How Is Scours Treated in Pigs?

By Jane Meggitt

Healthy pig feces should appear well-formed. While "cow patty" consistency falls within the normal range, loose feces are cause for concern. Proper treatment of scours -- otherwise known as diarrhea -- in your pig requires determining the cause. Your veterinarian will culture a fecal sample from your sick pig. Once she has the results, she can administer appropriate treatment. Scours in piglets often occurs after weaning, and can quickly become an emergency.

Dietary Changes

Make any changes to your pig's diet gradually. Sudden changes in diet can result in scours, especially in grown pigs. If you suspect that a change of diet is the culprit, ask your vet about substituting oatmeal or rolled oats for up to 50 percent of your pig's ration until the scours stop. You can also ask about giving some over-the-counter antidiarrheal medication -- such as bismuth subsalicylate -- for symptom relief until the vet arrives.

Salmonella Infection

Salmonella infection is common in weanling piglets. If your vet diagnoses salmonella as the cause of your pig's scours, be careful, because this can spread to people. Signs of salmonella include blood or mucus in the diarrhea, along with lethargy, fever and a telltale bluish tinge to the extremities. Without prompt treatment, salmonella can be fatal in swine. Your vet will choose the best antibiotic for treating the particular type of salmonella affecting your pig.

E. Coli

Escherichia coli, also known as colibacillosis, occurs often in young pot-bellied piglets, with scours as the primary symptom. Once your vet diagnoses E.coli, she might prescribe spectinomycin, an antibiotic marketed under the brand name SpectoGard Scour-Chek, to treat your piglet. Depending on your piglet's size, you'll have to administer the medication orally once or twice daily for up to five days. This drug is only for use in pigs weighing 15 pounds or less and up to 4 weeks old.

Intestinal Worms

In older pigs, intestinal worms can cause diarrhea. Your vet will identify the worms or eggs in the stool culture and recommend the appropriate dewormer and put your pig on a deworming schedule. Do not use dewormers developed for other species on your pig without veterinary permission.

Preventing Scours

Besides regular deworming, you can prevent scours in your pigs by keeping their premises clean and removing pig feces daily. Quarantine any new pigs coming onto the property for up to two months after the initial veterinary examination. Always provide a constant source of fresh, clean water. Pigs are creatures of habit, usually eliminating in the same spot. If you have only a few pet or show pigs, you can probably tell which one has loose bowels by the location of the excrement, if the scouring appears in just one place. Call your vet if you notice any changes in bowel consistency.