Let’s just get it out of the way from the start... the descriptive terms to describe a pigs size are merely that, descriptive terms created by breeders. They are not a specific breed of pig nor are they an accurate description of how big your pig will or wont get. You should immediately turn away from any breeder or person that tries to convince you otherwise. We could go on and on about the “Pig Size Myth” but there have already been blogs and websites dedicated to that topic alone! We will also briefly explore it later in our questions. We want to now focus on the attributes and lifestyles of the human and their family that would make a good candidate for pet pig ownership. Can you answer all these questions honestly and feel comfortable with your answers to each one? Of course you may not meet them all but there are simply some that you cannot ignore or pass over! We want to see you as prepared as possible and ready to tackle your new adventures!
1) Are you zoned correctly to have a pet pig?
Remember, pigs are still classified in most areas as livestock and thus, may not be allowed within your city limits. Even in some more rural areas you need to make sure that your land is properly zoned for swine because surprisingly enough, some livestock are allowed in certain areas while others are not. You will need to call your specific city ordinance office to find this information out; this number will be different for every city and county. So do an online search for your specific county and make sure to document who you spoke to and when. Be aware that city laws and regulations can change from year to year and you need to always have proper documentation on whom you spoke to when you initially brought your pig home. This will alleviate any confusion if regulations do manage to change. If they do, you can usually resolve most disputes easily because your animal would be grandfathered in on an older or prior ordinance. If you don’t first make sure that you are zoned correctly before bringing piggy home, you may end up with a lot of heart ache and legal battles in order to try and fight the city to keep your pet. Just look up these legal battles, they are all over the news and Facebook! There are still many places out there that do NOT classify pigs as pets or “companion animals.” Worst case scenario, you will be forced to get rid of your piggy because the city will take them from you. This is one of the major causes of abandoned or rehomed pet pigs. Don’t be another statistic or put your pet in danger of being taken away!
Along with proper zoning, if you live in any type of housing community, you MUST first get the permission of the housing community. If you bring your pig home because the city said it was ok but your community has different bylaws, you will still end up in a heap of trouble and stress. Always check with your community’s board of directors or those that may be in charge of HOA’s.
Visit our New Pig Parents Page to read up on Zoning and Need to Know Basics by clicking on this highlighted sentence.
2) Were you planning to have a primarily indoor pet pig?
If so, there are some major considerations that must be addressed first! Here at Pet Pig Education we don’t suggest keeping pigs 100% indoors, it tends to lead to many health and behavioral problems. If you were planning on them being primarily indoors, make sure that you can meet all the other required criteria!
a) Do you own your own home or do you rent a home, apartment or condo?
If you rent, chances are that you should NOT own a pet pig. If you rent you MUST have permission of your landlord or rental management company before ever considering a pig as a pet. Even more so than dogs, pigs can and will tear up your home and if you don’t actually own your home and would thus be ultimately responsible for replacing or fixing destroyed structures, you don’t want that potential mess on your plate! (See all the pictures within this blog.) If a landlord allows a tenant to have a pig, both the landlord and tenant need to draw up a pet clause or amendment for the lease that is very specific and an appropriate pet deposit collected in the event your pig wrecks havoc on a rented structure. As much as this may sound like a favorable thing to do to aid the landlord, I promise it will save the tenant a lot of stress, money and heartache in the long run as well! In an ideal situation, a pig owner will always own their own home or farm. We do not recommend pigs as pets for those that live in apartments, condos or rental situations. There are exceptions to the rule but please understand that they are VERY rare situations and the owner met all the other criteria with flying colors.
b) Do you have the patience of a saint and are willing to easily bestow that amazing trait, on a daily basis, to your indoor pig?
Pigs are naturally destructive (again, see images within the blog), although they don’t see it that way, it’s natural to them. They root, are curious, are always looking for food and their individual temperaments can create a lot of “pig drama” around a home; especially when inside and sharing an indoor living space with humans. Have you ever come across some of the Facebook groups or internet pages dedicated to “Pig Shaming” or as we like to call it, “Swine Scorning?” You may have, and what these funny and creative owners are paying tribute to are their pig companions that have destroyed items in their home or even the home itself. A lot of times, this can be a daily occurrence. They can and will flip over garbage cans to root in them, open refrigerators and eat the food, tear up their beds, tear up human clothes and raid their closets, ruin furniture and walls, chew through wires, rip up tile...the list genuinely goes on. There is nothing that is not “free game” to an indoor pet pig. You need to be very mentally prepared for your pet to display this behavior and what you will do if this situation does arise. Are you going to lose it? Will it be too much to handle with all the other family, job and life issues you have going on? Will you be able to afford to replace said items continuously? Indoor pet pigs can really be a challenge and sometimes when we dote on their every whim too much, we can in turn create even worse behavior problems: Spoiled Pig Syndrome. Yes, it’s a real behavioral problem in indoor pet pigs.
