Tusks and Hooves
All pigs grow tusks. This, of course, includes potbelly pigs. Female pot bellied pigs grow small tusks that rarely get large enough to stick out of their mouth. My female, Flower, has tusks that are about the same size as the rest of her teeth. Neutered males will have a nice set of tusks that grow large enough to protrude from the mouth. This will start to happen at about three years of age.
Tusks need not be trimmed unless they are causing a problem for the pig or you. NEVER let anyone trim the tusks if the pig is awake and screaming. He can accidentally inhale the tusk. Tusk trimming is best done by your vet while using Isofluorine gas anesthesia. Make sure that at least 1/2 inch or more of tusk is left. Potbelly pigs have a tendency to become infected if the tusk is trimmed to close to the gum line. Also, DO NOT have anyone remove the tusks!! They are part of the jawbone and removal will cause serious problems! If at all possible, avoid trimming your male's tusks.
Pigs that are up on their pasterns will most likely never need a hoof trim. Some believe that those who have access to concrete and are able to walk on it daily may never need a hoof trim. Of course this only works if the pig is up on it's pasterns. The rest of us will need to keep them trimmed on a regular basis.
For the new piggy parent, here is the best way to get started. Teach your baby pig to let you touch his/her feet. The easiest way is to get piggy down for a belly rub and starting with the front feet, gently take a foot into your hand. Don't apply any pressure at first. Massage lightly with thumb and forefinger on the pads, hooves and leg, as though you were giving a light foot rub.
If piggy yanks foot away and heads for the hills, be patient....you may have to start even gentler, just resting a finger on the hoof for a few seconds. If he pulls away, let go, but don't give up. It may take several sessions before you can get your pig to let you hold a foot. Remember to talk to your pig and continue with the belly rub. Do NOT force your pig by grabbing a foot and holding on! You will NEVER gain their confidence that way and the chances of you being able to trim their hooves after that will be close to zero.
There are several different tools used for trimmng. A nail file for acrylic nails or emery board, wood rasp, and even a dremel will work. We like the sharp scissor style pruning shears rather than the horse hoof clipper. There are many different tools will do a good job. Try to find ones that are easy to replace that you are comfortable with.
Our vet always asked to use our hoof trimmers rather than his hoof snips (the farm type) as the ones we use are extremely sharp and easy to use. No wonder we call them the Best Hoof Trimmers In The World (See our Product Page)
We do a little at a time and we keep up with the growth of the hooves. Remember, each pig is different. Do NOT force them. They, and you, can learn to do this with time and patience. It may be easier to just try to do one foot at a time. If you work a little at a time with treats your pig may get used to it.
Start by nipping off small bits and watch out for any sign of pink. Stop a slice sooner rather than later. If the hoof is white it is easy to see the quick. You can take a sharpie and mark how far you want to trim. Also, wetting the hoof or using a flashlight right up against the hoof makes it easy to see the quick. If the hoof is black you or sort of flying blind and just need to be extra careful. It may take you more than one session to get hooves trimmed. This is normal. We also suggest that you have some type of blood stop on hand should you get the quick.
If your pigs hoof is starting to split from the top down try filing ACROSS the split where the split stops. These splits don't usually cause a problem unless they are deep into the tissue. If there is no sign of it being deep....like redness or being tender than they can be closed up, but if its a deep crack then you don't want to cover it up as the infection can't drain should there be any. As long as its superficial it is fine to fill it in or cover it up.
The information presented within our information and resources section has been collected from what we consider experts and various reputable persons including vets, sanctuary owners, and private pig owners among othsrs. Information shown is the latest available. Although we have had pet pigs for 20 years and consider ourselves quite knowledgeable, we are by no means veterinarians. Any health related information presented below should be checked out with your personal veterinarian.