there is no doubt that technology has come a long way from when I was a child. I was thrilled when pagers came out and having the pretty baby blue Motorolla one was all the rage! Shoot, it's 2015, shouldn't we all have hover boards by now Marty!? With everything you can do online and in social media today, there are certainly "two-sides to every coin." There is so much to learn, see, get involved in and new friends within specific social circles, to be made! But on the flip side, we remove the human element. We can't see facial expressions, express real/raw emotion in tone and most importantly, we really need to be careful what we chose to believe! This can be a blanket statement for all aspects of the Internet. It is truly amazing what we have been able to produce in the age of technology and how quickly we are able to advance, but it is also unbelievably terrifying what we as humans are capable of from the security of our homes and behind a keyboard! Alas, the Internet is full of bad and misguided information, flat out deceptive lies to hurt people, malicious individuals and inappropriate internet behavior and etiquette. We have entered the digital age of "keyboard warriors." I mean really, why should everyone care what is truth, lies or hurtful if at the end of the day you can hide behind a computer alias locked away in your home? The Internet and social media can be a dangerous playground and as always, you should proceed with caution.
One tragic problem we have created in the digital age is running to the Internet and social media groups for medical advice. I know, I may get a lot of flack for this one but it's reality folks. This can be said about human medicine and veterinary medicine alike. There are numerous story's out there of children who have died because parents sought advice and were told on the Internet that, "it wasn't a big deal and it would clear on its own!" That or: "Do this and use that and it will be cured!" I see this trend growing daily in pet groups as well. It's wonderful to have these groups to share our cute pictures, stories and experiences with each other and our community, but it is flat out irresponsible to be seeking or offering major veterinary advice to your peers if you lack a PhD behind your name. We all have experiences but remember, all our experiences aren't the same and we are all unique individuals with different outside elements coming in to play. We cannot and will not know all the variables in someone or a pets situation. We have to quit acting like we know it all! We are not all magically "Internet doctors" with "internet PhD's" just because we had an experience. This is a dangerous plight and one that can even end people in legal battles. The Internet community instead, needs to help refer people and pets back to their licensed medical specialists for proper diagnosis and treatment. You may have a good general idea and of course we all want to share our experiences but at the end of the day, if it isn't a minor issue, always refer back to a doctor. Again, Of course there are minor issues that possibly can be addressed (my pet got stung by a bee, has minor skin irritation, didn't poop today, is this normal behavior...etc) but if there is ever a gut feeling ask yourself: "Ten years ago would I have polled the Internet for this or would I have gone to my doctor or vet's office?" If you find yourself responding with the the later... Do everyone a favor and GET OFF SOCIAL MEDIA AND SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION, for you or your pets immediately!
What always gets me is how quickly people take to social media to get a diagnosis. Why? If the answer is lack of money or in human medicine, insurance, can you get on government assistance or social welfare programs till you can get back on your feet? If you don't have the money and it's a pet, sincerely ask yourself if pet ownership is the responsible thing for you right now. Just because you are in a difficult time now, you wont always be; remember that! Even rescuing an animal just to bring it in to another financially depleted situation is not good. You are doing yourself and your pet a disservice. With pets and children, you have to be responsible! Put away money and learn to save or have a credit card with a zero balance stashed away for a rainy day. If you can't be financially responsible, should you own a pet? The answer is probably no, wait till you are in a better place. Quite frankly, we are all exhausted of seeing GoFundMe accounts for every animal or bad situation you run in to. Remember buying the pet isn't the expensive part of the journey, the maintenance and healthcare is. Not owning a pet and learning your limits shows strength and grace and puts you in a better frame of mind for when you are finally ready to make that leap. Being mindful and understanding another living beings needs and financial responsibility, is a paramount attribute of ownership. We all hit a rough spots in life but what defines us is how we humbly get back up and fight on without taking advantage of others and being responsible for our short comings. Don't be the person always soliciting major medical advice on the Internet, be responsible and find a doctor or veterinarian who you can establish a face to face, patient relationship with and know you are being taken care of. Sure, some veterinarians might not be a good match for your pets needs but at least it's better than anyone on the Internet can boast of, especially for legal reasons.
