California Potbellied Pig Association, Inc

Hoof Cracks & Dry Skin

Hoof Cracks & Dry Skin
by T. Ron Vered, DVM

I was asked to try in this issue to try and answer a few short medical questions that some of the members had about their pigs. As always, my intention here is to provide general information, ideas, and food for thought, but in no way make any diagnosis or prescribe treatments. Always, consult your veterinarian for all medical care of your pets.The first question was on proper care for hoofs which are cracked or broken. The most important aspects of healing hoof damage are keeping the damaged areas clean and free of infection and promoting fast growth of new hoof wall. Keeping hoof breaks and cracks clean can be done by using daily soaks of warm water and Epson salts or iodine solutions. After the soak, the hoof should be dried well and topical antibacterial ointments can be applied to the injured areas. In case of cracks, horse hoof paint solutions can be used to protect the area and aid healing. If the break in the hoof is deep and soft tissue is exposed, it might be helpful to keep the foot in a wrap or use a protective boot. There are different types made for horses and dogs, but I am not sure if there are boots that fit pigs. In severe cases of deep hoof damage, systemic antibiotics might be used to treat possible infections. There are several oral supplements (mostly for horses and cattle) made to promote healthy and rapid hoof growth which are safe to use in pigs. They usually contain different vitamins, amino acids, and minerals and are available in feed stores. The most important aspect in healing hoof damage is frequent trimming of the hoof. This helps growing new and healthy hoof faster and pushes the damaged area down the hoof to the less sensitive area and eventually it is trimmed out.

The second question was on what to do to help a pig that has dry skin. Probably, the best thing is to allow the pig to take mud baths often and to keep it out of the sun. Prolong periods indoors in heated and air conditioned houses may contribute to dry skin. Care should be taken to not over-bathe pigs with drying shampoos and soaps. There are several food supplements to aid skin health, but with proper nutrition, their need is questionable. In pigs that eat mostly dry foods (pellets, hay), the addition of short chain fatty acids (oils from plant origin like olive and canola oils) might be of help. Topical oils and moisturizers are useful, but should be used with care in outside animals as the skin may be become more prone to sun damage and attract dirt and flies. Many large animal owners like using mixtures of Avon's Skin-So-Soft and water and spray them on animals to moisturize the skin and repel flies. It is always important to make sure that the pig does not have any skin or systemic diseases which are causing or contributing to the dryness of the skin. Bacterial, fungal, and parasitic skin infections, nutritional deficiencies and over supplementation, hormonal imbalances, and cancers are some examples of disease conditions which may affect the skin.

Pigs aren't our whole lives...They make our lives whole