When I started a piggery on my farm, I had no idea how many diseases and illnesses my pigs were susceptible to contracting. I had to closely monitor my pigs to see if they presented with any warning-bell symptoms when they seemed off.
For peace of mind, I approached my local vet about common pig illnesses. She gave me some good tips on how to avoid certain pig illnesses, what symptoms to look out for, and how to treat them. I wanted to be more hands-on with caring for my sick pig.
So when my 3-year-old piglets broke out in patchy lesions all over their skin. I had all the information from the vet, and I could identify the bacterial disease immediately and get the correct treatment for them.
What common illnesses do pigs suffer?
Pigs suffer from bacterial, viral, and parasitic infections, such as roundworm infestation, leptospirosis, and foot-in-mouth disease.
Diamond Skin Disease, Swine Dysentery, Porcine Rotavirus Infection, and Pseudorables are common to swine. Since some of these illnesses can be confused, it’s important to watch for specific symptoms.
This will help you quickly provide them with the correct treatment for their condition.
Let’s take a closer look at nine common illnesses of a sick pig and the steps you should take to treat them. This guide includes pigs’ bacterial, viral, and parasitic diseases for easy reference.
Signs Your Pig May Be Dying – Or Is In Critical Condition
There are several worrisome signs that your sick pig is dying or is in critical condition. Vomiting, paleness, refusing to drink, twitching, haggard, diarrhea, are signs that your pig is in critical condition. Difficulty breathing, weakness, or high temperatures signal how sick your pig is.
If you notice your pig in distress, it’s critical that you take immediate steps to help your pig. Let’s dive into the most common causes of pig death and illness.
Most Critical Signs A Pig Is Dying:
- Pigs in the same litter or herd start suddenly dying
- Extreme Lethargy
- Refusing to Drink
- High Fever
- Sunken Eyes
- Hunched Over
- Difficulty Breathing (Labored breath or continuous coughing)
- Sudden Weight Loss
Bacterial Pig Diseases And Other Sick Pig Illnesses
Pig bacterial diseases are treated differently than fungal diseases. The medicines for either won’t work on the other illness. So, it’s important to treat your pig with the correct medicine. You may have treated the wrong illness if you don’t see improvement.
Viral pig infections are harder to treat because antibiotics cannot control viruses. The pig’s own immune system has to overcome the virus. But, in some cases, the virus is often accompanied by a secondary disease.
In that case, you may need to treat your pigs with antibiotics, not to cure the original disease but to reduce the risk of secondary illnesses to your pig.
Pig parasites are usually easier to treat and can often be prevented or the effects minimized. Good husbandry is critical in maintaining healthy pigs. Here’s a closer look at three common parasitic diseases of pigs:
1. Leptospirosis in Pigs Causes Weight Loss and Weak Piglets
If your pig is sick with Leptospirosis, you might not see any signs of the illness until the piglets start dying.
Abortions, stillbirths, and reproductive problems in pigs are all brought on by the widespread bacterial disease leptospirosis. Spirochaetes, a class of bacteria with spiral shapes, are the culprits. Adult pigs are the main target of leptospirosis. Sadly, a pig can have an abortion or give birth to weak piglets that pass away soon after birth within 1 to 4 weeks of becoming infected with the bacteria.
Sows in pregnancy are particularly vulnerable to this illness. Through the mucous membranes of the pig, the bacteria enter the body and infect the uterus.
Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease that can spread to people, pets, and wild animals.
Leptospirosis spreads when infected or carrier pigs shed the organisms in their urine, which can spread quickly to the rest of the herd through contaminated food or water.
Sick Pig Symptoms of Leptospirosis
If your pig is infected, it will show signs of anorexia, fever, and lack of energy. If your piglets are infected, they show signs of jaundice (although it is rare for piglets to be infected).
If your pigs are experiencing stillbirth or giving birth to weak piglets (also known as squeakers), they may be infected. Symptoms of Leptospirosis in Pigs include:
- Weak piglets
- Loss of appetite
- Mild diarrhea
- Weight loss
2. Swine Brucellosis Results in Dead and Miscarried Piglets
One of the most common pig bacterial diseases is Swime Brucellosis. It makes sick pigs miscarry and can affect any age of swine.
Brucellosis is a bacterial infection called Brucella suis, and causes pigs to miscarry. Pigs of all ages are affected. You must notify the local authorities if your pigs exhibit symptoms because some zoonotic disease strains are extremely contagious and can infect humans.
