is one of the many reasons why we suggest a pelleted diet whereas the manufacturer went to great lengths to ensure the mineral/vitamin mix was best for our pigs. If you choose not to feed a pelleted diet, but instead elect a natural diet, this delicate balance can be of concern. Always consult with a nutrition expert before attempting to transition to an all natural diet, they can tell you what foods are best and the amounts you need to have in order to have a good, nutritious, well-balanced diet for your pig. (Honestly, the same can be said of most vitamins/minerals. When given in excess, most have a negative effect of some kind)
In older pigs exposure to more than 25,000 iu/kg in the feed causes growth plate changes.
A history of feeding high levels of vitamin A to both sows and growing pigs and shortened bent legs in piglets and weaned pigs would suggest poisoning.
The changes in the bones are irreversible.
Reduce the vitamin A levels in the diet.
To put it in perspective for you, here is a chart for humans with appropriate amounts of Vitamin A based on age and gender. 25000 iu/kg is a massive amount.
Currently, vitamin A is listed on food and supplement labels in international units (IUs) even
though nutrition scientists rarely use this measure. Conversion rates between mcg RAE and IU are as follows:
An RAE cannot be directly converted into an IU without knowing the source(s) of vitamin A.
Concentrations of preformed vitamin A are highest in liver and fish oils. Other sources of preformed vitamin A are milk and eggs, which also include some provitamin A. Most dietary provitamin A comes from leafy green vegetables, orange and yellow vegetables, tomato products, fruits, and some vegetable oils. The top food sources of vitamin A in the U.S. diet include dairy products, liver, fish, and fortified cereals; the top sources of provitamin A include carrots, broccoli, cantaloupe, and squash.
If you feed your pig a pelleted feed and add vegetables, the amount you are feeding will likely not exceed the maximum allowed amount to be considered "toxic". Just know that pigs will specific genetic issues or diseases involving the liver may be at a higher risk for this vitamin to build up to a toxic level causing the defects mentioned above or worsen the liver function to live failure.
Sweet Potato and Kumara
Sweet potato shows trypsin inhibitor activity. That means it contains an enzyme inhibitor that blocks the action of trypsin, an enzyme that digests proteins. The trypsin inhibitor prevents the digestion of protein. Sweet potatoes with higher protein levels have more of the trypsin inhibitor. This makes raw sweet potato difficult to digest. The trypsin inhibitor is deactivated by cooking.
One way the raw food diet helps people is by supplying food enzymes. Food enzymes do part of the work of digesting the raw food. Enzyme inhibitors increase the amount of work that your body needs to do to digest foods. Enzyme inhibitors force your body to produce more digestive enzymes. This uses up resources that could be used to produce detoxifying enzymes. When animals are regularly fed enzyme inhibitors in research, they become sick. Sweet potato should not be eaten raw.
Kumara is from the sweet potato family- Fungi, bacteria, viruses, nematodes and phytoplasma are known to attack sweet potato. Pathogenic bacteria, although not very common, are responsible for important economic losses. They affect vascular tissue as well as storage and fibrous roots, thus causing vine wilting and rots. Fungal pathogens are classified according to the type of disease they cause, such as foliar, stem, storage root and post harvest diseases. Even though the specific management practices have not been developed for various sweet potato diseases since the crop is propagated through vine cuttings, most of the viral and fungal diseases could be avoided by selecting healthy planting materials and sanitation. In the present chapter, an attempt has been made to review the worldwide diseases of sweet potato and the available management practices.
Parsnips, celery, celery root, and parsley commonly contain a group of natural toxins known as furocoumarins. These are probably produced as a way of protecting the plant when it has been stressed. The concentration of the toxin is usually highest in the peel or surface layer of the plant or around any damaged areas.
One of the furocoumarin toxins can cause stomach ache and may also cause a painful skin reaction when contact with the parsnip plant is combined with UV rays from sunlight. Psoralens can cause phytophotodermatitis. That means sensitivity to sunlight, caused by contact with a plant. Handling these plants & sunbathing can lead to bad sunburn, rashes, blisters, and skin discoloration. Photosensitivity from eating these vegetables can happen, but it's very unusual.
It is important to peel the parsnip before cooking and remove any damaged parts. The levels of toxin drop when the parsnip is cooked by baking, microwaving or boiling. Discard any cooking water. While these foods may not be "toxic", they can lead to photosensitivity which can cause severe burns on pigs who eat large amounts.
The entire plant is toxic. The castor bean also includes a deadly toxin called ricin. When ricin enters the body it prevents the cells from producing the proteins they need. Without these specific proteins the cells cannot function and they die. If this cell death is wide spread enough it can lead to the organism dying.
The toxin is released when the beans are chewed or crushed. If the beans are ingested it can lead to pain of the skin and eyes, profuse vomiting, diarrhea, severe dehydration, weakness, fever, myalgia, arthralgia, hallucinations, seizures, hematuria, hypotension, hypovolemic shock, multiply system organ failure and death!! It is said that three seeds contain enough ricin to kill a child and that 7 seeds can kill an adult.
