Miniature Pig Care
Miniature Pigs make wonderful unique pets. Often called Mini Pigs, Micro Mini Pigs and Teacup pigs, etc., they are easy to care for but require different care and training than traditional pet ownership. Owning a miniature pig is much different than owning a dog or cat. Mini pigs are more intelligent, cunning, and temperamental; much like living with a toddler. The information presented is for educational purposes only. Consult with your veterinarian regarding medical or health related information.
Diet and Nutrition
A nutritionally complete and balanced diet is essential to the health of your pig. A miniature pig needs the right kind of food, in the right amount at the right time.
The Right Food
We highly recommend Mazuri™ Mini Pig Food and Purina Natures Match Sow and Pig Complete Feed™, can both be purchased at Tractor Supply™.
Mazuri Mini Pig Food is a pre-manufactured pelleted diet provides miniature pigs with the complete nutrition they need, while maintaining proper growth and weight. It comes in 25 pounds bags in sss Youth, Active Adult and Elder formulas. Youth formula for piglets up to 3 months, Active adult for ages 3 months to 18 months and Elder formula for 18 months and over.
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Purina Nature's Match Sow & Pig Complete Feed - Tractor Supply
Purina Nature's Match Sow & Pig Complete Feed is a versatile, complete, 16% protein, all-natural feed that provides all the nutrition for all life stages. One product that can be fed to growing pigs, finishing pigs, developing gilts, lactating and gestating sows and boars. It can be purchased at Tractor Supply in 50 lb. bags for $14.50. Many miniature pig breeders and owners highly recommend this feed. Owners switched from Mazuri claimed the Purina Nature's Match Sow and Pig Complete satisfies their pig's appetite better and notably improves the condition of the skin and coat. This feed was not specificately formulated for miniature pig breeds, but no noticable weighy gain was reported. Initially, closely monitor body size and weight to ensure that a healthy weight will be maintained by this feed.
In addition to the pelleted diet, pigs needs plenty of roughage such as grasses, greens, fruits and vegetables. Grazing for at least an hour will help your pig get the roughage it needs. Select fresh vegetables high in fiber and low in calories, to help maintain a healthy weight.
Feeds formulated for other animals and especially people food, don't meet the nutritional needs of miniature pigs and can contribute to obesity. Do not feed dog food, cat food, horse food or table scraps. Table scraps such as greens, vegetables or fruits can be fed. Do not feed chocolate or avocados as they are toxic to pigs. Limit salt and avoid salty foods like popcorn or potato chips. Pigs have toxicity issues and are prone to salt poisoning. Provide plenty of fresh clean water in a tip resistant bowl.
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The Right Amount
Miniature pigs love to eat and will over eat if allowed. The amount of food must be limited to avoid obesity. Pigs have different appetites, metabolisms and activity levels, so one portion size does not fit all when it comes to diet. One method of gauging the proper amount to feed is to observe the overall body condition of the pig. If the hip, thigh or rib bones can be seen, increase the amount of feed to promote weight gain. If the rib, hip, or thigh bones are not visible and are not easily felt, decrease the amount of food for weight loss. If your pig looks thin, feed it again. If your pig looks fat, take it back. Do not feed once a day. Pigs should be at least fed at least twice daily and preferably three times a day. Establish a routine by feeding at scheduled times. Pigs are always hungry, but you can help curb their hunger by establishing a routine, and offering small meals or treats during the day. We start piglets on 1/4 cup of Mazuri™ Youth Formula in the morning and1/4 cup in the evening . If not able to graze, we give vegetables or greens during the day. We increase the feed proportionate to their changing growth and activity levels. The total amount of food consumed must be taken into account including treats, grazing, vegetables and greens in addition to the pelleted food. The charts below can be used as a guideline to determine overall body condition and reccommended daily amount of Mazuri™ to feed.
Avoid Food Mistakes
Do not over feed or underfed your pig. Allowing your pig to become overweight or obese is unhealthy and can contribute to heart, joint, sugar, mobility and blood pressure problems. Limiting food to stunt growth is ineffective, cruel, and can cause malnutrition and a multitude of health problems.
Do not share your food or feed him scraps from the table at meal time. People food is unhealthy for pigs and sharing your food will initiate bad behavior. When you share food, the pig begins to associate you eating with him eating. He'll expect to eat every time you eat, go to the kitchen or open the refigerator. The pig loves eating with you and doesn't understand why you stopped. He'll focus on you, anticipating your every move hoping you will feed him. He'll start begging constantly and when he doesn't get his way, he may get frustrated, squeal or pitch a tantrum.
