Although potbellied pigs can be easy to look after and care for, they require regular grooming, frequent ear and eye cleanings, dental care, tusk care and enrichment.
Grooming is a great way to get to know your pet pigs and to maintain a positive relationship. Although they have bristles rather than fur, pigs still need to be brushed regularly to remove any loose hair, exfoliate flaky skin, and improve circulation. It is common for potbellied pigs to have dry, itchy skin because they are native to tropical, humid climates. In the summer, pigs may shed their bristles and then grow them back in winter. Brush your pigs regularly and give them a balanced, healthy diet to ensure a beautiful coat.
Eye and ear cleaning
Potbellied pigs may need to clean their ears and eyes frequently. This is necessary to avoid infection and keep the pig’s health better. Potbellied pigs can have waxy eyes and teary eyes. Having a good relationship with your pigs will make it easier to clean their eyes and ears without stressing them. These areas should be cleaned with gauze or soft towels. Cotton swabs and fingers can cause discomfort or injury.
Pigs can develop cavities and tartar and can even fracture teeth. Your veterinarian should be able to sedate your pigs as well as give them regular dental and polish. Your pigs’ teeth will be healthy if they eat a healthy diet that is balanced with minimal or no processed food.
Care for the hoof and tusk
All pigs have the ability to grow tusks. However, only male pigs need to trim their tusks regularly. While all pigs need to trim their hooves from time-to-time, active pigs don’t require them as often as more sedentary ones. Talk to your veterinarian about how to trim your pig’s hooves and tusks.
Our pigs receive a “spa day” every other week at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. After we sedate them, we trim their hooves and tusks, and perform a dental checkup. Although pigs can be sedated for tusk or hoof trimming, it takes more patience and practice to do the job. It can be costly to sedate a pig for hoof or tusk trimming.
While you are giving a belly rub or grooming your pig, it is a good idea for them to inspect their feet regularly. Some pigs may have the foot pads separating from the hoof wall, or they can become infected. These problems should be caught early in order to avoid getting worse.
Regularly handle your pigs to get them used to touching and familiarize yourself with what is normal and unacceptable for them. To familiarize them with handling, you can rub their belly and touch their ears, noses, and tails while brushing or relaxing.
They should feel comfortable with you and allow you to do the activities. If your pigs are not comfortable around you, be patient and use the “approach-and-reach” method. Here are some suggestions:
Your hand should be directed towards the toes of a pig. If he allows you to touch them briefly, then move on.
- You can do it a few more times until you are able to hold his toes.
- You can then examine and manipulate his toes a few more times.
- Be aware of your pig’s body language. If your pig seems uneasy at any stage, go back to the previous step.
To build trust and confidence in your pigs, you can use the principles behind relationship-based training. Clicker training and relationship-based training can be used to teach your pigs how to enter and exit vehicles, as well as how to meet new people politely.
Pigs require mental and physical stimulation as part of their daily care. Pigs can also enjoy treats balls (aka food puzzles), which are designed for dogs. Because the pet must figure out how to remove the treats from the ball, they provide mental stimulation. You can also use kibble instead of potbellied pork pellets, unsalted nuts, or small pieces dehydrated vegetables.
To enrich the pig’s environment, you can also toss dehydrated fruits or vegetables (without added sugar) and unsalted almonds several times per day. This can be done after dinner and lunch, or as a snack during the day. The pig gets both mental and physical exercise by looking for treats. It also fulfills the pigs’ natural desire to look for treats.