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Pigs age at a rate of about 5 years to one of a humans. It seems when they reach the senior years it goes all too fast. We cannot conceive of our friends leaving our lives. There is no way to prepare for the loss. We can only make the elder years good ones.

 

Behaviors at various ages

 

 

 

 

     Slowing down is normal, but certain behaviors indicate other issues.  Aging does bring physical and mental changes but nobody dies of "old age". They die of age related diseases. Diseases can be (sometimes) cured, (often) controlled and (always) managed.  Some body parts simply wear out, like their teeth. Left un addressed, bad teeth can kill, either thorough direct infection or infection that spreads to the bones or further, by malnutrition or even starvation.

As the senses become weakened their behavior will show changes. They will not be willing to compete for food. As the sense of smell declines they will push food around and seem very "picky". With declining sight, they will shy from objects that are not threatening. They will refuse to walk up and down stairs or ramps that they have used for years. They will touch their dish of food and jerk back like it was hot or something hurt them. All these are signals of failing senses. But sometimes these are also signs of particular illnesses. Becoming sedentary, refusing stairs and ramps, not being willing to get in the piggy pool.. these are all things a pig with arthritis will do as well. Once arthritis sets in , or any disease that makes the pig feel less than "whole" and "competent", it affects his behavior. He feels at risk doing things he used to do, uncertain of his stability, and won't take any chances on not being able to get out of the pool or slipping on the ramp, or being unable to get back to his "safe zone", his bed. Physically he is able to do these things but his worries overtake him. No amount of encouragement will change a pig's mind. You may force him but you won't change him. A pig who ducks from a stationary object, avoids the sunshine or jerks back from food may have neurological problems or even a bad headache, like a migraine.  As boys age many of them experience less than vigorous urination. They stand and wait.. and wait.. and wait.. for that pump to start. While it may start and after a 2 or 3 minute drip, then a dribble, a stream of some sort will follow. BUT if he is really blocked, the stream will never start and the straining will be indicative that this is more than a tired urethra.

It is always better to take a little blood and check out what can be checked without putting him at risk to find out if he is acting "normal" for his age or is dealing with an illness. With old pigs ask your vet to use Midazolam to tranquilize him so sedation won't be necessary. He will nod off like a good nap and wake up as easily as it wears off, without stress, without fear.

Rule of tranquilizing: Give the shot and leave the pig alone in a quiet place for 40 to 50 minutes. (If you stay with him he may never get tranquil enough) Leave him in the car or in the trailer and let him nod out. The blood can usually be drawn without ever moving him and he will sleep until you get home and can unload him.