Pig Terminology, Definitions, Glossary of Terms
Abscess: A pocket of infection under the skin filled with pus. May need veterinary care.
Adult teeth: The final set of teeth of a pig, after the baby teeth have fallen out.
American Mini Pig: Pet pig of mixed breed heritage fitting the American Mini Pig Breed Standard and registered by the American Mini Pig Association Registry.
Anesthetics: Medications or drugs that cause reversible loss of sensation, anesthesia. These medications are either gas or injection. Anesthetics are used to put a pig “under” for surgery or other medical procedures. Common anesthetics in pigs are Isoflorane gas or ISO gas, Ketamine, Xylazine, Telazol, and Propofol.
Anthelmintic: Anti parasite medication, dewormers. Examples are Ivomec (Ivermectin) and SafeGuard (Fenbendazole)
Antibiotics: Medications or drugs to treat bacterial infections.
Arthritis: Joint pain or joint disease usually associated with advanced age.
Atrophic Rhinitis (AR): A serious disease in pigs due to the bacteria Pasteurella multocidia. Atrophic Rhinitis affects the naval passage with sneezing, drainage, and eventual deformity.
Baby teeth: Teeth of a piglet or young pig that will fall out as the mature teeth come in. The teeth of a newborn pig are called needle teeth or milk teeth.
Barrow: Male pig that was castrated before sexual maturity.
Biosecurity: Procedures or actions taken to prevent the spread of disease.
Blowing Coat: A seasonal change in coat where pigs shed their hair before growing in a new coat of hair.
Boar: Intact male pig, not neutered.
Boar Musk: A highly offensive odor produced by intact boar pigs fueled by testosterone.
Body Condition Score: A numeric score to describe the range of body condition in a mini pig. 1 and 2 show the body of an underweight pig, 3 shows a healthy weight pig, 4 and 5 show the body of an overweight or obese pig.
Body Temperature: The normal body temperature of a mini pig is 99 – 101 degrees.
Brucellosis: A zoonotic bacterial infection. Pigs are suspeptible to brucellosis and can transmit the disease to humans.
Bulk: In the pig’s diet, bulk is fiber or filling foods.
Castration: To neuter a mini pig.
Coccidiosis: AKA Coccidia. A parasitic disease of the intestinal tract of animals caused by coccidian protozoa. Causes dangerous diarrhea especially in young piglets.
Colostrum: First milk produced by the sow with each litter of piglets. Very valuable nutrients providing immunity to piglets for the first several weeks.
Conjunctivitis: Infection in the eye.
Constipation: Condition of hardened stools making it difficult to eliminate.
Contagious: A disease or infection that can be transmitted to another person or animal.
Cryptorchidism: A hereditary condition in which one or both testicles failed to descend into the scrotum. A neuter will require abdominal surgery to retrieve the undescended testicle.
Declaws: The two smaller, non-weight bearing toes on each hoof.
Dippity Pig: Dippity Pig Syndrome is an acute, painful skin condition that occurs along the back in healthy young pigs. AKA Bleeding Back Syndrome or Erythema Multiforme.
Enrichment: Animal enrichment is the process of providing a stimulating environment for your pet. Enrichment is described as improving or enhancing the environment to provide an outlet for natural behaviors and needs through physical and mental challenges. These types of enrichment are used by zoos, sanctuaries, and pet owners worldwide.
Entropian: A hereditary condition in which a portion of the eyelid is folded inward. This can cause the eyelashes to irritate and scratch the surface of the eye resulting in pain, infections, scarring, and eventual blindness.
Erysipelas: AKA Diamond Back Disease A bacterial skin infection that is deadly to pigs if not treated early. Signs include high fever, lack of appetite, lethargy, and in some cases skin welts.
Euthanasia: To humanely end the life of a pet in order to stop irreversible suffering.
External Parasites: Parasites that live on the outside of a pig’s body, most commonly mites, swine lice, and ticks.
Farrowing Pen: A secure area to provide care for the sow before and after birthing by allowing her to get individual food, water, and care. The farrowing pen also protects piglets after farrowing as it prevents the sow from squashing the piglets. Piglets need higher temperatures than sows so pens allow a separate area for piglets to keep warm.
Farrowing: When a sow gives birth to piglets.
Fecal: A test done by the veterinarian to check stool for signs of parasites.
Flop: The act of a pig flopping onto its side. They usually do this in response to being “forked” or wanting a belly rub.
Forking: The act of poking a pig with something pointed (such as a fork) to elicit a pleasure response.
Fostering: To temporarily house, love, and provide care to a displaced pet pig until an adoptive home is found.
Foster Failure: A loving reference to adopt the pig that you were meant to be fostering. The “failure” is that you didn’t complete the search for an adoptive family, which is a great thing!!
