Yesterday, as I sat in Dr. Melanie Gagnon’s truck on our way to our first call of the day, I asked her “why would anyone want a pig as a pet?” She explained to me that they behave very much like our canine companions and are extremely intelligent animals – oh, and they are sooooo cute. I wasn’t sure if I completely believed her, especially about the cute factor, but off we went to meet our patient, Kevin.
Pet pigs are often still larger than your average dog, sometimes weighing over 200 lbs! They require lots of environmental enrichment as they can get bored and destructive easily. There are a variety of breeds of pig such as Potbelly, Juliana, Kune Kune, Gottingen, Hanford Miniature Swine and Ossabaw Island Pig. While many people associate pigs with being humongous and overweight, it is imperative for a pig’s health to maintain it at a healthy weight to avoid joint and other health issues.
Pet pigs can be trained to use a litter box similar to a cat and wear a harness just like a dog. Training is very important to having a pet pig to ensure that your pet pig knows who the boss is! It is clear that when deciding to get a pet pig, A LOT of research is needed to make sure you and the pig form the healthiest and happiest relationship imaginable.
So back to my friend Kevin…
This is Kevin with his new best friend, Dr. Melanie Gagnon. We went to see Kevin because his hooves had overgrown and were impacting the way he walked. It was clear from the moment I met Kevin why people want pet pigs – look at how adorable he is! Kevin is extremely well mannered and greeted us with nothing but cuddles and snorts.
We gave Kevin some sedation to help keep him calm and pain free while his feet were taken care of and he did great! It was interesting to see how thick and solid the distal aspects of his nails were compared to the soft and squishy part closer to his leg (or proximally).
I learned a lot about choosing a more exotic species for a pet; but the number one thing everyone needs to remember is to do lots of research when choosing which pet is the best fit for you!
I can’t believe we’ve already reached the halfway point – stay tuned for more of my adventures!