Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A story about a pig named Porcellus

WARNING:  This is quite disgusting so the squeamish may wish to pass on this story.

Porcellus is one of our 2 kunekune pigs.  He and Pybus are brothers and the best of friend until food time.

Until recently both were very happy, healthy pigs who needed minimal vet attention (minus the small issue of castrating them when they were little).

But all that changed a week or so ago when I got home from Wellington and found that Porcellus had a huge lump on his head.  It looked like an enormous abscess.  He didn't seem to be in pain but it was definitely uncomfortable and he was shaking his head around a bit.  I thought maybe he had been kicked by Piwaka or Marty suggested it may have been one of the sheep bunting him too viciously.  Anyway we decided to leave it for a night and check back in the morning.

The next day the lump was still there and looked to be about the same size so I called the vet and asked if I could bring him up.  Appointment booked, I went to pick up the horsefloat from Emma, loaded Porcellus on (so easy with food-obsessed animals!) and off we went to Waipuk.  He was not happy in the float and felt like he was throwing himself around in the back.  Anyway, we arrived and I met the vet Jamie to explain the situation.  Porcellus didn't want us to touch him after the journey but he eventually succumbed and rolled over for a tummy rub (much to the vet's amusement).  The vet had a good feel and a squeeze and said he thought it was probably an abscess but he would have to put him to sleep to have a good look.

I had to go to work and said I would be back later to pick him up.  Little did I know this 'surgery' would take place in the back of the horsefloat.

When I got back to Waipuk Jamie met me and said that when he'd put Porcellus to sleep he had stuck a needle in to the lump to drain it but all that came out was really stinky air. GROSS.  Porcellus is an airhead.  He went on to explain that while he was studying he had seen a few cases where kunekunes (and this is where it gets really disgusting - you have been warned) have a hole in the back of their jaw and occasionally food gets trapped and travels up through the jawbone into their head.  YUCK.  And then the food rots and releases gas (hence the giant head bubble) and eventually that the food would burst through the skin.  Rotten.  Rotten food bursting through his face.  Charming.

There is no 'cure' but it's not life-threatening.  So I am hoping that he will recover.  Of course, this could just keep happening.

So, typically, we were due to go to Wellington for Emm and Andy's wedding that weekend and the vet had said the food would come through in the next week or so.  So our lovely wwoofers, Lucinda and Tracy, were left to deal with this possibility.  The day before we left we noticed that a very different lump was forming next to Porcellus' eye which looked like it would be the food lump.  Sure enough the next morning it was starting to seep a bit.  Nothing too disgusting but definitely something there.

Lucinda and Tracy kept us informed while we were away and sent us photos each day.  When we got home they said that it had burst and that there was green stuff coming out of it.  It looked like cow poo.  Dark green and slimey.  And smelled terrible.  Bleugh.  Porcellus was pretty unhappy about it and kept rubbing his head on things.  So now it looks even worse.  It's like a massive crater in his head (like 2 inches deep and 1.5 inches across) with a flap of crusty, slime covered skin.  And all the disgusting green goo has now turned into pus and it's all in his eye.  And has bits of grass and stuff sticking out of it.  It is SO nasty.  This photo is the tame version....

My worst fear is that he will get fly strike in his wound.  At least at the moment the flap is covering it but I don't think that will last long with him rubbing his face on everything.  It looks SO awful but there is nothing I can do.  I spoke to the vet and he said to just leave it and hopefully it will sort itself out.  We just need to keep an eye on his mood more than anything.  If he starts looking lethargic or stops eating we need to get back in touch with the vet.  In the meantime Pybus is being a good friend/brother and giving him cuddles.  Cute!