Tomato leaves and vine
The major glycoalkaloid in the tomato plant is tomatine. (To put it simply, a glycoalkaloid is an alkaloid bonded with a sugar.)
Tomatine exists in all green parts of the plant, including the stems, leaves, and green tomatoes. (For the sake of clarity, whenever I mention “green tomatoes” in this post, I’m referring to the immature, unripened green tomatoes — and not the varieties of naturally green tomatoes.) A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that the highest concentrations of tomatine were found in senescent leaves, followed by the stems, fresh leaves, calyxes, green fruits, and finally, roots (which had the lowest concentrations).
The difference in concentration between the fresh leaves and green fruits is negligible, so one isn’t necessarily “safer” to consume than the other. While tomatoes do show a decline in tomatine content as they mature and ripen, no one has ever thought twice about devouring a heaping of fried green tomatoes or pickled green tomatoes!
Glycoalkaloids are also poorly absorbed by the gastrointestinal tract of mammals, and will pass through quickly to the urine or feces. In people who are sensitive to these compounds, stomach irritation may occur but they would have to ingest an unrealistic amount of green tomatoes or tomato leaves to experience ill effects.
So what’s the deal? Are tomato leaves toxic or not? According to this food safety study (which compared the potential toxicity of glycoalkaloids found in tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplants), tomatine is a relatively benign glycoalkaloid. It resulted in no significant changes to liver weight or body weight when fed to mice, and is not considered adverse to human health. I would still be cautious about feeding these parts to your pig, it is not worth the risk.
What’s most surprising is the discovery of tomatine as a cancer inhibitor. The glycoalkaloid has been found to effectively kill or suppress the growth of human breast, colon, liver, and stomach cancer cells. This study suggests that consumers could benefit from eating high-tomatine green tomatoes, and that there may be a “need” to develop high-tomatine red tomatoes as well (for the treatment of cancer and/or the study of tomatine as an anti-carcinogenic and anti-viral agent).
Read more at http://www.gardenbetty.com/tomato-leaves-the-toxic
Rape, Cabbage, Turnips, Broccoli, Kale, Cauliflower, Mustard (roots and seeds)
(Brassica spp., Thlaspi spp. and Lepidium spp.)
Key descriptive characteristics
Collectively, the mustards have a pungent sulfurous odor. They tend to produce a basal rosette of leaves, and later produce alternate leaves along their stems. Most mustards have yellow flowers with four petals. Some of the common species in Missouri are wild mustard, field pennycress, tansy mustard, yellow rocket and Virginia pepperweed.
Fields, waste ground, pastures, rocky glades and rights-of-way.
Throughout the US.
All parts of the brassica oleracea, especially seeds contain isoallyl thiocyanates, irritant oils, and under some conditions, nitrates. Roots and seeds from all of the derivatives (green leafy vegetables).
Oral and gastrointestinal irritation is most common leading to head shaking, salivating, colic, abdominal pain, vomiting and possibly diarrhea. Generally, for problems to occur, large quantities have to be consumed over a period of time.
Other pet foods...
Specifically dog food, cat food and chicken scratch. These pet foods contain a much higher amount of sodium and when combined with lack of fresh water, this can end in tragedy. Yes it is true some uneducated people feed their pigs only dog food, yes it is true these pigs have survived years like this, but no, it is not true that this is ok. It is NOT ok to feed pigs just any kind of food.
The reason we suggest feeding pigs "mini pig specific" food is because this food was designed to provide pigs with all the essential nutrients and vitamins that a pig needs to build strong immunity, healthy bones and organs and allow them to thrive and grow at a nice steady pace. When fed correctly and given proper amounts of "extras" all balanced with their activity levels, your pig should lead a long and healthy life nutrition wise.
When pigs are fed diets designed for other species of animals, they are not getting what pigs need in the way of nutrition, they're getting food that was created to keep a dog healthy or a cat healthy. As you know, a cat and a pig are 2 totally different animals and each one has their own nutritional needs. A pigs needs are NOT met using a type of food made for another species. There are extreme cases when a vet will "prescribe" wet dog food for a sick pig, but this is not the norm. This should only be fed as directed by your vet, if needed.
Fava beans, Vicia faba, are a common human food in the Mediterranean regions of Europe. Their potential as a protein supplement for livestock is being explored in the U.S. and Canada. However, fava beans contain the glycosides vicine and covicine. These glycosides hamper the development of fava beans as a worldwide food and feed crop because they cause a disease called favism in people who have an inherited absence of the enzyme glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) in their red blood cells.
In people who lack G6PD, divicine, the aglycone of vicine, and isouramil, the aglycone of covicine, cause acute hemolytic anemia either by direct action on the red cell membranes or by producing hydrogen peroxide which in turn breaks down red cell membranes.
The incidence of this genetic deficiency is as high as 50% in some populations. So, again, better to be safe than sorry. With 1/2 chance of this causing these kinds of reactions in pigs, I prefer to steer clear of it.
