Life with a pig can be tough sometimes....have you ever wondered how you can do something easier? I am sure you've heard of simple ways to do complicated things....well, we wanted to tell you how to do some of those things with pigs. Simplify your life....there is no need to reinvent the wheel if someone found a more efficient/effective way to do something.
Hack number 1. Your pig keeps tipping or dumping over the water dish. You're worried that this will result in water deprivation/salt toxicity and want to know what you should do to be sure your pig always has fresh water available.
There are actually a few ways to accomplish this. If this is outside that your pig is doing this, there are several methods you can try. 1. Create a space "in-ground" for your pigs bowl. If the bowl is level with the ground, your pig cannot tip it over. 2. Use a watering system such as a water nipple. These self watering systems are something that you'll have to work with your pig so they can learn how to get the water. This isn't something they'll automatically know how to do. The water nipples can be used directly on the spigot, used with barrels that are filled up or other water holding tank items. 3. Get tip proof bowls, if you already have tip proof bowls and your pig is still tipping or dumping the water, then take a bowl and fill the underside with concrete. This will not only give the bowl weight, but it will also eliminate any buckling it may be doing allowing your pig to dump it out. 4. Use your pigs kiddie pool as their water bowl. If your pig is dumping out anything you put out there, then make sure your pigs pool is cleaned everyday and refilled. This should be adequate for drinking water if your pig dumps their bowl out. Please remember, regardless of what system you use, the container needs to be cleaned throughly every day. Do NOT take a 1/2 full bowl and keep adding water to it. Pigs will turn their nose up to a dirty bowl which can lead to water deprivation issues. Biofilm can be harmful to your pig, this is the slimy film either floating on top of dirty water or even inside of the bowl. Click here to read more about water deprivation and what you should do in case your pig has gone without water for an extended period of time. Click here to read more about biofilm and other summertime concerns.
Hack number 2. How to weigh your pig. Did you know there is a method of estimating your pigs weight by measuring them? This method is typically within 5% of their body weight making it easier to find out how much your pig weighs when they're too heavy to pick up!! Weight is not the way to judge your pigs health, that should be done using body scoring. Remember, pigs come in all different shapes and sizes, so while 100 pounds may be obese for a shorter pig, that may be emaciated for another taller/longer pig. The formula for this is below. Girth x girth x length/400= the estimated weight. This is the farmers almanac method of estimating a pigs weight without a scale.
Hack number 3. Crate training. Crate training is recommended for many reasons, most notably is for transport purposes. If your pig is used to a crate, when it comes time to take your pig somewhere, your pig will be much more willing to hop in and go. Using a crate is much better versus letting your pig just sit in the back seat or the trunk area of an SUV. They can easily fall as you brake or try to get to another area of your vehicle and have a fall. This is also good for times when you need your pig contained in a smaller area, whether that is bedtime because your pig can't be trusted or because your vet is coming by to see your pig. Make it comfortable with soft bedding and keep it open in a quiet area of the house, so the pig can utilize it when needed.
Hack number 4. There are plenty of DIY pig treats you can make using basic ingredients. Some can be used to keep your pig cool in the summer by taking fruit and adding it to water, freezing and using that as a treat or enrichment item. You can use rope in the water and freeze it directly in the ice or you can use a pan with an opening in the middle that can easily be tied up using rope or heavy duty string and hang from a deck rail or from a lower tree branch to provide an activity that will keep your pig busy for hours! But, if you have a pet that needs daily medication, and you don’t want to spend money on store-bought pill pockets, you can make your own by using frozen blackberries or blueberries if you want to give your pet another healthy anti-oxidant-rich alternative. Just run the berry under water to thaw, and push the pill in! Remember, not all berries are good for your pig to eat so be sure that fruit is on the piggy approved list by clicking here.
Hack number 5. Pet doors! Does your pig have free access in and out of your house? Do you worry that your pig may be too hot or too cold outside? Is there a storm coming and you're at work worried about your pig? Have you considered installing a pet door so your pig can have access to inside of the house? Maybe your house isn't ideal for your pig, but you do have some space in your garage, you can install a pet door wherever you'd like. I will warn you, whatever area your pig has access to needs to be piggy proofed prior to giving your pig permission to explore. (Just make sure the pet door you choose is large enough for your pig to get through.)
Which brings us to Hack number 6. Child proof locks and gates. These are a "must have" when you have a pig in the home. Pigs will watch you go into a cabinet and get something out and as soon as you turn your back, your pig will have its head inside that same cabinet and will attempt to grab what he/she can and run back to their area with it. Sometimes its harmless, but more often than not, there is something in this cabinet your pig shouldn't have or ingest. It is so much easier to put child proof (and sometimes actual locks on appliances) locks in areas that have items you do not want your pig to have.
