Category Archives: Settling In

A Day in the Life of Mini Pig Oscar

Before we got Oscar, I wanted to know what daily life was like with a mini pig. Through my research, I knew how to take care of a mini pig, what their potential behavior problems were, and a little about their personalities, but nothing told me what to expect from a mini pig in the course of a normal day.

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Oscar recently turned 9 months old, and we finally have a routine down. Although mini pigs love routine, it has taken this long for us to really get to know Oscar and to feel like we know what to expect from him on a daily basis. Up until now, our days had some structure, but we hadn’t really settled into a pattern. Now, we know Oscar well enough that I can tell you almost by the hour where he’ll be in the house, what he’ll want, and what he’ll be doing.

This is a snapshot of a typical day for 9 month old Oscar. This assumes that it’s a sunny day because, on a cloudy day, all bets are off. Also, Oscar isn’t a very playful mini pig, so he is content most days napping and relaxing. A day for a more playful mini pig might look very different.

Here is a day in the life of mini pig Oscar.

8 am – Oscar wakes up. Oscar normally wakes up around the same time every day, although there are some random days when he’ll get up earlier or later. Even though I am up before Oscar, he sleeps in. As long as I’m not too loud, I can get chores done around the house before he wakes up, leaving me with more time to spend with him once he’s up. Oscar sleeps in his crate still, so I let him out of the crate as soon as he’s awake, put his harness on, and we immediately go outside for a potty break.

8:15 am – Oscar gets groomed and waits impatiently for breakfast. Once we’re back inside, I usually brush Oscar and quickly wipe him down. Sometimes I put lotion, sunscreen, or coconut oil on his skin if he needs it that day. Aside from brushing, he hates being groomed and is pretty grumpy until breakfast. After his grooming, he waits by his food bin until someone feeds him.

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Oscar waiting by his food bin for breakfast.

9  am – Oscar eats breakfast. I vary the times when I feed Oscar so that he doesn’t expect his meals at a specific time. So, in reality, he sometimes eats at 8 am and other times at 10 am, but it’s usually somewhere in the middle.

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Oscar eagerly eating his breakfast.

9:30 am – Oscar’s first training session. Since mini pigs are so smart, I do a few quick training sessions with Oscar each day to keep him stimulated. These are usually no longer than 2-3 minutes each.

9:45 am –  After breakfast and training, Oscar goes outside for a potty break. This can take anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes depending on the weather. If it’s cold or rainy, he’ll go and then run back inside. If it’s warm and sunny, we’ll often stay out longer so that he can root around and eat grass.

10 am – Oscar begins his perimeter check of the house. Oscar walks around the house checking for any food (or could-be-food) scraps anyone left around the night before. This is pretty entertaining and keeps him busy for a while, so it’s one of my favorite things that he does.

10:30 am – During the late mornings, he either naps or just relaxes in the sun spot. He will sometimes share his bed with his dog sister, Rylee. Unless he hears the fridge open or thinks he’s going to get a treat, he stays in the sun spot.

12 pm – Oscar goes outside for a potty break.

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Oscar outside for one of his potty breaks. He also got a little rooting time in!

12:30 pm – Oscar “helps” me make my lunch. Oscar can’t resist the sound of the fridge or freezer opening, so he hangs out with me in the kitchen while I make lunch. He is calm and just quietly stands near my feet while I prep the food. His quiet patience frequently results in him being rewarded with some carrots or salad.

1 pm –  Oscar is back to napping or relaxing in the sun spot.

2 pm –  Oscar goes outside for a potty break. We usually stay outside for longer in the afternoons so that Oscar can get some exercise and play a little. Although he’s not super playful, he likes to root around and explore outside.

3 pm –  Oscar gets hangry. Mid to late afternoon is when Oscar gets pretty unsettled. Some days he will nap until dinner, but other days he gets hangry and squeals around the house until he’s fed. I’ve learned to get through this time by either giving him more outside time to root around or cuddle time with me if I’m doing something where I can sit with him. However, there are days when this time is just unpleasant because all he wants is his dinner.