It is probably strange to see lead poisoning on this list...but there is a reason. This article provides information on lead poisioning in humans as well as domestic animal populations. Sections include sources of lead in houses and barns, environmental contaminationand some of its' causes, toxic levels in children and animals, symptoms of toxicity and links to related sites of information.
With the relatively recent restrictions on the use of lead based paints, one of the largest sources of lead poisioning has been greatly reduced. These paints are still present in houses, garages, barns, on fences and furniture. The prevalence of lead in the world around us is still a significant health hazard, especially to certain "at risk" portions of human and animal populations. Although adults are susceptible to lead poisoning, children and newborns are most susceptible because of lower tolerance levels and the tendency to introduce foreign objects into the body.
Sources In the Home
Although lead paint chips are still the most common source of acute lead poisoning, candy wrappers and food packaging are of particular concern because they are in direct contact with immediately consumed items. It is important to keep these items from being consumed, chewed or licked. We know pigs will eat paper or wrapper, so you will need to take special precautions with regard to your pig having access to certain items that have known lead particles.
Toxic Levels In Animals
Symptoms of Toxicity
The general symptoms of lead poisoning are universal although more informaton is available on poisoning in humans. The first symptoms of lead toxicity are very general and nonspecific. These include nausea, sluggishness, vomiting, painful gastrointestinal irritation, diarrhea, loss of appetite, colic, weakness and dehydration. These symptoms are common to many disorders and can often lead to inaccurate diagnosis.
Some symptoms more specific to human poisoning include discoloration of the lips and skin attributed mild secondary anemia, a lead line on the gums, developmental disorders, sterility and abortion. There have also been some prelimiunary reports indicating that chronic lead poisoning can also lead to chronic nephritis and premature development of arteriosclerosis. As you can see, it isn't often that pigs are effected by this, but definitely something to consider and keep in mind.
More severe cases of poisoning can produce symptoms including convulsions,"wrist drop" or external limb paralysis, coma and ultimately death.
Immature plants have higher cyanide levels than mature plants or ripe seeds. Linseed cake should not be fed in large amounts to hungry animals. Large amounts fed for a long time can build up cyanide over time. LARGE amounts, typically this is hungry pigs with unlimited access to areas where this is grown, not adding a teaspoon a day to your pigs feed. If you are feeding small amounts daily, this is NOT going to pose any health problems.
Is it the avocado leaves, the pit or the skin that was toxic? Or is it toxic at all?
This much is true: Parts of an avocado contain an oil-soluble toxin called persin. Specifically, the fruit’s seed, bark and leaves are composed of this toxic, fatty acid derivative.
“Dogs and cats don’t seem to be affected by persin,” explains Lee. “However, birds and large animals (such as horses, pigs and cattle) have issues with persin toxicity, as it can be deadly in these species.
“The bigger risk to some animals is the foreign body obstruction that can occur when the avocado seed is ingested—it’s a large seed and can get stuck in the esophagus, stomach or intestinal tract.”
Oak Leaves And Acorns
Whilst ruminants are more susceptible to acorn poisoning, outdoor pigs may be affected occasionally. Young oak leaves or green acorns are the major sources and signs are seen two to three days after ingestion. These include abdominal pain and constipation followed by haemorrhagic diarrhea. The kidneys may also be affected.
I had a pig that was diagnosed with acorn toxicity. His urine was brown in color and according to the blood tests, the liver enzymes were elevated. He was removed from the acorn source and when his urine was clear again (about 2 weeks after the acorns were removed), the blood was drawn again and lab results revealed a downward trend and was on the way to returning back to normal.
It's a lot easier to simply pick up the acorns than nurse a sick pig back to health. Some say acorns are not toxic to pigs, I disagree. The toxins in oak are called gallotoxins and are converted in the body to tannic acid, gallic acid and pyrogallol, all of which are very toxic to the kidney. It is the resulting kidney failure that causes the clinical signs. Typically, a significant amount of oak needs to be consumed over a period of time before clinical signs appear. Signs can develop over 2 to 14 days, or signs may be present with the animals becoming progressively worse over many weeks.
You can click here to read more about this on our website.
NEVER feed pigs any nuts in a shell with the exception of unsalted peanuts. That is the only acceptable type of nut that should be fed still in a shell. ALL other nuts in a shell can be dangerous because these shells are hard and can tear any part of the GI tract as they're chewed up and swallowed.
Raw Almonds- Almonds are actually the seed of a fruit from the almond tree. Much like other fruits, this fruit has a seed that contains cyanide which when eaten in large quantities, can build up to a toxic level and cause problems. Store bought almonds have been heat treated and do not post a threat. This is raw almonds that can pose a health problem.
Raw Cashews- The true fruit of the cashew tree is a kidney or boxing-glove shaped drupe that grows at the end of the cashew apple. The drupe develops first on the tree, and then the pedicel expands to become the cashew apple. Within the true fruit is a single seed, which is often considered a nut, in the culinary sense. The seed is surrounded by a double shell containing an allergenic phenolic resin, anacardic acid, a potent skin irritant chemically related to the better-known allergenic oil urushiol which is also a toxin found in the related poison ivy. Properly roasting cashews destroys the toxin, but it must be done outdoors as the smoke (not unlike that from burning poison ivy) contains urushiol droplets which can cause severe, sometimes life-threatening, reactions by irritating the lungs.
