One message in the group text message has spurred the article this month. Yes, I said his pig was suffering from Dippity, and I wonder why my educated veterinary friends question my opinion. From an industry that has had "mystery swine disease" that we now know as a Porcine Reproductive & Respiratory Syndrome virus, Dippity Pig Syndrome seems like a logical starting point.
Clinically, pigs are observed to be completely normal and then they seem painful on their back end. Some describe them as hunkering down or dipping when standing or touched. They may be so painful that they scream when touched or even fall down because they cannot use their hind legs. It can be quite worrisome to watch a pet potbellied pig, or as I have experienced this year, show pigs be affected by these signs.
Owners also report varying forms of skin wounds over their pig's back. Often, they look like sunburn, yet it occurs when they have not been in the sun. The affected area may appear as a small moist spot advancing to covering most of the back and turning to gashes that ooze blood. More sophisticated classifiers label Dippity Pig as Erythema Multiforme which accurately describes the multiple ways in which the disease can present through visible and invisible skin lesions.
The cause of Erythema Multiforme in pigs is unknown. The one common factor appears to be stress, and it appears any cause of stress could incite an instance of Dippity Pig. It is important to rule out simple sunburn as it can present with similar signs. Cases seem to occur more often in spring and summer months. In humans, Erythema Multiforme has a possible genetic predisposition and is related to viral infection, however those links have not been made in swine.
The foundation of treatment for Dippity Pig is reducing stress which means some idea of potential stressors has to be known. Keeping them on a consistent diet and schedule is helpful. Interactions with the same people and animals in their usual space can also reduce stress.
Some have suggested low volume music. (My friend said Mozart and Bach helped his.) Working with your veterinarian to help alleviate the pain associated with Dippity Pig also has benefits. There are limited options for pigs, especially production-type hogs, and your veterinarian will be able to help navigate the possibilities.
Dippity Pig may occur only once, but it has been noted to recur with stressful events. Younger pigs are more affected than older pigs suggesting they may outgrow it. Despite all that has been tried, affected pigs usually recover in 2-3 days.
The best advice is just to relax!