You love your pig. You buy her blankets and beds and pillows. You make sure her skin is moisturized and her hooves are trimmed. You share your Cheerios and even a cookie or two. You've even done your research and know that she is not going to stay tiny and will grow into a nice, round, large piggy of 150 pounds or so. But do you know what to do when your pig is literately choking to death? While I am not a trained veterinarian I do have some experience on the topic, and would like to share this with you!
Knowledge is Power
Have you ever been so afraid that you literally stopped breathing? That your heart beat in your chest so loud that your ears hurt, so loud it's the only sound in the world? Well I have, and I hope it never happens again. And I hope it never happens to you. But in case it does, I wanted to share my experience in the hopes that it may help you in the future.
It was a morning like every other morning. I was getting breakfast ready and everyone was so very excited. On this morning it was a particularly yummy breakfast. Thomas, our handsome Yorkshire farm pig enjoyed his cooked sweet potato and romaine lettuce, and the potbellies were treated to salad with apple. Sweet Ellie Mae is a fast eater. She's our smallest piggy but like all pigs has a voracious appetite! I need to keep an eye on her as she often eats so quickly she gets into a coughing fit. Suddenly I heard a gasping sound and Ellie May went down! I knew she was choking, because after the first gasp she went silent. If there's any type of coughing sounds it means air is getting in, so it was clear she was not breathing. I knew I needed to assess the situation quickly to see how best I could help her.
Ellie started to convulse. She was bouncing off the ground so violently that she looked like a fish out of water. All four of her hooves were in the air. I opened her mouth to see if I could see anything lodged in her throat, but I could see nothing. I started to shake her in the hopes of dislodging what ever was in her airway, but nothing was working.
I did a finger sweep while she was convulsing, but on retrospect I should have waited to do the finger sweep until she was unconscious. If she accidentally chomped down on my fingers while she was convulsing, she could seriously injure my hand and I would not be able to help her further. I didn't feel anything when I did the finger sweep however, so I moved onto the Heimlich maneuver! If you look at this diagram below it will show you the proper way to do it on a dog. However, it is basically the same. It is ideal to have the pig on her rump while you wrap you arms around her, however, you may very well not be able to get them up on their hind end.
Basically you want to press on the diaphragm just like you would give a human the Heimlich maneuver. When I did this nothing worked. She had stopped convulsing by this time and was not breathing. Ellie's lips and tongue went blue. For a moment I thought that I had lost her. I cried out once, telling her that it was not her time to go. I had to force myself to take a break and to be as calm and clear thinking as possible. I then gave her mouth to snout resuscitation. I simply blew into her snout like you would give a human mouth-to-mouth. After about three breaths she took a breath, her belly filled up and she started breathing normally!
I had actually read an article on minipiginfo.com several months prior about giving a pig CPR. It was this knowledge that stuck in the back of my mind and helped me when I needed it most!
After this happened I took some time to relax and hang out with Ellie to make sure she was OK, and then I did a video to explain what happened. I figured if I could help someone by doing this, I wanted to do it as quickly as possible. And when I received a message later stating that when a gentleman's pig had started to choke it was our video that saved her, I was sure happy that I did. Click Here to watch video that we did just after the choking incident with Ellie.
If you would like to know more about sweet Elenore May please check our her profile on our website. The story of Elenore May.
More about Happy Tails Farm Sanctuary
Happy Tails Farm is a vegan farm sanctuary and is located on 17 acres near Harrowsmith, Ontario, Canada. Just a regular family, we opened our barn doors to the most vulnerable of animals, farmed animals. We receive no Government funding and rely on our own pockets and the generosity of others through donations, sponsorship's, and volunteers.
If you would like to donate to our sanctuary or sponsor an animal you can do so here.
Carla Reilly Moore is the the co-founder and Director of Happy Tails Farm Sanctuary. Although she is not a veterinarian she does have lot's of piggy experience. Please talk to your pot belly pig veterinarian about what to do in the event that your pig is choking.