For those that just love to dish out the information and play doctor, take warning. That is not good social media etiquette, especially in public places. Always do your best to convince a friend or community member to seek licensed medical advise. It's just the right thing to do. Can you imagine the guilt you will have to live with if you have bad information and it cost a pet its life? That's a heavy burden no one should have to bear. There is a difference from sharing an experience that may be similar in nature but referring them to a doctor in the end, and giving out advice like you suddenly have a Facebook PhD. Don't fall in to that trap! Learn to steer others in the right and ethical direction or steer clear of the situation entirely. People who are not doctors, yet post radical opinions on Facebook, are doing so not to be helpful but to simply stroke their own egos. Just because you read an article on some rogue blog, does not make you a medical expert!
Just remember, there is such a thing as Internet etiquette and we need to be, not only respectful to others, but diligent in not spreading misguided information. If you want to post and discuss politics and sports team predictions/opinions, go for it; those are always up for debate! But finding every feed to give medical advice on is just wrong and inappropriate unless you are a licensed doctor. Do not claim any authority about medical issues when you have no professional knowledge to support it. When you provide myth and hearsay as “fact,” they can be easily shared and misinterpreted. What's worse, it can cause others to follow your misguided lead, resulting in serious medical problems. Experience won't make you an MD, a degree does. If you want one, go and earn it. But let me guarantee you this... After you finally put in the time and dedication to obtain a doctorate, you won't want anything to do with constantly giving advise on social media. You will also know that without an established patient relationship, you risk your medical license. For a licensed vet that is currently a heated debate with the state board of veterinary medical examiners.
For further reading on Online Veterinary Medical Advise follow this link: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/06/15/vet-restructed-from-giving-advice-underscores-national-telemedicine-debate/
Does the video above seem all too familiar? Have you experienced Dippity Pig or have you made your way here to find some information and hope for relief? Rest assured, you are not alone and "Dippity" is a very common ailment in pot belly pigs!
I want to start with addressing that the etiology (cause) of Dippity Pig is unknown. This disease has simply not been studied or tested enough to make a scientific conclusion about it's origins in those individuals that are affected; and not every pig is affected. However, there are a few things I would like to point out before advancing. One, Dippity Pig Syndrome has only been confirmed in the Pot Belly Pig or mixed breeds that include pot bellies in them; which is a large number of the smaller pig varieties these days! Even most Juliana's have some strain of pot belly in them. We have not seen this exact disease in commercial swine yet. We have seen skin lesions in commercial breeds but most of the time this is due to feed sensitivities or sunburn. In my personal opinion, I believe this disease goes back to continuous inbreeding and early breeding practices of the pot belly breed. I feel that if enough research was done, we would ultimately find this a genetic defect within certain family lines. Two, Although vets tend also use the term "Erythema Multiforme" interchangeably with Dippty, I do not agree with that decision and neither do some other veterinarians I have had personal conversations with. Erythema multiforme is originally a human skin disease characterized by lesions and is a specific hypersensitivity reaction to other diseases. This term can be used JUST for the skin lesions on the pig but if we are to describe the disease as a whole, which encompasses both the integumentary and nervous system, it needs to be referred to the correct term in swine, which is Dippity Pig Syndrome. Last, the disease seems to present much like the herpes virus/shingles in humans: it is only present in certain individuals and lies dormant until triggered by external stimuli or perceived stress.
