Potbellied Pigs
Potbellied PigsPotbellied PigsChinchilla
The Vietnamese potbellied pig is one of the most common pet pig breeds in the USA; however, even as pets they are still considered to be livestock and are subject to certain laws and regulations. There are still many cities and municipalities that do not allow livestock to reside within city limits (potbellied pigs included). Please check with your local municipality for specific regulations and ordinances prior to getting a potbellied pig.

How should you house your potbellied pig?

Housing will depend on if your pig is an indoor or an outdoor pig. A pen should be provided with a minimum of 8x15ft per pig (the larger the better). If the pen is outdoors, at least 1 foot of the fence should be below ground to prevent digging. If the pig is outdoors, an insulated house/shelter with about 6ft square per pig is needed for sleeping. Make sure the house is clean and free of drafts. You can use plywood or tile for the floor and blankets, comforters, sleeping bags, hay, straw, or hardwood shavings (avoid cedar) for bedding. Bedding should be dry and deep enough for the pig to root and to cover itself. Clean bedding daily. Indoor pigs should be kept in a pig-safe room and be allowed outdoors for exercise. Indoor pigs can be litter box trained. Litter pans should be placed away from food, water, and bedding. It should also be large enough for the pig to turn around in.

Pigs do not have the ability to sweat and should be housed within a temperature range of 60-75 degrees Fahrenheit with a humidity of about 50%. Protection from moist drafts in cold weather should be provided. If temperatures exceed 85 degrees Fahrenheit, supplemental shade, fans, or water for wallowing should be provided. Pigs also have very sensitive skin and can easily get sunburned as well. For colder climates the pigs should have access to supplemental heat lamps.

What can you expect from your potbellied pig?

Most miniature pigs spend a large portion of their day sleeping or searching for food. Pigs that are not provided an environment that encourages foraging can easily become sedentary and overweight. Rooting is a normal behavior motivated by the desire to find food. A large rooting box should be provided. These can be made with a large low container (i.e. a small wading pool, the bottom half of a large plastic dog crate, or a homemade wooden box). Fill the rooting box with a layer of large stones. The rooting box is a good place to hide dry foods and treats to encouraging foraging. Toys can be provided as additional enrichment. Toys should be easily cleaned (or disposed of) and hard to break into small pieces. Examples may include newspapers, cardboard boxes, beach balls, and tennis balls. Pigs kept indoors may damage floorings such as linoleum and carpet.

What should you feed your potbellied pig?

Potbellied pigs are omnivorous, meaning they eat both meats and plants. Pet potbellied pigs should be provided a formulated diet for miniature pigs. Commercial hog foods should be avoided for pet pigs. Treats such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains/cereals (without sugar), and unsalted popcorn can be provided. Foraging and enrichment can be encouraged by using balls or cubes designed to allow the pig to slowly acquire food. To encourage foraging, you should consider feeding your pet pig smaller amounts of food more frequently and in differing locations.

Access to a shallow tray for water should also be provided for drinking. The water tray should be easily cleaned. Water for soaking and cooling should also be provided in a separate area for wallowing.

What should you know about keeping your potbelied pig healthy?

As with all pets, a semiannual examination is recommended for your pet pig. At this time a fecal parasite test is recommended. Pigs canine teeth (or tusks) grow continuously throughout their lives and may need to be trimmed every 6-12 months. In most cases anesthesia is necessary to trim the tusks of potbellied pigs. Additionally, pigs may also need to have their hooves trimmed every 6-12 months, starting at about 2-3 years of age. This procedure also needs to be performed under anesthesia and is often done at the same time as a tusk trim.

Vaccination protocols will vary depending on each individual potbellied pig. Typically, pet pigs will need minimal vaccines. However, it is recommended to vaccinate pet pigs for Erysipelas (Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae) and several serotypes of Leptospira. Depending on your pet pig's risk, additional vaccines, including Mycoplasma hyopneumonia, Bordetella bronchiseptica, Pasteurella multocida, swine influenza, and tetanus toxoid, may be recommended. Which vaccines will depend on the amount of contact your pig has with other pigs, along with any traveling you do with your potbellied pig. Yearly shots of vitamin E with selenium should also be given. Please consult veterinarians at the Saukville Veterinary Clinic for further information.