It will take the pathogens 3 to 6 weeks to infiltrate the placenta and cause significant inflammation if your sow (female pig) is infected.
Sadly, abortion is frequently the result of this illness.
Swine Brucellosis spreads sexually or nose-to-mouth contact. The bacteria are primarily carried by the boar (male pig), and they are secreted with the semen. It can also spread from pigs that consume dead, aborted piglets or afterbirth. Piglets catch this illness by nursing from an infected mother.
Humans can contract brucellosis from handling infected objects or from open wounds.
3. Diamond Skin Disease Makes The Pig Vomit and Get Diarrhea
Another common pig bacterial diseases is Diamond skin disease, which makes sick pigs look like their skin has tattoos. Infected pigs can die suddenly.
Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae is a bacterium that causes the infectious disease Diamond Skin Disease (Swine Erysipelas). Diamond Skin Disease is a skin condition that causes diamond-shaped patches on the skin of pigs. Fever, skin lesions, blood poisoning, arthritis, and occasionally sudden death are caused by it.
This disease is present in the tonsils of 50% of swine.
It’s zoonotic, which means that Diamond Skin Disease can infect humans through cuts or punctures to the skin. Pigs with weak immune systems of all ages are susceptible to infection by the bacteria. The most vulnerable pigs are those that are three months to three years old.
Most diamond skin infections are spread by contaminated food, feces, or soil that your pig eats, which encourages the growth of bacteria in their tonsils or gut. Additionally, it is brought on when pigs hurt their legs or feet on uneven floors.
Symptoms of Diamond Skin Disease
Look out for these symptoms if you suspect your pig has Diamond Skin Disease:
- Increasing fever
- Slightly raised, diamond-shaped, purplish-red patches on the skin
- Develops septicemia
- Lack of energy
- Painful joints
- Bristling of hairs where the lesions are going to form
- Sudden death (in severe cases)
4. Pig Has Blood on Its Stool Due to Swine Dysentery
If your pig is sick and bleeding when it defecates, that’s a serious sign of illness. Severe cases of Swine Dysentery can lead to sudden pig death.
Swine Dysentery (SD) is very contagious. Symptoms include diarrhea with blood in the stools, listlessness, and weight loss. Pig farmers are devastated by this disease, which also causes significant economic losses from infected herds (which must be segregated and treated with expensive medications).
When the bacteria infects the pig, it reproduces in their colon, where it prefers to be cool and moist. Both the pig’s large colon and severe diarrhea are inflamed.
The Swine dysentery bacteria do not affect humans. They can, however, spread the bacteria to pigs by carrying it on their clothing. Pigs of any age can contract the SD virus. However, piglets younger than three weeks old rarely exhibit it.
Pigs ingesting contaminated feces is the main cause of swine dysentery. Maintaining a clean living space for your pig is crucial to prevent the spread of bacteria. This disease can also be transmitted to your pigs by infected rats and mice. Birds, flies, and mites are additional carriers of this disease.
Symptoms of Swine Dysentery
Wasting syndrome is frequently present in sick pigs infected with swine dysentery. They stop gaining weight or stop growing, appear lethargic, and their stool may contain blood. Pigs frequently have sunken eyes or twitching tails, are hunched over, and appear disheveled. They’ll appear unwell.
- Yellowish-gray diarrhea that has a slimy coating or mucus
- Fresh blood is present in the stool
- Fecal material may ooze out of the anus and cover your pig’s hind legs
- Twitching tail
- Hunched over
- Haggard appearance
- Sunken eyes
- Loss of appetite
- Severe cases can lead to sudden death
5. Mycoplasma Pneumonia in Pigs Causes Respiratory Sickness
Mycoplasma pneumonia in pigs is another prevalent and sometimes deadly swine disease. Pigs with this chronic respiratory condition grow slower and have a persistent dry cough. The illness results in lung lesions in your pig and is brought on by Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae.
Your pigs will be vulnerable to secondary infections because of the severity of the disease. Enzootic pneumonia is spread by nose-to-nose contact with infected pigs and primarily affects growers and finishers.
When food or liquid is inhaled through the airways as opposed to being swallowed, it can result in aspiration pneumonia, which also affects the lungs and makes pigs ill from infection and fluid.