Don't give food to calm a pig down or keep him from jumping or rooting on you. Do not use food as a reward when potty training. Pigs are smart and love food, A pig will quickly learn to modify behavior, bad or otherwise to get fed. It is best not to feed a pig from your cabinets, pantry or refrigerator. They can learn to open up doors, even on the refrigerator and that behavior is one you really want to avoid. Hence,
Pig Food Rule No. 1- Never underestimate what a pig can or will do to get food.
Pig Food Rule No. 2- Anything unpleasant or unfamiliar is made better by food.
Pigs need exercise to stay fit and healthy which aids in weight control. Pigs need outdoor time to graze, root and walk around, just being a pig. Taking your pig on walks is a good way to get exercise and bonding time too. Enrichment activities involving both physical activity and mental stimulation are of great benefit. A bored pig can be a destructive pig. Some examples of enrichment activities would be hiding treats in the yard or in rooting boxes, so the pig has to hunt for them. Treat balls requiring the pig to roll the ball a certain way to get the treat or even scattering feed over a large area promotes exercise.
Pigs are easy to train using a litter box or going outside to potty. For young piglets it is best to litter box train at first. Their tiny bladders often can't wait and a litter box is readily accessible. It is very important that you diligently start potty training from day one. Piggy parents are sometimes reluctant to start training a little piglet and want to wait until the piglet gets older. This is a mistake! Allowing the piglet to potty anywhere he pleases, is actually training him to potty in those certain spots. His scent will be hard to eliminate and he will go back to that spot. It will be harder to retrain him to go else where now that he is in the habit of going there. The piglet doesn't know anything about potty training, and depends on you to train him to be a good pet, so do your job. Use praise and don't punish, be patient and consistent, and remember that practice makes perfect.
Outside Potty Training
Once litter box training has been mastered, the pig or piglet can start outside potty training. An older piglet or pig that is leash trained can start outdoor training without litter box training first. For pigs not litter-box trained, use the same litter box training method of confining the pig to a small area. Designate an area outside where you want your pig to potty. Take him to the designated area and tell him to "go potty". Take him to this outside area frequently during the day, especially after naps and meals. Do not give treats but use praise instead. Do not punish accidents. After your piglet is trained to go outdoors you can choose to eliminate the litter box or use them both.
Litter Box Training
Pigs and piglets litter box train easily. Use a litter box with low sides large enough for the pig to turn around in. Most cat litter boxes are not large enough. I use a mortar or cement mixing box that can be purchased at Lowes for around $6. It has low sides for young piglets but is durable and large enough to use for an adult pig. Another option is to use an under the bed plastic storage. For litter you can use pine shaving or pelleted litter. Pigs are allergic to cedar shavings and can eat cat litter, so don't use these products.
For litter box information and retailer links: See Purchase Litter Box and Litter on New Owner Check List page
Designate a playpen, large crate, small room or area that you can confine your pig in. Do not allow him to roam the house unless you are watching and paying attention to him. In one corner place the litter box and in the opposite corners further away, place food, water and bedding. After your pig wakes up or eats, take him to the litter box and instruct him to "go potty". If he potties in litter box give praise but not treats. Giving treats can shift the focus from normal and natural elimination, to frequent elimination or potty trips to get treats. Little piglets don't have full control of their bladder and bowels, so make frequent trips to go potty and be patient when accidents occur. Always use praise and use positive reinforcement. Punishing a pig is not effective, and will cause the pig to hide or hold off going to potty for fear of punishment. When your pig begins to consistently use the litter box you can increase his roaming area. If the pig relapses and starts having accidents, confine him to a smaller area until he starts using the litter box again. The key to successful house training is consistency, repetition and praise.
Harness Training and Bath Training
Pigs respond best when rewarded for desired behavior or positive reinforcement. They respond poorly to force or punishment. The best positive enforcement or reward for a pig is food or a treat. Pigs often will respond to little pieces of their regular food. Highly motivated by food, the prospect of food will get their attention and keep them focused. Food is very effective as a diversion too. For a pig, anything unpleasant is made better by food. When using food or treats for training, give small pieces like a raisin. Be sure to take in account the amount of extra food given in training, and to avoid over feeding, adjust the pig's regular meals accordingly. Feed healthy treats that are low in calories like Cheerios, fresh veggie bits, raisins or unsalted sunflower seeds. Try to keep treats at a minimum and when able reward them by giving extra bits of regular food.
Start early with harness training as soon as the piglet is comfortable being handled and petted. It is important to select a harness that 's comforable and is the right fit. A properly fitted harness will not let the pig slip out of it and won't rub or irritate the pig's skin.. There are two basic types of harnesses. Type A slips over the head and is fastened behind the legs, while Type H fastens at the neck and at the girth area.
