Unlike dogs and cats, pigs have plethora of vaccines available to them to keep them healthy. Not all pig owners use every recommended vaccination, however. A lot depends on where the pig lives and what pathogens may be indigenous to the area.
Vaccination Schedule for Show and Pet Pigs
A typical vaccination schedule for newborn piglets, or gilts, begins a week after birth, according to the pig care website ValleyVet.com. It includes vaccines against rhinitis (bordetella), erysipelas, mycoplasma and pneumonia. Rhinitis is a disease of the mucosa and inflames the tissues inside the nose. It is relatively common and harmless unless it progresses to atrophic rhinitis, which is much more serious as it is a progressive disease full of toxins that causes atrophy of the tissue and distorts the nose. Erysipelas is a bacterial skin infection. It's uncommon but deadly, so vaccines are recommended. Mycoplasma and pneumonia go hand in hand -- both are deadly and infect the respiratory system.
Continuing Vaccination Schedule for Show and Pet Pigs
At the age of 3 weeks, piglets should be vaccinated against circovirus, a common swine virus found in pigs all over the world that can lead to death. At 4 weeks of age, piglets should get boosters for rhinitis and erysipelas and also be vaccinated against mycoplasma pneumonia and actinobacillus pleropneumonia. Finally, at the age of 8 weeks, piglets should be vaccinated against the parasite that causes Glasser's disease, as well as polyserositis. This vaccine protects piglets against Actinobacillus pleuropneumonia as well.
However, many diseases -- even those for which vaccines are available -- are preventable through good animal husbandry practices, keeping the pig well-nourished and his habitat clean. In this way, you are supporting the pig's own natural defenses against diseases.
More Aggressive Vaccination Schedule
It's important to know your state recommendations or requirements as far as pig vaccination schedules are concerned. For example, the University of Delaware Department of Animal and Food Sciences recommends piglets be vaccinated at the age of 3 to 4 weeks against a laundry list of swine pathogens of the reproductive and respiratory systems that may not be present in swine populations in New Mexico. Alabama has a completely different schedule of vaccines. The point is, each state has its own recommendations or laws mandating vaccine use so be sure to know your state regulations. Rabies, while uncommon in pigs, can strike virtually every mammal; your state or municipality may have a thing or two to say about whether you are required to vaccinate your pet pig against the rabies virus.
The type, scope and amount of vaccines for your pig depends upon several factors. Pathogens that exist in some parts of the country, necessitating vaccines against them, may not exist where you live, obviating the need for those vaccines. Another consideration is whether or not your pig lives solo or with a large herd of other pigs, because communicable diseases should be vaccinated against in the case of the latter. It's also important to check your state recommendations so as to stay within the guidelines of required vaccine schedules, if they exist. Finally, for those farmers who are raising pork for food, best practices include the administration of certain vaccines in the name of food safety. The Practical Farmers of Iowa and Iowa State University Extension not only embrace the idea of routine vaccinations, but encourage their farmers to keep up with trending changes in outbreaks of swine pathogens so they can be ready in the event an outbreak is on the horizon.
- Valley Vet: Healthcare for Show Pigs
- University of Delaware Department of Animal and Food Science: Introduction: Goals and Expectations of Vaccination Programs in Swine Intended for Show Purposes
- The Pig Site: Atrophic Rhinitis (AR)
- Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine: Porcine Circovirus Associated Diseases
- Vally Vet: Parapleuro Shield-P
- The Pig Site: Erysipelas
- The Merck Veterinary Manual: Mycoplasmal Pneumonia
- Alabama Cooperative Extension Program: Vaccinations for the Swine Herd
Michelle A. Rivera is the author of many books and articles. She attended the University of Missouri Animal Cruelty School and is certified with the Florida Animal Control Association. She is the executive director of her own nonprofit, Animals 101, Inc. Rivera is an animal-assisted therapist, humane educator, former shelter manager, rescue volunteer coordinator, dog trainer and veterinary technician.