Veterinary Care for Mini-Pigs
Like other pets, mini-pigs should have a complete veterinary checkup after they are acquired and annually after that. Pigs can be challenging for a veterinarian to examine, as they are extremely strong, do not like to be restrained, and scream loudly when restraint is attempted. Ideally, your pig should be trained to walk on a leash/harness, so that he can walk into the animal hospital and onto a scale to be weighed. Smaller pigs may be trained to walk into a carrier for transport.
Once at the animal hospital, your pig should be allowed to wander freely around the exam room (not the waiting room) for a few minutes to acclimate before your veterinarian examines him. As pigs are very food motivated, you may want to bring a few of your pig's favorite treats to distract your pig while your veterinarian performs the examination. Pigs also typically lay down when they are scratched on their sides, so your veterinarian may try this trick to get your pig to lay down for an examination.
If your pig does not stay still for the checkup or acts aggressively toward the veterinary staff, he/she may need to be sedated for examination. If this is necessary, do not be alarmed, as this is often the case with mini-pigs and a pig-savvy veterinarian will have a safe protocol to sedate your pig for the checkup and any short procedures, such as grooming or vaccination.
What vaccines does my pig need?
There are no widely accepted standards for vaccination of mini-pigs. Recommendations vary based on geographic location, pig's age, and degree of potential disease exposure.
Most veterinarians agree that, at minimum, pet piglets should be vaccinated against the bacteria that cause erysipelas, leptospirosis, and tetanus. Other vaccines available for mini-pigs include:
- vaccinations against viruses such as parvovirus, rabies, pseudorabies, coronavirus, and rotavirus; and
- vaccinations against bacteria such as Bordetella (the cause of a respiratory infection called atrophic rhinitis), Pasteurella, Streptococcus, Actinobacillus, and E. coli.
Vaccinations usually start at 8-12 weeks of age, boosters are given a month later and then annually. Your veterinarian will recommend vaccines based on your pig's potential exposure to pathogens, breeding status, and geographic location.
What other procedures could my veterinarian perform?
Your veterinarian should analyse your pig's feces annually to check for gastrointestinal parasites. If parasites are found, your veterinarian will prescribe appropriate anti-parasitic medications.
Pet pigs also commonly carry mites on their skin that can cause sarcoptic mange, which is transmittable to people and other pets. Your veterinarian may perform a simple, commonly performed procedure called a skin scraping to check for mites, in which they scrape the surface of the skin with a scalpel blade to obtain skin cells to examine under the microscope.
Veterinarians will also often help pig owners with hoof care and tusk trimming. It is important to train your pig to be comfortable having his feet touched so that your veterinarian can trim his hooves during his annual checkup. Some pigs may need hoof trimming every few months, depending on the type of surface they walk on every day. Trimming may be performed awake if the pig will lay on his/her back while its belly is scratched; if not, the pig may need to be sedated.
"It is important to train your pig to be comfortable having his feet
touched so that your veterinarian can trim his hooves during his annual checkup."
Male pigs have canine teeth (tusks) that grow continuously throughout life and need periodic trimming - usually every 6-12 months in unneutered males and every 1-3 years in neutered males. Tusk trimming is typically performed on a sedated pig.
Finally, for adult pigs as they get older, your veterinarian may want to check internal organ function with a blood test. A blood sample may be taken from an ear or leg vein of an awake pig. If the pig protests, he/she may need to be sedated to allow his/her blood to be taken.
Does my pig need to be neutered or spayed?
Male pigs become sexually mature by 6-10 weeks of age and females by 10-12 weeks. Sexually active pigs will exhibit unpleasant behaviors including excessive rooting (digging) and mounting, and sexually mature males have a strong odor. Female pigs are prone to developing uterine infections and tumors as they age. Therefore, neutering of males and spaying of females is recommended. Neutering is recommended at 8-12 weeks of age and spaying at 12-16 weeks.
"Neutering is recommended at 8-12 weeks of age and spaying at 12-16 weeks."
Male pigs become sexually mature by 6-10 weeks of age and females by 10-12 weeks. Sexually active pigs will exhibit unpleasant behaviors including excessive rooting (digging) and mounting. Sexually mature males have a strong odor. Female pigs are prone to developing uterine infections and tumors as they age. Therefore, neutering of males and spaying of females is highly recommended. Neutering is recommended at 8-12 weeks of age and spaying at 12-16 weeks.
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