Unlike cats or dogs, pigs do not have nails. They have hooves. Keeping your pigs hooves trimmed is a very important aspect of caring for your pig. As part of socializing your pig and desensitizing them to touch, its important to include their feet and hooves. The more you touch them, the easier it will be to care for them. If you are not prepared to do hoof and tusk trimming, we recommend that you find a farrier or a vet that can do this for you before taking your new pig home. Get to know the anatomy of your pigs hooves. Observe and touch them from different angles. Learn which parts are hard and soft. The more of the anatomy you are familiar with, the more successful and confident you will be in trimming their hooves.
Make sure your pig is comfortable on their side with a belly rub and check their hooves. Remove any dirt or debris between their toes. Identify the hard and soft tissue and begin trimming down the excess hard “nail.” Shape the nail parallel to the heel and tow. Gently trim down the of the heel or soft pad. Use a large file to smooth the rough edges. Don’t forget to do the two dew claws as well, though be aware the soft tissue inside and don’t trim too short.
Tusk Trimming & Dental Care
Just like people, regular dental care is important to the health of your pig. Though most pigs take care of their own teeth through their natural food and toys, you may want to give them a boost by brushing their teeth. When they are young, include touching their mouth, teeth and introducing a toothbrush to your desensitizing routine. A wash cloth, human or pet toothbrush and fluoride free toothpaste or baking soda is all you need to get started. DO NOT USE FLUORIDE TOOTHPASTE FOR PIGS. They cannot spit it out and in excessive amounts, it is toxic.
You’ll find that pigs and children share a lot similar developments and one of them is teething. Pigs start teething at around a year old. Like a child, your pig may be grumpy, drool or grind their teeth during teething. You can provide some relief for your pig with some simple natural food remedies. Ice cubes made with fruit, veggies, apple sauce, yogurt, pureed pumpkin or any combination of these will make a great treat for a teething pig.
Do NOT give your pigs greenies or rawhide or any product meant for dogs. If the teething is really bad, you may give buffered aspirin WITH FOOD for no more then three days. 5mg per pound of body weight twice a day. It must be buffered and you must give it with food. Do not give to a pig that isn’t eating or that had just had surgery. Seek veterinary care if your pig isn’t eating or drinking, or if the discomfort or pain is not resolved with medicine or within three days.
You may find teeth or fragments of teeth on the floor, don’t be alarmed! These are the baby teeth falling out and making room for the adult teeth.
Piglets are born with a set of very sharp teeth called needle teeth. A breeder or rescue may have these clipped before sending the piglet home, but some do not. If they are causing problems for your family, such as piglets tearing each other up, you may want to talk to your vet about getting them clipped. This is not strictly necessary however if it isn’t causing problems for anyone. They are baby teeth that eventually fall out.
Fun fact: both male and female pigs have tusks! A pigs tusks are rooted in their jawbone and removal would require surgery. We do NOT recommend tusk removal unless absolutely necessary as there is a risk of fracturing the jawbone and causing lifetime injury. We recommend regular tusk trimming by your vet instead. Tusk growth is encouraged by testosterone. Intact males will have the fastest tusk growth, filled by neutered males, intact females then spayed females. Most females never need trimmings as their tusks do not grow long enough. Some people choose to leave their pigs tusks as they are, but this can be impractical and even dangerous for a pet pig. How often you choose to trim your pigs tusks will depend on a variety of factors: how fast your pigs tusks grow, how much damage your pig does with their tusks and your individual pig.
Talk with your vet about regular tusk trims and make a schedule to keep your pigs tusks in good health. Once yearly and then as as as-need basis is a good place to start.
Your pig’s skin depends on good diet first and foremost, the proper environment and skin care to maintain health. Most of the time, your pig’s skin health will be taken care of through feeding proper mini pig pellet food. If your pigs skin is bad enough to need treatment, supplements may be recommended by your vet. Expect to see improvement after 6-8 weeks of treatment.
Pigs love to root and back scratch and rub on everything! It's very important to make sure their environment is a safe place for them to do this. Inspect your yard and home for anything sharp (glass, nails, jagged wood, wire etc) that may cause injury to your pig. This is a good thing to do periodically, as well as check for toxic plants or substances that your pig might be able to gain access to. They are very intelligent and resourceful animals. If they want to get into it, they will!
Another thing to think about is sunburn. Pigs can get sunburnt just like people. Providing shade and a mud pool in your yard help prevent sunburn, but it is a good idea to have children’s sunscreen on hand. Apply it every 30 minutes or so while your pig is outside.
Bathing & Lotion
Most pigs love baths! Use a gentle soap, such as infants soap, and make sure to rinse completely. Be careful not to over bathe as this can cause dry skin. Brushing, forking and lotion are all great ways to treat temporary dryness. Use a mild, scent free lotion and try on a small area of skin first to test for allergic reaction. Coconut oil can also be used as a lotion.