Pennsylvania based Scratch N All owner and creator, Cynthia Garry, has had an ingenious idea since 2008 when all the corners in her wooden barn were rubbed smooth and raw from years of scratching on them by her equine companions. In an attempt to turn all the animals favorite scratching locations in to something useful and safe, she asked herself how she could possibly create a product exactly like hanging, already existing curry combs, from the walls and make them attractive and functional? Voila... the Scratch N All product was born!
Lets discuss routine vaccine needs in pet pigs. It is an ever evolving topic and one that has garnished a lot of attention over the years, especially as needs and medical advances change. Unlike cat and dog vaccines, pet pig vaccinations are a very grey area! With common companion animals, there are a normal set of vaccinations given annually/bi-annually and as boosters to young. Because pigs are still fighting to be labeled as a "companion animals" and their risks for contracting certain strains of diseases are wildly different, their vaccination requirements will always reflect that. With that said, there is no vaccination list we can broadly give everyone when it comes to making that decision. Sometimes it can be a touchy subject and all of us have our opinions on them and where we feel our pet should fall in to the mix.
*Does my area have a problem with excessive wildlife, diseases in rodents or other pests?
In some geographical locations it may not be unheard of to have major problems with wildlife and pests, this also has a lot to do with weather patterns. Pests aren't always a problem if they are properly managed and there has not been a known disease rise in a certain population. This issue will come and go all the time as certain diseases are on the rise or subside. Make sure to discuss this with your veterinarian if you have caught word that there may be a current issue. Insects, rodents and some wildlife are vectors for disease and if your area has a current problem with them, this must be addressed.
To continue our theme from the last blog, we decided to venture in to the land of enrichment and treat/food dispenser toys. We mentioned in the last blog that they make an excellent source of fun on a summer evening play session but in reality, they are a fantastic idea any time of the year and under all circumstances! This certainly includes meal time!
Pet pigs get bored quickly, especially when they do not have a companion with them 24/7. Some pigs are satisfied with a companion of another species and even a rare friendship that one never thought possible. It is a known fact that most of our porcine friends do better with another pig companion though. When pigs don't have "their human" or another animal companion to exert energy on/towards, they can get destructive and overbearing! This can lead to highly destructive and agitated behavior because the pig needs stimulation to thrive. Pigs really need to be stimulated, especially in their younger years when energy expenditure is a must.
We also run in to overfeeding issues frequently in pet pigs. Not only do indoor pigs rarely get the exercise they need to maintain a healthy weight but we tend to easily overfeed them because they are always acting hungry or are at our heels while we are cooking/snacking ourselves. It is really an easy thing to do when it comes to over feeding a pig! It is always much easier to maintain a healthy weight from the start than to try and put your pet on a diet after the problem is already causing health issues. In both cases, a simple enrichment toy can help or be a stepping stone to better weight management and behavior modification solutions.
These toys can be used as a treat dispenser for a fun and interactive play session OR they can actually be used as a feeding tool. In the wild, pigs spend a lot of time foraging for food. This is a natural behavior that also assists the pig in exercise, as it usually has to search and root for it's food source. Domesticated pigs rarely ever get that needed life management skill; why would they when they can just look to us to indulge their every food need? Treat dispensers are widely used for a lot of different animals. They combat boredom, aid in fighting obesity, offer exercise and provide brain power, provoking activity. More and more toys continue to emerge on the market and although their primary target may be dogs and horses... pet pigs can benefit immensely from them!
One toy may be one pigs new best friend, but the next pig will hate it and ignore it completely. Don't give up, try another! Each pig has a different and unique personality and will thus desire a different toy. What one owner may love, another will despise... it makes us unique, not difficult. You must make sure that your pet is hungry when first trying the toy out. Why would you want to play excessively with a food dispenser if you just ate dinner? I would certainly find it more work than it was worth if I was no longer that hungry, a pig will feel same way! Make sure your pig is hungry and a treat or food you know they already enjoy, is placed in the dispenser. A hungry pig will thoroughly enjoy these toys and offerings! It will also slow down meal time and add exercise to an overweight pig's routine.
