Choosing a Veterinarian
Looking for a good local vet? Check out our Pig Vets page.
Choosing a veterinarian to treat your potbellied
pig is critical to the care and well being of your
pet pig. Selecting a vet is similar to and as
important as choosing your child's
pediatrician. This choice should be made in
advance of any medical emergency that might
arise. Should your pig become ill or in a crisis
situation it is imperative that a relationship
already be established with your local
veterinarian. To aid you in identifying a
potbellied pig veterinarian in your area, NAPPA
provides an online list of vets, both in the
United States and internationally, who are
identified as treating the pet pig.
It should be noted that your veterinarian is your
best resource, if you are in doubt about the
physical well being of your pet pig.
Being prepared for minor medical emergencies
is also important in the care of your pet pig.
PRE OFFICE VISIT TRAINING
- Make certain your pig can be lifted and held easily.
- Train your pet pig to a kennel so the ride in the car will be a safe one.
- Touch your pig all over - inside her ears, her
hooves, under her tail and stomach as your
vet might during a physical examination.
Make sure your pig is used to being
rubbed/scratched vigorously on the neck and behind the ear since this is an action the vet might do while giving an injection.
SELECTING YOUR VET
- Ask your breeder for a qualified vet recommendation.
- Ask your current vet for a recommendation, should she not treat potbellied pigs.
- Ask your local pig club or other pet pig
owners for a recommendation.
- Select a vet located close to your home.
- Select a vet trained or at least interested in learning about the care of the potbellied pig.
- Interview your prospective vet to determine
his experience with the potbellied pig and his interest in learning more about your pig's care.
- Obtain references, if possible, and talk to them about their experience with the prospective vet.
- Visit your prospective vet with your pet pig prior to any emergency situation.
- Have your prospective vet do a "well" checkup for your pig.
- Evaluate your prospective vet as to the manner in which she relates to and handles your pet pig.
AT THE VET OFFICE
- Be prepared to carry your pig into the
examination room should your pig not be
able to walk comfortably on your vet's slick
- Correctly lift your young pig by placing one
arm just forward of the front legs and the
other around the ru'mp.
- Use a crowding board to push your older pig
into a corner allowing the vet to administer a
- Correctly restrain your older pig for more
involved medical procedures by standing
behind your pig, placing your arms around
her stomach and pulling your pig to your
chest so that she is sitting directly on her tail
with her head and backbone on your chest
and her feet directly in front of her.
- Do not allow anyone to lift your pig up by her
stomach or by her legs.
- Do not use a commercial swine nose snare
on your pig.
- Take a rubber mat or rug for your pig to stand
on, thus providing better footing on the exam
table or floor.
- Be present in the exam room, if possible.
- Talk calmly to your pig during the medical
procedures so that your pig will feel safer.
- Take treats and have your vet offer a few as
a friendly introduction.
- Follow your vet's instruction should the
stress to you or your pig become too great
during the exam.
- Take bedding should your pig need to stay
- Check the temperature of the location in
which she will be housed, providing a heat
lamp or a fan if necessary.
- Travel with extra bedding and a plastic bag
should your pig have an accident in the car.
- Reward your pig with a very special treat
after the visit to her vet.
DONTs at the VET
- Assume your male or female pet pig will
make the best pet if it remains unneutered or
- Assume your pet pig's bre~der has provided
the necessary medical attention.
- Assume your pet pig needs no vaccinations,
just because she lives in the city. -
- Assume your pet pig can_wait until the last
minute to establish a relationship with a
qualified potbellied pig veterinarian.
- Assume your pet pig will get well without
proper medical attention and advice.
- Ensure you have the means to transport your
pet pig including a crate and/or harness.
- Provide your pet pig with a qualified vet to do
your spay or neuter.
- Provide your pet pig's veterinarian a
complete health care record given to you by
- Provide your pig with a vaccination and
- worming schedule, approved by your
- Provide your pet pig a qualified veterinarian
before a medical need arises.
- Provide your pet pig - the necessary
immediate health care and information,
whether obtained from your veterinarian or
FIRST AID KIT
Note: It is recommended that you check with
your local veterinarian about the medical
needs and requirements of the pet pig in your
- Rectal thermometer
• Ipecac or peroxide
• Topical hydrocortisone
• Antibiotic cream
• Insect repellent
• Mineral oil
Piglet - 6 Weeks of Age:
8-9 Weeks of Age:
- Erysipelas/Rhinitis Booster
9 Weeks to Adult:
- Biannual Erysipelas/Rhinitis Booster
- *Leptospirosis Booster,
*Leptospirosis vaccination is dependent upon
Locating a qualified veterinarian with
potbellied pig clients can be achieved by
contacting your breeder, another potbellied pig
owner, your local pig club, your current vet, or
researching through the Internet.
WHEN TO CALLA VETERINARIAN
- Persistent vomiting for more than 24 hours
(especially if yellow)
- Off feed for more than 24 hours
- A temperature of more than 102 degrees
- Diarrhea for more than 24 hours
- Constipation for more than 48 hours
- Lying down for more than 8 hours
- Unwillingness to rise
- Painful abdomen
- Persistent bleeding
- Blood in stool
- Seen eating something potentially poisonous
- Sudden behavioral changes
- Rapid breathing
- Persistent lameness
There are several ways to anesthetize
including inhalation of gases, injections, and
even intra-nasal drugs.
Inhalation anesthesia (isoflurane specifically) is
the safest means to anesthetize a pig, if
available. Halothane is not recommended as it
has been linked to PSS (Porcine Stress
Syndrome) in commercial pigs. Some vets
might still use halothane but most have at least
one isoflurane machine.
The injectable dissociative drugs are common
and effective but recovery can be rough and
delayed. Should disassociative anesthesia be
the only choice it is imperative that you be
available to either crate or hold your pig until
the pig is fully recovered. By doing this, you will
lessen the stress and fear and possible injury
to your pet.
There are many other injectable drugs that can
be used that are safer and provide a smoother,
quicker recovery than the dissociative drugs.
The drawback to these drugs is that they are
very expensive. One example is a combination
of midazolam, medetomidine, and butorphanol.
In summary, there are three choices when
anesthetizing your pet pig:
BEST: Isoflurane gas
BETTER: Consider a safe injectable drug
protocol (like the one mentioned above) that
might be more expensive.
GOOD: The dissociative drugs.
A well-trained and prepared pig will be much
more likely to cooperate with any procedures
that your vet deems necessary. The training
time prior to the visit to the vet is time well
spent so that your pet pig will experience as
little stress and pain as possible.