What triggers the sudden onset of the disease? There are many different things that can trigger the classic symptoms of Dippity Pig. It has not officially been noted as to what the exact triggers are but as a community, we have a pretty good general idea. Stress is the main trigger. Stress can take on many different forms and meanings to each individual; its purely subjective. Sunburns, moving to a new home or location, introduction of new pets, loud noises, diet changes and even thunderstorms have all been acknowledged in triggering the acute attacks. Dippity Pig is primarily seen in pigs under the age of 2 years and even more so in pigs under a year. It is extremely rare to see it in an older pig. Usually we only see a pig get the disease once and it never returns. There are however instances where the pig may come down with Dippity several times on separate occasions, if it is still under the age of 2 years.
What are the symptoms of Dippity Pig? Some pigs will display only the bleeding/oozing lesions on the back, which can also be commonly referred to as "Bleeding Back Syndrome." Furthermore, some will only display the extreme behavior of the disease. However, it is typically expressed as both the classic sores on the back AND the behavior: dipping of the back, refusal to be touched at all, screaming very loudly (like being attacked), acting like they are in extreme pain and even what appears to be paralysis or dragging of the hind legs.
Rest assured though, the symptoms of Dippity Pig do not last long and the disease is self limiting. The pig should heal, display normal behavior and make a full recovery in 24-72 hours or less. There is no treatment that will cure it, so all we can do is treat the symptoms and try to make the pig as comfortable as possible during the episodes.
What can we do to comfort the pig? The first thing and most important thing to do is remove your pig from the perceived stress and in to a small dimly lit or dark room. Keep them away from people and try to leave them alone to simply be. Give them a soft bed and make sure they are calm and resting as much as possible. To relax the pig and help it rest, you can administer Benadryl (diphenhydramine), 1mg per pound, every 8 hours. For pain you can give them buffered aspirin, 5mg per pound, every 12 hours OR Tylenol 5mg per pound, every 8 hours. You can also use Children's Liquid Tylenol at 1cc per 6 pounds. With all these options, only use them up to 3 days and you MUST feed them with food otherwise your pig may get an upset stomach. In extreme cases, you can go to your vet and they may administer cortisone shots as an anti-inflammatory and Tramadol or Buprenex for pain. If there is not an improvement in symptoms within 4 days or your pig starts to run a fever over 103 degrees, take them to the veterinarian immediately!
Dippity pig syndrome can be a very intense period for both you and your pig. Many owners get frantic and reiterate how scary experiencing this can be. We get a lot of questions about it emailed to us on a weekly basis. Our best advise is to keep a calm and level head for both you and your pigs sanity. If you take a deep breathe and realize that this too shall pass, you will be better equipped to help and assist your pig through this difficult disease.
Please visit our website page on Pig Diseases, for further reading on Dippity Pig Syndrome. To be directed there, click on these highlighted sentences.
So I have to spill the beans... I am in love with Diatomaceous Earth and have been for years! Many people will look at me funny when I refer to it by it's official name, as it also commonly goes by plain ole' DE. It's abbreviation is surely easier to remember! Who knew that microscopic fossilized water plants (algae) could create a sedimentary mineral compound from it's skeletal remains, which are called diatoms. These amazing little plants have been part of the Earth's ecology since prehistoric times. These diatoms are harvested and ground up to a powder that resembles and feels like talcum powder. Diatomaceous Earth is a natural compound and nontoxic to all animals except insects. People even eat it and add it to their diets, so rest assured, it is even safe for human consumption!
There are a few different types of DE, they vary based on the way in which they are processed/treated, and I specifically use FOOD GRADE Diatomaceous Earth ONLY! I warn of this because not all DE is edible! Some variants are used in industrial filtration systems, dynamite and things you would never want around your home or animals. The industrial grade DE is heated in order to form the crystals that make is very abrasive. if ingested or inhaled, industrial DE can cause some serious damage to your body or lungs, so make SURE to get FOOD GRADE.
