Itchy Pigs: Help! My Pigs Have Bug Bites!

Bug bites cause pigs to be itchy

As the summer approaches, it’s important to be prepared for bug bites on your pig. Insects can spread illness, cause irritation, and downright annoy your pig. The other day, my pigs swatted at flies with their tails. Even though I keep several fly traps to reduce the number of flies by my pigsy, it seems like they fill up faster than I can keep up. 

It wasn’t until two years ago, that I learned that insect bits can irritate pigs and cause severe itch

What bugs bite pigs? There are a number of bugs that bite pigs, including mosquitoes, ticks, lice, mites, fleas, and flies. Many of these insects can cause disease and illness, while others only irritate and bother a pig. Some side effects of bug bites include skin irritation, itching, and in severe cases, transmit diseases or cause anemia.

Knowing the difference between harmful bugs and nuisance bugs is important. Let’s dive in.

Itchy Pig: Bugs That Bite Pigs

Ticks, mosquitoes, sand flies, and horse flies all bite pigs and can cause your pig to be itchy with severe irritation and rashes. Pigs often react negatively to their spit and may exhibit an allergy-like reaction with itchy skin or rashes. 

Worse is when a large group of insects strike and swarm your pig, biting them all over. Particularly mosquitoes can be a real nuisance. A mosquito uses its proboscis, a mouthpart that resembles a funnel, to pierce the pig’s skin and suck up the blood. 

While it feeds, it injects saliva back into your pig’s skin. Your pig’s body then reacts to the saliva and begins to itch as the skin develops an inflamed, red bump. The more your pig scratches and rubs the mosquito bite, the itchier it becomes.

Sand flea females (Tungiasis) will gnaw into your pig’s skin and lay their eggs there while feeding on the animal’s blood vessels. The bites are on your pig’s feet, between their toes and legs, and are painful. The fleas prefer warm environments and are frequently seen in stables or barns.

How to Tell if Your Pig Has Insect Bites:

Look out for these typical symptoms if you suspect your pig has insect bites:

If your pig is itchy because of an insect bite, you’ll notice swollen (blister-like) red bumps appearing on their skin. Sand fleas will cause white, raised circles that have black centers.

Depending on the type of insect bites, your pig can experience itchy, swollen eyes, ulceration, and be in a terrible mood from the discomfort.

  • Swollen and red blister-like bumps appear on the skin
  • Continuous scratching
  • Frustration and irritation
  • Hive-like rash
  • Itchy, swollen eyes
  • White, raised circles with a black center (sand fleas)
  • Ulceration

How to Treat Insect Bites On Your Pig:

Follow these precautions and steps to stop your pig from scratching: 

The best way to deal with insect bites is to repel them. Start by regularly cleaning your pig’s living area, as insects are drawn to moist areas with rotting straw, vegetation, or manure.

You need to empty and clean out water troughs regularly, as insects such as mosquitos will breed in any water that isn’t flowing. You must also clean these regularly if you have fishponds or stagnant water in your backyard.

Use animal-safe insecticidal sprays to keep the insects away, such as: Pyranha Zero-Bite All Natural Fly Spray, Musca Stick Sticky Fly Trap, and Durvet Fly Glo-Mar Citronella oil

If your pig lives indoors, use repellents such as Bug Soother Spray or Window fly traps, which can be applied to the walls and surfaces where flies and mosquitoes land. Plug-in insect repellers such as BugMD No Fly Zone is also an effective option for keeping insects out of your home 

Ensure you check your pig for ticks. If a tick has bitten your pig, use a repellent that contains pyrethrin or pyrethroid to remove the tick properly. Ensure you disinfect the wound properly to avoid further infection.

  1. Clean your pig’s living area regularly, as insects are drawn to moist areas with rotting straw, vegetation, or manure. 
  2. Empty and clean water troughs regularly, as insects such as mosquitos will breed in any water that isn’t flowing. (So watch out for that little swampy fishpond in your backyard.) 
  3. Use animal-safe insecticidal sprays to keep the insects away, such as:
  4. If your pig lives indoors, use repellents that can be applied to the walls and surfaces where flies and mosquitoes land.

Fly Bites On Pigs

Fly bites can be particularly irritating, especially horse fly bites. Pigs that have been bitten by flies may experience irritation, discomfort, and even subsequent problems including infection. These are some treatments for pigs with fly bites:

To treat fly bites on pigs: Begin with, carefully examine the pig for any indications of infection or itchiness close to the bite. Veterinary care might be necessary if the bite has already developed an infection.

Warm water and light soap should be used to wash the afflicted region. Infection risk will be decreased and any dirt or debris will be removed.

