Hoof Trims in Miniature Pigs

Introduction

Most miniature pigs are housed indoors with access to outdoor pens, whilst others are more exclusively outdoors. Rough surfaces, such as concrete and gravel, can help keep hooves short, however most pigs require hoof trims every 6-12 months (Fig 1).

An example of well-shaped or trimmed hooves in a miniature pig

Figure 1. An example of well-shaped or trimmed hooves in a miniature pig. Photo credit: Dr. Louisa Asseo. Click image to enlarge.

Hooves that are not maintained can overgrow and curl, resulting in pain, difficulty walking, and damage to the soft tissue structures of the foot. The medial and lateral digits, that do not contact the ground much, will grow long and require trimming in all pet pigs (Fig 2).

The non-weight bearing medial and lateral digits tend to grow long and require trimming in all pet pigs

Figure 2. The non-weight bearing medial and lateral digits tend to grow long and require trimming in all pet pigs. Photo credit: Dr. Louisa Asseo. Click image to enlarge.

Some caretakers can trim or file their pig’s nails at home. This requires a calm and compliant pig and early training and desensitization.

 

Equipment needed

  • Dog nail trimmers (Fig 3)
  • Handheld rotary tool with sanding bur (Fig 3)
  • Hoof trimmers (Fig 4)
Dog nail trimmers (left) and a rotary hand tool with sanding bur (right) are useful equipment for the mini pig hoof trim

Figure 3. Dog nail trimmers (left) and a rotary hand tool with sanding bur (right) are useful equipment for the hoof trim of a small miniature pig. Photo credit: Dr. Louisa Asseo. Click image to enlarge.

Goat hoof trimmers are required for many miniature pigs

Figure 4. Goat hoof trimmers are required for many miniature pigs. Image source: Hamby Dairy Supply. Click image to enlarge.

Potential complications

  • Injury to the vascular hyponchyium or “quick” if cut too short
  • Abnormal gait pattern if trimmed asymmetrically
  • Pain and risk of infection if the “quick” is exposed

 

Step-by-step instructions

    1. Fast the pig for 12-24 hours in preparation for sedation, which may be needed. Midazolam (0.2-0.5mg/kg intranasal) can be sufficient in most pigs. Use the “drunk pig cocktail” (Table 1) if more sedation is needed. The onset of action is 5-15 minutes.Duration of sedation ranges from 20-45 minutes.
      Table 1. “Drunk Pig Cocktail”
      AgentDosage Route
      Midazolam0.2 mg/kgAdministered together as a single intramuscular injection
      Dexmedetomidine0.02-0.04 mg/kg
      (20-40 μg/kg)
      Butorphanol0.2-0.4 mg/kg
      Sedation can then be reversed using flumazenil (0.004 mg/kg IM) and atipamezole (0.2mg/kg or 200 μg/kg IM).
    2. Outdoor pigs will benefit from cleansing of the hooves prior to trimming (Fig 5).

      Clean the hooves prior to trimming.

      Figure 5. Clean the hooves prior to trimming. Photo credit: Dr. Louisa Asseo. Click image to enlarge.

    3. Cut back long portions of the hooves with hoof or dog nail trimmers (Fig 6).

      Trim long portions of the hooves

      Figure 6. Trim long portions of the hooves. Photo credit: Dr. Louisa Asseo. Click image to enlarge.

    4. Use the handheld rotary tool with sanding bur to file the remainder of the hoof short (Fig 7), being careful to avoid the quick (Fig 8). Shape and smooth the hoof edges with the sanding tool (Fig 9).
      Blue arrows indicate the overgrown keratin portion of the hoof

      Figure 7. Blue arrows indicate the overgrown keratin portion of the hoof. Photo credit: Dr. Louisa Asseo. Click image to enlarge.

      The dotted line illustrates the vascular hyponychium or “quick”, WHICH MUST BE AVOIDED.

      Figure 8. The dotted line illustrates the vascular hyponychium or “quick”, which must be avoided. Photo credit: Dr. Louisa Asseo. Click image to enlarge. 

      Smooth the remainder of the hoof with the sanding bur.

      Figure 9. Smooth the remainder of the hoof with the sanding bur. Photo credit: Dr. Louisa Asseo. Click image to enlarge.

References