Pets Are Important Too

5 Things Potbellied Pig Owners Need To Know About Heatstroke

by Aurore Fontai

People can get heatstroke if they spend too much time out in the hot sun, but surprisingly, the same is true for animals. Your new potbellied pig is very susceptible to heatstroke, a life-threatening condition characterized by a high internal temperature. Here are five things potbellied pig owners need to know about heatstroke.

Why are potbellied pigs at risk of heatstroke?

Unlike people, potbellied pigs don't have any sweat glands. This means that they're completely incapable of sweating to cool down their bodies. They also lack the other natural cooling mechanisms that some other animals have. For example, your dog can cool itself down by panting, but potbellied pigs don't pant. Pet rabbits can cool down their bodies with their oversized ears—warm blood is cooled as it passes through the ears—but potbellied pigs have small ears and are unable to do this.

Essentially, this means that your potbellied pig is defenseless in hot weather and is very susceptible to heatstroke. If you're sweating, assume that your pig is uncomfortable as well and try to cool them down.

What are the signs of heatstroke?

If your potbellied pig develops heatstroke, you'll notice that your pet is feverish. Their temperature may be as high as 106° F, while the normal body temperature for a pig is generally between 99°F and 102°F. In addition to this elevated body temperature, your pig may be lethargic or weak. Labored breathing, muscle tremors and even collapse are also signs of heatstroke in potbellied pigs. Any one of these signs indicates that your pig is in serious danger, so if you think your pig has overheated, take them to an emergency vet right away.

How dangerous is heatstroke?

Heatstroke is a life-threatening condition for potbellied pigs. While some pigs will respond to treatment and can be cooled to a safe temperature, overheating tends to be fatal. This is because the high body temperatures associated with heatstroke can damage vital organs. Getting your pig to the vet as quickly as possible—before their organs suffer any damage—is essential.

How can vets treat heatstroke?

Your vet will need to lower your pig's body temperature. Cold water or ice are not used as this can lead to shock, which can make the situation worse. Instead, your vet will wet your pig's head with cool water for 10 to 15 minutes, according to the Merck Veterinary Manual. As the water evaporates, your pig's body will cool down. After your pig's head has been treated, the vet will wet the entire rest of their body.

Treatments may also be given to make your pig more comfortable, like intravenous fluids or medications to stop muscle tremors. Your pig will be monitored by the veterinarian while they recover, and once they're stable, they'll be allowed to go home.

How can you protect your potbellied pig?

There are many things that you can do to keep your potbellied pig cool during hot weather. Ensure that your pig always has access to fresh, cold water; drinking this will help to keep them cool. Indoors, either fans or air conditioning can be used to help maintain a safe temperature during the summer months. Outdoors, you can provide either a mud hole or a pond for your pig to splash in during hot weather. A kiddie pool or even a sprinkler that your pig can run through will also be suitable. These outdoor water sources should be in a shaded area to keep your pig from getting overheated or sunburned.

Potbellied pigs are at risk of heatstroke, so take steps to keep your new pet cool during hot weather. If you think your pig is suffering from heatstroke, take them to an emergency vet, such as those at 1st Pet Veterinary Centers, immediately.