Treating Dry Skin on Kunekune Pigs

Kunekune pigs grazing on grass.
Kunekune pigs have coarse hair covering their bodies. Getty Images/New Zealand Transition

Kunekune pigs, just like their pot bellied pig cousins, can battle dry skin. Thankfully this dry skin is fairly simple to treat and even possibly avoid.

Causes of Dry Skin on Kunekune Pigs

  • Humidity - One of the most common reasons for kunekune pigs to develop dry skin is a lack of humidity in the environments in which they live. Since kunekune are larger than most of their pot bellied pig cousins, adult pigs usually live outdoors. Outdoor environments that are naturally lacking a lot of humidity, such as in the Southwest, will have dry air that can easily predispose your pig to having dry skin. But pigs that spend most of their time indoors may also experience dry skin because of a controlled, low-humidity home.
  • Parasites - An infestation of skin parasites is another common reason for a kunekune to have dry skin. Mites, often referred to as mange, are tiny arachnids that can make their homes on the skin of pigs and kunekune most often get sarcoptic mange mites (just like dogs can get). These ectoparasites will cause rough, scaly skin and your kunekune pig will be very itchy. Mites are unfortunately pretty common in pet pigs.
  • Diet - A poor diet can also contribute to dry skin on your pig. If your pig is fed a lot of junk food and lacks the essential vitamins and minerals that it should be receiving in their regular diet, its skin may be dry as a result.

Treatments for Dry Skin on Kunekune Pigs

Depending on the reason for your pig's dry skin, you should be able to easily remedy the issue. Keep in mind that dry skin is a fairly normal thing for a pig and it isn't always a problem that needs fixing.

  • Wipe and Bathe - If the skin flaking is only mild you can simply take a wet towel and wipe away the excess skin flakes on a weekly basis. 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 that they shed more in the summer) so having dry fur doesn't always mean your pig has dry skin, too.
  • Moisturize - If the dry skin is bad enough that you need 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 by heating it up and applying it on the skin or special moisturizing sprays can help keep the skin from getting too dry.
  • Humidify - Increasing the humidity in an indoor environment can easily be done if you have a whole house humidifier but if not, consider getting a room humidifier. These small units can be filled with water that is evaporated to increase the humidity level where your pet lives. They can even be placed inside the small barn, shed, or house that your pig sleeps in as long as there is an electrical outlet available.
  • Correct the Diet - If a dietary issue is suspected as the cause of your kunekune's dry skin, 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 kunekunes should primarily be eating grass. If after making a dietary change the skin is still not what you had hoped for, you can add in some Vitamin E oil to the food. 200 IU's of Vitamin E is an often recommended amount but your kunekune may need more depending on how large it is. Otherwise, look into purchasing a supplement designed for pot bellied pigs with omega-3 fatty acids in it. 
  • Get Rid of the Parasites - If skin mites are causing your pig's 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 veterinarian provide the treatments.