Do Pigs Have Sweat Glands, And Other Interesting Facts

Do pigs have sweat glands (1)


Growing up around pigs there were two main things I realized at a young age. First, they constantly roll around in the mud. Second, they taste amazing! I don’t know about you but I love pork, especially bacon. 

When I was young there is one question that I never thought to ask my dad; 

Do pigs sweat? No, pigs do not sweat even though they have sweat glands. Their sweat glands don’t respond to thermoregulatory cues. Those are the cues that cause people to sweat when it gets hot. Pigs can become overheated very quickly in the heat if they don’t have access to shade, mud, or water.  

When some animals, including humans, get really hot, they secrete sweat, a mixture of about 99% water and 1% other compounds such as sodium chloride and proteins. Sweating helps regulate our internal temperature so we don’t get too hot on sunny days or while exercising. Although, pigs have some sweat glands, their glands don’t reduce pig’s internal body temperature. This makes cooling off in hot weather difficult.

But that isn’t the only interesting things about pigs and sweating that you should know. And, it leads to a few other important questions. Keep reading to learn more. 

Why Do Pigs Wallow In The Mud?

Pigs wallow in the mud because they have very few sweat glands and have a hard time staying cool during the hot months. The mud keeps pigs cooler because the water in mud evaporates at a much slower rate than water does by itself. 

That means that pigs can stay cooler longer. 

But, it has another purpose. 

It helps them protect their pale skin from getting sunburned.

But that’s not all. 

Pigs may wallow for other reasons as well. Wild pigs are often seen wallowing in the mud even in cooler temperatures. Many believe this helps rid them of parasites such as ticks and lice so it helps keep them healthy as well.

Just because pigs wallow in the mud doesn’t mean they’re dirty animals. In fact, pigs are considered fairly clean. When given enough space, pigs will designate a “bathroom” away from where they eat, drink, and live. 

They will also clean up the area by eating food that may have been spilled. They are considered one of the cleanest farm animals.

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Let’s recap. Pigs roll in the mud for 3 main reasons. 

  1. The mud helps to cool their skin off since pigs can’t sweat enough to keep their bodies cool during the heat of the day. 
  2. The mud protects their skin from getting sunburned
  3. The mud helps to clean their skin from mites, parasites, and other pesky, itchy bugs

Does Pork Have Toxins?

We’ve established that pigs don’t really sweat. Because of this, many believe that there are high concentrations of toxins in pork. 

Is Pork A More Toxic Meat To Eat Than Other Meats? 

Although pigs do not sweat, pork does not have more toxins that other types of meat. There are two main reasons pigs are not more toxic than other meat. 

First, the liver and kidneys remove far more toxins from the body than sweating does. The primary purpose of the liver and kidneys is to remove toxins from the body and to excrete them. 

These organs filter out any excess toxins that may have gotten inside their bodies. The liver detoxifies and cleanses the blood. 

The kidneys filter waste materials from food and balance the blood. It also removes excess minerals from the bloodstream. 

Pigs have both a liver and a kidney. 

The second reason that pigs are not more toxic than other types of meat is that other animals also have fewer sweat glands. Chickens have zero sweat glands. Cows have very few sweat glands. 

If sweat glands determined the toxicity of the meat, then both chickens and cows would be toxic for people. Only humans have a high number of sweat glands for their body size. Other animals, in comparison, sweat very little. 

Third, it has been said that pigs get worms and other parasites because they can’t sweat them out.

Is that true? 

Think about this! 

Humans have a lot of sweat glands, 2-5 million of them, yet we can’t sweat out parasites either. They are just too big to fit through a sweat gland. 

Reasons Pigs Are Not More Toxic

  1. Pigs have livers and kidneys, whose primary function is to remove toxins from the bloodstream and from the food consumed 
  2. Chickens have no sweat glands. Cows have no functioning sweat glands. So by comparison, pigs have no fewer sweat glands than other popular meats that are eaten. 
  3. Humans, with the highest number of sweat glands of any mammals, don’t sweat out parasites either, showing that sweating doesn’t help to remove worms. 

If a pig does have worms or other parasites your best option is to have them see a vet where they can be dewormed, just like a cat, dog, or other animals.

And, your safest practice when eating any meat is to thoroughly cook it so that any parasites or germs (think e coli) can be killed before it is consumed. 

What Do Pigs Eat?

Pigs are omnivores, which means that they can and will eat both plants and meat. This makes feeding them easy. They like fruits and vegetables such as beans, tomatoes, berries, and corn. 

They also like meat which includes dairy, chicken, beef, and even leftover bacon. 

Here’s a rule of thumb: 

If humans can eat it so can pigs.

You can even feed them the leftover food from your table.

