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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Large Animal Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 14580
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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My 5 month old pig is very lethargic. Did not eat food

Customer Question

Hey, my pig Wilbur is about 5 months old. he was fine this AM but tonight, he's very lethargic. Didn't eat his feed. he did come out of the shed to get his belly rubbed but went right back in when I left. now he won't get up at all. I don't have a thermometer but he seemed warm when I first went out there. He doesn't look bloated at all. He did cough a few times. Now he's just laying on his side & his breathing is more labored, not smooth like typical. only change in feed is that he got into the garden & ate a few beets 3 days ago. I also gave him some old potatoes yesterday. Any thoughts. I have no antibiotics
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. The Veterinarian will know if Wilbur will be able to digest that. Is there anything else important you think the Veterinarian should know about Wilbur?
Customer: Not really, he's an only pig so hasn't been exposed to other pigs or new animals on the farm if that helps.
Submitted: 2 months ago.
Category: Large Animal Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 2 months ago.
I am sorry to hear that Wilbur is feeling so poorly. I don't think the turnips were a problem for him but raw, green or sprouted potatoes can definitely make a pig sick. They contain a toxin called solanine. This toxin begins to affect the pig and usually causes symptoms 12-24 after exposure. It often leads to a fever, flushed skin, as well as lethargy, nausea, abdominal cramping and loose stools, a slow heart rate, weakness, confusion and depression. It can also cause red blood cell lysis, thus affect his ability to oxygenate his tissues which would lead him to breathe more rapidly.
Unfortunately there isn't an antidote to the toxin. Treatment is mainly supportive and includes keeping him hydrated and giving activated charcoal to block the toxin's absorption if discovered early enough. If he will take an electrolyte solution orally that is ideal. In most cases with small amounts the toxin is processed in 48-72 hours and the pig does well with supportive care.
In the future avoid feeding old potatoes.

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