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Salt Poisoning, Water Deprivation

Salt poisoning is common in all ages of pig and is related to shortage of water availability. The normal levels of salt in the diet (0.4-0.5%) become toxic in the absence of water.

It should be a daily routine to check that all sources of water are adequate, free flowing and available.


All Pigs
  • The very early stages of disease are preceded by inappetence and dehydration. Whenever a sow or group of pigs are not eating always check the water supply first. Signs develop within 24 to 48 hours.
  • The first signs are often pigs trying to drink from nipple drinkers unsuccessfully.
  • Nervous signs then develop with fits and animals wandering around apparently blind.
  • Pigs show signs of meningitis.
  • Often a pig walks up to a wall, stands and presses its head against it.
  • Incoordination.
  • One sign strongly suggestive of salt poisoning is nose twitching just before a convulsion starts.
  • Mortality is usually high.
  • Unusual in young piglets.

Causes / Contributing factors

  • Water shortage/deprivation.
  • Excess salt in the diet.


This is based upon the clinical signs and lack of water. Examination of the brain histologically at post-mortem confirms the disease.

Salt poisoning must be differentiated from Aujeszky's disease, swine fever, streptococcal meningitis and middle ear infection but this only affects one individual rather than a group.

Further Reading

Click on the links below to find out more about this disease, including treatment, management control and prevention information. The top link is the main article on this disease.