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Feeding and Nutrition of Miniature Pet Pigs

By

Valarie V. Tynes

, DVM, DACVB, DACAW, Ceva Animal Health

Medically Reviewed Nov 2022
Topic Resources

Fresh water should be available to miniature pet pigs (MPPs) at all times to prevent dehydration and salt toxicosis Salt Toxicosis in Animals An animal that ingests excess sodium chloride, especially when water is limited, can develop salt toxicosis. Clinical signs vary between species and between acute and chronic exposures, but... read more (water deprivation–sodium ion intoxication). Balanced diets are essential to provide proper daily nutrients and prevent obesity. If not addressed, this condition will lead to joint disease, lameness, and pain. Starter, grower, and maintenance rations for MPPs are commercially available as crumbles or pellets. The recommended amount for body weight should be fed divided into at least two meals per day, keeping in mind that if allowed, pigs prefer to eat numerous small meals daily. Green leafy vegetables, alfalfa, and green grasses (but not weeds, because some are toxic) can be added to the ration to satisfy appetite. Fruits such as apples and grapes should be reserved for training or reinforcing desired behaviors. High-energy treats should be limited because MPPs easily become overweight.

Feeding and Nutrition of Miniature Pet Pigs

How MPPs are fed may be equally as important as what they are fed. Owners should avoid feeding pigs in bowls. All meals should be fed in such a way that the pig is required to forage for its food. Pigs can be fed in foraging boxes (see Housing Housing Miniature pet pigs (MPPs) are sensitive to extremes of heat and cold and should be provided a clean, dry, draft-free environment. Access to the outdoors should include with an area for the pig... read more Housing ) or foraging toys (devices that contain food and can be manipulated by the pig to force the food to fall out). Commercial devices are available for this purpose, or they can be made from plastic juice bottles or soda bottles. Food can also be scattered across the grass in the yard for the pig to find.

Even when calorie intake is restricted, weight loss in MPPs is difficult because the minimal amount of exercise possible in obese MPPs burns few calories. Lameness is another common factor limiting exercise capacity. Maintaining normal hoof length via trimming is important for mobility. Swimming is an alternative form of exercise for obese, lame MPPs; however, acclimation and supervision are necessary.

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Young, weaned MPPs thrive best if they consume adequate colostrum within the first 24 hours after birth. Miniature pet pigs deprived of colostrum are especially vulnerable to diarrheal and septicemic disease. For early nutrition, commercial milk replacers are available; 2%–3% pasteurized milk or powdered milk also can be used successfully. The pig should be fed ~1 ounce every 4–6 hours from a bottle with a nipple until it is trained to drink the milk from a shallow bowl or pan; usually, this training can be accomplished in < 24 hours. The volume fed should be increased as the pig grows, but decreased if diarrhea occurs. Overeating diarrhea may be controlled with kaolin-pectin preparations administered every 4 hours. The diet can be converted to solid feed by mixing a small amount with milk to make a gruel and gradually increasing the ratio of feed to milk; conversion to all feed takes ~14 days. Increasing amounts of fresh water should be provided as the diet is converted.

If published doses specific for swine are not available, canine dosages can be used as a frame of reference.

In most cases, the same dosages used to treat dogs are safe and effective for use in miniature pigs.

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