Thursday, August 23, 2012

Puncturing Pigs

Bleeding Bertie, consoling herself with corn husk
It has been a traumatic week of sticking pigs.  I've done these types of injections a zillion times before, so I was blindsided by the difficulties we encountered.  Sunday night I got so frustrated I had to take a time-out before dealing with them. 

First up, subcues for Bertie.  She's been getting one daily since early last week.  Giving Bertie a subcue is different than Willow; it's hard to find her shoulders under all that long, thick fur.  And she cried and cried the whole time I gave her fluids for five days in a row.  The second night, I dragged Rob over for a step-by-step subcue demonstration to convince myself I was doing everything correctly (I was).  I had him stay with me once or twice more while giving her fluids because I couldn't face Bertie by myself.  To top it off, the little rodent bleeds all the time!  Over the years, Willow may have bled on me a handful of times.  Poor Bertie ended up with red stripes on her white fur just about every night the first week.  Left me feeling like a terrible pig mama.

Finally, on Friday night, Bertie stopped crying and just got pissed at me for jabbing her.  She took it out on the piece of tomato we gave her to keep her distracted.  I can deal with her being pissy.  Bad attitude is a whole lot better than crying.  I've also managed to have a few blood-free subcues.  Couple that with a slightly perkier Bertie and I may be willing to admit the pain of the last week has been worthwhile.  I just wish she was gaining more weight.  Then I'd know the subcues are working.

Then there's Pinni's intramuscular hCG shot.

The common cure for ovarian cysts is to spay the sow.  Between the unfortunate outcome with Eclair's spay and my vet's dislike of spaying small animals, we've treated my last two cystic pigs with hormone injections.  Pippin and Willow got their shots from a vet tech.  After a few months of bringing them in every week or two, I asked for instructions to do it myself.  Initially I did the injections, but it really stressed me out.  So now I hold the pig and Rob gets to be the bad guy.  It works out much better that way, for all of us.

Pinniped's hCG isn't the same as I got four years ago and is much more concentrated.  The smaller amount of hCG makes injecting Pinni a lot quicker and less painful.  However, drawing the meds is a nightmare.  It's in a stoppered test tube that contains such a tiny amount of liquid, it's nearly impossible to draw into the needle.  I also discovered I was losing part of the dose between the end of the needle and the plunger of the syringe.  In trying to reclaim this bit of fluid, I managed to squirt some out instead, which necessitated Sunday's time-out to recover my cool.

In the end, we wrangled Pinni, gave her probably three-quarters of the dose, and chalked it up to an unfortunate learning experience.  I've contacted the vet, arranging for them to do the remaining injections and ensuring I get a different medication if Pinni requires additional injections.

So far, not much change with Pinni.  She's been a little less of a butthead in that she's not constantly harassing, nipping and stealing food from Bertie and otherwise acting hormonal.  I'm sure Bertie is grateful.  I'll start doing happy-dances when her belly fur starts growing back in earnest.


  1. I can't even imagine how difficult that must be for everyone. On the positive side, at least you're developing useful pig care skills..

  2. I know how hard it is to do something(even though it's for their good) when your little pig is crying. When I still had my Copper, clipping her nails was always a traumatic experience for me! Once she starting crying out in fear, I felt horrible. The same when I was trying to nurse her during her last week. Even though I had to force feed her both her food and her medicine, I felt like a monster.

  3. For anyone reading this post that is looking for how to give subcues, there's a good set of basic instructions at


I enjoy reading your comments and I strive to reply by email (if you're not set to no-reply).