Visit our Pig Behavior Page by clicking on this highlighted sentence.
c) Do you have a small room that you can initially dedicate to your pet pig where he/she wouldn’t be able to destroy the home and work on potty training techniques?
Although we recommend crate training and teaching your indoor pet pig to use the bathroom outside, much like a dog, you will have to initially start off potty training by keeping your pig confined to a smaller room in your home, not just a crate. Remember, no animal should ever be expected to live in a crate all the time, this is inhumane. This should preferably be a room where they can do less damage and not hurt themselves in the process. A lot of people don’t have the luxury of additional rooms for such a purpose and unless you plan to just let your pet pig run a muck and tear things apart, you should really have a small room to dedicate to them while they learn the ropes. We usually use a smaller guest bathroom or the laundry room/mud room. With the laundry room, one needs to be very sure that the pig cannot get behind or stuck between the washing/drying units. All cords will have to be picked up and put away. Detergents up high and stored. Medicines, locked up tight or removed. Expect potty accidents and many mistakes before they improve or catch on. If you don’t want it destroyed, remove it from the equation!
Visit our Commonly Asked Questions Page to find more on house training by clicking on this highlighted sentence.
3) Do you have an enclosed outside area (not just a cement patio) where your pet can root around and get proper, leash free exercise?
You would be surprised how many people would have to answer no to this question. They either live in condos or in small housing communities that don’t offer decent back yards or any fencing options to contain your pet. This question is a very important one too because it really will affect the overall health and behavior of your animal. Rooting, sifting and digging in the soil with the nose, is a natural and needed behavior for all pigs; It is also how the pig obtains it’s daily iron requirements. Pigs that are not properly exercised or allowed to do some roaming and searching of their own, can become obese and very behaviorally challenged! If your pig can’t get out and meet any of it’s daily needs in a safe and enclosed yard, it is NOT going to be a happy or manageable pet.
4) If you are planning on having outdoor pigs, are you willing to get more than one for companionship purposes?
Pigs always do better in pairs, it’s a fact of life. We always encourage prospective pig parents to buy two pigs of the same sex, from the same litter. This insures that there will be minimal fighting between the two because dominance and proper socialization skills were established as small piglets and they will always have the companionship of a same species friend. It also naturally eliminates most behavior issues seen commonly in indoor pet pigs with spoiled pig syndrome or dominance problems. There are many people that having two pigs will just not work for or the timing just isn’t right. Remember that introducing a new pig to an existing pig later down the road, will come with a whole new set of issues. Pigs that have initially lived alone in a home as a single pet pig, will have to fight it out and establish dominance with a new pig. This is not always ideal and can cause a lot of stress for both owners and the pigs involved. It can be done but it is stressful! Bottom line, if you are planning to keep your pet pigs outdoors or on a farm, we always suggest buying two so they have the proper companionship. This always leads to an overall healthier and mentally happy pet in the long run.
Visit our Pig Behavior page for more details on owning more than one pig, by clicking this highlighted sentence.
5) How much time do you and/or your family have to spend and dedicate to your new pets care? Do you have a full time job that keeps you out of the home or commuting most of the day?
This is a question that is important for all pet parents, regardless of the species. Pets like children, need to have a respectable amount of human interaction on a daily basis; especially at a young age. You would never want someone leaving you or a child locked in a room or crate all day while you went to work. Unlike dogs and even cats, pigs wont do well going to a “doggy daycare” type situation either. If you have someone that can come to the house a few times a day if you have a demanding job, that may work. But remember, your pet wants YOU and it’s own family not some random individual to just check on it a couple times a day. It is also not appropriate to ask a young animal in a potty training phase, to deal with you being at work all day. You are not only setting the animal up for failure but setting yourself up for failure and a messy home. If you do not have the time to dedicate to an inside animal or no one in the family will be at home during the times that you are away, we do NOT recommend a pig! If a dog doesn’t do well on limited interaction because you work a lot, a pig will be 10 times worse! Save yourself and your future pet from all the stress and get a pocket pet that lives in a cage and doesn’t require any or much daily interaction. Only get a pet pig when and if you have an insane amount of free time to dedicate to them or a family member is always at home and can assist. Good examples would be: a work from home job, a stay at home mother with not many kids to disperse time between (your pig will require as much attention as a toddler), a part time worker who has an easy schedule or family members at home when they aren’t, or someone possibly on permanent disability but receiving a steady income, that is looking for a full time companion.