I have always personally, used DE for many things on the farm! However, I most commonly administer it to my pet pigs as a natural pesticide and insect deterrent. I sprinkle it in their food, inside their enclosures and bedding, and even offer them a dust bath and brush it on to their skin/hair. For pink pigs that commonly suffer "eye rust" and other unsightly skin issues, DE can work wonders (coupled with proper biannual deworming practices, for swine that means using Ivermectin in the fall and spring). My pink pigs rarely ever suffer from eye rust or nasty skin issues when consistently offering them DE. It can also help with flaky, itchy and dry skin.
There are many other amazing uses for DE and although this is a pet pig blog, I feel that I should clue you in on how amazing this stuff really is and not limit our discussion to just pet pigs. Let me list out some things that DE works well on:
*Fleas: Dust your carpet, pet bedding, baseboards and any other cracks in the home. You can also dust your pets coat/hair/skin.
*Bedbugs: Take apart the bed and thoroughly dust the mattress, frame and all the cracks in the room.
*Flies: Thoroughly dust areas in which flies are frequent: walls, bedding and manure collection areas. Can also be applied to all livestock coats as a natural fly repellent.
*Carpet Beetles: Dust along all carpets and flooring, baseboards, under furniture, closets, all rugs and even shelving.
*Mites: Works especially well on chicken mites. Dust the coop, nests, housing, laying boxes and even set a large pan of it out for the chickens to dust themselves with (oh and they will do it voluntarily)!
It's nice to also report that many zoos have experimented with DE and it has proven very successful in providing the animals with healthier coats, cleaner and more clear eyes and their internal parasite load was smaller while administered routinely in the diet.
What other pests can DE conquer? The list is amazing! Here we go: sawfly, aphids, earwig, silverfish, ants, slugs/snails, twig borer, thrips, all mites, lice, spiders, crickets, cockroaches, coddling moth, fruit flies, pill bugs, ticks and even gnats. There are actually too many insects to list but there are a few of the most commonly seen varieties. If it has an exoskeleton, it can kill it!
So how does it work? Diatomaceous Earth is not poisonous and it doesn't have to be eaten to be effective. DE will cause an insects exoskeleton to dry up and die by absorbing the oils and fats within the skeleton's cuticle. It is abrasive to the insect, which helps kill it more quickly.
Like mentioned earlier, even people add DE to their diets! Many believe that it has benefits both externally and internally. Some of those health benefits include: hair, nails, skin, teeth, ligaments, joints, bones, cartilage, muscles and even aids in bowel movements. Did you know DE is also used in beer filtering because it doesn't compromise its body, color and flavor? Most toothpaste boasts it as well.
Although there are many uses for DE and quite frankly I think it is the most cheap and easy answer to pests on the farm and in the home, you still need to use caution and avoid inhaling it, even the food grade. It is a fine powder that can agitate the airways. Some people it bothers and some it doesn't, if you have allergies or tend to be more sensitive, I recommend using a cheap mask. Can be a medical mask or those found for woodworking or shops. Seriously though, if you haven't been blessed enough to have DE in your life yet, I recommend jumping on the wagon! You wont be disappointed!
~Visit the official animal DE supplier Red Lake Earth at: http://www.redlakeearth.com/red-lake-diatomaceous-earth-us.html
~Visit the official food grade Diatomaceous Earth website to learn more about it and its many uses: https://www.diatomaceousearth.com
*DISCLAIMER: Any food grade diatomaceous earth uses other than those approved by the EPA, FDA, or USDA are strictly based on what others reportedly have tried themselves. The information contained within is not intended as a substitute for a veterinarian’s advice, nor is it a substitute for your best judgment.
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.
Pass it along... a click could save a life.
