Pigs should be dewormed on a regular basis for internal and external parasites. These parasites are common in the pig’s environment, especially those that root and graze or spend time outdoors. They can contract parasites from soil, grazing, other pets, other pigs, eating bugs (including earth worms or mealworms), contact with hay, even if pig parents have horses or work in a barn they can bring parasites to their indoor pigs. Most of these parasites will show no symptoms until after they have taken a toll on your pig’s health. Many of the parasites will not show up on a fecal exam.
A regular schedule of two broad spectrum dewormers will kill the internal and external parasites your pigs are prone to carrying. Pigs should be dewormed every 4-6 months depending on your area. Two easily accessible and easily dosed dewormers that will cover the common parasites found in pet pigs are ivermectin (brand name Ivomec or Noromectin) and fenbendazole (brand name Safe-guard).
Both dewormers can be found over the counter at local feed stores, Tractor supply, or online at Amazon, Jeffers, KV Vet Supply, ect. Both dewormers can be given orally (no need for stressful injections) at home.
Ivermectin (name brand Ivomec or Noromectin) –Treats, mites, lice, and a variety of internal parasites.
Use 1% injection solution labeled for swine. With a small syringe, dose 0.2 cc or ml per 10 pounds of body weight to mix with pig’s food. Your pig will need 2 doses, 14 days apart. Repeat these 2 doses every 4-6 months. This bottle will cost between $30-60 but will last years in a normal pet household. Check expiration date.
The injectible formula tastes bitter given orally so mix with food to cover the taste. This will ensure a stress free deworming, the pigs think they’re getting a special treat. Mix with yogurt, canned pumpkin, apple sauce or squirt into a piece of bread, Oreo cookie, into a strawberry or grape… whatever their favorite food is.
Fenbendazole (name brand Safe-guard)– for tapeworms, whipworms, ascarids. Safeguard for goats, 10% suspension (100 mg/ml) is an excellent choice, but does not treat mites or lice. Therefore, this is an excellent addition to ivermectin but should not replace it. Dosing with this oral suspension is easy. Mix 0.1 ml or cc per 10 lbs of body weight, mixed into food such as canned pumpkin or yogurt. This dose should be given once a day for three days in a row. If worms are suspected, repeat the 3 day dosing two weeks after the first dosing. Regular schedule for Fenbendazole is every 4-6 months.
Where do I buy dewormers?
Ivomec Click Here
SafeGuard Click Here
What age do I start deworming?
6 weeks old is a great time. If piglet is younger than 6 weeks please consult a veterinarian. Any time after 6 weeks, you want to treat the pig as soon as she arrives home, even if you were told she has already been dewormed.
How often should I deworm?
Most pigs are just fine with a twice a year schedule. Every 6 months. Spring and Fall. In especially warm climates or areas with heavy parasite loads, you may choose to treat every 4 months year round, with both ivermectin and fenbendazole.
Is it necessary to deworm my pig? What if he isn’t itching?
Many families have been tortured by itchy mites before they realized their pig was infected. Even a negative skin scraping does not mean your pig is mite free. A small colony of mites, or a pig that is an asymptomatic carrier (showing no symptoms even though the parasites are present). Every new pig should be immediately dewormed.
What can I use to treat mites?
Ivermectin, brand name Ivomec or Noromectin will treat mites & lice & some internal parasites. Safeguard does NOT treat mites.
Do I have to give my pig a shot?
Absolutely not. Actually, it’s not recommended if you aren’t particularly experienced. Pigs have very tough skin and some pig owners have accidentally broken a needle inside the pig. Not to mention, it’s an unnecessary stress and pain for the pig and parent. Both ivermectin and fenbendazole can be given ORALLY so you only have to mix it with a treat. It can be an extra special treat that she doesn’t get any other time. The ivermectin is bitter so squirt it into a muffin, mix it with yogurt, apple sauce, canned pumpkin, ice cream, squirt into the middle of a cream filled cookie or cupcake, in the middle of a peanut butter sandwich. You can even inject it into a strawberry or banana. The fenbendazole doesn’t taste so bad, can be mixed with any ole snack.
How do I know if my pig had worms?
You won’t necessarily know, and that’s fine, as long as she is treated appropriately. If she has a heavy parasite load of roundworms you may see “spaghetti” looking worms in her poop over the next couple of days.
