Owning a miniature pig is not like owning other common pets. Mini pigs require care different than that of other animals to keep them happy and heathly. Enrichment activities, outdoor areas, proper diet, and structure are all basic aspects of mini pig care.
SPAY & NEUTER By: Stephanie Matlock
Spaying and neutering your pet pig is vital for their long term health and well being. An intact pig will not make a good pet because they are over run with hormones causing bad behavior and dangerous health risks. Any surgery, whether animal or human, will have associated risks. However, the risks of not spaying/neutering is far more dangerous for your beloved pig. The behavior & health risks of intact pigs is far worse than intact dogs. Just because you had a dog that wasn’t fixed doesn’t mean it will be as smooth with a pig! Not spaying or neutering the pet pig is the #1 reason they are abandoned or re-homed! Intact pigs suffer from the hormones surging through their body. This may not be as apparent in a breeding herd where they have an outlet for these urges. In a home environment or living with a family it is very obvious and damaging to relationships with their beloved people (as well as damage to the house and furniture!). Their hormones are so overwhelming they become frustrated and aggressive. Pigs become sexually mature very very young even though their bodies are not mature enough to carry a litter to term. This makes keeping intact piglets together beyond 8 weeks risky. Siblings can easily impregnate each other, and they waste no time getting the job done. For more information on spaying and neutering please visit http://americanminipigassociation.com/owners/helpful-owner-articles/spay-and-neuter/
Veterinarians, researchers, and scientists alike suggest that a miniature pig should be fed 2% of their body weight daily, split into 2 feedings. Specialized mini pig pelleted feed has been developed to fulfill their daily health and nutritional requirements. Small amounts of vegetables and fruits can be fed for training and treats, but still need to be included in the daily feeding ratio of 2 %, this also includes grazing. Withholding fed WILL NOT keep a pig small. Overfeeding WILL lead to obesity and underfeeding WILL lead to malnutrition, both can and will lead to serious health risks and possible death. More information on feeding can be found at http://americanminipigassociation.com/mini-pig-education/mini-pig-nutrition/
Outdoor time is very important for the overall well-being of your pig. Time outside provides your pignatural vitimans and minerals from the dirt and sunshine, and an outlet to allow your pig to conduct natural behaviors like grazing and rooting. Even if your pig lives primilary indoors, an outdoor space is essential and a necessary requirement. There are no requirements for space. Your pen should be large enough that your pig has plenty of area to walk freely, and co-habitate if housed in multiples. Your pen should include an area in which they are protected from the elements as well as a housing structure. You can add things such as umbrellas or tarps to create shade if necessary. Enclosures should be free from any debris or garbage, as well as sharp edges to prevent injury to your pig. Enclosures should also be tight and be free of holes, gaps, or rust. Weak areas in your fencing should be reinforced or replaced. Fencing should also be tall enough that your pigs can not climb or jump over. As important as it is to keep your pigs from escaping, it is equally important to protect them from predators penetrating into their areas. To keep predators out, you can build and implement things such as fencing aprons, or build trenches underneath your fencing to prevent animals such as fox, wolves, coyotes or domesticated dogs from digging into your pig pens. You may also create a secondary security fence around your housing units.
