Arthritis is a very familiar disease of human old age, but it can also appear in many animals as well. Pigs are one species that can be affected. The joints of the pig are supported by tissue such as muscle, cartilage, and ligament. Damage to these tissues can cause swelling and pain in the joint that seriously harms the animal’s quality of life. There are various reasons why arthritis can develop. Physical damage to the tissues is one possibility, whilst infections, genetic diseases, poor nutrition, and the cumulative effects of aging are others. Medication such as antibiotics, anti-virals, and anti-inflammatories may be taken depending on the cause. But a better solution is to try to prevent the pig from developing the condition in the first place.
In a normal healthy pig the cartilage, which pads the ends of the bones, and other tissues such as muscle and ligament will be in good enough condition to allow flexibility. But when arthritis sets in this can see these tissues being broken down. Trauma is one possible cause. The tissues have been physically damaged through injury or repetitive or stressful behaviour. There are also a variety of genetic diseases that can cause arthritis.
Other diseases that can cause the problem are bacterial and viral in origin. A bacterial example is the Actinobacillus suis species. But nutritional problems can also lead to arthritis developing in the animal. An excess of calcium in the pig’s diet is particularly problematic. Beyond this the cause may just be old age as damage caused by the knocks and diseases that the pig has suffered during its life add up.
The main symptoms to look out for in cases of arthritis in pigs include swelling of the joints and pain in the affected areas. The pig will also have little inclination or ability to move around. It could be stiff and lame. Symptoms such as these can be used as the basis for diagnosing the condition. But there are also tests that can be done to look for bacterial and viral infections, for example.
The treatment for arthritis in pigs will depend partly on the cause. So antibiotics could be needed for bacterial infections and anti-virals for viral infections. The swelling of the joint could be brought down with anti-inflammatory medication. But preventing this from happening in the first place would be far better. The environment of the pig should be clean and overcrowding should not be allowed to happen. Pigs should also be checked regularly for infections that may cause the condition.