In the summer, it can get too hot, in the winter, it can get too cold and sometimes even impossible to get out of your home, much less trying to get your pig to go outside for ANY reason. First, let me say, I feed my pig outside regardless of the weather. Why is this important? Because no matter what the weather is like, my pig is willing to go outside because she knows she will not eat of she doesn't. I try not to take advantage of this and leave her outside during extreme weather though. However, she also knows she isn't coming back in until she potties. THIS is her routine and it is known by both me and her. Admittedly, I sometimes have to stand there with her holding an umbrella over her head, but that is still better than having to literally push her out of the door to get her outside to start. No need to let it rain on your pig's parade. (So to speak)
So there is inclement weather, and you are not able to let your pig outside for extended periods of time. Your pig is bored and driving you crazy....what can you do? Certainly you could give a few treats to quiet your pig down, but guess what that does? Reinforces that if they whine and cry, you will get up and get them a treat, so we have come up with some other activites to keep your pig stimulated when they aren't able to be outside. Despite mother nature's plans, it is still important for both their mental and physcial well-being for to exercise our pigs. Sometimes that means exercising indoors. Maybe you have noticed your pigs eagerness and willingness to particpate with training is great for the first 15 minutes, but then your pig just wants treats, that is because just 10-15 minutes of mental stimulation, sometimes that really makes them focus, concentrate and process information is equivalent to physcially exhausting 30 minutes of moderate exercise. So if your pig is stuck inside, try exercising the brain in additon to the body.
1. Do not give your pig massive amounts of treats because your pig is screaming, instead, work on training. Work on obedience training. Teach your pig a new trick and reward accordingly. Sit and spin are easy tricks for pigs to learn and even more fun to watch. Click here to go to our training page to learn how to teach some of these tricks. One piggy mama (Jaharia Zamora with Blue the pig) even wrote out instructions on how she was able to teach her pig colors. Not only do these things strengthen the bond and communication you have with your pig, but now you have something to show your friends and family. Mothers bragging rights.
Some people use books or videos to learn, but your pig may not think like other pigs and some of the tips may leave you confused. Watch your pig, look at how he/she reacts to certain circumstances and create a plan that works for you and your pig. Try to keep training limited to 15 minute intervals though. Once your pig has lost interest, stop, but end on a positive note! If your pig hasnt mastered the trick you are trying to teach before your session ends, go back to a trick your pig HAS mastered and stop the session after having your pig do that particualr trick so he/she will remain excited about the next session. Pick it back up later in the day or even another day.
2. Create an indoor obstacle or agility course. Agility tools can be purchased online and at some pet stores. What these tools do is provide you with basic/consistent items to use for training. Most of these prepackaged kits contain small orange cones, a tunnel of some kind, sometimes a limbo type bar you could use to teach your pig to hop over or crawl under. You can certainly use items you already have to accomplish the same thing, but these kits contain items designed specifcally for this purpose. Consistency is key! You must continue to use the same tools over and over again for your pig to "get it" and understand what he/she is supposed to do. Naturally, since pigs are extremely food motivated, treats work as rewards. You do NOT have to give massive amounts of treats for your pig to master these things. They will work just as hard for 1/4 of a single cheerio that they will work for a handful.
3. Use the forced indoor time for grooming. I realize alot of people have limited indoor space dedicated soley to their pig, so placing a blanket down to "collect" loose hair or dead skin, perhaps even hoof nails as you trim them is ideal. Rubber brushes work wonders on loosening up dry skin and helping to remove it. You can purchase these at most pet stores. If your pig has exceptionally dry skin, you may need to take it a step further and provide supplements or you can check out our page dedicated to helping those who are battling dry skin which is so common in pigs. You can check that page out by clicking here. We also have pages for hoof trimming which you can read through by clicking here. If you are interested in giving your pig a bath but not sure how to go about it, click here to learn more about bathing your pig.
4. Use a treadmill for your pig. Pigs must remain mobile. Pigs that tend to lay around are at risk for pneumonia (just like people) and also chronic constipation. Gut mobility has alot to do with overall diet, water consumption, but also general mobility. Pigs that do not move around alot typically have more constipation issues. When you are already having a difficult time with your pig being stuck inside the house, the last thing you want to do is complicate that by tacking on constipation. Try your pig on a treadmill. You may have to entice them alittle to get it started by using air popped popcorn as a motivator and starting off at the slowest speed possible. Some pigs will not like this and will hop off, so be sure to have someone for both sides and behind the treadmill to prevent your pig from being injured should he/she not catch on immediately.
