Pot Bellied Pig Veterinary Care and Husbandry
Piglets should be vaccinated for erysipelas at 8 and 12 weeks of age and tetanus toxoid at 8, 12, and 24 weeks of age. These vaccines should then be boostered annually. Additional vaccines are recommended for breeding sows.
We recommend spaying or neutering at 3-4months of age or once they weigh 15 pounds. Castration will help eliminate “boar odor” and minimize aggression.
It is important to feed a diet specifically formulated for pot bellied pigs. Commercial swine feeds are designed to increase weight quickly and do not always provide the essential amount of vitamins and minerals when fed in small quantities. We recommend feeding Mazuri Mini Pig. Other mini pig diets include Heartland Animal Health and Ross Mill Farms. Vitamin E degrades quickly, so always make sure the feed bag is fresh to prevent vitamin deficiencies. If your pig does not have access to graze grass for 30 minutes twice daily, offer leafy greens daily. Supply fresh water at all times to prevent water deprivation/salt toxicity which causes neurologic signs.
Pigs can be easily housebroken like dogs. They are clean animals and prefer to defecate and urinate in the same area outside. If you choose to litter box train your pig, use a large shallow pan lined with newspaper. Do not use cat litter because they may eat it, causing an intestinal obstruction. Pigs can also be trained to walk on a harness. Taking your pig on daily walks is great exercise and can help prevent obesity.
Overgrown hooves are a common cause of lameness in pot bellied pigs. Depending on their conformation and the surfaces that they walk on, most pigs need their hooves trimmed every 6 months to a year. For most hoof trims, we anesthetize with isoflurane gas to reduce the stress of the hoof trim. The hooves are then trimmed and surfaces are smoothed with a drimmel to provide a smooth, level walking surface.
Tusks are the canine teeth of pigs and continue to grow throughout life. They are trimmed annually starting at one year of age to prevent injuries from the tusks. Boars sometimes need more frequent tusk trims. Because extracting the lower tusks can weaken the mandible, it is not recommended to extract the tusks unless otherwise medically indicated.
Annual Examination and Vaccination
Your pig should have an exam, intestinal parasite screen, and vaccinations annually. Once your pig becomes a senior (seven years old), annual blood work is recommended.
Pot bellied pigs are susceptible to many of the same disease as dogs and cats. Additionally, they have bacterial and viral infections that are unique to their species. The following are some of the more common diseases we see.
Urinary Tract Infections and Uroliths (Bladder Stones)
If you notice any changes in urination, including straining to urinate or urinating frequently, your pig needs to be evaluated by your veterinarian. A urinalysis or abdominal radiograph to look for bladder stones may be indicated.