ENRICHMENT By: Stephanie Matlock
Enrichment is essential to a healthy and happy pet. Pigs require physical and mental stimulation to meet their needs. A busy pig is a happy pig! Keeping a pig contained to a crate or alone in a room all day with no companionship or stimulation is sure to create a bored, agitated, destructive, and possibly aggressive pig. By using activities to enrich their lives (with or without you) you can avoid many unhealthy behaviors while building a better bond with your pig. Enrichment helps to provide the life your pig deserves. Types of enrichment may include physical exercise, mental exercise, training or interactions with the human family, olfactory using scents, auditory using sounds, food related, novel objects, exploring new environments or manipulating the home environment. To see more enrichment ideas please visit http://americanminipigassociation.com/mini-pig-education/training-your-mini-pig/enrichment-activities-bored-pig/
POTTY TRAINING By: Stephanie Matlock
Potty training is one of the first things a pig parent will work on with their piglet. This will be a lot easier if you set them up for success from the beginning! First, decide if you want to train your baby to use a litter box or go outside. Since very young pigs don't have full bladder control many parents choose to start with a litter box until they are old enough to consistently make it outside for potty breaks. Start out with a small area. A puppy pen, a bathroom, a small gated off room, or a baby playpen. Remember, babies need to toilet often throughout the day. Immediately after waking, after eating, after drinking, after playing and anytime in between. Do not use cat litter, corn cob litter, litter, or cedar shavings for your litter choices as these materials can be hazardous to your pig's health. Appropriate litter choices include newspaper, or pine pellets/shavings. To learn more detailed information and training tips on potty training your pig, please visit http://americanminipigassociation.com/mini-pig-education/training-your-mini-pig/mini-pig-potty-trainings-tips/
You can use any products for sensitive skin or babies when it comes to bathing and lotions for your mini pig. Bathing should only be done occasionally as pigs are naturally clean animals and are prone to dry skin. Room temperature to warm water should be used, placing your pig in after the water has been added. Commonly but not ideal, your pig may urinate or poop in the water during bath time, this is normal. Please note that not all pigs will enjoy bath times and may never get used to them, while others may not squeal and actually enjoy it. Water should always be prevented to getting into the ears, however you can use a damp cloth to clean when necessary. Q-tips should NEVER be used as damage to the ear drums can occur.
HOOF CARE By: Kathleen Meyers
Since pigs do not like to be restrained to have their hooves trimmed, the best time to begin hoof-trimming training is when your pig is a piglet. The first step to help your pig understand hoof trimming can be fun is to desensitize the pet’s hoof to being touched and to having pressure placed on its feet. When your pig is comfortable and happy, relaxing for its tummy rub, just play with each of its hooves. Begin by stroking and gently rubbing the pig’s feet and legs. Repeat this until your pig will allow you to place a gentle pressure on its hooves, while holding its foot in your hand. You should be able to progress quickly to using a metal file to file its nails. Take it slowly. This should be a pleasant experience for your pig and for you also. It is always best to start and end this process with a fun pig experience like a tummy rub or special treat. If the pig will only tolerate one hoof at a time, then that is all right. It is best to go at your pig’s speed than to get in a struggle over hoof filing. As the pig gets older, the file will probably not be adequate to take care of its hooves. The best clippers for trimming potbellied pigs nails are a pair of stainless cutters, they have curved blades and blunted ends with cushion grip handles. Since pig’s nails are very hard, it is best to get a good pair that is easy to use and that can be sharpened easily. For more information on hoof trimming please visit http://americanminipigassociation.com/mini-pig-education/caring-for-your-mini-pig/hoof-trimming/
VACCINES & WORMING By: Stephanie Matlock
Always, talk to your veterinarian, as there is no always recommended vaccine schedule in pet pigs. Vaccination recommendations vary based on region, environment, exposure, veterinarian preference, and law. About 50% of veterinarians do recommend rabies vaccines to protect your pet pig in case she bites a person. Pigs should be dewormed on a regular basis for internal and external parasites. A regular schedule of two broad spectrum dewormers will kill the internal and external parasites your pigs are prone to carrying. Pigs should be dewormed every 4-6 months depending on your area. Two easily accessible and easily dosed dewormers that will cover the common parasites found in pet pigs are ivermectin (brand name Ivomec or Noromectin) and fenbendazole (brand name Safe-guard). Both dewormers can be found over the counter at local feed stores, Tractor supply, Rural King, or online at Amazon, Jeffers, KV Vet Supply, etc. Both dewormers can be given orally (no need for stressful injections) at home. For more information on vaccines and worming, please visit http://americanminipigassociation.com/mini-pig-education/caring-for-your-mini-pig/worming-your-mini-pig/