Hack number 7. Buy a sorting board. Every pig home should have a sorting panel. This is an relatively cheap item that can save time, energy and a lot of headaches. Sorting boards are used with uncooperative pigs to guide them to areas you need them to go to or for protection for that group of pigs with an attitude problem. What makes this product nice is that it is light and easy to store. It can go under or behind a couch without being seen yet accessible to you should you need it in a hurry. Even for pigs that are super nice, this can come in handy when it's time to get into the vehicle and your pig doesn't exactly want to get in or go up that ramp, simply place behind them so they feel pressure from something and cannot back down. Overall, a great product that can be used in more than one way. If you aren't sure where to get one, you can click here to order one from this vendor-Hog Slats.
Do you have a lot of old newspapers or old phone books? Do you frequently get junk mail? Hack number 8. Pigs LOVE ripping paper. I don't know what it is about paper that attracts the to it, but every time there is a shred of paper on the floor at my house, my pig is on it. One hoof on the paper and the other side being torn. My pig will chew the paper but spits it out after a few seconds and she always goes back for more. This is can be an "enrichment" activity for your pig when it is storming outside or way too hot for them to be out there for long periods of time and also a great way to get rid of excess papers laying around your home.
Hack number 9. Emergency preparedness. How would a fireman know you had a pig inside the house if you weren't there to tell them? Answer-they wouldn't. We created a document to help alert emergency personnel that there is a pig in the home. People do sell these stickers for doors and/or windows, but I wasn't able to find one with a pig, so we re-created what was already out there. Click here to learn more about being prepared in case of emergencies.
Hack number 10. Baking soda and vinegar remove urine smells. Soak up the urine with a paper towel, spray the stain with a mixture of half vinegar and half baking soda solution, and let it soak in for 10 minutes. Then, absorb the excess moisture with a paper towel, sprinkle the spot with baking soda, and let it dry. Just keep pets away, as baking soda is toxic to pets. Once dry, vacuum it up. Remember, pigs will eliminate where they smell their previous markings, so it’s very important to deodorize as well as clean to prevent repeat accidents. Enzymatic cleaners work much the same, but this is a DIY method.
Hack number 11. Saving your pig with CPR/Heimlich maneuver. DO you know how to give a pig CPR? Did you know they make a small breathing apparatus designed especially for pigs? Click here to learn how to hemlich a pig, as well as proper CPR instructions. This information can literally be life saving!! Click here for first aid tips and items you should have on hand for emergencies.
Hack number 12. You can make your pig a bed with 2 items. A crib mattress and a fitted sheet. Pig bed done! Instead of looking for a traditional pet bed that will support your pigs weight and won't leave him/her practically laying on the ground, buy a cheap crib mattress and a sheet to fit it and your problem is solved. (Or you can test out different dog beds for your pig for 3 years until you find the perfect one)
Hack number 13. The Paw Wash device. Does your pig come in with muddy hooves? This device may work for you. It is intended for dogs as a way to quickly clean their paws off, but this could work for pigs too. (I ordered one, but it hasn't arrived yet) http://www.thepawwash.com. Definitely looks like it would work for pigs and this would be sooooo much easier than trying to wipe them off with baby wipes AFTER your pig comes inside.
Hack number 14. Have a fail safe word or phrase that will turn your pig around to come running back to you. For most of us, the sound of the dinner bowls will do it, while other pigs know the word treat. Whatever you choose as your word(s), keep it consistent so you know that no matter what, your pig will run to you when those words are spoken. The video below is from Rooterville. All it takes is a few words...here piggggggggy pigggggy piggy. Click link below for original video on Rooterville's Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/rooterville/videos/1108823459127884/
Hack number 15. Video your routine and keep it on a thumb drive. Did you know you would get in an auto accident? Did you know that your husband would cut his leg while mowing the grass and need to go to the ER? Did you know your child would have an allergic reaction to peanut butter at school? Odds are, the answer to those questions is no. There is no way to predict sickness or injuries, that is why they're called accidents or natural body responses. in the cases mentioned above. I said all that to say, who knows when you may not be home to feed your pig? You don't know when something may keep you from home for an extended amount of time. How much easier would it be to call your neighbor who has a key to your home and ask them to feed your pig(s) for you in your absence? How will they know what to do? Because you left that information on a thumb drive on top of your refrigerator and your neighbor can pop that into you laptop and watch how you measure and mix things for your pig. How awesome is that? This is also helpful for the significant other who isn't involved on a daily basis with caring for the pets in the home. Cat Drose made a cute video showing "dad" what he needed to do for Mo's feedings.
Hack number 16. The vacuum isn't the enemy! Many pets hate the vacuum, but with a bit of positive training, you can teach your pig that the vacuum only brings good things – like praise and treats. Then, you can use grooming tools like the Dyson Grooming Tool or other vacuum attachments to suck up your pig’s hair before it ever hits the floor. (How awesome would that be?) I haven't tried this attachment yet, but I do have a Dyson, so I may order the attachment to see if the hype lives up to the expectations. If you have one and have tried it, let us know!
Hack number 17. Does your pig get scared when it's storming? Is it the loud sounds or the electric charge in the air? Know how you can check? Use a dryer sheet! Many times, it’s the electric charge in the air and not the actual storm that upsets pets during bad weather. Some pigs just don’t like the noise, but if your pig just hates the electricity in the air, take a dryer sheet and rub it over him to make him feel better. (My pig doesn't like the cracking thunder an lightning) Not only does rubbing your pig down with a fabric softener sheet reduce the electric charge in the air, but it also leaves your pig smelling fresh to death.