Symptoms of Mycoplasma Pneumonia
Here are some telltale symptoms to watch out for if your pig has Mycoplasma pneumonia:
- Dyspnea (shortness of breath)
- Dry cough
- Retarded growth
6. Pigs With Porcine Rotavirus Infection Have High Fatality
Sick pigs with Porcine Rotavirus have high death rates and easily pass the virus onto other piglets.
Pigs and humans both suffer from porcine rotavirus infections. When it infects suckling and recently weaned piglets (one to five weeks old), it can result in severe viral gastroenteritis, or severe watery diarrhea. Rotavirus is extremely contagious and often fatal. Financial losses for pig farmers are significantly impacted by this particular disease.
Unfortunately, It is challenging to completely eradicate this virus from the pig sty because it is resistant to most disinfectants. The zoonotic porcine rotavirus is particularly dangerous for young children and causes severe gastroenteritis.
The name “rotavirus” refers to the virus’s wheel-like appearance when viewed through an electron microscope.
Porcine Rotavirus spreads among pig herds quickly among adult and young swine. Through their mothers’ urine and feces, young, growing piglets are exposed to the virus. Unhygienic living conditions, abrupt, sharp changes in temperature, and people wearing contaminated clothing and boots are additional causes.
Symptoms of Porcine Rotavirus Infection
Porcine Rotavirus infections cause the following symptoms in pigs:
- Watery diarrhea that persists for 3 to 4 days
- The skin around the rectum is wet
- Sunken eyes
- White or yellow feces
- Extreme dehydration can result in death
7. Foot-and-Mouth Disease Can Make Your Pig Sick
Foot and mouth disease (FMD) affects pigs of all ages and is a highly contagious infection. Pigs with FMD develop lesions, or sores, in the mucosa of their mouths. They may also develop fluid-filled blisters on their feet. Pigs will develop a fever, become lethargic, and may become lame or die.
The viral infection FMD is a zoonotic disease that can infect humans (especially young children) and manifests with rashes on the hands and feet and mouth sores. If your pig becomes infected, this is a notifiable disease and must be reported to the authorities as it can spread quickly.
Humans contract the virus by ingesting unpasteurized milk or uncooked pork. The United States has remained Foot and Mouth disease free since 1929.
Your pig’s saliva contains the highest virus concentrations, which is easily passed through drinking water to other pigs. A pig’s water trough becomes a giant reservoir of the disease. It’s also passed through excretement, or pig poop.
Symptoms of Foot and Mouth Disease
Foot and mouth disease causes the following symptoms in pigs:
- Lesions or blisters on the snout, tongue, or lips
- Foot lesions
- Sudden lameness
- After 24 hours, the lesions will begin to burst
- High-grade fever
- Chomping of jaws
- Lethargy and depression
- Cardiac arrest in piglets
8. Pig Is Vomiting and Sneezing From Pseudorabies
Pseudorabies, is also called the “Mad Itch.” It is a DNA herpes virus that causes Aujeszky’s disease. The respiratory, nervous, and reproductive systems of pigs are all impacted. Coughing, sneezing, circling, and a lack of coordination are all symptoms. It has high death rates and results in paralysis, fevers, and breathing problems. Almost all week-old piglets with Pseudorabies die.
If Pseudorabies isn’t treated in a timely manner, it prevents the body from processing and eliminating bacteria, becoming fatal. Pseudorabies is not thought to be spread between people, but at least one has examined the virus’s potential to infect humans. Although pseudorabies always starts in pigs, it can spread to almost all other mammals and many birds.
It spreads through feces and from pig to pig or nose to nose. The virus can travel up to 1.24 miles through the air.
Symptoms of Pseudorabies
Look out for these symptoms if you suspect your pig has pseudorabies:
- Intense pruritus (itching skin)
- Breathing difficulties
- Mummified piglets
9. Roundworm Infection Makes Pig Breathe Heavily and Not Eat
Roundworm infects pigs, making them sick and unable to absorb nutrients, slowly starving them to death.
Ascariasis (Roundworm infection) is a parasitic disease that occurs when a pig is infected with roundworm (Ascaris suum). This can cause hepatitis and pneumonia. A mature roundworm (ascarid) with a round body is about 0.78 inches long and can lay up to 2 million eggs daily.
An adult roundworm can survive in a pig’s body for almost six months, and some survive longer than a year. A single pig can have an infestation of hundreds of roundworms in their intestines.