Apply a topical antiseptic or wound ointment to the affected area to prevent infection and promote healing.

Consider using fly repellent sprays or ointments to prevent future fly bites. Several types of fly repellents are available that are safe for use on pigs.

Make sure the pig’s living environment is clean and free of excess moisture or waste, as this can attract flies.

Mosquito Bites On Pigs

Pigs can get bit by mosquitoes. Mosquito bites can cause pigs irritation, itching, and discomfort and can also transmit diseases. Mosquitoes can carry diseases such as the West Nile virus and other viral diseases that can be transmitted to both humans and animals, including pigs.

To reduce the risk of mosquito bites on your pigs, eliminate standing water, as this is where mosquitoes lay their eggs. Change pig’s water daily. 

Keep your pig’s living environment clean and dry, and use mosquito repellent products specifically designed for use on pigs, if needed. If you notice any signs of illness or disease in your pig after a mosquito bite, contact a veterinarian for advice on appropriate treatment. Some of those diseases can progress rapidly. 

Can I Use Bug Spray On My Pigs?

Using a bug spray meant for people on pigs is not a good idea. That’s because the chemicals in these products may not be appropriate for animals and could cause irritation or other negative effects. But, pigs can be treated with pest sprays made especially for use on livestock and other animals.

Look for a bug spray that is approved for use on pigs or other livestock if you need to put it on your pig. To guarantee the product’s safety and efficacy, be sure to thoroughly read the directions and adhere to the suggested application procedures. A veterinarian should be consulted before applying any pesticides or repellents to your pig.

Pig-Approved Treatments for Bug Bites

Now all human products should be used on pigs. Even though pigs have similar systems to humans, they can react in very different ways. There are products that are approved for use on pigs. 

I haven’t used all of them, but I wanted to include as many options as I could for you. 

Swat Fly Repellent Ointment – This topical ointment is safe to apply to pig’s skin. It repels all sorts of biting insects that cause itchiness. 

UltraShield EX Insecticide and Repellent– A natural oils product that sprays on to repel mosquitoes, flies, ticks and other insects. 

Equi-Spot Fly Control- A topical treatment that’s supposed to last for two weeks in repelling all sorts of biting insects. 

Handling Pig Tick Bites

Are Ticks Harmful to Pigs? Ticks can harm pigs a few ways. First, ticks can transmit a variety of diseases to pigs, including Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, and anaplasmosis, among others. These diseases can cause a range of symptoms, including fever, lameness, lethargy, and other health problems. Ticks also cause irritation and discomfort to pigs. 

This can lead to itching, scratching, and potentially even skin infections in severe cases. Ticks can also cause anemia in pigs if they are present in large numbers, as they consume blood from the pig’s body.

Can Pigs Get Tick Paralysis?

Pigs can get tick paralysis, which is a rare but potentially serious condition that can occur when certain types of ticks attach and feed on the animal’s blood. Tick paralysis is caused by a toxin that is released by the tick during feeding, which can affect the pig’s nervous system and lead to muscle weakness, paralysis, and even death if left untreated.

Symptoms of tick paralysis in pigs can include weakness or paralysis of the hind legs, difficulty standing or walking, and a wobbly or unsteady gait. In severe cases, the pig may become completely paralyzed and unable to move or eat.

If you suspect your pig may suffer from tick paralysis, it’s important to seek veterinary care immediately. Treatment may include removal of the tick, supportive care such as fluid therapy or oxygen supplementation, and possibly medication to counteract the effects of the tick toxin. With prompt and appropriate treatment, most pigs recover fully from tick paralysis.

Do Pigs Get Lyme Disease?

Pigs can be infected with Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme disease in humans and other tick-borne diseases. However, it is relatively rare for pigs to develop Lyme disease symptoms, and they are not considered to be significant reservoirs of the bacteria.

As they often have thicker skin and hair that make it more difficult for ticks to adhere and feed, pigs are not generally thought to be a key target for ticks that carry Lyme disease. Pigs, however, may be at risk for tick bites and diseases carried by ticks if they are kept in places with large tick populations, have access to forested areas or other tick habitats, or both.

It’s important to take steps to reduce the risk of tick bites on your pig, such as keeping their living area clean and clear of brush and other vegetation that can harbor ticks, and checking them regularly for ticks after spending time outdoors. If you notice any signs of illness or disease in your pig, including fever, lethargy, or lameness, contact a veterinarian for advice on appropriate treatment.

Does Ivermectin Kill Ticks on Pigs?

