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Pot Bellied Pig Health and Information Articles
Just a few of the articles Phyllis has written on the care and well being of Potbellied Pigs.

FAQS Center
Here you will find Questions that people like you have asked Phyllis over the years with her Answers.

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LOTS of pictures of pigs that call Pig Pals Sanctuary home.

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A few pictures of some of the other critters that call Pig Pals Sanctuary™ home.

King Charles and BinBin

Potbellied Pig FAQ's and Information

Below: Behavior Problems

Q: Temper Tantrums??

I could use some help. The family went to a barbecue yesterday...gone all day. This is not normal for our family. Someone is ALWAYS home. Well, Frenzy was left home by herself... first time ever!! When we got home... we found kitchen chairs tipped over... a pair of curtains which were folded neatly, were wadded up on the floor... the baby gate to the upstairs was wide open... and Frenzy was upstairs in my grand daughters room.

Since then, her attitude has been terrible. She nips every time someone walks past her... and when I try to pet her and talk with her, she walks the other way!! It's obvious that she's mad at me... so what do I do to get her back on my "good side"! I don't want to reward her for her temper tantrum... but I don't want her to be upset with me either. Any ideas??

A: You are in the proverbial "poop house" with Frenzy. When they get mad they are mad....they have a memory like an elephant and can seem to be very unforgiving.

What I do is talk nice but ignore them completely. I don't ask for a kiss nor pet them. Usually they will decide that they don't like being on the outs with Mom and will go back to their nice selves again. You have the same problem that I have....home all the time....so it's a big deal when there is no one around all of a sudden.

When I leave I explain that I am going and give them something that is above what they always get when I'm home, whether its a treat that's special or a plaything that is new. The Busy Balls (sold by Pigs4Ever) are great for those special times (although they can wreck a house trying to get the ball when it gets stuck under the furniture) and I confine them to one room if possible.

They know when they go to that room that mom is going to leave and they have their bed and play things and an extra good treat. When you come home....if all is well than you give another extra good treat and tell them how much you missed them.

Q: OK everyone, here is a question. Harley sleeps under our bed, well not for much longer as she gets bigger. Plus she has a bundle of blankets on the floor at the end of our bed. BUT I am going on a girls 4 day trip to Vegas and to see CHER so she is going to stay home with my husband.

If Harley gets up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom I hear her and take her right out but I know my husband will not hear her nor feel her getting out from under the bed.

So my thought was maybe I should get her a nice size crate for her to sleep in that way when my husband gets up to get ready for work he can just let her out and take her outside. She will spend the day outside with the dogs while he is at work then when our son gets home from work he will let her back in the house. Where do your indoor pigs sleep? Erika

A: Erika, what kind of dogs do you have. The reason someone ask about the dogs is that at least four times every year we get the terrible stories of dogs tearing up a pig and the end result is pretty bloody. The famous last words of most of these heartsick people is "they were raised together and never saw a problem" Small dogs are better than med. or large dogs, but even small dogs if they work together can do a pig a job.

It is usually the pigs fault that it gets started and granted it usually happens after the pig is grown, but even a young pig, if something scares it and makes it scream...thats the turn on for the dogs. Most of us have dogs too but we don't leave them alone unsupervised with the pigs because nature is funny in it usually shows itself.

Dogs are predators and pigs are prey and a pig doesn't really have a chance with them if there should be something that upsets them. The last story was a good friend of some of us on the list that left her two Jack russels with the pigs...they killed two of her oldest pigs. It does happen and it happens often because the pigs wont back off when they should. (kind of pig headed) and they are the losers in the end.

Q: Why has my potbelly pig started eating her feces? Is it a vitamin or mineral deficiency? Any suggestions? She is kept outdoors in a pen and has shelter. Thanks, Sheryl

A: First off I would like to know how old this pig is, what part of the country does she live in and what diet is she eating right now. Being outside in a pen.... is there any grass available or is it a small pen that has nothing for her to do in it? They usually only do this if there is a problem with AMOUNT or QUALITY of the food they are getting.

Pigs that are bored have been known to do this also. My first thought would be that she isn't getting adequate nutrition from whatever she is eating that's why I would like to know what she is being fed. I also would put her on vitamins. Children's chewable ones no matter what she is getting in the way of foods. A pig on a well balanced pig chow should not have this problem. There are cases of pigs that have internal problems doing this, but I need more info before I can help much.


Q: Just thought I would get back to you about Miss Piggy. I started her on vitamins today. To answer your question she wasn't eating the Mazuri food, but when I saw her eating her feces I thought maybe the pig chow wasn't giving her something she needed. I also stopped feeding her shelled corn.