Most harnesses are designed for a dog's body type, which is porpotioned differently than a pig's body. Overall the harness might be the right size, but the porportions are wrong. Typically, the neck will be too small and the girth will be too large. It's difficult to find a retail harness that will fit a pig properly. I wasted time and money on ill-fitting harnesses. I recommend purchasing a harness specifically designed and made for pigs. Pig Gear makes harnesses for pigs only. These harnesses work great and can be ordered online. To get the right size harness you must measure your pig. Use a soft fabric tape measure and measure the pig's neck and girth. The girth is the length around the pig's body measured directly behind the front legs. To get a accurate measurement you might have to distract the pig with a few treats.
Adjust or "guess-timate" the harness so it will fit loosely. Introduce the harness and let the pig get used to it. Put the harness by the pig and let him sniff and touch it.. Put the harness on the pig while distracting him by talking and giving him treats on the floor. Don't try to force the harness on, and if he gets too upset, stop and try again.
Once the harness is on, let him wear it for a short time, then take it off. Leaving a harness on for long periods can cause tender areas and hair loss. Do this several times over a couple of days to let the pig get comfortable wearing the harness. You can attach the leash and let him drag it around. Take the leash and walk a couple of feet away. Pull slightly and call his name. Entice him with the promise of a treat. When he pays attention to you immediately give him a treat. Continue luring him with treats until he walks easily beside you. After the pig has mastered leash training you can wean him from expecting treats by taking him on walks that he enjoys. Pigs enjoy walks that allow for tasty grazing.
Unless you are prepared for battle, pigs need to be slowly introduced to the bath time routine. The key to an enjoyable bath for both of you, is patience and a lot of treats. Use treats for a diversion and remember for a pig, anything unpleasant is made better by food. First introduce the pig to the bathroom. Pet or offer treats to get the pig used to the area. Next put a towel or non slip rubber mat in tub. Place the pig in tub with no water and offer treats. When the pig is comfortable being in the tub, leave the drain open and let a small stream of lukewarm water flow from faucet. Slowly increase water pressure. Then plug drain and allow warm water to flow slowly letting the water rise to the pigs body. Begin bathing your pig with water and then introduce the soap. If the pig gets very upset at any stage stop until he gets calm again. If your pig gets too excited, stop and try again the next day. It might take several times before you can complete a bath. Cheerios, apple bits and carrots are great treats for bath time as they float in the water. Peanut butter can be slightly smeared above water line to avoid injestion of sudsy bath water.
You can bathe your pig as needed. Many times a wipe down will suffice instead of a bath. Use baby shampoo or other gentle non tearing soaps to wash you pig. Dry your pig throughly and to moisturize the skin, lightly spritz with baby oil, Avon's Skin So Soft ™, or a similar gentle, fragrance free moisturizers.
Parasites and Vaccinations
Pigs are healthy animals with a strong immune system. Providing preventive and routine health care is vital to the continued health and well being of you pig Pigs are plagued by internal and external parasites common to humans and other other animals. Deworming and pesticide treatments are very important to prevent and control worms and other pests. Vaccines are not usually required by law for pigs like dogs or cats. Consult with your local veterinarian to determine what vaccines are required or needed specific for your region or when traveling.
Pigs root the soil and are at risk for contracting worms. Worms are easily controlled but if left unchecked, a heavy worm load can cause serious and permanent health problems, and even death.
Deworming and Mite Control
A worming regime of at least four times a year is recommended. I recommend two common anthelmintics, (drug that expels parasitic worms) ivermectin and fenobenzadole. A three month deworming regime will alternate between the two dewormers. Use one product every three months and alternate, using both products an equal amount of two times a year. For monthly deworming regime use Ivermectin for the 3 consecutive months then alternate the fourth month with fenobenzadole.
Ivermectin 1% sterile solution is an injectable parasiticide. Ivermectin's convenience, broad spectrum efficacy, and safety margin make it a leading product for parasite control of swine. One low-volume dose effectively treats and controls the following internal and external parasites in swine: Gastrointestinal Roundworms: Effective for adults and fourth-stage larvae for Large roundworms (Ascaris suum), Red stomach worms (Hyostrongylus rubidus), and Nodular worm (Oesophagostomum spp.). Effective for adults Threadworms (Strongyloides ransomand) and adult Lungworms (Metastrongylus spp.). Effective for somatic roundworm and threadworm larvae. lice (Haematopinus suis) and mites (Sarcoptes scabiei var. suis). Ivermectin does not treat whip worms. Two common brand names are Ivomec® and Noromectin® both 1% injectable. These products and other generic brands can be purchased at Tractor Supply, Jeffers and most local feed or co-op stores.
