Caring for a Pot-Bellied Pig: A Vet Tech Guide
The trend over the last few decades have been to keep pot-bellied pigs as pets. Many celebrities have gotten in on the act including George Clooney, David Beckham, Miley Cyrus and Paris Hilton to name a few. If you are serious about keeping a pot-bellied pig as a pet, it is important to know how to take care of them over their 20-year lifespan. They deserve proper nutrition that keeps them happy but doesn’t overfeed them, as obesity is the main disease that pot-bellied pigs suffer from.
Nothing is better than holding a pot-bellied pig in your arms when they are a baby. One should however know what it takes to care for a pot-bellied pig before they fall in love with the little piglet. Most importantly, pot-bellied pigs grow until they are 2 or 3 years of age and can weigh over 100 pounds. At that size there is no picking up your lovely pot-bellied pig. If they have the right bond with you and the right temperament you can put down a cover on the ground and cuddle with your pot-bellied pig. Unfortunately, it is estimated that over 50% of pot-bellied pigs are given up at the age of 1 as the owner is not aware of how big the pot-bellied pig will really get. Make sure you know the facts about pot-bellied pigs before you decide to adopt.
A Pot-Bellied Pig’s Temperament
The temperament of a pot-bellied pig is similar to a dog’s need for attention and a cat’s independence. However, food trumps all so stay out of the way of a pot-bellied pig and their food. Pot-bellied pigs can be very affectionate and will love it when you rub their belly. They will fall right over to allow you to give them a good belly rub. They also enjoy a good back rub and will usually allow you to pet them until you get tired.
Get Them Spayed or Neutered
The population of pot-bellied pigs is out of control and the number of rescue pigs is too much to handle for most pot-bellied pig organizations. They recommend that the owner spayed or neuter their pigs to stop abandonment of pot-bellied pigs. If you have the option, many pot-bellied pig organizations would recommend you rescue a pig rather than get one from a breeder. The North American Pet Pig Association (NAPPA) has a voucher program that helps pay for a pig owner’s spayed or neutering costs.
It is a vet tech’s responsibility to give the new pot-bellied pig parent the proper knowledge of their husbandry and nutritional needs. Without proper nutrition, the pot-bellied pig can have all sorts of behavioral and health problems. The most common nutritional disease of pot-bellied pigs is obesity. The fact is if you give your pot-bellied pig food, it will eat it, regardless if it is hungry or not. Proper portioning of food is important. It is suggested that you give your pot-bellied pig 1 cup of feed per 50 to 80 lbs. The typical pot-bellied pig will eat two to three times a day. In addition to pellets, your pot-bellied pig will like all sorts of vegetables that will help supplement their nutritional intake. Vegetables are also a great source of fiber.
Many large animal pet stores will stock food specifically for pot-bellied pigs, so don’t feed your pig commercial swine feed. The food is in pellet form and has many different nutrients for your pot-bellied pig. The pellets will contain the proper amounts of protein, fat and fiber for your pig to stay happy and healthy.
Keep Water Close at Hand
A pot-bellied pig can be very temperamental about their water. Not too hot or too cold. Make sure to keep clean, room temperature water available for your pot-bellied pig. They tend to drink a fair amount of water to stay hydrated. It may also be good to put a small amount of water in the pig’s food pellets, so the food is not too dry for them to swallow.
Bonding with a Pot-Bellied Pig
It is important to pick up your pig and hold them when they are young. One important tip is that they are going to make a lot of noise when you pick them up initially, as they kick into survival mode when they are off the ground. Just make sure they are secure in your arms and they will begin to relax and enjoy your company. The more you hold and pet your pot-bellied pig, the stronger the bond you will create.
Use Treats to Teach
If you want to teach your pot-bellied pig tricks, it is important to use positive reinforcement with pig treats. This also helps them become housetrained. Many pot-bellied pigs are smart enough not to go to the bathroom where they live and eat. Make sure they have a large cat litter box with wood shavings if they live indoors to use as a bathroom.
Want to take your pot-bellied pig on a walk? Make sure to use a body harness to distribute the pull from the leash. A fair number of treats will be needed to get the pot-bellied pig used to putting on the body harness. If you give a pig food, it will do pretty much anything you want.
Pot-Bellied Pigs Love to Forage
Most of the pot-bellied pig’s day is consumed with sleeping and foraging. Make sure to allow your pig to forage for some of its food. Put a swimming pools of smooth rocks in the backyard and hide food in it or throw food into the grass for them to find. It will give them something to do, spread out their mealtime and satisfy their instinct to forage.
Annual Pot-Bellied Pigs Day
Each year it is important to take your pot-bellied pig to get pampered for a day at the large animal veterinarian. They will clean out their ears, eyes and snout. A pig does a lot of snooting around if they spend time outside and dirt will accumulate on their face. The vet tech will also trim their hooves, give them any necessary shots, and clean their teeth. It is important to keep the teeth in good shape as the pot-bellied pig enjoys eating vegetables and it is hard to eat vegetables without teeth.
Interested in learning more about taking care of large animals as a vet tech? Ready to start working as a veterinary technician? With an associate degree in veterinary technology, you’ll gain the knowledge and skills you need to start an entry-level career as a veterinary technician. Broadview University has been part of the community for more than 40 years, so we’ve developed connections that can help move your career forward. After completing our accredited degree program, you’ll be eligible to sit for the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE). Passing the VTNE allows you to become a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT), a designation that will give you a competitive advantage when you enter the job market.
Contact us today to learn more about becoming a veterinary technician and working in veterinary technology.
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