She is still eating good except she didn't like the brussel sprout leaves yesterday. She had chinese cabbage today. We live in southern middle Tennessee. I would like to have her spayed but don't know if any of the vets around here have ever spayed a pot and am afraid it might be too expensive. It might be too traumatic to load her up and take her to the vet. I did go to your website and saw the pictures last nite. I'll stay in touch.

A: I wouldn't think that Miss Piggy would like Brussel sprout leaves! My spoiled group won't eat anything like that. I'm talking about the ten housepigs, the outdoor pigs will eat anything I think. Let's see if the vitamins work or the putting her on Mazuri feed. Sometimes this can be a habit too. Not a very nice one that's for sure.

It sounds like you spend a lot of time with her so it shouldn't be that she is bored and does this just for something to do (that's why I ask about the size of her pen and stuff). A bored pig will do that too. Let's give the vitamins time to get in her system and see if it doesn't help her a little.

I agree with you on the spaying. If you don't have a male there then it isn't as necessary. The trauma is pretty bad and if it's a vet that doesn't know pots they give them injections to knock them out instead of the ISO Florine gas and the injectibles are BAD news for pots. So until you find a vet that knows about pots than I would hold off.

We try to spay all females that come in because of the down the road problem that seems to come with some unspayed females. Lots of tumors and cancers and Pyometrias (infection in the uterus) but this is by no means all unspayed pigs...maybe one in a hundred.

As long as you keep an eye on her then not spaying her is an option for you. I would rather go that route. Now is the time to find a vet that you are comfortable with that does potbellied pigs. I will check our database and see if there are any vets listed for the TN area ...these are vets that do work on pots. I will send you the names and numbers if I can find any for you. Thanks for the update on miss Piggy and give her a belly rub for me.


Q: I will try to answer your questions about what Miss Piggy is eating. We had been feeding her swine food. It was a maintenance food for pigs and then we finally located a place locally to get pot belly pig food. What they had was Mazuri Mini-Pig food, Youth. We got Miss Piggy from a woman who had bought her at a yard sale for her mother and she didn't want her and the daughter had already been abusive to her that afternoon. Miss Piggy was scared and it took a while to get her tamed.

We got her in July and we guess that she may have been 2 or 3 months old. I feed her a cup of food in the morning and another cup in the afternoon. We also have a garden and we raised broccoli, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, and Brussel sprouts this fall. I go out every day at lunch and pick the leaves and broccoli florets , usually a gallon bucket full and feed them to her. We had an Amish friend make her a hot pink harness and leash and I have got her used to it in her pen but she is still too wild to take out in the yard yet and now the weather is not cooperative.

She has also been eating persimmons because her pen is under 3 persimmon trees but they are about gone now. I would mix a handful of shelled corn in with her feed in the afternoon but Kathleen Myers said this might be part of the problem. She had mange mites a couple of months ago but we got medicine from a vet and it cleared up. Thanks for any help you can give. Sheryl

A: Sheryl, nothing wrong with feeding pig chow...we have 73 here that have had nothing but for the last 16 years since we started the sanctuary. I ask about what you were feeding cause there are some potbelly pig foods out there being sold that are not adequate in nutrition. These are companies owned by single individuals not the big ones like Purina.

I ask because I wanted to make sure she wasn't being fed one of those that might not have been giving her enough of what she needs but any commercial hog chow is complete in giving what a pot needs as well as the farm pigs. The Mazuri is good but I can't say its any better than the regular pig chow.

In any case diet does not seem to be the problem since it sounds like she gets a pretty well rounded diet. Most pigs that eat their own stool are pigs that have not had a good start in life. Sounds like she didn't have it too good till you got her. Some of these pigs do it because they are bored. Can't imagine that being under three persimmon trees!! Which leads me to another question:

What does she do with the seeds?? I ask because there have been several cases of pigs getting blocked intestines from the seeds in persimmons and peaches. Some pigs spit them out, some swallow them.

Have you noticed any change in her behavior or her digging a lot? Some pigs will eat their own stool (and dirt) when they are in pain. If this pig is acting normal in all ways and anxious to eat like a healthy pig than you can rule pain out as a reason. If you can do that then you might want to start her on a one a day children's vitamin. We use the generic Flintsone ones that come in flavors and they will eat them from your hand.

Also would ask if she started this AFTER you switched her feed or was she doing it before? And what area of the country are you located. If she didn't do this on the pig chow and is doing it on the Mazuri than the answer would be that Mazuri doesn't have the selenium added and your farm pig chow does. If you are in a selenium deficient area that might be your reason. If it started before than that is not the case.

