Losing a mini pig is truly heartbreaking. The connections we have with our pet pigs are unlike that of any other relationship. When the cause is unknown, we can struggle for years with questions of why? We all experience the stages of grief for our mini pig that we do for our human friends and family. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. As we pass through these stages of grief we will look for a place to put blame. How did this happen? Why did this happen? What/who is to blame for this massive loss?
A necropsy is the animal equivalent of an autopsy. This can provide us with the answers that we search for. A necropsy is a physical, medical, pathological examination by your veterinarian. This examination can give detailed information or evidence of what may have happened just before, during, and after the passing of our pig. While this process or idea may seem morbid to some, you can be assured that the answers received and peace of mind that follows are a tremendous value when grieving.
Things that could be determined with a necropsy:
- Was something ingested that played a role?
- Were there any physical injuries to the pig?
- Are congenital abnormalities present?
- Were organs healthy and working properly?
- Was brain tissue healthy?
- Was there a natural disease, bacteria, virus involved?
- Were their age related issues?
- Were their nutrition related issues?
- Did environment contribute?
- Was there foul play involved?
Imporance of getting a necropsy:
- To determine cause of death
- To determine if natural causes or human error caused the death
- To determine if there is a contagion that may affect other pigs
- To determine if there is a toxin that may affect other pigs
- To determine if there are preventative measures that can be made to protect other pigs or future pigs on the property (such as vaccines, different food or feeding practices, removing a toxic plant from premises, or preventative antibiotics)
- To determine if genetic factors are involved, and then to alert the breeder of the concern to protect other pigs
- To further veterinary knowledge on the health and medical conditions in mini pigs to help the community as a whole better care for these precious pets
Most common cause of sudden or unexpected death in mini pigs:
- Respiratory infections such as pneumonia
- Other bacterial, viral, and or fungal infections
- Twisted bowel
- Obstructed or impacted bowel
- Cancers and tumors
- Toxic substances ingested
- Heart defect, heart failure, Porcine Stress Syndrome
- Organ failures
- Genetic deformities or genetic faults
- Physical injuries (such as being hit by a car or kicked by a horse)
- Reaction to medication
- Vitamin and/or mineral deficiency
Getting a necropsy is very affordable and the results are priceless. It can be a very emotional decision to make. This procedure will not only give you the answers you may need to feel at peace, but it can also help the mini pig community as a whole. The results of a necropsy can alert us of any diseases, bacteria or virus that may be making an appearance. We can learn of dangers in the home or outdoor environment that may be contributing to the loss of our pets. We can protect other pigs within our own family by getting more detailed information to keep them safe.
Steps to preparing for a necropsy are simple, but require some calm thought. If you find yourself here because of a recent loss please take a deep breath and release it knowing that we are holding you tightly in spirit as you proceed.
Preparing for necropsy should be done immediately for the most accurate collection and study of information by your veterinarian.
Don’t delay in making this decision and taking the following steps:
- Take a photo of your pig in his or her last rest.
- Lovingly wrap your pig in a favorite blanket.
- Lay your pig in a refrigerated or cool space that will NOT allow for freezing.
- Call your veterinarian immediately with the news to schedule an appointment for necropsy.
- Photograph your pig’s entire living space, and specifically the place of last rest.
- Take samples of food, water, and any waste such as vomit, pee or poop for your vet.
- Collect any documents you may have on health history, vaccinations, surgeries, etc.
You should receive some answers fairly quickly. Some samples may require examination by a lab or university which can take a few days to a week for results. During this time, you can make decisions on how you would like to have your pig laid to final rest. Most vets will be able to provide options for you. Some will offer a hoof or snout keepsake that you can cherish forever.
If you find this article because of a loss, we share our deepest condolences. We hope this information helps ease your pain as you find the answers you need.