6) Are you and your ENTIRE family prepared to work with/train your pig on a daily basis?
Pigs need daily and constant reminders of who is in charge. They thrive on a structured hierarchical system, where rank and status is paramount for existence. A pig will challenge every individual in the home and even guests that come to visit, for the top hog or alpha position. Aggressive behavior in pet pigs, next to being lied to about adult size, is a MAJOR reason pet pigs are abandoned, given up to shelters, sent to sanctuaries or rescues and even euthanized. If you treat your pig like a cat or dog when it comes to training and behavior... you are in for a rude awakening. Pigs are NOT cats or dogs and will challenge everything you do. Your entire family must be on board to help with training and daily interaction, especially if you plan on having an indoor pet. This is a daunting task, just ask any current pig owner. If you jump in to pet pig ownership and don't fully grasp how a pigs behavior will possibly affect your household, you are essentially putting your family and guests at risk for bodily harm and major frustration.
Visit our page on Pet Pig Behavior & Training by clicking on this highlighted sentence.
7) How much money are you willing to spend to care for your pet, from every day maintenance and feeding to veterinary expenses?
This may sound like a no brainer and you are obviously ready to financially take on the expected every day expenses for your new pet, like food, toys, bowls, brushes, leashes…etc. But what we seldomly think of are the major medical expenses that come with pets and exotic ones at that! Maybe you planned already for a spay or neuter, wonderful, you are a step ahead of most! But what happens when your beloved pet pig has managed to get in to something it shouldn’t and an emergency situation arises? Not only are emergency services more expensive for what are considered "exotic species" but an ER vet may be a very difficult thing to locate in your area. You should expect to pay a lot more for services like these. It is even advisable to look in to Credit Care lines of credit for veterinary services or have one card always put aside with a zero balance for when tragedy does manage to strike. With that said, lets give a small breakdown of what you should financially expect to care for your pet pig. Remember, a healthy pet pig should live between 15-20 years.
Price of the Pig: Anywhere from $50-$3,000
If you go to great lengths and buy from designer breeders, you could pay up to $5,000 plus air travel expenses.
Air Travel: Typically around $200-$350
Make SURE they have a valid health certificate to fly!
Initial Vet Consult: $50-$150
This is your first visit to make sure you have a healthy piglet/pig before bringing them home. This will always depend on the vet you take it to and your geographical location, this is JUST for the vet to see and do a basic exam on your pet. May not include any medication or tests if they find something wrong.
Supplies to Bring Home Prior to Arrival: Estimates can range from $150-$450
This will entirely depend on name brands VS basic care. This should also include an appropriately sized wire or SkyKennel crate for transportation and training. Also includes: first bag of feed, a small to large dog bed (depends on size of pig), bowls (may need two sets), water dishes/pans, pool (if summer time), toys, blankets, litter pan, liter substrate, liter scoop, carpet or floor cleaning supplies, oatmeal shampoo, skin conditioner, brush, hoof trimmers, digital thermometer, Ivomec dewormer, harness, leash, and pet gate for doorway.
See our Pet Products Page here by clicking this highlighted sentence.
Outdoor Pig Supplies Prior to Arrival: Estimates can range from: $250- Unlimited
If you are planning on building an appropriate outdoor inclosure for your pet pig, you will have MANY options and variations available; the sky is the limit. Many people may keep their piglets in a horse stall to start with, this can cut down on initial costs but not over time. You will need to build an appropriate living space once the piglet has grown, they cannot stay in horse stalls forever. This can include: initial shavings, a dog house or custom built home, fencing material, stabilizing posts, hog gate, bowls for feed and water, a pool (in summer months), pitch fork for cleaning, first bag of feed, digital thermometer, skin conditioner, brush, Diatomaceous Earth (DE), Ivomec dewormer and hoof trimmers.
See our Pet Products Page here by clicking on this highlighted sentence.
