Priceless babies, in less than two years become unwanted adults or go to slaughter.
Pre and Post Surgical Care for Spays/Neuters
You are taking a very compassionate action when you spay and neuter your pigs. Unspayed females usually (>80%) will develop cancer and males are totally driven by desires they cannot satisfy, making their lives ones of constant unhappiness. Also cancers of the testicles are very common. So spaying and neutering are appropriate actions to take. But they are not without risk. We recommend only those vets who we know have experience and will provide the appropriate surgical and anesthesia protocols for the safety of the pigs. This includes hospitalization if the vet feels it appropriate and pain medication after the surgery.
Males: Neutering the male is less invasive and usually less stressful and quicker recovery time is to be expected. Males may be neutered leaving the site open to drain or sutured. Usually the process can be done with only an injectible anesthesia and a one day recovery is expected. Sometimes males are cryptorchids, meaning that one or more testicles is not outside the body cavity but is inside the abdomen. When this occurs the surgery becomes similar in stress and invasive procedures to a spay and recovery is similar.
When released the same day as surgery, the piggy should be kept inside a reasonably well controlled temperate environment on clean straw or blankets. He will have some difficulty in regulating his body temperature so temperatures below 50 or above 80 can be dangerous. Give him food and water and let him recover without activity or stimulation. Leave him alone for the night. An enteric coated aspirin or a Rimadyl (from the vet) can be given for pain.
His boarish behavior will slowly decline over the next few days and weeks until it is completely gone. Some take longer than others. Once neutered he cannot breed, even though he goes through the physical actions, he will not impregnate a female. He will however continue to be a problem around females and other males for some time. If castration site is open, you may want to spray the wound site occasionally as it heals, either with water from a hose gently (irrigating and flushing away dirt and debris) or with antibacterial solution such as peroxide in a spray bottle. Check the site for signs of infection or an abscess forming after 3, 5 days and 10 days. Watch him for signs of discomfort or pain, dragging his butt on the ground or rubbing against objects. Call the vet or take him in at any sign of illness, he should not refuse to eat after the first day.
Females: A spay surgery should not be undertaken on an obese, nutritionally compromised or ill pig unless advised by a veterinarian as a life saving attempt. Pigs can undergo spays well into old age if in good health and condition. Some risks are inherent to all spays. Spay surgery requires an injectible sedation to knock them out, followed by a gas anesthesia for the balance of the surgery. Gas is much safer than injectibles and many vets reverse the injectible drug as soon as they go under to minimize the time spent under its influence.
When in heat she will have a visibly swollen vulva (right below the tail and rectum ) and her behavior will by very ďpushyĒ, jumping up on you and sometimes biting at your clothes. Schedule her surgery for a week to 10 days after you see her heat cycle begin.Spays are more complex and carry much greater risk if the pig is pregnant or in heat. Watching your pigís cycle to determine a safe time to schedule the spay is essential. She will come in heat every 21 days. It will last 3 to 5 days.
We recommend a diet of bran cereal well wetted with water or juice, and fresh fruits and vegetables for 2 days prior to surgery. This puts soft wet bulk into her intestines so pain wonít be a deterrent to her having bowel movements after surgery. Retained hard feces only complicate the recovery and gives her a lot of extra pain. Continue the special diet for a few days after surgery and add some Gatorade to her diet for the first day or two.
She should be put in a dry and temperature controlled environment. Clean bedding of straw or blankets. Do not use shavings or hay. She will have some difficulty in regulating her body temperature so temperatures below 50 or above 80 can be dangerous. Do not put her into an area with other animals. She needs a week of recovery time before making any sudden strenuous moves that association with other animals can bring on. Keep her inside or in a stall or private pen for a week to 10 days. Observe the wound for any sign of swelling or heat or bad odor or pus draining. Donít do a lot of poking and prodding as what you feel will mostly be the surgery effects and not a problem. It will just worry you and annoy her. Infection will show in heat, redness, swelling and drainage. Keep her incision sprayed with an antibacterial spary or Wonder Dust for a few days. Check her at 3,5 and 10 days.When bringing her home do not lift her. You can do damage to the interior stitches by lifting or otherwise forcing her . Use a pig board (a 2 foot by 3 foot piece of heavy cardboard will work) to force her into the crate on her own power. If she is still out when you bring her home (And this is NOT recommended) carry her on a stretcher or heavy blanket well supported.
The first day home she should have been given a pain medication by the vet and will likely eat and maybe walk around a bit. The next day she will be in pain and wonít want to eat. Give her enteric coated aspirin (1/2 human dosage) or Rimadyl (from the vet) for pain that day and day 3 only. By day 4 she should be showing no signs of pain or weakness. She may vomit the first day. Any vomiting after that is cause for alarm. The younger the pig the easier the recovery,. Some show no sign of even having been to the vet by the end of the first day. Older pigs or those who are debilitated may be in pain for several days. Pain is visible.. they will shiver as though cold. They will not want to touched.
Do not use aspirin or Rimadyl or any other pain reliever beyond the third day as pigs are extremely susceptible to ulcers. Donít use it at all if they donít have pain.
In 2 weeks they are completely healed inside as well as out. Most vets use stitches that do not require removal.
Once spayed the female will stop the monthly behavior of jumping, whining, biting and will stop trying to get out of fences and digging under gates. She will cease wandering. She cannot become pregnant and she will not die of the many reproductive diseases that her unfortunate cousins who arenít spayed are so likely to get. Donít hesitate to call your vet if you think she has a problem. He wants her to recover as much as you do. Its why he does what he does. No vet works on pots for the money; they could make a whole lot more money with a tenth the work with dogs or horses or any number of easier clients. They work on pots because they are committed to good veterinary medicine and see a need for their care. Call him. He cares.
In the event that you have a medical emergency and cannot reach your own vet we have all the university hospitals listed on our website and most have after hours emergency numbers and on duty staff. If a serious emergency develops it is far better to load the pig in the car and drive 3 hours to competent help than to spend hours trying to find a local vet in the middle of the night who may never have seen a pot bellied pig in his life. Pigs donít give you a lot of time to find options. Seek competent help and go. Do not take medical advice from internet chat lists or sanctuary directors. For plumbing problems you call a plumber, not your sister; for a life threatening pig problem you need a doctor, one with 8 or more years of specialized education, not someone skilled in nursing or general husbandry.
Now that your pigs are altered be sure you are giving them the right food and right environment to be healthy and happy. See the Pig care section of the web site. We are always available to help with behavioral and environmental issues by email.