5. Use treat brain games, puzzles and/or treat dispensers to help exercise while also being rewarded. Some more complicated or complex toys are available on Amazon.com and can range from beginners to pigs who easily master simple puzzles. Please start off with easy puzzles, allow your pig to master those before trying more advanced puzzles. Do not set your pig up to fail.
6. Scent games and hide and seek. Essentially this is hiding a treat in your home and letting your pig look for it. You can use a rooting box to acheive the same thing. Rooting boxes are some kind of box, large enough for your pig to get in and out of, that you can fill with ball pits balls (easily found at Walmart or Amazon) or anything lareg enough for your pig NOT to swallow and sprinkle in some oats or air popped popcorn (unsalted/unbuttered) and let your pig have a blast!
7. Phone books. I never knew how great these were until my pig found one in my house and had a ball ripping it to shreds. She quickly learned that ripping paper makes an awesome sound and although sometimes she eats a littleof the paper, normally I find wads of paper she has spit out later on in the day. I like phone books because I know the paper inside in super thin and poses very little risk to cause obstructions. The video above is one I found that demonstrates how much pigs can have with paper.
8. Play with your pig. Watch a movie with your pig. You would be quite surprised at how much your pig just wants to sit with you and have belly rubs. Quality time spent with your pig is never wasted time.
9. Use what is available to provide entertainment. Harley was kind enough to send a video of her pigs "bobbing for apples". This is a great example of something anyone can do for their pigs. Be sure to make your pig does actually get rewarded, frustration can easily turn into anger/aggression, so make sure whatever you're using is appropriate for your pig and your pig is able to acheive the ultimate goal.
10. Take lots of pictures and videos and create something unique and fun! As you are working with your pig, create a video and show others what worked for you. Take notes and wrote something up that can be shared from one pig mama to another. (We are always happy when others reach out to us with ideas and videos and would be delighted to add them to the website). Or create something fun just for you. You pig will only be 6 months old once, or 10 years old once, so capture these memories so you can cherish them forever.
Any of these activites can be done indoors and provide your pig with hours of entertainment. We will be adding much more content to our enrichment page, so check back to see if there are any new activites you can try with your pig! Feel free to check it out now as well. You can do so by clicking here. If all else fails, send us your pig shaming pictures to be featured in our next pig shaming movie! And smile, that's just how pigs roll. We have ALL been there....
We have decided to add a monthly blog addressing the top 10 searched terms/phrases for the website. This will obviously vary from month to month, but some are searched month after month and to be sure everyone's questions are being addressed, we thought it would be helpful to post a monthly blog discussing these terms and phrases. If there is information that you need or want, please let us know if it isnt already addressed on the website and we can build a page full of as much information as we can find about any particular subject. We add content to the website almost daily, so if you do not see it now, it may be added tomorrow.
Number 1 searched term: Pig penis. seriously? LOL. Well a picture is worth 1,000 words. You can learn more about pig anatomy by clicking here. Yes a pigs penis is shaped like a corkscrew. It is a sight that cannot be UNSEEN once seen.
Number 2 most searched term: Pig attacks dog.
This search is more serious. Intact pigs tend to be more rambunctious than a more mature of altered pig. A pig that is aggressively or even playfully trying to "attack" a dog is going to be a problem. This is NOT a safe situation. Family dogs, dogs that have grown up with children crawling around on their back, dogs that are normally very chill and laid back, small dogs, big dogs, lap dogs and really ANY dog has the ability to severely injure or KILL a pig. Especially a piglet. Please do NOT leave a pig and dog alone unsupervised. It's dangerous to have them together while you are standing there in some cases, it only takes a couple of seconds to change your pigs life forever. Please remember that. Dogs are predators and pigs are prey aninals. Click here to read more about the dangers of pigs and dogs.
Number 3 most searched term: Full grown chipmunk pig.
This is an easy one. A "chipmunk" pig is a pig that has likely been crossbred with a feral pig which is where they get the "chipmunk" stripes. There is no breed of pig called chipmunk. Feral pigs are small pigs normally and the stripes do not remain as they mature into adult pigs. But, again, a picture is worth a thousand words, so here is a feral cross piglet and the same pig as an adult pictured below.
Number 4 most searched term: My pig will not sleep in its new house.
Pigs are routine animals and naturally untrusting. New houses or crates or rooms will need time to be explored before your pig will likely utilize them. If you have a new house for your pig, be sure your pig is able to get into the house without having to duck down or kneel. Make sure your pig doesnt have to take big steps to get inside if it is off the ground, as this may literally be preventing your pig from being able to get inside. If the new house isn't on stable ground, your pig will likely not go inside. Structures need to be stable without any kind of rocking. Pigs like stability.