Here are our top 10 picks for pet pig treat/food dispensers. We graded them on their ease of use, ease of cleaning, durability and keeping the pig interested. As always and regardless of durability, please watch your pig while playing with these toys and make sure they are not able to tear them apart. The title of each toy is actually a link to the store where you can buy it. So don't forget to click on the link if you are interested in purchasing!
This toy offers a very unique experience as it is so differently shaped from all the ball like dispensers out there, some animals really enjoy it! However, it is a bit hard to fill and even harder to keep clean. With that said, it is still very durable and entertaining, some pigs may love it! About $8.00
This toy is highly rated in the dog world because of its long durability and the treats that you can buy with it. However, we don't recommend the matching treats for pet pigs! This toy will take smaller manufactured feed or food stuff that is hard but also small. Not easy to clean and once super dirty, will most likely need to be thrown away. It is recommended for larger pet pigs due to the need for chewing and ability to hit harder, in order to remove or knock out the treats. It does come in a small/medium/large offering. About $12.00
This is a great toy that will keep your pet pig entertained with two dispensing chambers and adjustable difficulty level! It does have a weighted bottom, so it will wobble. With that said, it is hard to fill and keep clean. After extended use it may need to be discarded because the hard plastic, although durable, can cause minor cuts or irritation on the nose because of the small teeth marks that are left behind on the chewed plastic. Comes in two sizes. Between $9-15.00 (depends on size)
This fun ball is easy to fill and easy to clean! It holds up to 2 cups of food and unscrews at the top. It also allows for change in the difficulty level, this way you can easily customize it for each pet. Recommended for pets over 25 pounds. About $15 for the large.
This toy is weighted for erratic movement which tends to keep more animals interested longer. Some pigs may actually be fearful of it when and if it pops back at them. There are different levels and chambers so you can adjust how hard your pet has to work for the food/treat. It is very durable and easy to clean. We would recommend this for medium sized pigs and for indoor use. You could use it outdoors as long as your pet was on a harder surface while it played (works best on more solid surfaces). $8.99
A great ball for those that really enjoy chasing the toy around. Great for exercise too! This ball is easy to fill and wont leave marks on hard wood, wont make noise on the floor, but can also be used outside. A little more difficult to keep clean. Runs about $9.00
This is a wonderful toy that slows down quick eaters and is ideal for rationed meal portions. This toy holds a lot of food and has a couple different chambers. The Snak-A-Bal is very durable and best for medium to larger pigs. This toy runs about $37.00
The Magic Mushroom is extremely fun and allows for many different treats and foods to be used in it. It is extremely durable and easy to clean. The toy can be adjusted for varying difficulty. We recommend for pets over 25 pounds. Comes in both a medium/large size $12
A nylon treat and meal dispensing toy that is ideal for feeding and curbing destructive behavior. Easy to clean, dishwasher safe and provides an easy screw off top to insert food. The large holds 1.5 cups of food and the small .5 of a cup. Between $13-16 (depends on size)
A rather challenging toy and a bit pricy but very durable and fits regular manufactured food inside well. This toy is $17.50 for a large size but worth the money in the end! For some reason, pigs seem to really dig the cube shape.
Other Treat/Food Toys That Deserve a Look...
Horseman's Pride Amazing Graze Treat Toy- $39.99
Nose It Funnel Fill for Horses- $43.00
Busy Buddy Barnacle Dog Treat Toy- $10.00
Interactive IQ Treat Ball- $9.00
Ethical Pet Seek-A-Treat Puzzle-$9.00
Kyjen Paw Hide Mini Treat Puzzle Training Toy-$8.00
Smartmark Treat Dispensing Pickle Pocket- $17.00
It's your turn! What are some of your pet pig's favorite toys or treat dispensers? Which ones work best for you and which ones do you recommend staying away from and why?
After a harsh winter, we are all looking forward to summer and warmer temperatures! There is no denying how exhausted we are of the freezing cold and added work needed to properly care for the animals in those treacherous conditions. Rest assured... Summer is right around the corner! With that in mind, let's get some recommendations out for summertime fun and safety with your pet pig.