I would rule out habit since this has not always been a problem for her and I can see no reason why she would be hungry enough to do this with what you are giving her so if we rule out pain (which you would know by watching her and how willing she is to eat). That means it has to be a deficiency in something she needs. I would try the vitamins for a time and see if this helps but get back to me on the questions I ask OK?

Q: Hello, I have a 5 month old potbelly pig and I have had her sence she was 3 days old. She was the runt and was not feeding on her mom. The people that had her gave her to me and she almost died. I had to inject fluids under her skin and she pulled threw. I had her spayed about 3 weeks ago.

Charlotte is attacking my Dobermans and they try to run from her but she chasses them and they will bite her back. She used to play with them and since she's been spayed, she is twice as bad about attacking them. It's not play anymore! It's a good thig that my dogs are not nasty temper or they would of killed her by now.

She lives in the house and is house broke and sleeps in a crate at nite. She goes to work everyday sence she was 3 days old. I wonder if she's spoiled! I called my vet and they said that it will take 2 to 3 months for her hormones to die. I hope she gets sweet with the dogs again.

When will I know how big she will get? She is 5 months old and is around 23 pounds. Other then my problom with the dogs, she is a great buddy and I love her so much. She sets on my lap and rolls over for me to rub her belly. She sits on comand and has not pottied in the house or shop since she was about 2 to 3 months old. She goes out the door on her own and comes up the stairs by her self. Please help me about the dogs. Cindy

A: Cindy, your dogs and pig are an accident waiting to happen! I can't stress too much the importance of keeping them separate. Dogs are predators by nature...pigs are prey. Large dogs and pigs don't mix. The pig will instigate the problem because they don't back off like another dog would do and it's just a matter of time till your dogs turn on her, not because the are mean, but out of self defense. Wish I had a dime for every email received about pigs raised with a dog for months who got along well together and one day the dog killed the pig! We also have large dogs here but NEVER are they left alone with our pigs.

Please make some kind of adjustment where you can make sure that you don't come home some day from shopping to a terrible scene. Pigs reach an age where they are territorial and your girl will probably never be friendly with the dogs again....they also should never be fed in the same room with dogs. With certain precautions you can avoid trouble but you need to start now. It's just a matter of being careful and never feeding dogs in front of the pig or vice versa and making sure that they can't get to each other if you are not there to keep an eye on them.


Q: Thank you Phyllis for the info. I don't ever leave her alone in the room with the dogs. My dogs would never hurt her if she wasn't going after them. I started letting her out by herself in the house when they are outside and at work they take turns running the shop. How big do you think she mite get? She is 5 months old and is 23 pounds. I still hold her in my lap every night. She's a great little piglet and we all love her. Thanks. Cindy

A: It's hard to answer that one since they can grow till they are three years. Just don't underfeed her to try and keep her small cause that ends up with lots of health problems down the road. She is no different than any other baby animal and needs good feed to grow bone and a good immune system. She will grow to her genetic size no matter what, but she can do it healthy or not healthy depending on you. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that she probably won't be one of the larger pigs....do you know who mom and dad are and did you see them as grown pig? Chances are if she is 25 lbs at 5 months she is not going to go over the 80 lb range when grown...but that's not written in stone. It all depends on her genetics.

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Q: Are your pigs "protective"?

A: Yes they can be but it's more like a spoiled kid and protecting their territory than being protective. They just don't want anyone horning in on their "special" time with mom.

You are on your own here as my pigs hate strangers and head for the hills. Dottie

Frenzy sure is. She won't let anyone in the family near me, when I'm petting her or playing with her. She will actually lunge at them with her mouth wide open... barking!! LOL (It's kind of cute!)

Q: Hi, I'm adopting two boy piglets through CPPA tomorrow and am very excited. They are about 12 weeks old, were neutered yesterday, and I plan on raising them in the house with one of my dogs and two three legged cats. During they day they will go outside in a pen with my hub who is a horse trainer and works at home on our ranch.

So how do you think my two cats will react to them, and my dogs? Will keep them on a leash to walk them down to their pen outside and in the house just let them run around. How do dogs react to piglets, and cats? I'm naming these guys Dalton and Hickock since they'll be raised in cowboy country. LOL. Noelle

A: Dogs and pigs should NEVER be unsupervised or left alone together. It is the law of nature...dogs are predators and pigs are prey. While some do well when pigs are young there is a time when the dog has something the pig wants (like food) and pigs will not back off like another dog and there is a problem. While some dogs tolerate the pigs they also get their blood in an uproar when or if that piglet starts screaming. Even
the best natured dog can lose it with a pig.