Frothing: Foaming at the mouth. Pigs do this in response to food or sexual arousal.
Geriatric: The life stage of pigs in their elderly years requiring special care.
Gestation: The length of pregnancy. In mini pigs this is 3 months, 3 weeks, and 3 days.
Gilt: A young female pig between being a weaner and her first litter. Once she has her first litter she is called a sow.
Herd: A group or family of pigs.
Hernia: Occurs when the intestines push through a weak spot or tear in the lower abdominal wall causing a visible bulge in the abdomen or testicular area (inguinal).
Hoof: The hard nail on a pig’s foot that must be maintained at a proper length through trimming, filing, or natural abrasion.
Hypoglycemia: Low blood sugar, especially dangerous in very young piglets.
Inbreeding: To breed pigs with close family lines.
Inguinal Hernia: A hernia in such case as the intestines protrude through the inguinal canal into the scrotal sac. This is an emergency situation and should be evaluated immediately by a veterinarian.
Inguinal Ring, Inguinal Canal: The opening from the abdomen to the scrotum. This canal or ring needs to be stitched closed during neuter to prevent hernia.
Internal Parasites: Parasites that live inside the body of the pig. They may reside in the stomach, intestines, lungs, or kidney.
Intramuscular Injection: An injection given deep into the muscle tissue.
Iron Deficiency Anemia: Low levels of oxygen carrying red blood cells in the blood. Piglets are born with iron deficiency anemia.
Jowl: The hanging fat on a mini pig’s neck.
Leptospirosis: A bacterial infection spread by wildlife. This is a zoonotic disease that pigs can contract and spread to humans. Vaccinations are available.
Litter: All the piglets born to one sow from the same pregnancy.
Mange Mites: AKA Sarcoptic Mites or Scabies. The most common external parasites these itchy mites cause great discomfort and secondary skin infections if left untreated. Ivomec (Ivermectin) will treat and prevent mite outbreaks.
Mastitis: Infection in the mammary glands of a nursing mother pig.
Microchip: A form of permanent identification used in mini pigs and other pets. Required by law for some interstate travels.
Milk Line: A protruding line on a sow’s teats showing the swelling of incoming milk.
Mini Pig, Miniature Pig: A general term for pet pigs of purebred or mixed heritage. Mini Pigs are much smaller than their full size counterparts.
Mohawk: The long hairs on the back of a pig’s neck that stand up when they are content, excited, or alarmed.
MTP, Move the Pig: A method of communicating to pigs by moving them as they would treat herd mates.
Mulberry Heart Disease: Fatal disease in pigs caused by a deficiency of vitamin e and/or selenium.
Necropsy: An autopsy performed on a mini pig by a veterinarian to determine cause of death.
Needle teeth: set of 8 very sharp teeth in swine that are usually cut off 1 to 3 day old piglets to prevent injury to other piglets and sow’s udder.
Neuter: To remove the testicles of a pig for their health and welfare. This is most often done before 8 weeks old. Pigs need to be neutered to make good family pets.
Nose Ring: A barbaric metal ring that is placed into a pig’s nose with the intention of causing pain when they root.
Omnivore: A diet consisting of plant and animal matter. Pigs are omnivores by nature requiring a variety of foods.
Ovariohysterectomy: A spay procedure removing the sex organs of a female mini pig.
OTC – Over the counter medication: Medications that can be purchased “over the counter” at your local drugstore without a veterinary prescription.
Oxytocin: A hormone drug used in veterinary medicine to cause uterine contractions in the farrowing sow.
Pan feeding: Feeding orphaned piglets out of a dish, a pan, or a bowl.
Parasites: An organism living in or on the pig, draining it of nutrients or blood. Examples are mites, lice, ticks, roundworms, tapeworms, and coccidiosis.
Porcine Parvo Infection (PPI): A viral infection affecting the reproductive health of pigs.
Permanent Identification: For the purposes of interstate travel, permanent identification is typically required. The form of permanent identification varies. Microchips are preferable. In rare cases an ear tag is required by law.
Piglet: A baby pig.
Polynesian Pig: Pigs living in Hawaii, both as wild pigs and family pets.
Porcine: A general term to describe anything representing or relating to pigs.
Preputial Diverticulum Ablation: Removal of the preputial diverticulum gland, in order to prevent odors from male pigs.
Preputial Diverticulum: AKA Preputial Gland. A butterfly shaped sac dorsal to the prepuce. There is a single opening leading into the prepuce. This pocket inside the sheath is prone to storing semen, urine, and other fluids that are prime breeding ground for bacteria and odors.
Prescription Medication: A medication that can only be obtained through a pharmacy with a prescription by a veterinarian.