The store bought versions of these nuts are NOT dangerous to the health and they've been treated through the heating process that destroys the toxin. However, if you choose to add nuts into your pigs diet, you will need to be sure they're unsalted and not in a shell.
In 1983, there was a report in California that several people became acutely ill after drinking juice served at a religious event. It all stemmed from elderberry poisoning. For this specific occurrence, bunches of berries were crushed with their leaves and branches in a stainless-steel press and left overnight for the following day.
The editorial note written in the same CDC warning. "The berries are juicy and edible when mature. The cooked berries are commonly eaten in pies and jams, and berry juice can be fermented into wine. The fresh leaves, flowers, bark, young buds, and roots contain a bitter alkaloid and also a glucoside that, under certain conditions, can produce hydrocyanic acid. The amount of acid produced is usually greatest in young leaves. There may be other toxic constituents in this plant. The root is probably the most poisonous and may be responsible for occasional pig deaths; cattle and sheep have died after eating leaves and young shoots."
Moldy foods of any kind
The term mycotoxin means “poison from a fungi.” Only about 60 of the 200,000 known species of molds have been shown to harm humans or livestock. These fungi grow on virtually all of the small grains, including wheat, oats, barley and, of course, corn, the main source of pig feed. Grains such as corn, wheat, and barley may be easily contaminated with molds. Mycotoxicosis refers to poisoning due to the ingestion of mycotoxins. This condition can cause lower resistance to diseases, increased sensitivity to stress, and damage to vital organs, such as the liver and kidney. Ultimately, this may lead to mortalities and poor production performance.
Moldy or damaged grain
You can feed livestock moldy or damaged grain that is not acceptable for human food. Evaluate these feeds on a case-by-case basis, following some general guidelines:
In the small amounts needed for seasoning food, you can safely add nutmeg to dishes and drinks, but unpleasant side effects occur if you eat just 1 tbsp. of the ground nut powder on an empty stomach, according to the Utah Poison Control Center. Nutmeg poisoning became more common from the 1960s onward as drug enthusiasts sought cheap legal hallucinogenics.
From 1 to 3 tbsp. of nutmeg powder, or 1 to 3 whole nutmeg seeds, causes illness in most people.The drug's effects begin 2 to 6 hours after ingestion, and the delay causes some users to take an extra dose.
Raw Bread Dough:
Raw bread dough made with yeast poses mechanical and biochemical hazards when ingested, including gastric distention, metabolic acidosis, and CNS depression. Although any species is susceptible, dogs are most commonly involved because of their indiscriminate eating habits. We all know pigs will also not discriminate foods and will sample them equally.
With recent ingestions in asymptomatic animals, emesis may be attempted, although the glutinous nature of bread dough may make removal via emesis difficult. In animals in which emesis (whether induced or spontaneous) has been unsuccessful, gastric lavage may be attempted. Cold water introduced into the stomach may slow the rate of yeast fermentation and aid in dough removal. In rare cases, surgical removal of the dough mass may be required. Animals presenting with signs of alcohol toxicosis should be stabilized and any life-threatening conditions corrected before attempts to remove the dough are made.
Foods that shouldn't be fed to pigs. Some of these foods have been labeled "toxic" to pigs, but are not truly "toxic". Here are the reasons why they should not be fed to pigs.
Onions: It has been said that onions shouldn't be fed to pigs due to possibly tainting the meat of a pig due to be slaughtered, since potbelly pigs aren't used as a food source, onions aren't truly toxic to them. For other species, like horses, goats/sheep, cattle, cats and dogs, we can see ingestion of large volumes of onion (ALLIUM sp.) can be toxic. In these species, onions can induce a hemolytic anemia. And this can give us signs of anorexia, lethargy, GI upset (vomiting/diarrhea), elevated heart rates, respiratory difficulties bluish gums and collapse. For pigs specifically? Possibly GI upset and maybe gas.
Chocolate: Chocolate is NOT toxic to pigs as it is to dogs. Pigs can process the theobromine in chocolate since their GI system is much like a humans'. So although we do not encourage feeding your pig sugary foods or stimulants, chocolate will not hurt them if eaten accidentally.
Salt: Salt in itself is not toxic to pigs. Pigs need a certain amount of sodium in the body for normal function.It is the after effect and water deprivation that causes the reaction. When pigs eat sodium rich foods and there is no fresh water available, once it is offered or available, pigs tend to drink too much causing a systemic reaction leading to parts of the brain swelling and causing neurological problems. When hydrated properly, or having fresh water available, typically pigs do not have any issue. It is discouraged to purposely give pigs foods high in sodium just to be on the safe side though. Click here to read more about salt toxicity/water deprivation.
Bones of any kind: Bones can splinter and cause lacerations anywhere in the GI tract. Cooked or not, bones should never be fed to your pig.