Do inside pigs need to be dewormed?
Yes. I have heard many times of completely indoor pigs having mites and/or intestinal worms. Unfortunately, you usually don’t recognize the symptoms of these parasites until they have taken quite a toll on your pig’s health and immune system.
Can I use paste, pour on or feed additives?
Some people do use paste, but the strength is difficult to dose in our small pigs. For pigs over 100 lbs the dosing is easier. The paste is not recommended for smaller pigs. The injectible formula CAN be given orally, is a bit more expensive to purchase but will last a very long time. Pour on dewormers, absolutely not. These are not designed for pigs and many have had terrible chemical burns resulting.
Can I use a different dewormer?
Alternative medication for mites and internal parasites is doramectin, name brand Dectomax. May be alternated with ivermection. This will treat mites, lice, and some internal parasites. Alternative medication for mites and internal parasites is doramectin, name brand Dectomax. May be alternated with ivermection.
Does lifestyle affect how often I should deworm?
If the pigs are in less than idea conditions, crowded, if the weather is especially accommodating to parasites, or if you’re finding dead worms after deworming then I would increase the schedule to every 4 months. The regular schedule is every 6 months.
Can I deworm pregnant or nursing pigs?
Yes, fenbendazole and ivermectin are both safe in these situations. Pregnant sows can be dewormed and this will actually help prevent her from transferring mites to the newborn babies. Sows can also be dewormed while nursing their piglets but the babies should NOT be dewormed until 6 weeks unless instructed by a veterinarian.
Parasites that live on the skin of the pig.
Ticks & Fleas: While fleas are not common on adult healthy pigs because the skin is too tough to bite through, they can infest young piglets and hitch a ride if other pets in the environment have fleas. Advantix, Advantage and Frontline (labeled for dogs) are safe for pigs if you follow the weight dosing. You can buy these from your veterinarian according to the weight of your pig.
Mites are tiny microscopic external parasites that live on pig’s skin. They are also referred to as scabies or scarcoptic mange. This is a very common parasite, infecting approximately 60% of national herds. The first symptom is excessive scratching or rubbing against objects. The common signs are ear shaking and severe rubbing of the skin against the sides of the pen. Approximately three to eight weeks after initial infection the skin becomes sensitized to the mite protein and a severe allergy may develop with very tiny red pimples covering the whole of the skin. These cause intense irritation and rubbing to the point where bleeding may occur. Head shaking is a common symptom and hairs are often rubbed away leaving bare patches. The incubation period to the appearance of clinical signs is approximately three weeks although it may be several months before signs are noticed. The life cycle takes 14-15 days from adult to adult to complete. The mite spreads directly from pig to pig, either by close skin contact or contact with recently contaminated surfaces. If pigs are housed in groups there is increased opportunity for spread. The mite dies out quickly away from the pig, under most farm conditions, in less than five days. These mites can be spread to other pets and family members, but cannot survive or reproduce away from their pig host. Treatment is with ivermectin or Dectomax, either by injection or given orally with food. All medications are ineffective against the eggs hence the need to treat twice, 10-14 days apart.
Transmission of pig mites to humans and other pets:
From the CDC:
“What is scabies?”
Scabies is an infestation of the skin by the human itch mite (Sarcoptes scabiei var.hominis). The microscopic scabies mite burrows into the upper layer of the skin where it lives and lays its eggs. The most common symptoms of scabies are intense itching and a pimple-like skin rash. The scabies mite usually is spread by direct, prolonged, skin-to-skin contact with a person who has scabies.
Scabies is found worldwide and affects people of all races and social classes. Scabies can spread rapidly under crowded conditions where close body and skin contact is frequent. Institutions such as nursing homes, extended-care facilities, and prisons are often sites of scabies outbreaks. Child care facilities also are a common site of scabies infestations.
*Did I get scabies from my pet?*
No. Animals do not spread human scabies. Pets can become infested with a different kind of scabies mite that does not survive or reproduce on humans but causes “mange” in animals. If an animal with “mange” has close contact with a person, the animal mite can get under the person’s skin and cause temporary itching and skin irritation. However, the animal mite cannot reproduce on a person and will die on its own in a couple of days. Although the person does not need to be treated, the animal should be treated because its mites can continue to burrow into the person’s skin and cause symptoms until the animal has been treated successfully.”
