Good nutrition is essential for a healthy pig. Nutrients in pig foods should provide what is needed for metabolic body processes and should help fight off disease and provide the body with what it needs to function properly.
Proper feeding habits with nutritious food on a regular schedule can prevent:
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Irritation or malfunction of the digestive system
- Structural deformities
- Behavioral problems with a hungry pig
- Stunted growth or deformities related to nutritional deficienices
Improper feeding habits can cause or contribute to:
- Obesity (this is a big one in pig world)
- Dental disease
- Heart disease
- Liver disease
- Skeletal deformities
- Inflammation and/or bleeding in the intestines
- Early death (from overfeeding OR underfeeding)
Many animals die each year from such diseases. Avoid table scraps, high fat foods, and foods that cause choking. Your pets should be offered foods developed for them or recommended by your veterinarian. Please see our nutrition section for pig appropriate foods by clicking here.
Provide Plenty of Clean Water
All animals, especially the very young and the very old, are susceptible to dehydration and kidney disease if deprived of water, quickly leading to serious complications. Water deprivation has claimed many pigs’ lives over the last several years. ALWAYS be sure to have a fresh water source for your pig. Click here to read more about water deprivation and treat should this occur.
Nutritious food and clean, fresh water are important to your pig's health!
Avoid Vigorous Exercise after Meals
Vigorous exercise after meals can lead to a life-threatening condition called bloat, which can technically happen to many different species of animals. With early and aggressive medical and surgical treatment, 80% or more of these patients survive this horrible condition. I have heard of this in other animals, especially larger breed dogs, but given the pigs anatomy and sudden hyperactivity they sometimes have, I thought it was important to at least mention this here as a possibility so you are aware.
Unsafe situations may occur in your pig's surroundings, even with animals that are confined to the house or an outside run. A responsible pet owner should always have control of their pig and their pig's environment. Injury or death after being hit by a car or being attacked by another animal can be prevented if your pig is properly controlled and/or properly contained. Your pig may be injured or shot if allowed to wander unrestricted. Controlling your pig and providing a safe home can eliminate several dangerous situations. Remember, dogs are natural enemies to pigs. Click here to read more about the dangers of dogs and pigs.
Animals usually have more problems in hot environments than in cold. Pigs can suffer heat prostration and die in a short period of time, even minutes, under severe conditions. Good ventilation is vital. Animals typically cool themselves by panting, which becomes inefficient in extreme heat, poor ventilation, or when dehydration causes a lack of moisture on the tongue. Panting is NOT how pigs cool off. Pigs need an area that is shaded and/or a fresh water source like a kiddie pool to cool off in. Some pigs will stay inside the poorly ventilated house outdoors because they feel safe in there, so be sure to check up on your pig often in extreme weather. If it is absolutely necessary to leave your pet in the car, even for a short time, keep the windows partially open. In the summer, the car's interior can quickly rise to over 150°F, and your pet's body temperature may rise to 110°F or more, causing irreversible brain damage and/or death within minutes. It is NOT advisable to leave your pig in the car for any amount of time unsupervised. Click here to read more about seasonal safety and pigs and the importance of cooling systems and providing an outlet for your pig to cool down.
Your pig(s) need room to move around safely to get exercise. Provide an area with adequate room, shelter, and bedding that can be cleaned. Lots of space to exercise, some toys, and clean, comfortable bedding are some simple things that can add years to your pig's life. Outdoor time is especially important so your pig has the opportunity to be a pig. Pigs need to root and play in the dirt and when pigs are not given this opportunity, they tend to have behavioral problems and have been known to be quite destructive. Click here to read more about enrichment ideas for pigs.
Confinement created by a harness getting stuck on something can potentially lead to your pig being choked by the leash or poorly fitted harness. Do NOT leave harnesses on pigs and let them out for the day. Don’t put a harness on a pig and leave the pig in your home for the day. If there will not be someone home, take the harness off. Click here to find a pig specific harness to avoid ill-fitting harnesses.
Remember to have ID on your animal; people will usually return your pet if your phone number is provided. Also, if your animal is injured and transported to a veterinarian by someone else, the doctor can reach you for medical decisions.
Proper identification tags and/or microchips will help you recover your pet if he wanders off.
Electric cords should be inaccessible to pets, especially in piglets, which tend to chew on anything. A bite through the insulation can result in a serious burn, fluid accumulation in the lungs, or death.
Dangling electric cords are an irresistible (but dangerous) temptation to a playful piglet. Make sure all cords are inaccessible!
Many common household items can cause your pet to choke:
- Needles and thread
- Small toys
- Food particles/pieces
These items should be kept away from pets, as ingesting them may cause foreign body blockages or injuries to the esophagus, stomach or small intestine. Make sure that small household items are kept in a place that your pig(s) can't reach! Click here to read about how to potentially save your pigs life in an emergency situation like this by clicking here.