There are 76 pigs here and some came in as the result of family dogs that had lived with them for years suddenly attacking and mauling the pig. Not that the pig doesn't ask for it because they won't back off but that's of no help to the pig when the dog decides he has had enough. Every day there are emails to me on here of a dog somewhere who has killed or hurt a pig.

Most of us do have dogs but we NEVER leave them alone together with the pigs. Even the most well behaved dog can blow his cool and the pig pays the price. Then there are dogs that will run a fence with the pigs on the other side and literally run the piglets to death. That pig scream is an open invitation to a dog.

There are people that have lucked out but the luck may not be everyone's and again its not worth the risk. Anytime you put two species together with one being predator and one being prey you can have problems. Its a lot like putting a mouse in with a snake for companionship..... On the other hand pigs love cats! they will sleep with them if given the chance.

Q: I am the ultimate pig lover I have loved pigs all my life and my father finally bought me a cute little piglet for my birthday and she is my first pig. Her name is Lucy and she is a Yorkshire/Hampshire mix. She is so cute so if you have any advice on how to raise a pig please write me and tell what I should do. I need to teach her how to to go out her piggy door. Do you know how I should teach her that?? She is already leash trained so that is OK but if you have any advice write back anytime thank for your time and help!!!! ~~~~~~~~~ Heidi

A: Hi Heidi glad to see you join the ranks of the pig lover "moms." You didn't say how old Lucy was but piggy doors are easy.....FOOD!! You walk her through for a treat and each time she goes through a treat awaits her on the other side. Usually only takes a couple of times.

Can I ask a strange question? Why did Dad get you a farm pig mix? Not that there is anything wrong with that but most people get the potbelly's for pets cause the big kids get so huge that they can't be in the house any longer when grown....about a 1000 lbs worth on the floors. We also have four of the big ones here at the sanctuary and I love their personalities more than the pots but sure couldn't have them in the house anymore...LOL They can however still be a pet all their lives if taught and played with even as outside pets. My big guys go for a walk with me every day.

If you have any questions on Lucy please feel free to ask at any time. I usually answer mail twice daily so I can get back to you. You might want to start making Lucy sit to get treats so that she isn't spoiled (or any more than the average pig by an owner who loves them). Hold the treat up and back and say sit...takes about five min. to teach them they are so smart ....after that goes well and she does it every time on command then use the treat and teach her to circle. Hold the treat in your hand and let her follow your hand around while saying circle. When she completes the circle give her the treat and a 'good girl'. My house pigs all learned this and they do it now if I just point my finger and say circle.

This is pretty much basic training so they learn that there are few "free Lunches" and asking them to do something keeps their mind sharp.

Let me hear from you and enjoy the baby. Give her a tummy rub from me.

Q: What is the best age to spay a pig? I will have Harley spayed but wasn't sure on the age that is best. She's about 3 1/2 months right now. And do they display sexual tendencies at this age?

Why I'm asking is her aunt Pat and Twink were nice enough to send her a pig ball and my husband swears she tries to mount it. I say she is only laying. He says she tries to mount the dogs also but what I see is her trying to play with them, there is no movement when she jumps them..I feel really stupid for even asking this so I'm not even sure what to type I just hope you get what I said..lol Am I being blind to what she is doing? But she's just a baby..Erika

A: Yes some of the females do the riding bit just like a little boy when they are cycling. Little girls come in about 3 months of age and if she is giving these symptoms than chances are she is going to be a bitch every month. You
can look forward to real PMS. We call them little whore pigs.

Melody had one just recently and they will actually jump on your leg when you try to walk. Why some do this and some don't I have no idea but on these kinds we
usually find that they have a larger then normal uterus when they are spayed. So guess it could have to do with the amount of hormones they have.

Q: My 4 month old potbelly (Bela) is good most of the time she's learned a few tricks since I've had her for 2 months. Here's my question will she ever stop putting things in her mouth which are not food? (Caught her eating craft wire, where she found it is anyone's guess.) Is it just a baby thing? Will she outgrow it? She also has pulled wallpaper off, ate a few bird feathers, linoleum, walls, rugs just to name a few. Thanks! Bela's mom

A: First off, make sure you are feeding her enough!! Don't listen to people who tell you to only feed small amounts or she will grow. She needs the food at this age to build her muscle and bone for later in life and if you feed too little it causes these problems of eating everything in sight and also later on arthritis. At four months she should be getting at least a cup twice daily (of course this depends on her size and how active she is) the more active she is the more food it takes to keep them in good shape.

