Treating Dry Skin on Kunekune Pigs

Kunekune pigs
Kunekune pigs grazing. Getty Images/New Zealand Transition

Kunekune pigs, like their pot bellied pig cousins, can battle dry skin just like we do but what can you do to fix the problem (or is it even a problem at all)?

What Causes Dry Skin in Kunekune Pigs?

One of the  most common reasons for dry skin in kunekune pigs is a lack of humidity in an environment. Adult kunekune pigs usually live outdoors since they are larger than most of their pot bellied pig cousins so outside environments that are dry can predispose your pig to dry skin. Pigs that spend most of their time indoors in a controlled dry environment will also experience dry skin due to the lack of humidity but more can be done about it.

Another common reason for dry skin is due to skin parasites such as mites (often referred to as mange). These itchy ectoparasites will cause rough, scaly skin and your kunekune pig will be very itchy. They are unfortunately pretty common kunekune pigs.

A poor diet can also contribute to dry skin on your pig. If your pig gets a lot of junk food and lacks the essential vitamins and minerals that they should be receiving in their diet their skin may be dry as a result.

What Can You Do to Treat the Dry Skin?

Depending on the reason for the dry skin you should be able to easily remedy the issue. Keep in mind that dry skin is a fairly normal thing and it isn't always a problem. If the flaking is only mild you can simply take a wet towel and wipe away the excess skin flakes weekly. Bathing your pig too often can actually make things worse by continuously stripping the skin of it's natural moisture so it is not recommended to do so on a regular basis. If you want to bathe your kunekune pig on occasion an oatmeal based or coconut oil based pet shampoo is safe to use. Also remember that the texture of your kunekune's coat may vary with the season (and they shed more in the summer) so a dry coat doesn't always mean your pig has dry skin.

If the dry skin is bad enough that you want to do something about it you can start by using a lotion. An aloe based lotion or Avon Skin So Soft are popular options with pot bellied pig and kunekune owners. Coconut oil can also be liquefied and applied on the skin. Increasing the humidity in the environment in which your pig lives is a simple solution to battle dry skin but isn't usually possible if your pig lives outdoors.

If a dietary issue is suspected make sure your pig is getting a large variety of vegetables, a small amount of fruit, and a formulated pig food daily if they are living indoors. Outdoor kunekune should primarily be eating grass. If after making a dietary change and the skin is not what you had hoped for you can add in some Vitamin E oil to their food. 200 IU's of Vitamin E is an often recommended amount but your kunekune may need more depending on how large they are. Otherwise look into purchasing a supplement designed for pot bellied pigs with omega fatty acids in them. 

If skin mites are causing the dry skin you must get rid of the mites before you will see an improvement in skin health. Ivermectin or doramectin treatments will be needed to effectively rid your pig of those pesky mange mites. Some people opt to treat at home by purchasing medication from a farm supply store or online while others prefer to have their exotics vets or farm vets provide the treatments.

But You're Saying Dry Skin is Normal?

Most pigs have what we would consider dry skin and it's not something that is necessarily problematic. If your pig is itchy (pruritic) it may indicate a bigger problem but usually making sure your pig's diet is appropriate and occasionally applying a lotion or moisturizing spray to your pig is all you need to do to keep their skin healthy.