Keeping a Pet Pig
Posted January 10, 2019
Imagine a pet that is loyal, affectionate, and intelligent.
You’re probably thinking of a dog or cat, but this description can
also apply to pigs. Many people have come to find that pigs make
excellent and entertaining pets, and are often similar to dogs in
terms of care and behavior.
Evelyn Mackay, a resident veterinarian in large animal internal
medicine at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine &
Biomedical Sciences, has advice for people who may be thinking
about bringing a pet pig into the family.
“Pigs are intelligent and affectionate animals that can thrive
as pets, but they require patience and time, just like an active
dog,” Mackay said. “They definitely develop strong bonds, and often
prefer their main caretaker to other household members or
strangers. They can even be protective of their owners.”
She said a common misconception is that pigs are dirty animals.
Pigs actually prefer a clean environment and take well to
housetraining, although they still enjoy spending time outside to
graze and sunbathe.
Like dogs and other common pets, pigs need appropriate diets to
stay happy and healthy. According to Mackay, pigs can easily become
obese, so it is important to feed them well and give them plenty of
“Although some people have the misconception that pigs can be
fed ‘slop’, they actually need to be fed a commercial diet
formulated for swine. I discourage feeding treats other than green
leafy vegetables due to pet pigs' propensity for obesity,” she
Mackay recommends taking pet pigs to a small or large animal
veterinarian for vaccines, hoof trimming, and dental care. She also
said spaying or neutering pigs can limit unpleasant behaviors and
reduce the risk of certain cancers.
“Just like other species, pigs need regular preventative care
and wellness visits with a veterinarian,” she said. “The common
health problems we see in pigs are quite similar to dogs – obesity,
arthritis, musculoskeletal injuries, respiratory infections, and
gastrointestinal upset from eating things they shouldn't have.”
One of the unique challenges of keeping a pet pig is caring for
an animal that can weigh hundreds of pounds. Although photos of
“teacup” or “mini” pigs are all over the internet, Mackay said
these are misleading due to the fact that once fully grown, even
the smallest pigs are 60 to 80 pounds.
“The cute photos we see on the internet of 5 pound pigs are just
babies, and no pig will ever stay that size. Even pigs that grow to
be 800 pounds as adults are often only 1 pound when they're born,”
Keeping a pet pig may seem challenging, but it can be a unique
and rewarding experience. Just like any other animal, pigs need
time and attention to thrive as pets, but in the end they often
turn out to be excellent companions.
Pet Talk is a service of the Texas A&M College of
Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. Stories can be
viewed on the web at vetmed.tamu.edu/pet-talk. Suggestions for
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