YOU are the best judge of your pigs weight ...just as if you owned a puppy. Pigs her age should be well rounded no back bone showing and no shoulder or hip bones showing. (We wouldn't underfeed a puppy or kitten or even a foal so why people do it to baby pigs has always amazed me.) There is time enough to adjust her weight when she is a little older. If you are feeding her enough than my next suggestion would be to put her on a one a day children's chewable vitamin once a day. We use the cheap generic brands that look like Flintstones that are available at Walmart.

Q: Hi, first of all let me say thank you for all of the information on your site! It has been helpful before I got my pig and now that I am a new pig owner! My name is Kaylene and I am a proud new momma to a 7 week old baby boy pot belly. We have had our pot belly for one week now. He is an indoor pig. We have been working on the litter box training and he is doing really good with that. He has not had any accidents in two days. He has been confined to our laundry room for now until we can trust he is fully potty trained.

Well here is my question. How do I tame my little guy so he will be more loving and calm? I know he is only a baby and we have only had him for a week. I don’t expect it to happen overnight I am just looking for guidance to move us in the right direction. Right now he hides from us and runs and squeals really loud every time we go to pick him up. Once we have him in our arms he is really jumpy and takes him a while to calm down. Half of the time he calms down and the other half he just continues to squeal. We have been not putting him down until he stops squealing. He won’t come up to us even with food in our hands.

He just hides or runs away as fast as he can. Is there any steps I could take or things I can do calm him down. He has not had very much human attention before us. He does have a bed, toys and a blanket of his own. I have heard that if your pig is not calm by the time he is 3 months old that chances are they will never be clam. I don’t want to get to that point. I would appreciate any guidance!! Thanks in advance, Kaylene

A: Patience is the key with a young pig! First of all I wouldn't try to pick him up...instead sit in the floor with treats and teach him to trust you (that you aren't going to pick him up). The only thing in the pigs remaining instinct that picks him up is a predator so this is a reflex that most babies have. Once his feet leave the floor he has lost all control over what happens to him. Let him out of the laundry room when you think it is safe and just sit with him on the floor or start this in the laundry room so he gets the idea than graduate to another room.

What you are teaching him now is to run from you or your going to pick him up. Use Cheerio cereal or something small and give him a treat when he comes to you when called. Then when he is comfortable teach him to get in your lap for loving and a treat. There are some orphan pigs that tolerate being picked up but most feel the way your pig does. Its never been a big deal to me because in a few months you probably won't be able to lift him anyway.

Also if he hasn't been neutered yet that makes a big difference. They become much better after that is done. We do ours about 12 weeks but some vets do them sooner. Make sure you read the article written by my vet on the neutering process as not all vets know that the potbelly has testicles that are more internal than external making neutering a vet job.

Q: Hello. I have a one and a half year old, male nueterd pot. He was raised indoors until he was about 7 months and now loves living outdoors. I just adopted a 16 week old nuetered pot. I had them meet in the open back yard and the big guy seems to want to kill the little one. I put them in the pen together today and they seem okay but the big guy doesn't want the baby anywhere near him. Will this ever end??? Will they eventually sleep in their house together and play nice??? Thank you Leah

A: Eventually maybe!! I stress to people all the time that these pigs really really don't like other pigs. Some people insist that they need a companion which is ok if both are brought in at the same time otherwise you get the fighting. We have 80 pigs here and still after ten years there are ones that have to be kept seperate. Ten house pigs that also are kept seperate...they just don't tolerate each other very well and I hate the fighting.

You were right in trying to get two together if they are outside pigs especially for winter sleeping....much warmer with two than with one and it's nice if they have company outside but it's a long time before they make up. The little one is faster so he can get away pretty well but the concern would be if the bigger one is going to even let the small one in the house right now for sleeping. Most times the new guy will be found outside laying next to the house because the "owner" won't let them in. This can cause some big problems if the weather gets cold there like it is here. We go out after dark with a light and check to see if both are inside and most times we provide another place to sleep on a temporary basis for the second pig untill they decide to get along well enough that it's safe to move the temporary house out. We usually use an igloo or something that's easy to move when it's time. 

You keep an eye on them and if you see the baby going into the house with the big pig in there than you can move the second house out. The seven month old WILL and can hurt the baby if he should get him cornered in the pen so keep watch. The saving grace is that the baby is much more agile and a lot faster at that age than the older one..     

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