BY LOU ANNE EPPERLEY, DVM
• Feed potbellied pig feed to potbellied pigs (NOT dog food or commercial hog ration). Pigs enjoy fruit, vegetables, melon and hard corn-on-the-cob. Don’t over-feed! Obese pigs are prone to joint, foot and heart problems.
• Pigs enjoy grazing, so house pets should have regular outdoor time. Don’t allow pigs to eat grass that has been treated with weed killer or insecticide.
• In summer heat, outdoor pigs need access to a wading pool or mud, and shade.
• Never leave a pig unattended in the presence of dogs. Even a friendly dog can pose a threat. I’ve surgically treated many pigs for severe dog-bite injuries.
• In cold weather, an outdoor pig needs an insulated, draft-free shelter with straw or several blankets. Pigs instinctively root and wrap up in blankets. Unzipped human sleeping bags work great.
• Most pigs’ hooves need trimming once to twice annually. Males generally also need their tusks trimmed at that time.
• Check for ticks regularly. Frontline® flea and tick prevention is safe for pet pigs, if needed. Pigs also are susceptible to sarcoptic mange, an itchy skin disease that can be diagnosed and treated by your veterinarian.
• Potbellied pigs’ skin becomes increasingly dry as they age. Some have found that Avon Skin-so-Soft® helps soften the skin. An Omega-3 fatty acid food supplement might be helpful. Most pigs shed their hair coat annually in summer and re-grow it.
Miniature Pet Pigs
A handful of reputable U.S. breeders of miniature pet pigs have been in the business for at least 20 years. Hundreds of rejected pet pigs, however, end up in animal shelters annually because the owners did not think-through their purchase and do their homework. Whether buying a pig or adopting a rescue pig, first find out whether pigs are legal in your municipality. Then read up on how to care for one. A great resource is Potbellied Pig Parenting, a manual by long-time breeder Nancy Shepherd of Rocheport, Mo.