Sometimes a new blog idea comes to me in the strangest of ways! Sincerely, I have no idea how some of these topics come to mind! However, most of the topics arrive at my doorstep because of many passionate and dedicated pet pig parent's that reach out to me directly with questions and concerns for their piggies. Some I am able to answer or direct them to a better source for their specific problem and others really do need to seek advise from veterinarians, or multiple vets in some cases. With that said, this week I had a very honest and intriguing topic come up that I know plagues the pet pig world as much as it does farmers and commercial swine. As much as the majority of the "pet pig world" despises commercial hog farmers, there are things that we need to look for in their practices and carry them over in to our pet pigs health. Understand on some level, that hog farmers have been at this a lot longer than the pet pig community has. They know the ups and downs, they know health issues, how to best treat some and what will and wont work. Although there will always be some issues we hope to eradicate with commercial hog farmers, we also need to take a page from their book on other topics. Today's blog post is exactly one of those topics...
Videos that provide an excellent example of the methods we touched on...
An example of working with your pig or training it to be comfortable with routine, non restrained, hoof trimming.
An example of putting the pig on it's back to trim hooves and administer vaccines. Done by Dr Christina Wilson DVM of Equiheart Veterinary Services out of New Jersey. Video posted here with permission of Dr Wilson. (2015)
This video is presented by Zinpro Corporation. It is a hoof trimming of a sow, in the Feet First Chute. Please visit their website video library for further educational guides and materials.
I recently had a discussion with someone through email regarding the "projected size" of their so called micro pig. They were floored and appalled that the breeder would tell them that their new piglet would stay under 25 pounds full grown. I was frankly quite appalled! They were also instructing them to feed elder mini pig feed to a piglet and about the size of a shot glass twice a day with no other food. I couldn't believe it and had to slowly coach this new friend back to reality. Reality was... this cute 5 month old pig was already ripping out her drywall inside her home. I have heard many a tales of owners finding out the truth that their cute babies wont stay as small as breeders told them, then coming to grips with it. But this time, I found myself smack dab in the middle of trying to assist this person through the process. We love our pigs but that reality can be hard to stomach when you were conned in to the purchase and everything you thought you knew is no longer true.
I also had a friend reach out to me privately awhile back because she knew I had an ongoing issue with a somewhat local, mini animal breeder, who also runs a large scale petting zoo (they are out of Smithfield, VA). I started having issues with her sale ads almost 2 years ago now. She started a side business with another family to breed and raise mini animals that would make it in to her petting zoo and act as another venture for her to make money off the animals. As soon as the animals were no longer super tiny and cute, they were sold off. Not only was she processing these pets through her petting zoo like processing meat through a plant, just to make money, but she was yanking them from their mother at just a day or two old and forcing them in to her traveling petting zoos. That is a health risk to the animal at such a young age that has not developed the proper antibodies, which they wont just get from colostrum. But the ultimate issue is the behavior of this "so called breeder," it is just deplorable! She also habitually lies about the projected size of her animals and breeds runts to runts in an attempt to create a smaller pig. Anyways, my friend reached out to me for assistance in trying to shed some light on this individual and her business. She wasn't as familiar with them as I was but she was slowly seeing the problem. When I went after this lady and her improper business practices a year and a half ago, I had no crowd standing behind me willing to help out in numbers, to speak out. I was too new in this area and they ended up threatening me with a cease and desist letter from their so called lawyer. However, I did call up the lawyer and give them an earful about how there was no way he could take any action against me or request of me to take down social media posts on a private profile and that he could go shove it. Lets just say I never heard back from that clown! I still hurl the facts out from time to time at this lady and her so called business on social media, but it has become a lot more infrequent. Since I stopped breeding pigs (Vietnamese) myself, the pigs stopped being front and center for my farm as I do have other livestock and horses. I also felt that it was a battle I could not fight alone knowing that this lady had thousands of blind followers that knew nothing about animals or proper animal husbandry; she acquired them all from the petting zoo venture. The sad part, she claims to be a big christian and every thing on her website contradicts what is actually going on. I will openly admit that she does medically care for her animals but her breeding practices are so unethical, she needs to be shut down as quick as possible! I will forever stand behind my statements regarding this lady and her breeding practices until the day her doors close or she starts singing a new tune and becomes more educated in her breeding endeavors.