4:30 pm – Oscar gets to eat dinner. Just like his breakfast time, I vary the times when Oscar eats dinner. What this looks like in reality is that I wait as long as I can without giving into his sad, hungry looks and loud hangry noises.

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Oscar eating his dinner.

4:45 pm – Oscar’s second training session. Just like the morning training session, this is usually just 2-3 minutes long.

5 pm – Oscar goes outside for a potty break. 

5:15 pm – Oscar “helps” me make dinner. Although late afternoon is usually my most frustrating time of day with Oscar because he obsessively wants his dinner, he more than makes up for that when he “helps” me make dinner. After Oscar has finished his dinner, he turns into the sweetest little mini pig. I don’t love to cook, but Oscar makes cooking more fun for me. He quietly stands in the kitchen and just hangs out while I make dinner. He’ll take some veggie or fruit scraps if I give him some, but he’s never pushy or noisy about it. Hanging out with me in the kitchen is a new thing for Oscar, and it’s one of my favorite times with him.

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Oscar “helping” me make dinner. He still has a little bit of his own dinner stuck on his snout!

6:30 pm – Oscar sits on his dad’s lap while we eat dinner. After I’m finished cooking dinner, Oscar turns into a cuddle monster. All he wants to do in the evenings is cuddle with someone. His dad is nice enough to oblige and balance eating dinner with having a (quickly growing!) mini pig on his lap.

7 pm – Oscar cuddles. Oscar insists on cuddling every night. He doesn’t care where or with whom really, but he’s happiest when someone cuddles with him in the evenings. If no one will cuddle with him (which very rarely happens because he’s hard to resist), he will curl up into the bean bag chair and sleep, hoping for someone to come and cuddle next to him.

8 pm – Oscar goes outside for his last potty break and then goes to bed. At this point, Oscar is sleepy and gets grumpy if he isn’t cuddling. When he comes back in from being outside, he usually begins his sleepy screaming. If someone wants to cuddle again, he calms down immediately. Otherwise, he wanders around screaming until we put him to bed. Most nights he gets warm blankets in his  crate, and he goes right to sleep. Some nights he snores which is adorable, but he always sleeps peacefully through the night until it’s time to get up the next morning.

As Oscar gets older, I’m sure his preferences and the structure of his day will change. I’m excited to see how his days change as he grows up!


The Importance of a Mini Pig Emergency Plan

Last week, Oscar went to the veterinarian because we noticed some brown discoloration and light scabbing on his skin. Oscar was diagnosed with a skin infection, given an oral antibiotic, and sent home. Despite his skin infection, Oscar was completely fine and acting like his normal, spunky self.

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On Sunday, Oscar woke up later than usual and wasn’t excited to get up like he normally is. He ate his breakfast and then settled down and took a nap. He normally wanders around the house for a while in the mornings looking for crumbs and doing a general sweep of the house, but on Sunday he napped instead. We noticed the difference in his behavior but just figured he was more tired than usual. A few hours later, I went to the fridge and opened up the carrot bag, but Oscar didn’t budge. Since Oscar always runs into the kitchen when someone opens the carrot bag, I knew something was wrong.

I kept a close eye on him for the next few hours and made sure he would still eat when we brought him food and treats. When I settled down next to him to cuddle, I realized his body was much warmer than usual. I didn’t have a thermometer to take his temperature, but I knew it wasn’t normal for him to be that warm. Now I was worried that he had a fever but didn’t have a way to know for sure.

I am terrified of Oscar getting mini pig pneumonia, so I started to panic once I realized he had a fever. I found some online resources that listed specific temperature ranges to check for, but we didn’t have a thermometer anywhere in the house. I would have called our veterinarian, but it was Sunday and the vet was closed. I figured I was probably okay waiting until morning and calling our vet right away for an appointment, but I wasn’t completely positive Oscar would be okay for that long. I kept making sure Oscar was eating and drinking, but I felt helpless because I didn’t really know what to do.