Meat and meat products: In some countries, it is illegal to feed meat to pigs. These types of food are linked to diseases such as foot and mouth (FMD). Granted this is more of a problem in production pigs, miniature pigs could also contract these diseases. The last outbreak of FMD was 1929. Here is the quote "The US saw its latest FMD outbreak in Montebello, California in 1929. This outbreak originated in hogs that had eaten infected meat scraps from a tourist steamship that had stocked meat in Argentina....".
Fatty foods: Fatty foods can cause pancreatitis. This study done using pigs fed a low protein diet showed there were effects on the liver. Had the study continued, I am certain some degree of liver insufficiency or failure would have been identified.
Artifical sweetners: While these are not considered to be "toxic", you should limit the amount of artifical sweeteners you feed your pig for a number of reasons. Known facts about artificial sweeteners. Just because it’s on the shelf does not mean it’s been studied or should be presumed to be non-toxic. We know that sugar is toxic, but what about the popular sugar alternative, Splenda? Turns out it was FDA approved based on 110 studies, two of which were in humans, with one of those two only spanning four days and being run by the manufacturer. When we don’t objectively assess safety (including placebo-controlled, medium, and long-term trials), consumers become the subjects. Here are the results of a recent reportcondemning this toxin:
Chewing gum: Aspartame in gum is absorbed by the buccal mucosa of the mouth, gums, and the tongue. According to research, because aspartame is absorbed this way, it makes aspartame a far worse poisoning than if given or injected intravenously. The aspartame goes directly into the brain by passing the spinal cord and the blood-brain barrier when it is absorbed in the mouth. The smallest amount of aspartame (like what is contained in a piece of gum) is very dangerous and damaging to the health of the body.
When aspartame is ingested into the digestive tract, it breaks down into numerous other poisons. The intact Aspartame molecule and its diketopiperazine form are vastly worse poisonings than any of the other poisonings which arise from it during digestion, and liver processing of the digestive blood, which is delivered directly to the liver via the portal vein. The other poisonings, as mentioned, are indeed horrendous but Aspartame from gum is far worse, making even the smaller amounts contained in chewing gum strikingly dangerous and damaging.
Aspartame, via ingestion into the digestive tract, is made into some ten other poisonings by the digestive processes, and then excepting that which is delivered directly to the pancreas, they are transported straight to the liver via the portal vein, where they then are very partially dealt with, and partially reprocessed. Afterwards, they are sent in somewhat lesser concentration to the entire body, lessening the amount which eventually goes to the brain. The amount getting to the brain from either source is devastating to it in many ways. Aspartame is most certainly devastatingly toxic when ingested, but a like amount is immensely worse when obtained from chewing gum.
If you'd like to avoid aspartame, please keep in mind that it's not only in chewing gum. It is a common ingredient in many packaged foods and beverages, particularly those that are marketed as being sugar-free or low in calories. Examples include sugar-free or low calorie:
Sugary foods or high in sugar should be avoided for obvious reasons. Pigs aren't known for their ability to lose massive amounts of weight by exercise, they're known more for animals that gain weight super easy and hard to diet. Weight loss takes MONTHS. It is best not to put your pig in a position to gain massive amounts of weight because it is so hard for them to lose it.
Caffine is a stimulant. However, it appears like caffeine given to pigs affects reproductive ability and also triggers PSS (porcine stress syndrome) in pigs who are susceptible to that genetic disorder.
Read more about the effects of caffeine in this research study by clicking here.
To read more about what these foods can do, you can read more by clicking these links below:
Coffee and the effects on pigs: http://www.scielo.br/scielo.phpcaffine
I promise to love and care for you until the day you die and then I promise to honor your memory. If I should die first, I promise that I will ensure you have a safe and loving home to go to.
I promise to do my research before I bring you home. I realize I do not "know it all" and I promise to keep researching and learning even after you are here.
I promise to make sure you’re allowed in my city, before I bring you home. However, if there comes a time that I need to, I promise to fight to keep you at home.
I promise to pig proof my home so you don’t have the opportunity to get sick or hurt because I failed to keep those things away from you.
I promise to treat you like any other member of our family.
I promise not to send you away when you reach a weight I wasn’t expecting, but I also promise to make accommodations for you to live comfortably.
I promise you will always be treated with dignity and respect.
I promise to make time for you and not decide one day that you need more time than I can give. I understand that you need love and socialization and have dedicated time to spend with you.
I promise that even though I may not be prepared for the challenges that will arise once you get here, I will work hard at finding a solution to make it work.
I promise not to move and leave you behind.
I promise if something goes wrong, I will do my best to make it right.
I promise if you get sick, I will do whatever I can to help you get better. I also promise that if it is late at night or a holiday, I will find someone to help you.
I promise to be prepared for emergencies and have basic supplies on hand.
I promise if I decide to have a baby, you will be a big brother or sister, you will not have to leave.
I promise you will not be confused by hormones because I will spay or neuter you.
