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What happens when

my Pet Pig's Tusks

grow too Long?

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Male pigs have tusks (Tusks are long canine teeth that jut up out
of the mouth from the lower jaw of a male pig.) and they become
pronounced at about eighteen months. Tusks will need to be cut
off. There is no other option for them if the pig is going to be
kept as a pet or livestock. Tusks develop in males for a singular
purpose: protection. Every one to three years depending on the
pig, you will need to have your male pigs tusks trimmed.

If you do not keep the tusks trimmed, very bad problems can
occur. Nowadays, probably due to inbreeding, tusks on mature male
pigs are often deformed. Have you veterinarian check your male
pig's teeth at every checkup and vaccination. This will save you
and your pig both time and trauma. Your veterinarian can
determine, before it is a big problem, if your pig's tusks are
growing deformed, and can correct the problem.

Some veterinarians are not experienced with pigs and so may not
be aware of everything to look for when looking in a pig's mouth
so it is essential that you educate yourself so that you can tell
the vet what to look for. If need be you can print out
information for your veterinarian to review so that he or she can
become more educated on the subject.

Tusk cutting, in any event, should be left up to the
veterinarian. The vet will often use what is called a gigli saw
wire to cut through the tusk close to the gum. That way the
trimming will not have to be done as often.

Working on pig tusks yourself is not nearly as easy. Doing it
yourself will take at least three people and several tools. Here
are some instructions should you be determined to do so yourself
or if a veterinarian isn't available in your area:

You will need a Dremel tool (make sure it is charged!) and bolt

It will take one person to hold the front legs and one person to
hold the back legs to gently tip the pig onto his side. DO NOT
cut the tusks if the pig is on his back as the piece of tusk can
easily fall into the back of his throat and cut or choke him. The
pig will scream when he is manhandled in this way, just remain
calm yourselves and eventually the pig will calm down.

After he quiets down and is sufficiently calm on his side, cut
off the bad part of the tusk that is causing the problem. DO NOT
try to cut the tusk at the gum line like a vet would, you could
damage his gum or cut him, which can cause infection. If you try
to cut the tusk down to the gum and heaven forbid break or
splinter the tusk it can cause a nasty infection as well.

You will not have to do this that often as tusks usually grow
slowly. But some tusks can get up to an inch in diameter and it
will take some muscle to get through them. If you splinter the
tusk, which does occur often, just use the Dremel tool to smooth

Often a pig will grind down the edges himself through grazing and
eating. DO NOT attempt to do both tusks at the same time from the
same position. You should roll the pig over to the other side and
do the other tusk.

Once you get used to cutting a pig's tusks you can do it in less
than three minutes. Your pig will get used to the procedure as
well and facilitate it being done after he has experienced it
multiple times. Once you are comfortable with the procedure it
will be less stressful for you and him both, and maybe even
better than taking him to the vet who will have to put him under
anesthetic to do the procedure.

Pigs can become overstressed and die from dramatic
procedures such as tusk trimming, whether done by you or the
veterinarian. Pigs do not do well when they are tightly confined
and become stressed easily when they are. There is no real way to
do this with no stress to your piggy. Loss does happen and you
should keep a close eye on your pig and if it appears that he is
doing poorly when you try to trim his tusks yourself then do not
complete the procedure and take him to a veterinarian.

There of course is more than one method to trimming a pig's
tusks. Some people use gigli wire, that is a saw wire, but that
is best done by the veterinarian and usually requires that the
pig be under some kind of sedation because it makes the pigs
mouth hot when his tusks are sawed with gigli saw wire which
makes the pig very uncomfortable and he will not stay still for
that. Gigli saw wire, however, does make a much better cut and
doesn't splinter the tusk. You can also cut the tooth closer to
the gum line with gigli saw wire, making the trimming procedure
less often needed.

Using gigli saw wire is dangerous and the cut must mimic
the natural curve of the tooth and the way it grows. If this is
not done the tooth can grow straight up into the roof of the
mouth and stab your pig. To do this correctly you should sedate
your pig and have an experienced veterinarian doing it.

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