Back to the reason I stopped breeding mini pigs... I felt that with all the lies out there surrounding these mini variations and so many now ending up in shelters or rescues, that it was unethical of me to continue. I was one of the few breeders that not only didn't stretch the truth or flat out lie about the piglets projected size but I tried and still do, to desperately educate any prospective owners on what a mini pig really is, their health needs, their nutrition requirements, housing needs, social/training needs, and what owners need to expect. I always had and still have, an open door policy with all my animals. I am always here for support, questions and further education. Just last week I was at a local business giving an educational talk to it's employees about care and what to expect, as they decided to take on some unwanted mini pigs. Regardless of my passion in educating owners and finding a proper match, it is still not ethical of me to breed knowing that there are so many unwanted piglets out there due to other breeder's lies and deception. The ultimate issue here is, it has become a national growing concern on many platforms.
At first I thought it was very localized situation, in some of the more farmland and rural type communities, but it is not. The problem has grown in to our metropolitan areas and highly populated cities; it has become a worldwide issue. If you can recall, Paris Hilton and George Clooney started the "Micro Pig" celebrity trend back in the early 2000's. Paris primarily claimed to have a "designer pocket pig" that could fit in her purse and she could take it every where with her. Although the piglet was very small when she first obtained it, mostly due to being yanked and bottle fed at a startlingly young age, it is safe to say her "designer pig" is now over 200 lbs. She was told by the breeder that it would stay under 30 pounds full grown. Not only are these Posh Pigs type breeders unsafe to buy from, but the web of lies that they spin is mind boggling. They also tell you that if your pig grows over the measly projected poundage, you have overfed your animal and it is now obese. They always recommend to drastically underfeed their pigs in order to stunt their growth (they wont admit it stunts their growth); they usually offer a shot glass or measured equivalent for the daily food measurement. This, leads to organ failure, just so you are aware. Would you starve your children to keep them small? We thought not! There are children's books, TV shows, news clips and internet controversy over these types of breeders and their pigs every where you turn now. There are so many people who have been preyed upon by these breeders wanting to make money off their lies, that the animals and families suffer. How much money you ask? Some of these so called designer pig breeders ask anywhere from $5,000 to $1,200 a piglet. Of course a lot of them also ship, which is extra and even more unsafe for the animals. Lets just get it out there, that pigs are NOT puppies! Their needs, behaviors and temperaments are wildly different!
If you have ever roamed my website you can clearly see that I am openly opposed to these types of breeders and their inhumane practices. My warnings are every where. I will say it again in this blog... Please understand that the terms "Micro", "Nano", "Pocket", "Designer", "Toy" and "Teacup" are ONLY made up marketing ploys to peak your interest and feed you the size lie. These labels sincerely do NOT exist! All form and variations of Pot Belly Pigs (Vietnamese Pot Bellies) although "mini" in comparison, can grow to be anywhere between 60 lbs to 250 lbs and still not be obese, this includes Juliana's who breeders still like to claim stay WAY smaller and it just isn't true, as they too are a mixed breed. They all originate from the farm hog that weighed in at over 800-1200 lbs. Just like humans, each pig is an individual and looking at the parents in this case, is not a good representation of what your pet will eventually look like! Because most breeders breed their sow and boar (breeding stock) at extreme and unhealthy young ages (before one year of age), they are not fully grown and will NOT reflect the size of your piglet. It is like babies having babies in the human world. Would we consider a 12 year old child full grown? No, so we cannot expect that of the breeding stock. Don't be fooled!