Probiotics: Live bacteria and yeasts that are beneficial to the digestive system.
Prolapse: A condition where the vaginal or rectal tissues slip outside of the body. This is an emergency situation that requires immediate veterinary care.
PSS, Porcine Stress Syndrome: A group of conditions caused by a recessive gene. Often causing sudden death due to an episode of high stress, halothane gas, or unknown cause.
Pyometra: Infection of the uterus. Pyometra is a deadly infection if left untreated.
Quarantine: To separate or restrict movement of mini pigs in order to prevent the spread of potential disease or to allow recovery from illness or medical procedures.
Rectal Thermometer: A thermometer that can be inserted rectally to check the temperature of a pig.
Rescue Organization: An officially recognized organization that rescues displaced pigs, fosters them temporarily, screens adoptive homes and places the rescued pigs in new homes.
Respiratory Infection: A viral or bacterial infection of the respiratory tract. Respiratory infections may be mild or serious requiring veterinary treatment.
Ringworm: A fungal infection on the skin causing circular lesions. This infection can be spread to people or other pets.
Rooting: Rooting is a natural behavior for pigs where the pig uses his snout to push or nudge into something repeatedly.
Runt: The smallest pig in the litter. The runt may be small due to competition for nutrition in the womb or congenital defects and failure to thrive. Runts will often catch up to siblings in size once given the chance, sometimes exceeding the size of siblings.
Salt Toxicity or Salt Poisoning: Salt poisoning occurs due to limited water causing a sodium imbalance in the pig.
Sanctuary Organization: An officially recognized group that rescues pigs with the intention and ability to care for them for life. Sanctuaries may or may not adopt out pigs to approved families.
Sarcoptic Mites: AKA Scabies. The most common external parasites these itchy mites cause great discomfort and secondary skin infections if left untreated. Ivomec (Ivermectin) will treat and prevent mite outbreaks.
Scent Glands: Small holes on the front legs of mini pigs that excretes a cheese like compound which containing pheromones and other semiochemical compounds.
Scours: The most common cause of severe diarrhea caused by E. Coli, usually affecting young piglets. Scours is deadly if left untreated.
Scrotum: The external area of the male genital also known as the scrotal sac.
Sedative: Medications or drugs to calm the nervous system. This relaxes the pig to various degrees reducing stress and allowing for medical procedures. Common sedatives used in pigs are Ketamine, Diazepam, Xylazine, Detomidine, Butophenol, Midazolam, Azaperaone.
Snare: A painful restraint device made of a pole and a metal loop that is placed around the pig’s snout. The use of snares in pet pigs is unacceptable.
Snout: The nose of a pig, their most sensitive sense organ with a cartilage disk used for digging.
Sorting board: AKA Pig Board. A solid board used to move pigs from one area to another. Also used to protect oneself against the advances of aggressive pigs.
Sow: A female pig that has given birth to a litter of piglets.
Spay: To remove the female reproductive organs.
Stag: Boar that is castrated after maturity.
Subcutaneous Injection: An injection of medication under the skin.
Swine Pox: Contagious viral infection that affects the skin of pigs. The virus can live in the environment for long periods of time. Frequently spread by lice or mange mites.
Swine: A general term for any type of pig.
Teeth Clipping: To clip the infant needle teeth from a piglet. This is usually done at 1 to 3 days old to prevent injury to the sow or litter mates.
Transmissible Diseases: AKA infection diseases. Diseases that can be passed from one pig to another.
Tusk: The canine teeth of pigs. Each pig has 4 tusks, two on bottom and two on top. These are not rooted as normal teeth but are instead attached to the jaw bone. Made of ivory, tusks cannot be removed safely, but can be trimmed as needed.
Umbilical Hernia: Hernia that occurs due to weakened supportive muscles around the umbilical stump or belly button. This causes the umbilical opening not to close properly and intestines protrude through the intestinal wall to form a bulge where the hernia is.
UTI-Urinary Tract Infection: An infection in the urinary tract requiring veterinary care and prescription antibiotics. This infection can turn serious quickly if left untreated, traveling up to the kidneys.
Vitamins: Supplements given to balance the individual nutritional needs of pigs.
Wallow: A deep water or mud hole used for cooling and skin parasite control.
Water Deprivation: Salt poisoning occurs due to limited water causing a sodium imbalance in the pig.
Weaning: Separating piglet from sow/mother
Weight Estimation: The formula to weigh a pig without a scale is to measure using a measure tape. Girth x Girth x Length / 400 = weight in pounds.
Zoomies: AKA Rodeo Pig. A short burst of excitement when mini pig’s run or zoom around, sometimes spinning, bucking or barking.
Zoonotic: Infectious diseases of animals that can be transmitted to humans.