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Although I know better, I have procrastinated on putting together an emergency plan for Oscar because it can be difficult and because I don’t want to think about the worst possible scenarios. With our dog, it’s easy to find an emergency veterinarian at a moment’s notice where I feel confident she will get good care. With Oscar, regular veterinarians capable of providing care for mini pigs are hard enough to find, let alone emergency vets. Although we can likely find an emergency vet willing to help, I’m just as scared of not finding a mini pig vet as I am of finding one willing to try but not trained or experienced with mini pigs.

So, there I was on a Sunday night panicking that I could so quickly lose this pig that I love dearly. I always imagined that if an emergency popped up, I would use my online resources to quickly find a vet and the tools I need to help Oscar. Instead, I had no thermometer to even take Oscar’s temperature, and I was a complete mess. I was so scared and worried that I was nauseous and couldn’t think straight. I had no idea who to call and needed to take action but didn’t know what to do and was afraid to leave Oscar’s side.

Fortunately, my more cool and collected husband picked up the phone and started calling around to emergency vets to find someone who could help us. The emergency vet clinics, however, didn’t know of any mini pig vets who were available until the next morning, so we were stuck. We put Oscar in our bed so that we could check on him throughout the night, and by morning he seemed to be feeling a little better. We still aren’t in the clear and have a vet appointment for him today, but he’s eating well and is up and moving around much more than yesterday.

I think Oscar is going to be okay, but we lucked out and I learned an important lesson. Although it’s difficult to think about emergencies, it’s important to have a plan and supplies ready. I thought I would be able to have a clear head and handle an emergency situation when it happened, but I couldn’t. I was more emotional and unable to make decisions than I ever imagined, and I needed to have supplies and a list of steps ready so that I didn’t have to make decisions when I was upset and panicked.

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Thanks to Mini Pig Info, preparing for an emergency with your mini pig is easy. Their website has a list of emergency supplies to keep on hand and also phone numbers and websites to write down for when you need them in a moment’s notice. I highly recommend going through this list and not waiting until your mini pig is sick or injured to take action. I wasn’t ready, and it made a scary situation worse and could have harmed Oscar. After our scare this weekend, I plan on making an emergency supply kit for Oscar with the phone numbers of his regular vet and an emergency vet, along with web addresses for emergency help and advice. An emergency may never happen, but it’s important that I’m prepared to help Oscar if it does. One of the toughest parts about being a mini pig parent is not having resources and veterinarians readily available, so it’s important that we take action early and know where to go for help when we need it most.

Update: We made it back from the veterinarian, and Oscar should be okay! His temperature is back to normal, and he isn’t showing any signs of congestion. The vet recommended that we get a thermometer and take his temperature if we notice any unusual behavior or if he feels warm, so we’re going to keep a close eye on him for a while and watch for any abnormal behavior or symptoms. The vet thinks he was feeling sick to his stomach from the antibiotics he started taking last week and that he should be better very soon! We’re so relieved! 


Top 10 Most-Read Posts of 2015

Now that 2015 has come to a close, I wanted to publish the blog’s top 10 most-read posts of the year. Throughout the year, it has been really interesting for me to watch and see which posts are most searched for and read because it helps me see what other mini pig owners are dealing with in their own lives. I thought it would be helpful to share that list for everyone to read, so here are the top 10 posts for 2015.

