Is it safer to anesthetize or to restrain a potbellied pig when trimming its hooves?
On young healthy non-obese pigs, it is really a matter of what is
available. If the hoof trim is being done at a veterinarian office or
hospital and Isoflurane (ISO) gas is used as the anesthetic, it is
usually quite safe and will be the less stressful method on the pig,
the owner and the veterinarian. (Read the section of our web site
under “Health/Maintenance”; “Anesthetics”)
Injectable anesthetics should ONLY be used when there is no other option.
The real problem comes with older and/or obese potbellied pigs. These
are the pigs most prone to serious leg problems caused by untrimmed
hooves, but they are also the pigs most prone to have an adverse
reaction to anesthetics and to being injured when manually restrained.
Methods of restraint vary from gripping the pig’s chest under its front
legs and rolling it onto its tail and either holding it there or
continuing to flip it onto its back. This is not too practical when
dealing with pigs much over 150 lbs. Even if you are capable of
lifting larger pigs, the danger of injuring their front legs becomes an
issue. Larger pigs can sometimes be rolled onto their sides and then
their backs and be restrained. This often requires pulling their legs
out from under them, also creating a danger of injury. With tamer pet
pigs you may be able to approach them while they are lying down and
roll them onto their backs.
Nearly all of these are at least two person projects with one person restraining the pig while the other person trims.
Probably the best, but least available method for older and overweight
pigs is a squeeze chute. The pig is guided into an area between two
padded cage like sections which can be pressed together holding the pig
firmly between them. This structure can then usually be tilted, bring
the feet off the ground where they can be trimmed. (This is the
preferred method used at U C Davis Vet Hospital for older and/or obese
"...pigs are very beautiful animals. Those who do not think so
do not look at anything with their own eyes but through other people's eyeglasses."
G. K. Chesterton