I promise to not misrepresent you and to educate others about pigs.
I promise not to give you as a gift for someone who doesn’t know anything about you because I know that isn’t fair to you.
I promise that I will not get upset because you destroy things in my home, I realize that you are likely bored and I promise to make sure you have activities and toys to keep you occupied.
I promise if someone hurts you, I will hunt them down and will not stop until they have been punished. But, I also promise to try my best at not putting you in a position for that to happen.
I promise not to get mad at you for digging up the brand new sod because I understand you are a pig.
I promise not to hit you because I know you do not understand that type of discipline, but I promise I will seek help on how to teach you right from wrong.
I promise to help you learn and not to get mad at you because I failed to train you.
I promise to keep you free from harm and safe from predators while you play outside in the yard. I also promise to give you a yard so you can dig, root and be a pig.
I promise to watch your diet and try my best to keep you from getting crippling arthritis or becoming fat blind due to my lack of understanding regarding proper pig nutrition and allowed you to get overweight. In the same realm, I also promise that you will not go hungry and I will not limit your food in a pathetic attempt to keep you piglet sized because I know by doing this, I am shortening your life by years and even worse, that is abusive.
I promise that you will not be cold on chilly nights and you will always have a warm place to lay your head at night. I also promise that you will have a way to cool down on those hot summer days and a place to go where it is cooler or shaded.
I promise not to just leave you outside and never come to talk to you, I know you need interaction and understand you need me as much as I need you.
Since we are making promises...I promise to have a fresh box of Cheerios every 2 weeks and plenty of other treats because I know you love them. And I promise to try and be on time for meals.
I cannot promise everything will be perfect, but I can promise I will try my best to give you a great life.
While you were reading this, it's more than likely at least 2 people have already broken at least 1 of these promises. Keep your promises. If you cannot make these promises an keep them, you should not get a pig.
I do not want to add much to this story shared by one of our piggy friends, it's absolutely amazing as it is, but I do want to stress adoption. Adopting a pig in need of a home is admirable. Ultimately, the pigs you see being advertised for thousands of dollars are the same unwanted pigs being advertised for free in some places. Since the media has come to love piglets and often use them in movies and commercials, the pet pig trend isn't going anywhere and the sheer number of unwanted pigs outnumbers the number of homes desiring to add a pig to the family by the hundreds. This is Lindsey Grambley's sad story about the loss of her first pig and the happy ending with her unplanned adoption of a pig that was in need of a new home. Don't discount a pig because someone else didn't want them, remember, most of the time, it's a matter of no longer wanting the responsibility or the lack of knowledge on how to care for a pig that leads someone to look for a new home. Pigs are misunderstood and end up paying the price for that. Phin is one of the lucky pigs who has found a great home with an educated family!
" I just adopted my first pig, and I just wanted to share our story! I hope more pigs are able to find their forever homes too and people are able to see the value in adopting.
I wanted a pet pig for years. Literally YEARS. I did the responsible thing and waited until the timing was right, just as I would have done had I decided to get a dog or any other animal. When I decided the time had finally come, the idea of adopting never crossed my mind, and I went to a breeder to find him. After I brought this cute little baby pig home, I quickly learned that I had no idea what I was doing. After this realization, I set out to learn as much as possible so that Ernie would not only have a great life, but also so Seth and I would not go insane! I joined a lot of “pig groups” on Facebook, where I learned a lot of invaluable information and advice regarding how to properly raise Ernie and how to handle certain behaviors. During this research, I also learned that there is a serious “pig” epidemic. In my area alone, there are literally hundreds of pigs that are constantly being abandoned or given up for adoption. This usually happens because people do not know how to properly prepare for such a big undertaking, or even worse, their pig ends up being much larger than the advertised “teacup” size they were promised and once the “cuteness factor” wears off, people abandon these sweet, intelligent, and very emotional little babies. I guess you can say Seth and I “got lucky” because Ernie did not end up being a 250 pound pig - but even if he had- there is no way I could have EVER given him up.
Once I realized the real graveness of the pig abandonment situation, I vowed, that when we moved to our new house, I would find Ernie a brother or sister and eventually help foster and rescue pigs (and other animals too). Unfortunately, Ernie had health issues (that I contribute to irresponsible breeding) and we lost him after only a few years. Ernie was the biggest pain in the butt because he was spoiled rotten, but he had so much personality and he absolutely loved the life we gave him. Losing him was literally like losing a piece of myself. Ernie was my baby, my sidekick, and my best friend. Seth doesn’t like to admit it publicly, but he felt the same way. I am even crying as I write this because I miss him so much! Even during this heartache, I knew one day I would get another pig when the timing was right, and I would hold true to my vow that I would adopt, rather than buying a baby through a breeder, simply because of the number of pigs that are in need of true forever homes. Seth and I agreed that we would wait, not only because we were so heartbroken, but also because we thought it would be best until we moved to our new house.