I have compiled some videos and links so you can see some of the individuals that have specifically fallen victim to the breeders ploy. The breeders will tell you that we are incorrect and these descriptive size terms do in fact exist. I repeat, they do not. There are some smaller pigs developing out there but they are unhealthy and they most likely wont live to see their 5th birthday. A healthy pig should and could live to 20 years of age. The small variations that do manage to stay on the more miniscule side, are inbred so bad that they eventually die of organ failure. This is heart breaking to watch and expensive to try and save, when in reality, there is nothing you can do. Let these educational videos be your guide as opposed to my opinions and experiences. See the mini pig through the eyes of all the other owners out there. I personally love my pet pigs that are part of my farm but I have always known what to expect and how to raise them. My pigs, pictured at the top of the blog, regardless of size are healthy, happy, loved and enjoy our farm, us and my other animals immensely. But most people do not have the luxury of owning a farm. Pigs do not belong in apartments, condos or rentals of any type. They are simply too destructive and it is not their fault, it is normal pig behavior. Please visit all the Mini Pig Facebook Groups that are out there for educational purposes and watch our Facebook page and website for more reading material. If you need more help, please feel free to reach out to us!
With every thing in life, please do your homework first! Being educated is the best thing we can do for ourselves, our families and the health of all involved. The truth is out there, it's damming but real! This is only a small list too, I found more than 200 sites claiming false advertising of these pigs. Please be smart enough to distinguish fact from fiction.
www.petpigeducation.com (The Size Myth)
Nat Geo Article: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/09/140930-animals-culture-science-miniature-pigs-breeders-sanctuaries/
Vet Street Article: http://www.vetstreet.com/our-pet-experts/why-i-cringe-when-i-hear-a-client-bought-a-teacup-pig
Southern Fried Science, Article written by a Biologist: http://www.southernfriedscience.com/?p=13808
The Dodo Blog: https://www.thedodo.com/whats-misleading-about-the-tea-843842300.html
Care2 Article: http://os.care2.com/all/how-the-mini-pig-trend-is-causing-big-pig-trouble#1
The Daily Mail, a UK Article: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1327917/Call-micropig-Cute-litttle-piglets-turning-oversize-porkers.html
One Green Planet Website: http://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/why-you-should-think-twice-before-buying-a-teacup-pig/
Columbia University Article: http://columbianewsservice.com/2010/02/miniature-pet-pigs-may-be-too-good-to-be-true/
Teacup's Fact or Fiction: http://www.teacuppig.info/
With the temperatures and humidity in certain areas on the rise this month, I felt that it was very important to touch on keeping your pet pig(s) cool. I have seen a pig locally that belongs to some individuals down the street, that I am surprised has not keeled over in the past from such extreme heat exposure and lack of appropriate shade, water and means to cool itself. With seeing and trying to deal with assisting these people in the past, I wanted to touch on how important this issue really is in the summer months. It is literally a life or death situation for outdoor pet pigs. Although indoor pet pigs will not experience such struggles with extreme heat, keeping them comfortable and mentally stimulated in the summer is still of extreme importance.
Unlike humans and many species that use evaporative cooling (sweating) to cool the core body temperature, pigs have very minimal sweat glands that do not provide any relief in reducing heat stress. Sweat glands of pigs are only found on the snout, lips and carpal organs and provide no relief when cooling the pig. There are many ways to combat heat stress in our pet pigs despite non-functioning sweat glands.
The most popular method and the method we know your pet pig would choose, is a mud wallow. Since the beginning of time, pigs have naturally flocked to wallowing mud pools to cool their core body temperature. Mud dries slowly on the pigs skin which allows for longer moisture retention than if water alone were used to cool the pig. The mud will help the pig stay cool for a longer periods of time. Mud also provides the pig relief from harmful UV rays that can cause major sunburn and skin damage. Pesky insects such as mosquitoes and biting flies, also have a hard time penetrating the layer of mud and therefore can't bite the pig, the way that it could a clean pig. The mud can also act as a suffocating barrier to other forms of harmful parasites like lice and ticks, that kills those parasites immediately and wont allow for prime living conditions on the pig. Many years ago before pigs were brought in to the home or even brought inside to factory farms where large cooling systems were utilized to manage larger herds, many medical ailments of pigs were warded off by the act of wallowing in mud. We now are forced to treat many porcine ailments with more medicine to combat what natural mud use to easily take care of on its own. Wallowing is also a natural behavior of pigs and is a form of enrichment in and of itself. Pigs love to wallow. Even if you have an indoor pig that you would prefer to keep predominantly clean, we still suggest letting them wallow in a mud hole from time to time. It's pure pig bliss!