Ivermectin is not typically used as a direct tick control product for pigs, as it is primarily used to treat internal parasites such as roundworms, hookworms, and mange mites. However, there is some evidence to suggest that ivermectin may have some efficacy against ticks when administered to pigs.

Ivermectin, when given orally to pigs, has been demonstrated in some trials to decrease the number of ticks that attach to the animals and may also lower the size and weight of the ticks that do adhere. Ivermectin’s effectiveness against ticks can vary based on a number of circumstances, including the type of tick and the dosage and administration of the medication. It is vital to keep in mind that ivermectin is not licensed for use as a tick control agent for pigs.

Killing Ticks on Pigs

There are several ways you can kill ticks on your pigs. You can use a tick control product, remove ticks manually by pulling with tweezers and a slow and steady motion. Keep your pigs area clean from brush, grass, and wooded areas. 

Some of the products that are available to kill ticks and good for use on pigs include: 

  • Permethrin: an insecticide that can be applied directly to your pig’s skin. 
  • Amitraz: a topical insecticide that kills ticks 
  • Ivermectin: Not desisgned specifically for ticks, but has been shown to have some good results 
  • Fipronil: Created for dogs and cats, it’s also approved for pigs and works to kill the ticks. 

Pigs And Flea Bites

Do pigs get fleas? Pigs get fleas. Small, wingless insects known as fleas feed exclusively on the blood of mammals, including pigs. They may result in skin irritation, itching, and, in extreme cases, anemia.

In environments where pigs are kept outdoors, flea infestations can be frequent. Since fleas prefer warm, humid environments, pigs kept in areas with long grass or brush are more likely to be exposed to them.

If your pig spends time outside, you should check them frequently for fleas and take precautions to avoid and treat flea infestations. This might entail using flea-controlling remedies, routinely cleaning your pig’s living space, and keeping an eye out for symptoms of health problems linked to fleas.

Fleas can create a nuisance for pigs to deal with. It’s critical that you take steps to mitigate flea issues before they start. Washing your pig regularly will help to keep fleas off. Keep it’s living area clean by removing bedding, litter, and disinfecting the area. Flea traps can help to attract flees before they house on your pig. 

Can You Use Frontline on Pigs?

Overall, while Frontline may be used off-label for flea and tick control on pigs, it is important to proceed with caution and consult with a veterinarian to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the product.

The active ingredient in Frontline, which is frequently used to treat dogs and cats for flea and tick infestations, is fipronil. Despite not being specifically approved for use on pigs, some pig owners and veterinarians may decide to use Frontline off-label for the prevention of flea and tick infestations in pigs.

It is crucial to speak with a veterinarian before administering Frontline to your pig in order to determine the right dosage and method of administration for their unique needs. After administering Frontline, it’s also crucial to keep a close eye on your pig to make sure they don’t have any negative reactions. Contact your veterinarian right away if you experience any symptoms or notice any indications of skin irritation.

Can You Use Hydrogen Peroxide On Pigs?

In some circumstances, hydrogen peroxide can be applied to pigs, but it must be administered carefully and sensibly. Although hydrogen peroxide is a common disinfectant and mild antiseptic for cleaning wounds, if used excessively or in sensitive places, it can be harsh on the skin and result in burns or irritation.

If you need to use hydrogen peroxide on your pig, dilute it with water first to reduce its strength. A common dilution is one part hydrogen peroxide to ten parts water. This can be used to clean minor wounds or skin irritations. However, it’s important to avoid using hydrogen peroxide on deep or serious wounds, as it can actually damage tissue and impede healing.

It’s also important to avoid getting hydrogen peroxide in your pig’s eyes, nose, or mouth, as it can be harmful if ingested or inhaled. If you have any concerns or questions about using hydrogen peroxide on your pig, it’s best to consult with a veterinarian for guidance on appropriate use and dosage.

Itchy Pigs FAQs

Does dewormer kill ticks? Some pig dewormers may have efficacy against ticks, but their primary purpose is to eliminate internal parasites such as roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms, rather than external parasites like ticks. It’s better to use products designed specifically to kill ticks.

Can Potbellied Pigs Get Fleas?

Potbellied pigs can get fleas as easily as other pig varieties. Pigs are most likely to get fleas in areas with long grass or bush. Inspect your potbellied pig for fleas, especially after they’ve spent time outdoors. 


Research Gate Published Study:

Clinical Pathology of Tungaiasis in Pigs

Annemaria Duran

Hi, I’m Annemaria Duran. I moved out to the country 6 years ago, mainly so I could have more land. I love all aspects of country living. First, we got chickens, then ducks. Now we have sheep, goats, and rabbits. I'm always learning and love sharing it!

Recent Posts