I guess you can say, that last part didn’t exactly go as planned…
Everybody- meet Phineas, or as we will call him “Phin”. Phin officially joined our family yesterday, and he traveled all the way from Virginia to be with us. I saw a posting for Phin on Pre-Loved Pigs, and I instantly knew that I wanted to give him his forever home. Phin is 4 1/2 years old and was abandoned by his previous owner. He had previously been to educational events, nursing homes and petting zoos so he is very socialized, and I think he will really like all the adventures that we have in store for him. I’m not quite sure if he is potty trained, but so far he hasn’t had an accident and is loving all the clover in our yard. He is the most gentle pig I have EVER met, very well behaved, and even though he is still settling into his new home, I can tell he is happy! This morning, he started to let his personality shine and he even greeted me with some “hot panting”, which is a sign of fondness and a way of saying hello. He loves to be scratched, especially behind his ears and under his chin. If I stop scratching, he will nudge me and encourage me to continue. It’s beyond adorable. It will take him a little bit of time to adjust, and I need to work with him on few things such as training him how to use the stairs and getting him into a routine, but I cannot wait for everybody to meet this sweet boy. I am eagerly anticipating the day where he wants to cuddle next to me. Ernie can never be replaced and his memory will forever live on with us, but my heart is happy and I am honored to finally bring home Ernie’s brother and give this guy the forever home that he deserves."
Story written by Lindsey Grambley
Sleep apnea in pigs
There have been studies done using Yucatan pigs to demonstrate sleep apnea, or the absence of breathing during the sleep cycle. Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by blockage of the upper respiratory airways in which the throat muscles collapse, the tongue falls back into the airway, or enlarged tonsils and/or adenoids impede airflow. When your airway becomes cutoff, the brain has to wake itself to signal the respiratory system to kick back into gear. This often leads to breathing resuming with loud gasps, snorts, or body jerks that may wake you from your slumber and disrupt your sleep. When a person or animal is waked multiple times through the night, the body and mind don't get the rest they need to function, leaving them tired and drained during the daytime. This theory has not been tested in other breeds of pigs though that i am able to find. So, is it possible that other breeds suffer from obstructive sleep apnea? I think so, but I am neither a doctor or a pulmonologist.....
The study done was conducted using many different sized pigs, but ONLY the obese pigs were found to have positive sleep studies for sleep apnea. In humans, a doctor would suggest a bipap or CPAP apparatus/machine to be used during sleep to help deliver and perfuse the oxygen throughout the body. During an apnea event (pause in breathing) the oxygen levels in your blood drop significantly. When this happens your brain partially wakes from sleep to send signals to the nervous system to constrict the blood vessels (tighten up) in order to increase the flow of oxygen to your heart and brain.
Unfortunately, the increased blood pressure experienced during sleep often begins to overlap into periods of wakefulness. Even though the blood pressure only needs to be increased at night when requiring extra respiratory effort to get oxygen, many people, and presumably animals with sleep apnea end up with increased blood pressure at all times. The chronic sleep deprivation that comes with sleep apnea results in daytime sleepiness, slow reflexes, poor concentration, and an increased risk of accidents. Sleep apnea can also lead to serious health problems over time, including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and weight gain. But with treatment, it can control the symptoms, get sleep back on track, and start enjoying being refreshed and alert every day. With pigs, this may be very difficult though. To find an organization willing to test and treat would likely be impossible. Besides overall exhaustion, in people, its been proven to be the cause of behavioral issues and inability to concentrate as well, possibly as a result of being overtired, but nonetheless, this can be avoided by controlling the weight in overweight pigs.
It makes sense that that these giant pink creatures that spend most of their rotund lives on their sides also have sleep apnea, but the truth is that only one species of pig is scientifically known to have sleep apnea – the Yucatan miniature pig. However, they only get sleep apnea when they become morbidly obese, which is apparently quite easy for them to do, because they have no idea how to regulate their feeding patterns. Surprisingly, these little pigs are the smallest species of pig in the world. Originally, Yucatan miniature pigs were used for medical research in Europe, but over the last decade they have made their way into the hearts of the American people, because it turns out that they make great pets and they are extremely smart – just don’t let them eat too much. (Last paragraph from CPAPtimes.com)
There are 3 types of sleep apnea:
When your blood pressure increases at night to keep oxygen flowing to your heart and brain, it causes high blood pressure during sleep. Most people's blood pressure drops ten to twenty percent during sleep, but many patients with sleep apnea show an increase in blood pressure of 10-20%. They haven't done studies in pigs to see if or how this is affected. But going by that theory, if a pig has sleep apnea and is already obese, your pig would be at risk for CVA (cerebral vascular accident or stroke) due to high blood pressure as well.
High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, heart attack, and many other medical problems, and sleep apnea is a major risk for high blood pressure.
Here is the actual research study done with pigs proving that obese pigs are at risk. Overall, the take away message is to control obesity. It is highly unlikely that a pig will tolerate a CPAP mask at night to ensure the body is getting the appropriate oxygenation it needs to function appropriately. If your pig is overweight, put your pig on a diet and help to lessen the chances of an early death. This isn't likely anything to be too concerned about, but something to be aware of.
