After we get settled, Lucky started having diarrhea.
Completely unfamiliar with caring for pigs and pig health, we did a little research to find out what caused diarrhea and how to treat it.
I suppose stress could’ve caused it. Being captured and taken to a new place with unknown sounds, smells, people, was probably very stressful.
More likely, the diarrhea was caused by a bacteria in Lucky’s stomach, such as parasites, Escherichia coli, or salmonella. It also been caused by ticks or another illness. There are quite a few things that can produce diarrhea symptoms in pigs, however none of them yield positive outcomes.
Diarrhea is often fatal for baby pigs. They lack nutrients, and ultimately pass from dehydration.
We didn’t know how much time we would have with Lucky, so we gave him lots of love and ensured that he had plenty to drink. I wanted him to feel loved, secure, and cared for, however those feelings may look for him.
I didn’t love him immediately, although as I held him, comforted him, fed him, kept him warm and he imprinted on me, I quickly fell for him.
We watched as Lucky’s stool went from firm two soft and soft to liquid. Not only did the texture change, so did the color. Pig excrement should be dark brown or black. We observed it change from dark to light brown, then to yellow and at times so light it was almost clear (no, it was not urine).
The prevalence of Lucky’s defecations increased from occasional to constant. It became so bad that Lucky would release his bowels every time he ate. Simultaneously, milk would go in one and while excrement came out the other.
We had a sick piggy who needed medical attention.
He didn’t seem to recognize that he was unloading, which lead to lots of dirty towels and clothes. Despite this, he was not feeling well so we gave him extra cuddles to make whatever time he had special.
That weekend, I called almost every veterinarian who might see a pig that I could find, including our cat and dog doctor, and mobile, farm, emergency and numerous local vets. None of them treated pigs. Finally, I received a referral for an exotic animal doctor, although his office wasn’t open until Monday so I left a voice mail for him.
The veterinarian tested Lucky’s stool for parasites. It came back negative, but it did show he had hookworms. While hookworms is a type of parasite, they’re commonly classified as a ‘worm’ rather than a ‘parasite’. They also sent a sample out to test for E. coli and salmonella. The results are still out.
We had to be careful with the hookworms, because they can be passed to other animals and we have a cat and a dog.
We received conflicting information about whether or not these parasitic worms are contagious to humans. Humans can contract hookworms, however it may be a different species than swine’s hook worms. If these hook worms aren’t detected and treated early enough, they can lead to anemia, ascites (a condition that leads to a build up of fluid in the abdomen), and heart failure in extreme cases.
Hook worms are not only dangerous for people, they’re also hazardous to pigs’ wellbeing and longevity. Piglets can contract hook worms (Globocephalus worms) through their skin and by ingesting worm larvae. Once inside the hogs’ body, the worm moves toward its host’s gut where it attaches itself to the lining, sucks the host’s blood and lays eggs. Pigs can suffer from anemia, digestive issues and weight loss as a result of hookworms.