Hack number 18. Soften dry feed with warm water. This serves a few purposes actually. 1. It provides more hydration. Pigs aren't usually big drinkers, so extra hydration is always welcome. 2. Some pigs try to eat so quick that they tend to choke on dry feed, wetting the feed and allowing it to soak can help with this because it is already broken down and swelled up, so it will fall apart in their mouths as they chew. 3. As the food swells, it obviously will take up more volume which will do the same in the stomach causing the brain to send a signal to the belly to quit eating because you're full sooner than waiting (and relying) on your pig to drink enough water to create this volume in the belly at a later time using dry pellets.
Hack number 19. Use soft music to calm down an anxious pig. Music means a lot of different things to different people, but one thing music has in common is that softer music tends to calm all people. This is the same for pigs. It has been recommended since the beginning of time (at least since I have had pigs) to use soft music, perhaps classical or even soft rock, to help your pig relax when/if your pig has dippity pig syndrome. (A temporary condition that causes painful lesions to surface on the back. Click here to read more about dippity)
Hack number 20. Lost pig tip. First, you should exhaust all other options to find your pig, such as putting up posters, posting adds online and in the paper, checking animals shelters, and personally searching. However, if you have some idea where your pig was last seen, leave something that smells like you, such as a used article of clothing, with some food and water. Leave a note asking people not to take the items. Leave your phone number on the note so that people can call you if they see your pig staying in that spot. Then, keep checking that location. If your pig is still nearby, he will be drawn to your scent, as well as the food and water. You know pigs will be drawn to food. Sometimes, if your pig isn't far away, shaking a bag of feed or a bowl of pellets is enough for your pig to come running back home. Always keep updated pictures available for "flyers" or posts that can be shared. Make sure you alert neighbors and animal control that your pig is missing as well.
That brings us to Hack number 21. Microchip your pig!! When your pig is microchipped, the odds of your pig being returned safely go up by like 75%. Vets as well as animal control shelters check for the presence of microchips and as long as your information is up to date, they will call you to come pick up your pig BFF. Sometimes animal control will ticket you for an animal at large, but most will be thankful they don't have to care for a pig and will happily allow you to retrieve it.
Hack number 22. Pet credit card for emergencies. The vet care for pigs is usually the "exotic" rate as it is, but what happens when it is emergency hours or a holiday? There is an after hour fee, an emergency fee plus a holiday fee- so before your vet ever steps foot in your home, there is 350.00 in charges. Do you have an extra 350.00 in your purse or wallet? Maybe you do, and that's great, but for the rest of us who do not have a disposable income, we sometimes get a credit card designed for vet care (and this card can be used at pharmacies or dentist/doctor offices as well) JUST IN CASE cards. There is nothing wrong with getting one, its using it that causes debt problems. If you can get by without having to use it, that would obviously be best, but if you need little help with an unexpected expense, it is nice to have a safety cushion. Click here to see if you qualify for care credit.
Hack number 23. Pet insurance! Why not??? There aren't many companies that will cover pet pigs or companion pigs, but there are a couple. Click here to find out which companies do/will cover pigs. if you know of any others, please let us know and we will be sure to add them to the list.
Hack number 24. DIY pet ornaments. Save that hoof print forever by using the DIY kits that can be bought at most Walmart type stores. These are usually available during Christmas, but can be found online for less than 10.00. As your pig grows, you will have that little hoof print to remind you of how that little baby piglet grew into this beautiful beast he/she is now <3 **These are toxic if eaten, so be sure to keep this out of reach of your pig or other pets!!
Hack number 25. Handle your pig. Train your pig. Get a baseline temperature on your pig. Bathe your pig-all of these things when your pig is young so when your pig gets bigger and older, these things are routine to them and not out of the ordinary. Spend some time training your pig because your pig will only know what you teach him/her. A pig is only as good as the training he or she received. A pig with no manners is that way because you failed to teach your pig manners. All of these things are important in their own time, but trust me when I say to empower yourself with these basic tools to make your life much easier with your pig later on.
Hack number 26. Have plenty of pig themed items at all times. If you do not have a pig yet, go ahead and start buying household products with pigs featured on them because you're going to once you get a pig anyways, you may as well start your collection sooner rather than later. Once you make some pig friends, you'll be exchanging cards and small gifts with them, so it is best to have a few pig items ready to go should you need to send a gift. (This is a joke, FYI. But, I had to get the pig door handle in the blog somehow and this was my way) If your mouth drops like mine did when I saw this, you can order yours by clicking here.
Our names are Brittany Sawyer and Nicole Cox and we are pig parents, pig advocates and also the authors of the "Dear Pig Whisperer" blog. Follow our blog that will feature topics to help you become the best pig parent you can be...along with some other fun things. We will also feature guest bloggers from time to time who want to share their life experience or knowledge with anyone who is interested in learning.