The take away from this blog? Keep your pig at a healthy size. Too small and they can suffer from malnutrition and deformities, too fat and they can become fat blind, deaf and possibly suffer from chronic forms of hypoxia which can lead to much worse conditions. This is all opinion based, of course. There are no studies (that I have been able to find) that have been done on the potbellied pig/mini pig, but I assume, based on my medical background, that it could happen. Click here to see what healthy versus unhealthy pigs look like and for the body scoring charts that are used as a standard.
What would your pig say if he or she could talk in order to pick up a pig of the opposite sex? We thought these were amusing.
We asked some of our followers how it came to be that they added a pig to their family and we will be featuring these stories as guest bloggers. This is Erica's story about Herman, the pig that changed her life. Let me add, this is one amazing family. Although they knew nothing about pigs when they got Herman Julian, they vowed to learn about the care of pigs. Herman is one of the lucky ones that bypassed his first birthday and stayed in his home. Bypassed his second and third birthday and stayed in his home. Erica is also a "don't bottle feed piglet" advocate and shares her terrifying story when others are suggesting that it's ok to get a 2 week old pig. Thank you for all you do Erica!
I wanted a pig since I was a young kid. I collected EVERYTHING pig oriented. 30 years later I heard a pet store, about an hour from me, had them. I HAD to go see them. Upon entering the store I saw 4 of them in a gated enclosure. They all seemed bigger than I imagined they would be. I was under the false understanding, like most, that these pigs would stay small. I decided that I would have to think things over and come back. I knew I still wanted one, but it made me realize I needed to learn a lot more about them.
After my friend and I left the store we stopped for gas. On entering the store a young man was holding the tiniest little pig. I thought this was a sign. I went and talked to him for a while, and held the baby in my arms. I fell in love! He told me the story of his pig. There was a local "zoo" that had them for sale. He told me that most of them passed away due to malnutrition and the mother not taking care of them. He gave me directions to this "zoo" and my friend and I were on our way.
As we pulled up to the place, I was horrified. It was a dilapidated barn with the roof caving in, and an old farmhouse. We proceeded with caution. Right away I saw him! Just him... in a small rabbit cage turned upside down. No food, no water. Only the ground underneath him. I proceeded to get him out. I had to! My friend told me to stop, and he'd look for the person who ran the place. There were cats and chickens everywhere roaming around. My friend proceeded to the farmhouse porch, when a large coonhound ran at him barking and showing his teeth. It almost seemed like a nightmare. All of a sudden an old man came from the house. He called his dog off and came to talk with us. He told me the story of Herman and his brothers and sisters. Only Herm and 2 of his sisters made it. He told me Herm was 6 weeks old and ready to go. He walked us around the horrifying zoo. Animals everywhere, from huge tortoises to coatimundi. They all looked so sad. Small cages. I tried to hide my tears. The man saw and explained to me that he was getting older, and the zoo was getting harder. His kids used to help, but all moved away. He wanted to give up the zoo business, so he was selling what he had left. He asked if we wanted to take a ride on his tractor to see the rest of the animals. I had to decline. There was no way I could see any more animals in that condition. We discussed Herman and how much he cost. I explained that I did not have cash, and the man made a deal with me. He said I could take him for the night. If I wasn't satisfied, I could return him the next day. If I decided to keep him, I could bring him $50 the next day.
I already knew I was keeping him no matter what, but agreed that I would do that. The first night... well actually month was HELL. He would scream all night. He didn't eat. I thought it was because he was scared, and I planned to do research the next day. When we returned the next day to give the man the payment I decided to wait in the car with Herman. I couldn't stand to see anymore of the zoo. When my friend returned he told me the man was very gracious that we returned to give him money. He said he assumed we wouldn't. He also let me know that Herman was in fact 2 weeks old, and not 6 like the man told us the day before! I started my research the moment I got home. My first lesson was learning Herm shouldn't have even left his mom. He wouldn't eat. For a whole week, Herm wouldn't eat! I tried everything, even a bottle. Which now learning from our pig group could have been his death sentence. He was so small, and would just lay in his bed, or mine and scream constantly. It finally came the time where I thought he wasn't going to make it. I knew I had to do something. I made a combination of baby rice cereal and goats milk. It was like Herman already knew that it would be delicious. He jumped up and gobbled it up! It made me so happy!!!
It has been heaven and hell with Herman, but I love him. He is my family. We have gone through so much together, and I wouldn't trade him for anything. I wish I would have known all that I know now; so he would have had a better start. I am just happy he made it through. About a month ago I drove past that old zoo. It still looks like hell, but I don't see as many of the animals as he had before. I hope he retired from that career! I'm just happy that he brought Herman and me together.
Written by: Erica Kaufman
Our names are Brittany Sawyer and Nicole Cox and we are pig parents, pig advocates and also the authors of the "Dear Pig Whisperer" blog. Follow our blog that will feature topics to help you become the best pig parent you can be...along with some other fun things. We will also feature guest bloggers from time to time who want to share their life experience or knowledge with anyone who is interested in learning.