Hoof Trimming

Patients is key here.  Start out slow and handle your pigs feet as much as possible.  You can never start training to early with this.

I use a small pair of by-pass pruning shears. You can find these at any home improvement store, or get a pair of goat shears from a farm store.

The key here is to take small bites at a time,  when your sitting out rubbing on the pigs feet, look at the bottom.  You will see a pad, that’s called a frog,  if his hooves are white you should be able to see through them and you’ll see the main vein that runs down it.  If they are black then you will have to follow where the frog ends and then about 1″ out you should be able to trim.  The reason for taking really small pieces at a time you are able to look at the end of the toe and you will see it start to change color and texture.  As you get closer to the vein it will get a dark line that runs across it.  Also the pig will let you know that you are to close.  When I apply pressure to close to any of my pigs weather they be sedated or not they will pull back away from you with the slightest pressure.  It’s always best to have some quick stop, (blood clotting dust).  You can get this in any pet store by the nail clippers.  Or you can use corn starch.  Just in case you nick them.

Many pigs have a build up of dried flaky nail underneath. This build up can cause it to not stand correctly. By removing this first you will be able to see exactly where to trim its hooves without injury or pain. Using your cutters or a large pair of non-pinching toenail clippers, you can scrape the underside of the nail until the entire flaky nail is gone. You will come to smooth nail. Your goal is to have the underside of the nail flat with or just higher than the pad. After you have finished this, cut back both sides of the nail and blunt the end. Do no clip between the toes on the inside edge. You can then smooth the rough edges with a metal nail file or fine rasp, I use a dremel. Just make sure you leave no sharp edges. After completing the nail trim move up to the dewclaws. The dewclaws can be shortened on the sides, if necessary. They too should be left with a blunt cut and a few file strokes to smooth any rough edges. To help prevent slits, the final step in your pigs hoof care is to rub hoof oil into its hoof, dewclaws and pad. Now that one foot is complete you can move to the next one.

Some potbellies develop split hooves. If you run into a split in the hoof nail, you can start by cleaning the area with a topical antiseptic. With your file “cut” a shallow line across the top of the split. The split should then look like a “T”. This “T” will help keep the split from moving up your pig’s hoof. By using hoof oil regularly and by making sure your pig is supplied a good diet, you should be able to prevent these splits in the future.

All pigs feet can be different and the length of the vein can vary,  So big key is to touch your pigs feet as much as possible, pick at them and apply pressure with your hands so they are use to the sensation. by doing this you are desensitizing the pig. And trimming will be much easier.

Here’s a link to Dr Carr’s website and he has pictures of Dr Wilbur’s handling a pig for a hoof trimming.  It doesn’t show the details of the feet, but will give you a good idea on how to “flip” a pig  flipping

You want to have patience. This should be a pleasurable experience for your pig. If your potbelly thinks that one hoof or even a partial hoof is all it wants to tolerate in one sitting, that’s really all right. It is always better to stop early than to push to an unhappy situation, because if your pig is happy at the end of even a partial hoof trim, then it is much more likely to allow you to do more later without stressing you or your pet pig.