*Avoid Sunburns. All color variations and pigments can suffer a sunburn but pink pigs are especially susceptible. Always make sure to apply a thin layer of sunscreen to your pig before long days in the sun. Make sure it is a sunscreen made for children or a spray already made for animals. I use Banana Boat Kids broad spectrum sumscreen lotion. Ones made for animals can easily be found at any major pet retailers like PetsMart or Petco. If your pet does get a minor burn, grab some spray or rub on Aloe Vera gel and apply topically.
*Avoid over heating. Make sure to always have an area in which your pet can retreat in to the shade if it becomes too warm. Never leave a pig in total direct sunlight without a way to escape the sun, even for an hour, as this can be deadly.
*Always have fresh cool drinking water on hand and easily accessible to your pet. Pet pigs will try everything they can to flip over or get in to a water dish. Make sure every hour that your pig has clean fresh water that has not been dumped or spilled.
*Outdoor pigs adjust with the changing seasons but pigs that are predominantly indoors their entire life can struggle with the sudden temperature change. Make sure to slowly increase your pigs outdoor exposure in gradual steps. Monitor them for any major attitude changes and signs that the heat may be too much for them. Always keep a watchful eye.
*Both indoor and outdoor pigs will always enjoy a nice wallow in the mud. This is a vey natural behavior for pigs. In the wild, pigs use wallowing to fulfill many important needs. Pigs have very few sweat glands and need to regulate their temperate, wallowing in mud can actually bring the pigs core temp down by 3.6 degrees. Having mud on the skin can also act as a natural sun blocker. Even more, it helps ward off insects. A mud bath can be messy but very rewarding for your pet pig!
*Plastic kiddie pools and even ones designed for pets at major pet stores, are wonderful summer time play places. If your pig struggles getting in to the pool, you can either cut a small door like hole in the side, don't make it so deep that it will no longer hold water though. Or you can dig a small hole and sink it in to the ground. Once a month, make sure to spray your kiddie pool with a bleach/water solution (10-20%) and scrub your pigs kiddie pool; make sure to rinse thoroughly. Dump the water and store your pool every evening or every day to promote a clean pool/environment . Please see our "Product page" for ideas on pet pig pools.
*Ingroud Pool safety. Many people have in ground pools and when summer time rolls around we live in them! Pet pigs do enjoy a good swim but never assume your pig can swim right from the start and just throw them in. Always start on a step or very shallow end. Make sure they never feel threatened or that they can't get out. try and gently guide them to the steps or ramp area. Always closely supervise a pet pig in a human pool, never leave them unattended! Think of and treat them as a small toddler around a pool.
*Enjoy enrichment exercises. Have a constantly hungry pig? Make them work for it! There are many toys on the market that make the pig roll around a toy or figure out how to get the unit to dispense food. This is wonderful exercise but also offers great stimulization! Even for outdoor pigs, you'd be surprised how much they love to work/play with a toy, for food. I like to wash out my milk cartons and then cut a small hole in the side a little higher than the food or treats. Tie a piece of twine to the milk carton handle and tie the other end lower on a fence. The pig will hit it and do anything necessary to get that food out. When the pig is done remove it and throw it away. I suggest always using a new milk carton every few days, this will ward off dirt and bacteria build up.
*The long summer evenings are a wonderful time to get your pig outside and let it graze on natural grass. If you live in a housing development or in the city, put that baby on a harness and take it to a nice area for an hour of hand grazing. If you live on a farm or have access to a fenced field or pasture, offer your pig a couple hours of outside grazing. This not only promotes healthy digestion but offers wonderful exercise for your pet. Have you ever seen a pig frolick? If you haven't, I promise you will if you let your piggy roam free in a pasture in the summer time!
Summer time can be a lot of fun with pets! What do you do with your piggies to ensure a delightful summer experience? Tell us about it!
The Hog Blog...
Jodi will be keeping up the blog but we are more interested in guest bloggers! Please contact us via email if you may be interested! Check back to see who our guest blogger is and what topic we will be exploring.