My fellow livestock-emphasis students and I just completed our “Pig Week” where the topics featured all pigs, all the time. From commercial herds to 4-H market animals, or pet pot-bellied pigs and mini pigs, we covered them all!
I love learning about pigs because they’re such emotive dynamic creatures with unique personalities.
During our swine block, we discussed infectious diseases that affect each age group of pigs from neonates and weanlings to adults and every stage in between. As a component of our learning, we took a short field trip to our campus’ swine barn. There we were able to observe each swine life stage and learn about the management practices that are ensuring that each individual has the opportunity to lead a healthy and happy life.
Similarly, as pet pigs are becoming ever more popular, we covered management on a more individual scale as well. As pigs have an average life span of about 12-20 years, it is up to veterinarians to work with owners to ensure that each animal has the opportunity to make the most of that time.
One major discussion topic regarding impediments to quality of life for pet pigs was the growing occurrence of obesity. For this reason, it is important to focus on how to manage diet and activity levels of pigs kept as pets. Snacks should not be fruit nor should they contain sugar. Vegetables can be given, but should only be done in moderation. One of the most effective ways to control a pig’s weight is to create feeding activities that keep them busy as they consume their food. This can be done by making a maze or trail of kibble for them to eat or by putting peanut butter in a bowling ball and allowing them to push the ball to continually access the peanut butter treat.
Pigs are charming animals that develop strong human-animal bonds with their owners and those around them. They deserve to be happy and healthy and veterinarians have an important role in helping achieve that goal.