Symptoms of Ascariasis
Ascariasis infestations cause the following symptoms in pigs:
- The pig’s hair is rough
- Battles to put on weight
- Lack of energy
- The abdomen seems to be hanging
- Appears hungry
- Severe infestations can result in death
- Difficulty breathing
10. Trichinellosis Causes Pig Vomiting and Diarrhea
Swine Trichinellosis is a common pig parasitic. It has an impact on the skeletal muscles, eye muscles, and rib cage-supporting muscle fibers of pigs.
This zoonotic disease is spread by eating infected or undercooked pork because the disease’s larva is embedded in the muscle of the meat. If you keep pigs as pets, you should keep an eye out for trichinellosis in your family because it can cause serious illness in humans.
Through trash or food scraps that contain contaminated meat, trichinellosis larvae can spread. Pigs who playfully or violently bite the tails of infected pigs can also spread the disease.
Symptoms of Trichinellosis
Look out for these symptoms if you suspect your pig has Trichinellosis:
- Poor vision
- Extreme muscle pain
- Noticeable decrease in weight
11. Pig Loses Weight and Has Diarrhea Due to Pork Tapeworm
Pigs frequently contract Taenia solium, also known as the armed tapeworm or pork tapeworm. The adult tapeworms, which can grow to a length of 26.24 feet, are found in the small intestine of pigs. These parasitic worms have a maximum egg production of 50,000.
Because it is zoonotic, humans can get tapeworm infestation from eating poorly cooked pork.
Pigs living in close quarters with questionable sanitation are where the infection first appears.
Pigs become parasitized when they consume the parasite’s eggs through food that has been fecally contaminated. The eggs will hatch after being consumed, and the tapeworm will then enter the intestines and eventually move toward the pig muscles.
Symptoms of Taenia Solium
A few symptoms of Tapeworm infestation are:
- Abdominal pain
- Hunched over
- Loss of weight
- Loss of appetite
Ill Pig Symptom Checker
|Visual Observation of Pig’s Body||Normal Features||Signs Your Pig is Sick|
|Observe Pigs Overall Body||No visible injuries, Sound movement, Body conformation, Lack of swellings||Lame, Poor conditioning, Injuries, Swelling, Trembling|
|Legs and Movement||Normal movement, Balanced||Balance Problems|
|Respiration||Normal respiration||Labored respiration, Wheezing, Coughing|
|Eyes||Eyes are open, bright, and alert||Listless eyes, Crusty, red and irritated eyes, Discharge from eyes|
|Ears||Ears are alert and pointed||Swelling or inflammation around the ears|
|Nose||Straight clear nose||Painful grimace, Crooked nose, Nasal discharge|
|Skin||Clean, Smooth, Flat and uniform skin, Lack of injuries, Lack of scratches, swelling or rashes, Uniform coat||Unkempt, Rough, Rashes, Dull fuzzy skin, Bumps or bruises, Blisters, Signs of irritation, Sores, Injuries|
|Mood or Temperament||Inquisitive, Alert, Bright, Social||Depressed, Lethargic, Not eating, Isolated, Unusual behavior, Repetitive behavior,|
Sick Pig FAQs
Pigs get sick for many different reasons, just like humans. Knowing how to treat them properly can save your pig’s life.
How do you know if a pig has a fever?
If your pig has a fever, you may notice a slight reddening of their skin and a noticeable loss of appetite. In some cases, pigs develop tremors and vomiting. A digital rectal thermometer should be used to check how high your pig’s temperature is and note increases over an hour. If it goes over 105℉, then your pig has a fever.
What is a natural antibiotic for pigs?
Pineapple is an excellent natural antibiotic for pigs suffering from a viral infection. Pineapple contains bromelain (an enzyme) that has anti-inflammatory properties and is known to break down viral epitopes. Honey is also a natural antiseptic that can help prevent further infections. Feed as an additive or juice and syringe for a very sick pig.
It’s critical to recognize and know the symptoms of pig illnesses. This can help you to save your herd and prevent an outbreak. Often acting quickly is essential to reduce casualties and expenses.
If it wasn’t for the guidance and advice from my vet, I am sure I would have missed the vital symptoms my pigs were showing. At first, I thought my pigs had a viral disease, but I quickly realized it was a bacterial disease requiring very different treatment.
I was able to treat my pigs at the homestead, and they are now running around happily again. I am grateful that I now know the difference between the different types of illnesses, and I feel confident that I will administer the correct treatment for my pigs.
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