Spay or Neuter (first year): Estimate $150-$600
Always expect for a male’s neuter to cost less than a female’s spay procedure. A spay procedure will always be more involved and require more anesthetic because of the time involved cutting through more tissue. You will also need pain medication and a take home pain medication for the days following. This price will fluctuate depending on your geographical location and if you are using an exotic vet VS a predominantly livestock vet. You will ALWAYS need to take these smaller pigs in to a clinic to be operated on, this procedure can never be done in the field regardless of the pigs sex or overall health. Pigs may not respond to the anesthetic well and males can even suffer prolapse, this will have to be immediately dealt with in a medical clinic, not in the field.
Visit our Page on why to Spay & Neuter your pet pig by clicking on this highlighted sentence.
Every Month Feed: Estimate $25-$150
This will obviously depend on a couple variants. One, how many pigs did you get, one or two, or possibly more? Is your pig indoors or outdoors, for possible additional grazing? Are you feeding treats? How much exercise is he/she getting? Are you making a lot of handmade meals for an indoor pig? This will vary from where you live, to what staple feed you chose to buy, to how many pigs you own. This is a safe estimate to go by though.
Visit our Page on Nutrition by clicking this highlighted sentence.
Annual Vet Bills: Estimate $150-$500
This again will depend on all the routine maintenance your pet will need, no two pets will be the exact same. This can vary from geographical location, vets experience and vaccines that may or may not be needed in your area or for licensing purposes. Some people will need to have a vet trim hooves and clean ears, annually or even bi-annually. This will also include a routine annual or bi-annual routine exam. If your pet has a medial condition, you may also need to include the price for maintenance medication and consistent testing.
Annual Expenditures for Basic Repairs/Damage/Replacement Items: $150-$1500
This will all depend on what you chose to replace or repair. We guarantee that your pet pig will destroy something every year that will need to be mended or replaced. That simply depends on if it was a pile of nice clothes in your closet, your fridge, a screen door, or your carpet or wood flooring. If you have an outdoor pig, this could be sprinklers, lawn and garden repairs or even the pigs actual enclosure. Be prepared for it all!
Catastrophe Vet Bills: Estimate $1,000- $10,000 Lifetime
This is huge grey area but you MUST be prepared for it. Pigs get in to EVERYTHING, worse than dogs. You need to expect vet bills for random events. This is where a Care Credit line of credit or a credit card put away with a zero balance for a “rainy day,” will help out a lot. Another option is to look in to pet insurance companies, where you may only pay a copay in a catastrophic event. Remember with insurance, you will have to pay an initial premium or meet a deductible first.
Visit our Pet Insurance Information Page by clicking on this highlighted sentence.
Total: Minimum $15,000
Minimum for a pet pig over it’s lifetime and if it lives a 15-20 year life. This is with just an annual vet visit and lowest cost with no airfare for initial purchase. All categories at their lowest minimums. Although by no means will every pig owner will be forced to pay this amount, mostly due to MANY variables like age the pig was obtained and living arrangements, this is sincerely what you should EXPECT over a lifetime. If you can’t handle that number over 15-20 years, please try and find a more suitable pet.
8) What other pets do you have in your home or on your property that may be coming in to contact on a daily basis, with your pet pig?
Pigs can make poor companions with other animals. They can be very pushy and yet they are prey to many other species. Cats do tend to get along or ignore the pigs well but dogs and pigs are never a good combination. Yes, there is always an exception to the rule but they are rare and should never be outright expected! If you plan to have dogs and pigs you MUST first make sure that your dog is not interested in solely attacking and eating it. Some dogs only have one drive and that is to attack the pig, no matter what you do and how hard you try, you will never take this drive out of your dog. Even the most mild mannered dogs can surprise you! We have had a pig returned because an elderly and mild mannered Shih Tzu was jumping or throwing itself at a baby gate to try and kill the pig, no one ever saw it coming. Even if your dog seems to be doing well with the pig, under no circumstances should you leave them alone. If there is no way for you to NOT leave your pig and dogs alone together in the home while you are away, a pig probably isn’t a good animal for you.
Some livestock and pigs will do well together, this is usually on a case by case basis though and you will need to watch closely and determine what relationships will work. Horses and pigs should rarely ever be left together. Not only because some horses will stomp and kill them easily just due to size difference but pigs can pick on horses, even minis, and cause them a lot of grief if not bodily harm; especially if they have tusks. Some goats do really well with pigs but others may head butt them and need to be removed. It will all depend on each individuals personalities and up to each owners discretion.
