How to Care for Pig Skin

By Cate Burnette

Often referred to as yuppie house pets, potbellied pigs came to the United States in 1985 from breeds originating in China and Vietnam, according to veterinarian Arlen Wilbers of Belly Draggers Ranch. With their sway backs, straight tails, perky ears and short, wrinkled noses, these pets can grow to 18 inches tall and 120 to 150 pounds. Potbellies live for approximately 15 years with good care, and are known for their bright, inquisitive minds and desire for cleanliness. Because the skin of a potbelly is particularly sensitive and prone to sunburn, learning how to regularly care for your pet’s coat keeps your pig healthy and happy.

Bathe your pig using a mild baby shampoo. Potbellies naturally shed their outer layer of skin leaving them with a dry, flaky appearance. Veterinarians at Hilltop Animal Hospital in Palatine, Illinois recommend using mild shampoos and/or moisturizers to alleviate this condition.

Brush the potbellied pig daily with an equine, stiff-bristled grooming brush or a soft, rubber curry comb. Grooming on a regular basis rids the skin of any dirt, stimulates circulation and allows you the opportunity to check the skin for any sores or injuries.

Spray your pig daily with a 10 per cent glycerin to 90 per cent water mixture. This hypoallergenic blend prevents skin dryness by pulling moisture through the skin layers and inhibiting evaporation of water.

Protect the pig from sunburn by applying water-resistant sunblock to the pink areas of its body, including the ears, nose, feet and any large areas of white or pink skin. Ensure the sunblock has an SPF of 50 or higher.

Watch for parasites on your pig’s skin. Only younger pigs get fleas, typically a transient flea from other animals in the household, but some potbellies come down with mites and lice. Without veterinary treatment, your pig’s skin becomes thickened and pruritic – extremely itchy – particularly around the ears and the legs.