But, like humans, it’s important to make sure they have a healthy diet. Plants like grasses, roots, and vegetables are the best and healthiest for pigs. Fruits shouldn’t be fed to them too often because of the sugar but in small quantities is perfectly fine. You can also give them pig pellets to help make sure they get the nutrients they need.

There are some foods to be aware of. 

Pigs shouldn’t eat raw potatoes, unripe tomatoes, and parsnips. Try not to feed them anything that is moldy, some molds can be harmful to your pigs. You should also make sure they aren’t eating too much sodium.

If you raise pigs consider giving them enough space to forage. Foraging allows them to eat fresh grass, roots, and bugs. Pigs that are allowed to forage for food produce meat that is higher in vitamin D and other minerals. One thing to keep in mind, if you allow your pigs to forage, make sure there aren’t any poisonous plants. They can be harmful to pigs.

While pigs can and will eat everything, including garbage if they’re desperate, they usually only eat plants and meat. Even wild pigs stay away from harmful food and mainly stick to eating what they can forage.

Why Don’t People Eat Pork?

There are many reasons people choose not to eat pork. 

  • Religion – In many cultures and religions, pork is seen as unclean. Both Judaism and Islam believe that it is a commandment not to eat pork. Because of that commandment, many people look for other reasons for pork to be unclean, even if those reasons have no basis in science. Other religions may worship animals, or are vegetarians.
  • Vegetarian – Many people around the world identify themselves as vegetarian or vegan. This means they don’t believe in eating meat. Some feel it is inhumane to kill animals for food, others may feel that they can get all the nutrients they need, including protein, from plants. Others simply don’t have a pallet for meat. 
  • Moral: Other reasons include but aren’t limited to how the pigs are treated on the farms, big corporations my run those farms, and how employees are treated.

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Related Questions

Are pigs smart?

According to research, pigs are among the top five smartest animals. Though the order of the various lists changes, chimps, dolphins, pigs, and dogs are usually in the top of those lists. 

Researchers in the 1990s tried teaching pigs how to move a cursor on a screen with their snouts. They would use the cursor to point out images that they knew and were familiar to them. They claimed the pigs picked it up almost as quickly as chimps. Others taught pigs how to do tricks like you would dogs. The pigs picked up the tricks just as easily. 

Do pigs make good pets?

Pigs can make wonderful pets, but there are several things to consider. 

Several of the positives of using pigs as pets include: 

  • They’re clean and they’re smart. 
  • They can be house trained and taught tricks. 
  • Some pigs have even been used as therapy pigs. Therapy pigs perform the same jobs as therapy dogs. They’re taken into hospitals, elderly living homes, and other places to help brighten the days of those that reside there.

But there are a few negatives to raising pigs as pets. These include:

  • Pigs usually get quite large and heavy. Many pigs can grow to over 1,000 pounds. Even smaller varieties of pigs reach hundreds of pounds. 

That means that pigs can be dangerous for small children because of their large size. Even if a pig doesn’t mean to hurt a child, accidents can happen easily.

  • Pigs are omnivores. That means that they eat meat and vegetation. Even pigs that are raised on a farm have been known to go after an injured person that looks like food to them. This means that families with small children should be careful and have rules about how and when the kids interact with the kids. Grownups should always be nearby. 

Here are a few things to consider when raising pigs as pets. 

Pigs like to root around, forage, and explore so they need a lot of room both inside and outside. Keep this in mind when considering one as a pet. They also love attention! Be prepared to spend time with them and take care of them. While they won’t jump up on you like dogs they do like to lay or sit by their owners for some cuddle time. 

They also become attached to their owners quickly so make sure you do your research and find out if a pig is right for you before purchasing one. If a pig becomes attached and then is separated from those they’re attached to they experience depression and sadness.

What Kinds Of Meat Comes From Pigs?

Pigs are found in most parts of the world making them one of the largest meat sources. Pork is now considered “the other white meat” largely because it is a healthier alternative to red meat such as beef. Some cuts, such as pork chops, are even healthier than chicken thighs. Pigs provide us with many different cuts of meat including

  • Bacon
  • Sausage
  • Ham
  • Roast
  • Ribs
  • Pork Chops

These cuts of meat can be a healthier alternative to its beef counterpart. You could try substituting pork chops for steak or cooking a pork roast instead of a beef roast. 

Where does the expression “Sweating like a pig” come from?

The expression “sweating like a pig” has nothing to do with the farm animal since they don’t really sweat. It refers to pig iron. When smelting the iron,  blacksmiths would use molds that looked like piglets suckling their mother, which is where it got its name. 

After pouring the iron into the molds the metal would be too hot to touch. Blacksmiths would know when it cooled enough to touch when the iron started “sweating”, forming water droplets on the surface of the metal.

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Mandy Simmons

I've grown up around farm animals and loving every part of country life. I'm excited to share what I've learned with you!

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