5 Things Potbellied Pig Owners Need To Know About Pneumonia

Pneumonia is a lung condition characterized by inflammation of the alveoli, the air sacs within the lungs. This inflammation can be caused by bacterial infections. While it's well known that people can develop pneumonia, you may not know that your new potbellied pig can get it, as well. Here are five things potbellied pig owners need to know about pneumonia.

How do potbellied pigs get pneumonia?

Generally, pneumonia in potbellied pigs is caused by Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae, a species of bacteria. M. hyopneumoniae is also known as porcine enzootic pneumonia, and it is endemic throughout the world. Your pig can be infected by their mother or siblings or through contact with other infected pigs.

Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae is another possible cause of pneumonia in potbellied pigs. It's reported to cause about 20% of pneumonia cases and is highly contagious. A. pleuropneumoniae doesn't survive for long outside of its host, so your pig will need to come into direct contact with infected pigs to get sick. Generally, nose-to-nose contact is required, so try to prevent this type of contact. If your pig is often exposed to other pigs, it's possible to get your pig vaccinated against this type of bacteria.

What are the signs of pneumonia in pigs?

The signs of pneumonia can be vague at first. You may notice that your potbellied pig isn't interested in their food anymore. They may eat less than they used to or become a picky eater. Since pigs love to eat, this is a major warning sign of illness.

As the infection worsens, lung-specific symptoms will develop. You'll notice that your pig is coughing or breathing rapidly. Pigs with pneumonia can also develop a fever. Pigs are considered to have a fever when their temperature reaches 101ºF, and pneumonia is typically associated with higher fevers in the range of 102ºF to 104ºF. When you take your pig's temperature, remember to use a rectal thermometer to get an accurate reading.

Is pneumonia serious for potbellied pigs?

Pneumonia is a dangerous infection, and it can be life-threatening for your pet. This is because potbellied pigs have a small lung capacity compared to other animals, and this makes lung infections more serious. This is because the swelling reduces the amount of space in your pig's lungs, and since their lungs are already small to start off with, they can't take in as much air as they need to.

How is pneumonia treated?

Pneumonia is treated with antibiotics. Since different species of bacteria can cause pneumonia in potbellied pigs, your vet may perform a sputum culture to determine the most appropriate antibiotic. A sputum culture involves taking a sample of the mucus that your pig produces when they cough and then testing the sample to determine which bacteria are present. Sensitivity testing can then be performed to determine which antibiotics will work best against the bacteria.

Your pig may suffer from permanent respiratory problems after treatment. They may have tissue loss in their lungs due to the infection, and you may notice that they have recurring respiratory problems. If your potbellied pig experiences respiratory problems like difficulty breathing after their recovery, take them to the vet to determine if they have suffered tissue loss.

Can your pig give you pneumonia?

Pneumonia is contagious, but fortunately, it doesn't spread from pigs to people. This is because the two species of bacteria that can cause pneumonia in pigs—M. hyopneumoniae and A. pleuropneumoniaeare species-specific. Your sick pig can infect other pigs that it encounters, but you don't need to worry about catching it. These species of bacteria also don't spread to other household pets like dogs or cats.

If you think your potbellied pig is suffering from pneumonia, take them to an emergency vet at a clinic like 1st Pet Veterinary Centers right away for treatment.