A small kiddie pool is also a wonderful form of man made evaporative cooling for your pet pig. It also provides a form of entertainment and play. The pool must be kept clean on a daily basis and in warmer temperatures, must me kept in a shaded area. I cannot stress enough how important keeping these kiddie pools clean is! If you leave them to sit, not only will the pig most likely poop in its pool, which in turn will cause a major vat of growing bacteria and cause skin issues but it will also attract mosquitoes and other bugs that can bring about disease. I recommend rinsing out your kiddie pool daily, bleaching it weekly and replacing the pool entirely every summer season.
Any outdoor animal should always have plenty of access to shade, no exception for pigs, even if they have a wallow or pool! You must have trees, natural sun blocking barriers or a structure provided to allow the pig to escape direct sunlight. Shade provides relief by blocking a significant proportion of the radiant heat load from the sun, especially if you use a reflective or insulated material for the roofing.
An adequate clean water source for drinking can never be overlooked! One of the biggest issues I see constantly, is that the poor pig flips its drinking water container religiously because it has no other means of cooling itself and then has no clean water for the entire rest of the day. Not only does it not have drinking water but with how small its drinking container was, the small wallow the pig was able to make in an attempt to cool itself... evaporates or soaks in to the ground in less than an hours time. Now the pig has no wallow nor drinking water. Make sure a wallow/pool AND adequate drinking water are always present in extreme heat. When it comes to drinking water, get creative when buying or making a drinking unit, find something that sits sturdy or place it in an area where the pig will be least likely to flip it over or play in it. In extreme heat make sure to check on or have someone come to the home and check on, the pigs water. Rinse/clean and refill at least 3 times a day if necessary. There is nothing more frustrating and upsetting to me than seeing a pet pig with no water for a full 24 hours or even longer because the pig parent didn't plan accordingly and think of the pigs natural tenancies to try and cool itself down.
Even indoor pet pigs need to have a cool home and plenty of water to stay comfortable in the summer. When parents leave for work, a lot of the time they turn down the AC in the home to keep costs down. Always make sure that your pet pig has access to a cool floor in which it can sprawl out on or a floor vent it can get close to when the AC does come on. Make sure your pig has enough clean water during the day if you are to leave for an extended period of time.
Did you know that in the heat of the summer, pigs will also reduce their food intake when their body temperatures are above ideal ranges? They will and it is not uncommon at all to see this in outdoor pigs! Doing this will reduce the amount of heat burned off in the digestion process. It is recommended to increase the amount of fat if the pig does slow it's intake, that way you are replacing what it is losing in smaller portions. Stay away from fibrous ingredients as they require more heat to digest. Another tactic to use is feeding your pig early in the morning and after sunset in the evenings so it is much cooler when digestion is taking place. This isn't an excuse to overfeed your pig. Just be on the look out in case your outdoor pig does stop or slow down it's food intake.
Some pigs will like to root in ice cubes too! This can be a fun game in the summer months. You must watch over them while they engage in this activity though.
I cannot stress how important making appropriate arrangements for your pet pigs is during the summer, especially outdoor pigs. Please remember their natural tenancies to root, cool themselves, and find creative ways to overcome a need that you may have not thought of. When it comes to summer heat, it really can be a life or death situation with a pet pig left outside with out proper care. Never feel embarrassed to ask for help from a neighbor or friend to come check a water dish/bowl or to make sure a pets pool is filled. Have a great summer and stay cool out there!
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?
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.