Unlike their barnyard brethren, pot-bellied pigs are commonly found as pampered pets living indoors with their owners these days. Native to the country of Vietnam, a full grown potbellied pig averages roughly 120 to 150 pounds.
“A good candidate for owning a pot-bellied pig, as with any pet, is someone who has time to devote to caring for the animal and who is prepared financially to provide veterinary care, should it become ill or have other problems,” says Dr. Kevin Washburn, associate professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.
Pot-bellied pigs are popular pets because they are very intelligent and can be housebroken. Pigs are also able to openly express their fondness for their owners, much like other domesticated house pets.
These pets need a fenced area to protect them from dog attacks. Pigs, no matter what their age, have no defense against these attacks despite what some people think.
It is important for owners to research the animal’s diet. Even though it might be tempting to feed a pot-bellied pig table scraps or other human foods, they have their own specific nutritional needs that must be met.
“The only food pot-bellied pigs should eat is a commercially available pot-bellied pig feed,” says Washburn. “People should not feed them human food as this usually results in obesity, which, therefore leads to health problems later in life.”
Washburn recommends feeding twice a day at amounts according to the instructions on the feed bags.
When looking to purchase a new pet, the common health problems of the animal should be considered.
Washburn explains that overfeeding leads to obesity which is the most common cause for discomfort in these animals. Obesity then leads to arthritis as the pig ages.
“Also, in unspayed females, uterine cancer is very common when they get older,” says Washburn.
Pigs should receive vaccinations, hoof trimmings, and physicals annually.
Many people keep pot-bellied pigs as house pets. Washburn explains that this is okay, but one must realize the potential pitfalls such as the pig rooting up carpet or floors, eating walls, or overturning household items such as plants or dining chairs.
It is best if the pig is kept only as a part-time house pet for these reasons, which are normally due to a pig becoming bored.
Also, if an owner is looking to keep an exceptional garden outside or a perfect lawn, it would be wise to fence that area off. Pigs naturally root through the ground for the purpose of obtaining necessary vitamins and minerals from the ground as well as food such as grubs or acorns.
Potential owners should make sure to check the local zoning laws before buying to ensure that keeping a pot-bellied pig is allowed.
Pigs that have been neutered or spayed are generally sweet-natured animals, and they do not have sweat glands, rendering them an almost odorless pet. If a potential buyer is willing to put in the tender care and work that these adorable animals need, a pot-bellied pig can make for a great pet.
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Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University. CNHI News Service distributes this column.