Lydia Weaver: Sarcoptes scabiei var suis is the mange that affects pigs. Take note of the last two words in the name….var suis. This means it’s the swine type and thus, other species are dead end hosts. This means other animals, including dogs and humans are dead end hosts to the mite. They cannot reproduce there, so while the mite MAY go for a little explore on you or the dog, it cannot build a condo and invite his friends to come try out the jacuzzi. 😉
From Dr. Carr:
“The disease is spread through pig to pig contact and through pigs coming into contact with infested buildings
The mite is able to survive 21 days off the host in ideal situations. The warmer and drier the conditions the shorter the survival time.
The pig mange mite does not live in or on other hosts”
From Iowa State University:
“Sarcoptic mange is a common disease and represents the most important ectoparasitic disease of swine. Sarcoptic mange occurs in many other species but the mite Sarcoptes scabiei var suis is specific only for swine. “
Pigs4Ever: “Can a human get mange? If so, what would it be like? Mange on a human is usually an itchy red rash…REALLY ITCHY!! You shouldn’t have to worry too much about that as most cases on humans happen when the pig is really loaded with it and people take them to bed with them. The mites don’t like us as well as the pigs so it’s usually a light case and will go away on it’s own with simple nothing.”
From parasitipedia.net: “Sarcoptic mange mites are very small (0,45 mm long) and can be seen only under microscope. There are species-specific strains that attack cattle, sheep, goats and also humans. As a general rule, pig mange mites are not contagious for cattle, sheep, or humans, and vice-versa.”
Lice are a less common external parasite that can be seen crawling on your pig. They are approximately 3 mm long and congregate behind the pig’s ears, between the legs, and elbows. The adult female lays 2-4 eggs per day over a period of 20-30 days. The eggs are attached to the hair by a cement like substance and they hatch out as nymphs 10-21 days afterwards. The cycle from adult to adult is approximately 30 days. They are blood sucking and cause a certain amount of irritation but their economic effects are probably relatively low. They are aesthetically however not acceptable and severe infestations can cause anaemia. Treatment is with ivermectin, all medications are ineffective against the eggs hence the need to treat twice, 10-14 days apart.
Internal parasites: These must all use nutrients from the host to multiply and survive. They are found in the digestive tract, the kidneys, liver, lungs or the blood stream. There are four groups; nematodes (roundworms), thorny-headed worms, tapeworms and protozoa.
Large Roundworms are a common parasite infecting pigs. The adult parasite is a long white worm similar in size/shape to a spaghetti noodle. This parasite is zoonotic, it can be passed between pigs, humans, and other pets. Even single pig households are susceptible to large roundworms. A. suum eggs are extremely hardy and can survive for as long as 15 years in the environment. They remain viable in swine effluent water for at least 14 months. The eggs can be transported by infested pigs, insects, fomites, blowing dust, pig manure, and effluent. Symptoms or complications of roundworm infestation will not show until the parasite has taken a significant toll on your pig’s health. Roundworms can cause pneumonia, unthriftiness, failure to gain weight, rough hair coat, intestinal blockage, pendulous abdomen, chronic paroxysmal coughing and occasionally, abdominal expiratory dyspnea (“thumping”). Heavy infections can result in hundreds of ascarids in the intestine of a single pig. The eggs are ingested then hatch in the intestine, the larvae migrate through the wall and via the blood enter the liver. They then migrate through the liver to the lungs, finally reaching the trachea where they are coughed up, swallowed and returned to the small intestine to develop into adults. Large Roundworms are easily treated with ivermectin or fenbendazole.
Whipworms are another common parasite in pigs. This is another zoonotic parasite that can be transmitted to humans and other pets. In the United States, whipworms were one of the three most prevalent internal parasites of swine. The pigs pickup this parasite while grazing or rooting in the dirt. The adult worms are 5–6 cm long and whip-shaped; the anterior slender portion embeds within the epithelial cells of the large intestine, especially the cecum, with the thickened posterior third lying free in the lumen. Damage occurs to the pigs intestines with inflammation and lesions. Weight loss and diarrhea are symptoms of a whipworm infestation. Whipworms are easily treated with fenbendazole. Ivermectin has been used for whipworms with varying success.
For photo examples of internal and external parasites visit our Pinterest board by clicking here.