Injectable dose is 1 mL per 75 pounds and is injected subcutaneously at neck area. Oral dose is 1 mL per 50 lbs. For mite control 2 doses are required 10 days apart. It tastes bitter, so put it on treats like milk, yogurt, cheerios or whole wheat bread to mask the taste.
Size: 50 mL,500 mL
Size: 50 mL,250 mL,500 mL
Active Ingredient: Ivermectin
Safe-Guard® Multi-Species Dewormer
Broad-spectrum, pelleted dewormer.
Contains 2.27 grams fenbendazole per lb.
Directions for Use: Swine - (growing pigs, gilts, pregnant sows and boars)
Feeding directions for 100 lbs body weight: 1.0 oz daily for 3 days.
Size: 1 l, 5 lb
Nutrablend Fenbendazole 0.6% Swine Dewormer is 3-12 day treatment regimen for swine. 10 lb. bag
Mix 0.7 oz. premix in the ration for 100 lbs body weight Feed as sole ration for 3-12 consecutive days.
External Parasites Mites, Lice, Fleas, Flies, Mosquitoes and Ticks
Pigs are very susceptible to the pig mite or Sarcoptes scabiei var suis mite. Mites are barely visible tick like parasites. Mites burrow under the skin and lay eggs which causes the pig to scratch excessively. They are transmitted by pigs and other animals such as birds, squirrels, raccoons, dogs and cats. Swine lice are readily visible and can be 1/4 inch in size. They bite into the skin to suck blood and cause discomfort and itching.
The most effective way to treat lice and mites is with ivermectin 1% injectable for swine. Two doses administered orally or by injection, are required at 10 to 14 day intervals to break the mite or lice life cycle. Injectable dose is 1 ml per 75 lbs. Oral dosage is 1 ml per 50 pounds. Mix oral dose with food or treats to mask the bitter taste. Starbar Prolate/Lintox-HD™ or Ivomec® Pour On can be used for topical treatment of swine with lice or sarcoptic mange infestations.
Fleas are usually not an issue with pigs due to their thick skin. Young pigs with tender skin can get fleas and ticks especially if exposed to dogs that are infested. Older pigs get ticks mostly behind the ears or around the face where the skin is softer. Pigs can be treated with Frontline® or Advantage® on spot topical (applied to skin) flea treatments. Avon Skin So Soft is a gentle insect repellent and moisturizer too.
Permethrin 10% can be used for control of fleas, flies, mites and other parasites on pigs. Two common brand names of this product are Durvet's Permethrin 10% and Martins Permethrin 10%. Both are a dillutable for long-lasting livestock and premise sprays that provides knockdown, broad spectrum kill, and excellent residual activity for up to 28 days. Caution should be used when treating pigs that come into contact with cats, as permethrin is highly toxic to cats. Starbar Prolate/Lintox-HD™ is a dilutable product that kills pests on contact. Used as a spray or in a backrubber, it provides effective treatment of flies, lice, mange mites and ticks. Also used for treatment of swine with lice or sarcoptic mange infestations. Active ingredient is Phosmet that can be diluted with water or fuel oil.
Use of pesticides or insecticides should be used sparingly. As the name implies you are using a chemical preparation to kill and and control pests on the pig or its' surroundings. These chemicals can have a residual build up and become hazardous to animals, humans and the environment. Some pig and othe animals exposed may experience adverse reactions or side effecst. Closely monitor your pig when administering any medicene or treatment.
There is much debate over whether to vaccinate miniature pigs. There are no vaccines specifically approved for miniature pigs, so the commercial vaccines available for domestic swine are substituted. Safety and efficacy are major concerns as these vaccines were developed for swine weighing over 300 pounds with differing genetic and biological risk factors. In small pigs the amount of antigen (substance that induces immune response) per mbody weight should be considered to avoid excessive antigen administration and the risk of adverse reactions. Exposure to pathogens and environmental risk factors are to be considered. Domestic swine housed in large populations with exposure to stockyards, animal auctions and other livestock have a much greater risk than the pet pig living indoors. For this reason many owners choose not to vaccinate.
Pigs have a hardy immune system, but we believe as the saying goes "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure". We vaccinate for the more common pathogens affecting pigs which are tetanus, erysipelas, two types of atrophic rhinitis (Bordetella bronchiseptica or the toxin of Pasteurella multocida types A & D) and pneumonia caused by P multocica Type A.
We do not vaccinate for rabies or Leptospirosis for the following reasons. There is no approved rabies vaccine for pigs and the incidence of rabies in pigs is very rare. Pigs often have an adverse reaction of high fever after receiving the Leptospirosis vaccination. We advise you to contact your local veterinarian to determine if these vaccines or any others are needed specific to your region and lifestyle.