If there is a house outside your pig refuses to go in to and has been in there before and suddenly will not go inside, check the house. Be sure there are no spiders that may have bitten your pig. Be sure straw/hay or whatever you're using inside for insulation isn't full of mold or mildew. Be sure the flooring isnt slippery or contanimated with anything that is causing your pig to slip when trying to enter the house. Be sure to routinely check the outside structure for signs of other animals getting inside. There have been times when pigs refuse to go in outside structures because other animals have defectaed or urinated inside their bedding. (and other similar things)
Number 5 most searched term: Why does my pigs skin turn red?
Well, there are multiple answers to that question. 1st, is your pig itchy? Does your pig have a fever or any skin lesions? Is your pig eating, drinking, peeing and pooping ok? These are the very basic questions that need to be answered to narrpw that down to something more manageable. Red skin can be something as simple as sunburn (because pigs do tend to love to sunbathe) or something more serious like a skin infection or even parasites/mites.
If your pig doesn't normally have red skin and the skin turns red in color, there is an issue and that needs to be addressed. It doesn't mean it will cost you 500.00 in vet bills, but a vet intervening may very well save your pigs life. If the questions are all in line and your pig is eating, drinking and eliminating waste ok, then it may be parasite control that needs to be done to clear up inflammed or red skin. But this is addressed on a case by case basis. If there is a fever, this normally means there is an infection or at least a systemic response which indicates your vet will need to be contacted. Everything is not an easy fix and there are many issues we cannot help you with because a pig NEEDS to be seen by a licensed professional and treated with specific medications/treatments. Click here to read about common illnesses pigs may have or contract. Some of these illnesses/diseases do affect the skin, however, red skin typically indicates swelling and/or possible infection which could potentially be a host of things. Again, your vet would be the number one person that should be advising you with regards to your pigs health, but there are some non life threatening issues that can easily be addresssed.
Number 6 most searched term: Why does my pig not eat and just lay there?
A pig that isn't eating is most likely a sick pig. It is possible that a pig is not hungry, but to be completely honest, that is rare. If a pig has gorged on food, such as another pets food or the trash, your pig may have a belly ache and skip a meal, but a pig that is not eating is more of an emergency in my opinion. I would check for a fever and call your vet. To help you better determine what may be wrong, we have a health sheet that you can literally fill out to help you when you call you vet with answers to questions your veterinarian may ask versus you not having complete information. This form can be downladed and printed off as many times as you'd like. It is simply a form to help you gather information so you can look for common factors seen in certain diseases or to help you answer your vets questions. You can find that form by clicking here.
Number 7 most searched term: What causes black spots on my pigs body?
GREAT question! Pigs can develop freckle like spots that are nothgin to be concerned about. HOWEVER, pigs can also develop spots that grow and become asymetrical which need to be addressed. As we stated earlier, pigs tend to like to lay in the sun, we know the sun has powerful UV rays which can lead to skin cancer and your pig is no exception to that. White pigs are more susceptible, but ANY color pig can develop melanoma which will need to be removed and treated. It is highly treatable and often curable when treated in early stages. Cutaneous melonoma primarily appear on the skin and may develop metastases to lymphatic tissues and organs. This is a process you won't actually see on the surface, so any unusual spots with irregular borders need to be marked with a pen or marker (to detect growth or spreading) and maybe a phone call to your vet to make them aware and see if they feel like it is anything that needs to be addressed ASAP. They may have you monitor the skin for several weeks before they intervene or they may make an appointment for you sooner than later. These types of skin cancers can be genetic in nature, so be sure to ask about any issues with this when obtaining your pig. Some people will be up front and honest while others will not, so just know that it is a possibility. Not all cancers have large tumors on the surface, some grow rather quickly while others are doing damage internally that you aren't even aware of. Treat unusual lesions or spots as you would your child. If you would take your child to the doctor based on something you see, you should be doing the same for your pig. Click here to read more about skin issues and pigs.
Number 8 most searched term: How much should a ** week old pig weigh? (Multiple searches for various ages)
Each pig will grow at their own rate. Some pigs who have suffered from disadvantages such as the "runt" may be smaller than their siblings from the same litter. However, my vet told me that most pigs should grow at a rate of 1 pound per week for the first year. (which blows the 20 pound micro mini teacup pig myth out of the water) Even runts normally catch up to their siblings once able to eat a healthy portion of food over a period of time. Pigs will absolutely fight for the best milk producing teat and the stronger bigger pig normally has been feed with the best producing teat while the others fight for the less producing ones. Pigs have growth spurts, some have multiple spurts when they will grow substantially taller and longer over a short period of time. Please do not judge a pig based soley on weight though, pigs should be judged on their overall body score. The charts that determine healthy versus unhealthy or what a pig "should" look like aren't meant for piglets. Piglets NEED food to grow at a nice steady rate and develop a strong immunity and great bone structure. Restricting food at this stage can cause serious issues in the long run. Stunting the growth will eventually kill a pig. Pigs who are super tiny and a year old most likely will never see their 5th birthday and as we all know, healthy pigs that have been spayed/neutered and properly cared for can live more than 20 years, so a pig passing away at 3 years old is NOT normal. You can click here to read more about nutrition and pigs. If you want to see realistic sizes of mature or growing pigs, we have a page dedicated to that as well that you can see by clicking here.