This is not optional, this is a must for a pig parent. Intact pigs can be unpredictable, males tend to smell, both usually have some form of behavioral problems and both sexes are at risk for developing potentially life threatening tumors in the reproductive organs. Spay and/or neuter while they're young. You'll be glad you did it. To read more about these procedures, click here to see our page dedicated to answering any questions about these life altering procedures.
Accidental poisonings can be tragic. Guard against ingestion of:
- Garden supplies, such as insecticides, fertilizers, and snail bait.
- Poisonous plants: Many plants in live or dried forms are toxic. Even food items like dried onions can cause problems in pets. Discuss potential problems with your veterinarian or check with the nursery or a more complete reference before buying plants.
- Pennies can contain zinc, which can cause vomiting, anemia, and even death if ingested.
- Antifreeze has a sweet taste to dogs and cats, and they may lick it off the ground. As little as one teaspoonful (easily available from a radiator boil over) can lead to irreversible kidney damage and death in a pig (or other species of pet).
- Medications: Some medications that are safe for us are not safe for pets: See our emergency supply list for pig-approved medications.
- Do not eat packets found in some dehydrated meat products
- Rat/Mice poison
Ask a professional before administering drugs of any kind to your pet. Do NOT give activated charcoal or induce vomiting without first consulting a vet or pet poison control center for instructions. Click here for a more complete list of pig toxicities as well a information about activated charcoal, mineral oil, the use of medications to induce vomiting, etc.
Animals must be contained while riding in a car or truck. Pigs should be contained in such a way that he/she isn’t given free roam of the vehicle. This is not only for your safety, but also your pigs safety. Click here to read more about traveling with your pig and the regulations you MUST follow when crossing state lines.
What happens if you should need to slam on the breaks? Your pig will fly out of the seat onto the floor or even worse, through the windshield if not contained. We recommend that pigs not ride in the back of trucks. In some states it is illegal for a animal to ride in the back of a pick-up truck. Besides the risk of injury from a fall, the pig may be killed in traffic. Even crated pigs have a risk of being hit with highway debris riding in the back of uncovered trucks.
Regular Veterinary Check-Ups
Regular veterinary examinations will help avoid some preventable disease problems and permit early detection of others, thus facilitating treatment. Your veterinarian should see your pet at least once a year. During the check-up regular vaccinations are given and the animal is given a physical exam, a dental check-up, and teeth cleaning. Now is also a good time to discuss pet insurance. There are a couple of insurance providers that will cover pigs. These policies typically cover wellness check ups and sometimes even spays and neuters! Click here to be directed to the known companies that will cover mini pigs. You should also discuss dental care and hoof care during these wellness check up visits. You can click here to read more about hoof maintenance.
Your pet's annual physical examination is vital for continued good health.
Parasite control needs to be done routinely, every 6 months is a good schedule for regular deworming and parasite treatment. Click here to read more about parasite control. (Remember, this should be done using BOTH medications, Fenbendazole and Ivermectin to truly cover all the potential parasites)
Many dangerous infectious diseases can be prevented or lessened in severity with a proper vaccination program. No vaccine is 100% effective, but regular vaccinations are the most effective way to prevent such diseases. Click here to read our page dedicated to discuss vaccinations.
Approved vaccines are available for the following diseases: (Talk to your vet about what would be appropriate for your pig)
- Haemophilus parasuis
- Bordetella bronchiseptica
- Mycoplasma hyopneumonia
- Pasteurella multocida.
- Rabies (used off-label for pigs)
- Actinobacillus pleuropneumonia
- Rabies (not approved for use in pigs, but is typically given off-label and is available for pigs. This vaccination can potentially save your pigs life should your pig purposefully or accidentally bite someone or break the skin with their teeth/tusk..FYI)
With so many formerly deadly diseases now preventable by vaccination, you owe it to your pig to make sure she is up on her booster shots. Consult your veterinarian for the vaccines needed in your area and a proper vaccination schedule.
Dental problems that go untreated not only cause problems in the teeth and gums, but the effects may extend to other areas of the body. Click here to read more about dental care and pigs.
- Infections from decaying teeth may spread directly to the sinus cavities or the eyes.
- Bacteria from dental infections and/or plaque accumulation may spread to the heart, liver, kidneys, or other organs.
- Tusk root infections have been pinpointed to that group of pigs who have had a tusk trim potentially exposing the pulp. There are no cases of tusk root infections in pigs who have not had a tusk trim or broken tusk that we are aware of.
Good oral hygiene and regular veterinary examination and treatment can eliminate dental problems.
Dental health and good overall health go hand in hand.
Prevention: A Final Note
Seek professional veterinary help immediately if your pet suffers an accident or illness. Getting help early prevents complications and more suffering. Waiting can only result in undue worry, serious deterioration of conditions, and make recovery more difficult. To find a vet that will see your pig, please reference our vet list with more than 1,000 vets that will see pigs as patients. you can access that list by clicking here.