More and more American animal lovers are choosing to keep small pigs, generally the Vietnamese Miniature Pot-Bellied variety, as pets. These cute little creatures are smart, friendly and adorable and they have become a very popular choice as emotional support pets. With celebrity trendsetters Miley Cyrus and Megan Fox being snapped rolling around with their pink porkies, are pigs the next big thing in the pet world? And can a pig really make a good emotional support animal?
I’m going to argue for a resounding ‘yes’!
Pigs have a lovely temperament, and the ideal pet personality. They are curious, playful, affectionate and often mischievous. They love cuddling and adore being scratched and massaged, and so make great emotional support animals. They are very intellectual, probably a tad more bookish than your average dog. In 2002, a pot-bellied pig lay down on the road to get a driver to stop and follow her back to the house where her owner was having a heart attack. That’s the sort of emotional support animal you want in a crisis, right?
A pig is a highly social creature that will play and bond with you and your family all day long. Cats and pigs tend to get along extremely well. Dogs are a different story – but it ain’t the pig’s fault! A pig is a dog’s natural prey and a dog can turn on a pig unexpectedly, so be careful not to leave your pig and dog unattended. It is often recommended that you should get two pigs rather than one as the companionship of a same-species comrade will make a pig’s quality of life much better and keep it emotionally healthy. Due to their high intelligence, pigs need plenty of stimulation. They love socializing and get depressed when left alone for too long. They are a very responsive and social emotional support animal.
For those of you who don’t want a giant, snorting warthog munching your curtains, fear not; the pot-bellied pig only grows to the size of a small dog. They grow until they are about 5 years old and end up somewhere between 80 to 160 pounds – a very manageable size.
Pigs are perfectly suitable to have indoors. They enjoy loafing around and hanging out with you and your family. But it is also crucial that they get to spend plenty of time outside. Outdoor space in which they can rummage, root and lie in the sun is a definite requirement. ‘Rooting’ behavior comes naturally to them and they must be allowed to indulge in it, so your lawn may suffer. You will need to provide a comfortable, covered outside home for your pig, much like a dog’s kennel, with a roof and some straw. Your pig can sleep in his outdoor home, or better still, it can sleep indoors, even sharing a bed with you! They don’t snore (unless they are heavy smokers). A pig is an emotional pet and will gladly spoon you all night long.
Being a sensitive and well-behaved animal, a pig is easy to housetrain, and although they love rooting in the ground and rolling in mud they are very hygienic animals.
Having a pig as an emotional support animal will keep you fit. Just like a dog, a pig will need walking every single day. An overweight pig is an unhealthy pig. They can easily be trained to walk on a lead and to ride in a car. But beware, walking a pig can take time as they tend to meander along, investigating every scrap and morsel on the pavement. Also, they are not particularly keen on playing ‘fetch’ – they’ll retrieve your darned stick for you if they figure a treat will be the reward…but not with the gusto and enthusiasm of a dog.
Pigs have a relentless appetite. They are constantly looking for food and will learn to open cupboards and root through bins. A balanced diet for a pig is grain, vegetables and a bit of fruit as a treat. A complete pig feed like Champion Premium Pet Pig Feed, supplemented with fresh vegetables and fruits, will keep your pig fit and svelte. Pigs need LOTS of fresh water, particularly in summer.
With an average lifespan of 12 to 15 years, getting a pig is a big commitment. They need regular vet check-ups, vaccinations and worming. You must be sensible and think ahead. Future-project for a moment – will you still want a pig ten years from now? A pig is not just for Christmas, you know!
Pot-bellied pigs are generally considered livestock under the law, but zoning rules vary between states, cities, towns and municipalities. Many cities that prohibit farm animals have revised their rules on pot-bellied pigs because they make such good emotional support animals. An ESA letter will be required if your pig is to be your support pet. So certain legal considerations must be made before you bring your curly-tailed amigo home with you. Contact the zoning department in your municipality to find out the specifics.
I think it’s safe to say that a pig will make a great emotional support animal. With its excellent personality, sweet and friendly nature, and constant willingness to cuddle, a pig can truly become a best friend. Like any pet, they require a lot of care and attention, but it can certainly be well worth it!