Number 9 most searched term: Can mini pigs be outside during the winter?
Of course they can. A lot of pigs live outside full time. When given the appropriate accomodations, pigs can definitely live outside or spend most of their day outside. They still need outdoor time during the winter months. If you do not have appropriate outside accomodations, you can allow your pig to spend short amounts of time outside. Do NOT leave your pig outside in the cold with no way to warm up and no structure to block the wind. Pigs can get frostbite, pigs can get cold, pigs can get illnesses that derived from being outside in the cold temperatures. Start by having a good structure that is free from drafts with something on the inside acting as an insulator like straw or hay. Be sure that your pig is able to easily get access to this space by building a ramp or some kind of access that larger pigs can use. It is best to have houses off the ground or on a concrete slab for sturdiness. Pigs usually won't go into a structure that shakes. They do not typically like spaces they havent had a chance to explore. If you are using hay, pigs will eat hay (which is fine) but you will need ot be sure the hay isnt rotting away potentially poisoning your pig when they are eating it. Be sure to check the house often as stated above for signs that other animals may be entering, sleeping or using that space. Heat lamps can be safely used in large spaces, but using a heat lamp in plastic houses or when the space is limited can burn your pig or cause fire. There are heating/cooling systems that can be installed to provide your pig with heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer. I purchased one from Climate Right Air which is a pet house heating/cooling unit. It was easily installed and sits outside of my pigs house like my household condensor unit with duct work from the unit to the outside of the house and vents on the inside. The unit I purchased was around 600.00, it wasn't the cheapest nor the most expensive, but middle of the line. It has the capacity to heat/cool up to 400 square feet which is plenty for the structure built for my pig and her outside time. Even without this type of unit, there are plenty of ways to winterize the space for your pig. Click here to read more about winter time issues and pigs including ideas on how to create a warm space for your pig.
Number 10 most searched term: Can mini pigs eat....(several different substabces/items searched)?
Pigs can pretty much eat anything humans can eat. Not everything is ideal or good for them just like everything available to us isn't good for us. Mini pigs should be feed a diet using a pelleted mini pig feed such as Mazuri brand (which is made by Purina), some people prefer Purina Sow, Champion feed brand is milled and sold by Ross Mill Farms, Manna-Pro is another well known brand of pig feed and veggies and occasionally fruits. Giving pigs candy and foods that are high in sugar content is setting your pig up for obesity early on and while it is super easy for pigs to gain weight, it is a much different rate for losing it. Pigs do not lose weight by exercising vigoriously. They lose weight by reducing the amount of calories they eat compared to how many calories they are buring off. Sometimes it is a matter of changing the times a pig is fed, such as feeding earlier in the day so they have the opportunity to burn off the calories, or reducing the volume fed. Increasing the roughage is a great way to provide essential vitamins while also increasing fiber which makes them feel fuller for a longer period of time. Roughage is also a great way to keep the GI tract functioning as it is supposed to. Low fat, low calorie treats can be used for training, but EVERYTHING additonal fed to your pig needs to be in moderation. Moderation is always key. Air popped popcorn is a great training treat, but your pig does not need handfuls of nonsalted, nonbuttered popcorn. They will usually do the same trick or same action for 1/2 of ONE piece of popcorn that they would do for a handful. Do not give alot of extras and then you will never have to reduce the amount later on. Click here to see a list of foods that are "pig approved" as foods that are not harmful for pigs. Again, this list is only a guide, you cannot feed your pig strawberries everyday for months and think that is adequate nutrition because it isn't. This is a list of foods that you can add to their meals IN ADDITION to the pelleted feed.
These were the most commonly searched phrases for the month of December. We will keep this blog going month after month to keep you informed of what is being searched. Some of the terms will remain the same, so we will likely include the phrase, but not elaborate every month. The website stores the information that is searched and gives us a list daily, so keep searching! If there is something particular that you want or need to know more about, don't hesitate to email us or contact us via our Facebook page for a more immediate response.
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.