Mini Pig Neuter Day
Miniature Potbellied Pigs Need to be Spayed or Neutered
Meet Moose! Moose came to Doc Truli as a little 2 pound mini pig being bottle-fed by his humans. By the time these picture were taken, he had already doubled in size! Before he got too big to hold for inhalant anesthesia, we scheduled his neuter day.
Mini pigs make happier, easier to care for pets if they are spayed or castrated. (“Neuter” is the neutral term for either the male or female surgery, but most people in the United States mean the male procedure when they say neuter.) Breast cancer, ovarian cancer, testicular cancer, uterine cancer, pyometra, and urinary tract problems are just a few of the health complaints that can be eliminated or minimized with surgical spay or castration.
Because pigs are notoriously screamers, complainers, and squigglers when they do not like what you are doing (holding, injections, etc.), they are most manageable o be held for inhalant anesthesia induction when they are still little. If a pig is over about 15-20 pounds (7-10 kg), certainly 30 pounds (12 kg), they are nearly impossible to restrain without injectable sedatives and anesthetics. Pigs react less predictably to these injectable medications than other veterinary species. Therefore, do not procrastinate in having your tiny little one surgically altered before the procedure becomes more complex, expensive, and risky.
The technical term for going under anesthesia is “induction.” We are basically putting parts of the brain to sleep that are involved in motor function, pain perception, and consciousness. We aim to not stop autonomic functions like breathing and internal organ regulation. Going to far is called “too deep.” Of course, if a patient is not properly monitored and the anesthetic is not properly titrated (metered out to the desired effect for the individual patient), the brain could stop and the patient could die.
One of the potential risks with injectable anesthesia is the finality of the dose. Once given, only some of the drugs can be reversed, many cannot. If a patient is unusually sensitive or reacts unpredictably to the drug, then damage or death could result. In veterinary medicine, we attempt to use reversible drugs for added options in case of an unpredictable reaction.
Another technique we use to give more options in case of anesthesia reactions is to titrate the dose. Certain intravenous injections and inhalant anesthetics can be given just enough to make the patient go right to the point of falling asleep (called “going under.”) Mini pigs do well with titrated inhalant anesthesia. In the picture, you can see Moose has a mask over his snout so he can breathe the anesthetic gas.
The Spay or Castration Surgery
Mini pigs can be spayed or castrated just like cats or dogs. The anesthesia, personality, and reactions to pain and anesthesia differ, but the anatomy is very similar.
However, unlike cats and dogs, inguinal hernias are common in male pigs. An inguinal hernia is an abnormally large hole in between the muscles in the right and/or left lower abdomen where the testicular cords come through the body wall. Normally, there is a small space between the abdominal muscles where nerves, blood vessels, and the testicular cords travel from inside to outside the body. In some pigs, some fat or even intestines can pooch out through an enlarged hole. They may become stuck or incarcerated, or trapped outside the body with the blood and nerve supply cut off. If this happens, the trapped, incarcerated body part dies painfully and the body could die as a result. (The dead part must be surgically removed and the remaining pieces put back together and the hernia fixed to restore bodily function.)
When a mini pig is castrated, the inguinal ring could be too big and intestines could fall out of the abdomen and kill the pig. An experienced pig surgeon knows how to check for inguinal herniation and surgically tighten the inguinal ring so the pig will be healthy. Your pet mini pig deserves his surgery when he is young, resilient, and manageable.
Mini Pig Surgical Recovery is Crazy Fast
Little Moose was up about 2 minutes after Doc Truli finished surgery. Please do not wait to decide about spaying or neutering your little pig. Anesthesia, pain control, reactions, and recovery time will be much more of a big deal after your pig crosses that 20 pound (8-10 kg) weight.