All rescued pigs should be spayed or neutered as soon as possible after rescue. When scheduling the appointment, there are a few points to consider to ensure a successful and stress free surgery. Understanding the surgeries will help to choose the veterinarian, prepare the pig, setup a recovery area, and provide post-operative care.
Younger mini pigs have less complications, less risks, and easier recovery than mature pigs. Veterinarians have individual preferences on the idea age to spay or neuter a mini pig. Males are typically neutered as young as 3-4 weeks old. Females are usually not spayed before 8-12 weeks old. Once they have reached the minimum age or weight they should be altered as soon as possible. When pigs are rescued at a later age the need to spay or neuter is equally as important. Ask your veterinarian if he or she has any age or weight restrictions on spaying or neutering mini pigs before you rescue the pig. Discuss with your veterinarian if you feel the pig’s age will affect the ability to have surgery.
Obese pigs have a high risk with surgery. The excess fat makes anesthesia very dangerous. In addition, it is more difficult to cut through thick layers of fat without cutting too deep. An obese pig’s heart is strained and weak. These unhealthy pigs will have a more difficult time recovering and healing. Your veterinarian may decide that the rescued pig needs to lose weight before surgery is an option. On the other hand, severely underweight pigs should not undergo surgery. With good quality food, it won’t take long to get a skinny pig back to a healthy weight.
A pig’s health should be assessed before any surgical procedure. If parasites are suspected, then a round of deworming should be given. Allow sufficient time for the pig to recover from these parasites before surgery. If there are any other health concerns, have them addressed before the spay or neuter. If other minor procedures need to be done, then the spay or neuter surgery is an excellent opportunity to work on multiple areas while under anesthesia.
When scheduling a spay or neuter appointment, ensure the veterinarian has experience spaying or neutering pigs. Anesthesia requirements and the anatomy of pigs is far different than in dogs or cats. For tips on screening a veterinarian for your rescued pigs see (LINK- Finding A Vet For Spay/Neuter)
Most people are shocked at the cost for a mini pig’s spay or neuter surgery when calling for quotes. Be prepared for this cost before bringing home the rescue pig. Spays typically run from $250-500. Neuters may be a little less. Older pigs or larger pigs will cost more. If the pig is in heat or pregnant, there will be extra charges. If the pig has pyometra, a potentially deadly uterine infection, the spay is considered a risky emergency surgery that will cost far more than a traditional spay. If the male has cryptorchidism, there will be a far more invasive surgery and higher cost. If other procedures are needed such as tusk trim or hoof trim, this adds to the cost. The cost of spay/neuter will also be affected by: geographical region, type of anesthesia used, length of anesthesia, pain meds, size of pig, complications during surgery, or removal of preputial diverticulum.
Mini pigs are especially sensitive to anesthesia. They react very differently to anesthesia than dogs or cats. Several factors will be involved in your veterinarian’s choice of anesthesia. In general, isoflourane gas is the safest yet most expensive anesthesia. Various injectable anesthetic cocktails may be used, depending on the discretion of the veterinarian.
This is a genetic defect wherein one or both testicles remain undescended. Instead of dropping down to the scrotum, one or both testicles remain in the abdomen. This warrants a far more complicated and expensive surgery than the typical neuter because the surgery must go in through the abdominal cavity to locate and remove the retained testicle. In the rescue pig, leaving the retained testicle is not an option. This testicle, if left intact, will cause the same hormonal surges and boar behavior that causes many pigs’ abandonment or neglect. The behavioral effects of a retained testicle are the same as an intact male. However, the health repercussions are even worse. Retained testicles are at a far higher risk of developing cancer than normally descended testicles.
The inguinal canal is a small opening in the abdominal wall which connects the abdominal cavity with the scrotum. Mini pigs have a far higher incidence of a hereditary defect that leaves this canal weak. In affected individuals, when the pig is neutered and the testicles are removed, it leaves a gap that allows some of the contents of the abdominal cavity to pass through the canal into the scrotum. This life threatening emergency is referred to as a scrotal hernia. The intestines may rupture the scrotum sutures, spilling the intestines out of the body and leaving the pig vulnerable to shock and infection. The surgical fix for a hernia is to push the intestines back into the abdomen and suture the inguinal ring. PLEASE avoid this life threatening emergency by asking your veterinarian to suture the inguinal ring at the time of neuter.
The preputial diverticulum is a bilobed sac inside the penile opening. This sac tends to fill with semen, urine, and sloughed cells. This creates a breeding ground for bacteria and can become infected or quite odorous. In males that are neutered young, this pouch tends to shrivel up to the point it is not a problem. Pigs that area older when neutered may benefit from removing this pouch during the neuter surgery. Discuss with the veterinarian whether or not to remove this. When comparing prices with different veterinarians, keep in mind this additional procedure will affect the price.
Pigs that are pregnant or in heat will have a more risky spay surgery. If the pig is in heat, simply schedule the surgery for when her symptoms subside. If you suspect pregnancy, discuss with your veterinarian on the best course of action.
Pigs have a large fat pad and thick peritoneal lining when compared to the average dog and cat, meaning that the procedure is more painful in the pig (post-operatively). Pain inhibits healing and can lead to many problems in the digestive tract including ulcers or bowel obstruction. Always ensure the veterinarian sends the pig home with post-operative pain medications. Aspirin should never be given after surgery as it increases bleeding.
When scheduling the rescued pig for a spay or neuter, plan ahead. The pig will need time to recover without other pigs. An attack from another pig could lead to a dangerous injury or ripping open the incision. Pigs are very sensitive to smells. The pig will smell different when he or she comes home from surgery. The other pigs will notice this. Even if they got along just fine before the surgery, the difference in smell could set them off aggressively towards the healing pig. Provide the recovering pig a clean, dry, quiet area to recover for atleast a week or two before reintroducing to the herd. Spayed females may be very sore in their abdomen resulting in urine accidents if kept indoors. Do not punish these accidents as they are due to pain, not a training issue.
When spaying or neutering rescued pigs, it takes about two weeks for the hormones to dissipate. In females this means they could have some lingering moodiness. Males will no longer produce semen but may have stored semen for up to two weeks after the surgery. They may still be able to impregnate intact females during this time. These lingering hormones will slowly fade along with their boarish behaviors.
Plan ahead for pre post-operative care. Ask the veterinarian ahead of time about pain medications, suture care, what to expect and what to do in case of vomiting or lack of appetite. Ask for a 24/7 number to reach the veterinarian OR a suggested emergency vet that can care for the pig after hours. Most veterinarians recommend not getting the incision wet for 10-14 days after surgery. This means no baths but also no access to kiddie pools or mud. Canned pumpkin before and after will help to prevent constipation from the anesthesia and pain medications.
There are two types of stitches, either non-absorbable or dissolvable. The regular non-absorbable stitches will need to be removed by the veterinarian a week or two after surgery. Dissolvable stitches do not require a follow up veterinary visit as they will absorb in the body. Follow your veterinarian’s instructions regarding suture care.
If the pig is not microchipped, the spay or neuter surgery is the perfect opportunity to get this inserted while the pig is under anesthesia. The AMPA recommends microchip placement in the soft tissue behind the left ear.