Yes, we treat pet pigs! As a matter of fact, we see pig patients almost every day. When someone says pet pigs, that used to be synonymous with the Vietnamese Pot Bellied pig but that is not a true statement today. We see a diverse group of domesticated swine. We still see a large number of pot bellied porcines but we also see Yucatan, KuneKune, Russian, and pet raised domestic commercial breeds. If it is a pet pig, then we will see it. We do not however, provide veterinary services to commercially raised hogs. The reason for this differentiation is that the farms that raise commercial hogs have corporate veterinarians responsible for all their pigs.
I rather enjoy seeing these little hoofed, squealy wonders. I will admit that there are challenges to handling, treating and examining these cuties, but I find it very rewarding. Many of my veterinary colleagues out there in private practice are afraid of them from a medical perspective and shy away from treating them as a rule of thumb. I cannot say that I blame them. I feel the same way about other species, like monkeys, emu and buffalo. To each their own I guess.
Common pig visits usually consist of routine hoof trimming, tusk trimming, vaccinations, arthritis, and obesity concerns. We do however see many injuries from dog attacks and traumatic encounters from other pigs and humans. I never recommend pig owners leave their pigs unsupervised with dogs. This includes dogs they live with and spend time with on a regular basis. They may seem like good buddies most of the time, but it does not take much for a situation to turn bad. This can have deadly consequences for the pig.
I’m going to share a few words of wisdom for pig owners here in this article that I tell my pig owners.
- Every year around July, pigs blow their coat. The entire coat! And they do so in less than 5 to 7 days. New pig owners will call me in a panic thinking the pig has some contagious disease or something is horribly wrong. This is normal molting process and occurs to all pigs after their first year of life. It does not happen to them as piglets, so it happens during their first summer as an adult. Do not fret. It will grow back, mostly. As they age, certain spots do not come back in as full or not at all.
- Take constipated pigs on car rides. That usually works 95% of the time. When in doubt, use canned pumpkin.
- Pigs weigh more than you think. They are very dense and compact. Owners are surprised when I tell them their “60lb” baby is actually over 100lbs.
- All female pigs should be spayed if they are not going to be used as breeding animals due to a propensity to develop large uterine tumors that can be life threatening. These can develop at a young age.
- The terrible twos are a real thing and cause people to abandon or rehome their pigs due to intolerable behavior. Having a multi-pig household does help this issue, but so does behavioral correction. These animals are VERY smart. They are about as smart as a 2-year old child. If your 2-year old bit you, what would you do?
- Pigs are not supposed to be overweight. Their crooked legs and poor joints cannot hold them up well even in good lean body condition, so obesity is going to shorten their lifespan by a considerable amount. They are also prone to back problems and ruptured vertebral disks of which obesity increases the risk of these problems.
- Pigs do not handle injectable anesthetics well and can die if inappropriate sedation or anesthesia is used.
I have years of experience working with these unique and challenging creatures. I think they make great pets and I say, bring on the piggies.