Visit our page on Pig Behavior by clicking on this highlighted sentence.
9) Can you find a veterinarian in your area to treat the medical needs of your pet pig?
There aren’t as many vets that specialize in smaller variations of pigs as one may think and sometimes livestock vets or small animal vets wont cut it. Before you ever bring your beloved pet pig home, make sure that you have a vet lined up that you are comfortable with, prior. We have known some individuals that never checked on the availability of veterinarians in their area before purchasing a pig and were forced to drive over 250 miles to see their vet! Do not end up that way! Pet Pig Education has the most comprehensive veterinary list available on the web right now. We have personally called hundreds of vets around the nation to ensure they still treat and see miniature variations of pet pigs (as of 2015), there are many imposters out there or others attempting to copy our list, don’t be fooled, start here. So check out our Veterinarian page and call around to make an appointment first.
Visit our Veterinarians page by clicking on this highlighted sentence.
10) Do you or your family expect to vacation or go out of town a lot? If you travel, who will care for your pet pig?
You would be surprised at how few people out there will help care for a pig when you leave, they simply don’t have any experience with pigs, thus leaving your pet with them could spell disaster. Now a days, we even have pet sitters at our disposal on care.com and many other internet sites, don’t trust the first person to fall in love with your pig though. Do they have any pig experience? If so, how much? Do they have any knowledge of what would constitute and emergency with a pig? How often can they visit, check on or spend time with your pig? Do you plan to let your pig stay with someone else in their home, this usually isn’t the best option? Who locally would they contact in the event of an emergency? Are they on file to approve treatment with your veterinarian? Pet pigs require a lot more care and attention than their other domestic counterparts. Plus, you typically can’t take a pet pig to a kennel for the weekend. Although there are a few that may accept pigs, make sure to take a full tour of the entire premises because kennels are very stressful for pigs! The barking could send them in to a panic attack, unless you have a well traveled and sociable pig. Make sure you know what you will do and who you will call in case you decide that you can’t live without a vacation.
11) Are you prepared for a pig that could and most likely will get much larger than you may have originally been told or expected?
Like our opening paragraph warned us… this is such a HUGE topic in the pet pig community, it can’t be overlooked! Although there are pigs out there that MAY stay slightly smaller in stature, please be very aware that you got an exception, NOT the rule! As of current, there are no records to back up that a miniature pig, at a full grown age (which is around 5 years old), that is fully healthy, has lived to the standard average age a pot belly pig should reach. Many of these small ones live for awhile and are healthy for the first few years and maybe even up to 5, but they end up passing from health complications due to inbreeding or poor breeding/husbandry practices done in a feeble attempt to keep the lines small. Again, do not buy in to this and spare yourself the pain, financial burden and heartache now! Are you willing to open up your home and heart to a pet pig that you were told would stay under 50 pounds or better yet, 35 pounds, and it is now growing well beyond 100 plus and is not obese? This happens every day and owners end up surrendering their once loved pets to either shelters, sanctuaries or even turning them loose to fend for themselves or euthanized. This is the major problem all these Facebook groups, Internet sites and sanctuaries are combating on a daily basis. This is literally the most important question on this blog… are you prepared to love a 300 pound pig if it comes to that? If you can’t foresee that happening, step away from pig ownership, it’s a trap! You are better off with a cat or dog.
Visit our page on "The Teacup Myth" by clicking this highlighted sentence.
Finally, have you done all the research you can possibly do on your new pet pig and their needs? Have you taken the time to educate yourself and ask other pig parents how they have had to change their lives to accommodate a pet pig? If you haven’t done any prior research or investigated what it really entails to own a pig, you must do that first; we implore you! This blog is an excellent starting point but please, dig deeper. Visit all of our website and even visit other Facebook groups, especially those of rescues or sanctuaries to get the real, not sugar coated stories of life with pet pigs. AS cute as they are as piglets, they are not all roses and sunshine, they grow up! They bring a lot of joy to our lives but they are certainly not for every one! We cannot stress how important it really is to have an arsenal of information at the ready and handy when and if those needs or bad situations do arise. The more prepared you are, the less stress you, your family and your pet will be forced to endure. This is all we ever want, a happy and healthy life for the animals that we willingly chose to open our doors to. It is our responsibility, not theirs, for us to learn about what ownership encompasses. Do not fail your pet from the start, start with education.
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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.