By Sam Mazzotta
DEAR PAW’S CORNER: I own two potbellied pigs. They have a lot of hair loss. Last year Penny, age 5 years, lost most of hers. Now it’s 2-year-old Norman’s turn. I was told it could be from a poor diet, but these guys are like my kids. They eat good-quality stuff: top-grade hay and potbellied pig pellets. They hardly ever get junk food; instead, they get treats from our garden, like fresh cooked squash, carrots, beans, etc. They have a very nice barn with lots of straw and good hay. They have a choice of lying in dry dirt, on a mud spot or in a pool of fresh water.
I was told to put watered-down baby oil on them. This seems to make it worse. Can you help?
-Diane and John O., on Little Moose Farm
DEAR DIANE AND JOHN: Since their diet is varied and well-rounded, it’s probably not the cause of this periodic hair loss. Stress might be a factor – changes in season, extreme temperatures, pregnancy or any change in their routine can bring on sudden hair loss.
In the potbellied pig community, it’s called “blowing their coats,” a phenomenon when pigs lose most or all of their hair in a very short time. It seems to occur more often after a stressful event, but some potbellied pigs blow their coats every year. The hair regrows over a period of months.
I would consult their veterinarian and bring them in for skin tests to rule out conditions like a parasitic infection. Depending on the results, the vet may prescribe medication, or recommend supplements to their diet like fish oil or vitamin E.
To make both pigs more comfortable, treat their hair and skin with Skin-So-Soft (made by both Avon and Heartland) and rub Norman’s coat daily to encourage loose hairs to fall out faster.
Send your tips, questions and comments to Paws Corner, c/o King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853 or e-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org.