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Pigs as Pets: Guidelines and General Tips

 
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. November 29, 2016
Pigs as Pets: Guidelines and General Tips

Nowadays, having a pig as a pet is no longer as peculiar as it would have been be a few years ago. The most sought-after domestic pig breeds include the pot-bellied pig from Vietnam and the miniature or teacup pig. Both pig breeds are nice, friendly, and smaller than wild and farm pigs, which make them more suitable for apartments.

Are you thinking about adopting a pig as a pet? You should know that not everyone can keep a pig at home, and that it is a decision you should think about very carefully before deciding to do it. Below we will explain why keeping a pig at home isn't as easy as it looks.

Keep reading this AnimalWised article on pigs as pets and find out whether or not a pet pig is right for you or if you should think about other pet options with our guidelines and general tips.

You may also be interested in: Stoats as Pets: Guidelines and General Tips

Can you have a domestic pig as a pet?

There are lots of famous people who have decided to have a pigs as pets, including George Clooney and Paris Hilton. But is it really possible for a pig to behave like a pet?

The answer is yes, pigs can be wonderful family pets.

Just like other animals, pigs need specific care, training and love from their family. If all these factors are properly fulfilled, you will enjoy a wonderful and intelligent friend and companion that will undoubtedly surprise you.

Domestic pigs are able to remember and memorize certain commands. They can learn through positive reinforcement, just like dogs; this pet training method consists of rewarding good behavior with treats and praise so that the animal learns to repeat it.

In addition, you should know that domestic pigs don't smell as bad as the stereotype of farm pigs would lead you to believe. Moreover, pigs can learn to walk on a lead and they are warm and sensitive beings.

Pigs as Pets: Guidelines and General Tips - Can you have a domestic pig as a pet?

What are "miniature" or "teacup" pigs?

There are currently lots of abandoned pet pigs in the world because many owners get scared when they see them grow excessively. Do you know why this happens?

"Teacup" or "miniature" pigs do not actually exist. Some pigs are bred and sold under that name, but miniature pigs are not a real established breed and their actual future size can't be known. You have no guarantee that your teacup pig won't grow big.

It is extremely difficult to find an adult domestic pig smaller than 25 kg (55 lb), yet many breeders with questionable approved titles sell little piglets claiming that the pig is "miniature" and that it won't grow. All this is false, which leads to many pet pigs being abandoned as they get too big. The lack of information about pigs as pets is evident.

A purposely-bred pet pig will probably be smaller than a farm pig, but you can't know exactly how large it will become; if you adopt a piglet, you have the full responsibility of caring for it and ensuring its well-being for the rest of its life.

Pigs as Pets: Guidelines and General Tips - What are "miniature" or "teacup" pigs?

Where can I find a pig as a pet?

If you are thinking about getting a pet pig, we recommend that you do not go to breeders or people profiting from actively selling animals, especially as many breeders mislead customers by selling common farm pigs and claiming they are miniature pigs.

Instead, you will find pigs of all ages in shelters throughout the world both trained and untrained, waiting for someone to adopt and care for them.

If you really want a pet pig this is the best option. Adopting a pig will ensure that you get a pet from volunteers and non-profit organisations that actually spend time and really get to know the animal. They will be able to tell you all about the pig's habits and temperament, which is something that breeders do not do.

This picture of a pig and a volunteer is from the Wings of Heart Sanctuary in Madrid, and it was found on Vice.com.

Pigs as Pets: Guidelines and General Tips - Where can I find a pig as a pet?

What specific care do pet pigs need?

As is the case with other pets, pigs require attention and specific care from their families. Let's see what you should consider before getting a pig as a pet.

To begin with, you must establish a specific area where your pig is going to live. You should provide cozy and comfortable bedding so that the pig feels snug and its bones can properly rest. A dog bed will be sufficient for this.

Pigs need to dig, which is why you should provide an area for it to do so. This can be your garden or a nearby field. If you can't provide this outdoors space where the pig can dig, we recommend you do not adopt a pig at all, as it will probably be unhappy.

Just like other pets, you should bathe your pig from time to time. This is exciting for them, and they will appreciate it without a doubt. Pigs love water and being clean! Having a bathing area in the garden is a must, because this is how pigs regulate their body temperature.

Training is another fundamental part of living with a pet pig. You should never use physical aggression or methods of punishment under any circumstances, as it will only reinforce anxious and destructive behaviors. Pigs have very powerful jaws that can hurt you, so don't force them to use them.

In any case, applying positive reinforcement is very simple. This popular training method consists of rewarding good behavior with treats and snacks. This way the pet pig remembers in a more positive way what it should do.

Finally, remember that a pig's lifespan can be of up to 20 years. For this reason, if you are not sure you will be able to take care of the pet pig for all its life, don't get one.

Pigs as Pets: Guidelines and General Tips - What specific care do pet pigs need?

What do pigs eat?

Pigs are omnivorous animals so you can give them all kinds of food, including fruit and vegetables, cereals and so on. When you adopt a pig, you should ask its previous carers what diet it has been following up to that point so that you don't make any radical changes in its new life. A sudden dietary change may affect the pig's digestive system and cause disorders.

Avoid using livestock feed, as this is used in farm to fatten up pigs and in a domestic setting can cause long-term problems such as obesity.

Pigs as Pets: Guidelines and General Tips - What do pigs eat?

Veterinary care for pet pigs

Finally, we must highlight the importance of taking your new pet pig to the vet regularly so that it receives the necessary health check-ups:

  • Vaccinations
  • Chip
  • Routine check-up

What common diseases do pet pigs suffer from?

  • Stomach worms
  • Ascariasis
  • Gastrointestinal verminosis
  • Bronchopneumonia
  • Kidney worms
  • Cysticercosis
  • Scabies
  • Cholera
  • Pneumonia
  • Rhinitis A
  • Salmonella
  • Pleuropneumonia
  • Colibacillosis
  • Dysentery
  • Leptospirosis
  • Mastitis

This is a brief summary of some diseases that can affect pigs. Going to the vet and applying the relevant vaccine will greatly reduce the risk of your pig suffering from any of these conditions.

Pigs as Pets: Guidelines and General Tips - Veterinary care for pet pigs

Do you have a pig as a pet? What has your experience been like? Tell us all in the comments section!

If you want to read similar articles to Pigs as Pets: Guidelines and General Tips, we recommend you visit our What you need to know category.

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