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Top 10 Most-Read Posts for 2015

  1. Toys for Mini Pigs
  2. Mini Pig Cons: The Tough Parts of Owning a Mini Pig
  3. Mini Pig Noises with Sound Recordings
  4. Mini Pig Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
  5. My Quest for Mini Pig Clothes
  6. Mini Pig Oscar’s Biting Phase
  7. Bonding with Your Mini Pig
  8. Mini Pig Training: How to Hold a Mini Pig
  9. Mini Pig Treats
  10. Mini Pig Pros: The Best Parts of Owning a Mini Pig

Part of my reason for publishing this list is so new readers can see the most-read posts they missed from earlier in the year. However, my main reason for posting this list is that it’s helpful for other mini pig owners and prospective owners to see what others are searching for and finding useful. For me, it helps to know I’m not alone with some of the issues we are dealing with as first-time mini pig parents. For example, the top post of the year is Toys for Mini Pigs. While that post was read off and on throughout the year, the numbers for that post spiked when winter came and a lot of mini pigs became bored without their usual sunny, warm weather to root around in. What the numbers for that post tell me is that the challenge of keeping a mini pig stimulated and busy in the winter is something many of us are dealing with, and we certainly aren’t alone!

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Another interesting finding from the top posts list is that, while not in the top 10, Mini Pig Mange: Sarcoptic Mange Symptoms came in right behind the top 10  and shows that mange is a common concern for mini pig owners. When Oscar came home with mange earlier this year, I was embarrassed and hesitant to discuss it. I thought about just not talking about it and dealing with it quietly, but that wasn’t consistent with my goal to create an honest blog about life with a mini pig. So, I wrote the post and was surprised at the wonderful feedback and support I received from readers. As I have watched the numbers for the post throughout the year, I now see that mini pig mange is something many pig owners are dealing with and that it warrants an open discussion so we aren’t embarrassed and can get the help we need to have it diagnosed and treated.

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Hopefully this list will give you some insight into what other mini pig owners are dealing with and will provide useful information to make your life with your mini pig easier and happier. I’m curious to see what life with Oscar brings in 2016!

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Mini Pig Oscar’s Skin Infection and Symptoms

Since Oscar was a really young piglet, he has struggled with skin issues. At five weeks old, he came home from the breeder with sarcoptic mange which we immediately treated. A few months later, we noticed more signs of mange and took him back to the vet where Oscar was again diagnosed with mange and a secondary staph infection. We followed a rigorous mange treatment the second time while treating the staph infection with an antibiotic, and Oscar’s skin eventually cleared up.

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After treatment, Oscar was mange free in August 2015. Although the mites were gone, the scabbing and discoloration on his ears and skin took several more weeks to heal and clear up.

For the past three months, Oscar’s skin has been healthy. His healthy skin is pink and soft, with very little brown discoloration and no scabbing. Also, aside from a few gentle head scratches on a chair each day, he doesn’t itch when his skin is healthy. Pigs are prone to dry skin and itchiness, but Oscar’s healthy itching is much different than his obsessive itching from mange.

A little over a week ago, I noticed some changes in Oscar’s skin. The skin from above his snout up to the top of his head and back underneath his mohawk had some brown discoloration and even some light scabbing, most noticeable on his ears. While it’s normal for mini pigs to have some brown discoloration on their skin, referred to as “pig rust”, it can also be symptomatic of a skin issue. I typically wipe down Oscar’s snout area and underneath his eyes every other day to keep it clean and free of pig rust, but recently the discoloration has been coming back more quickly and thicker. Most concerning are the little scabs on his skin, similar to the scabbing he had with sarcoptic mange.

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In this picture, Oscar’s ear shows the discoloration and scabbing from his skin infection.
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Oscar’s skin is healthier here, and you can see that his ear is pink with very little discoloration and no scabbing compared to the other photo. Sorry for the angle; he’s heating his rear with the heat vent!

Throughout the past week, I tried several different approaches to fix his skin issue. At first I thought his skin might be too dry, so I brushed him often and put lotion on him several times each day. When that didn’t work, I tried not brushing or putting lotion on him in case the oils were building up and combining with the dirt to give him the brown discoloration. When neither of those approaches worked, I blocked the heat vent he sits in front of for hours each day in case it was burning his skin and causing the scabbing. Blocking Oscar’s heat vent did not go over well with him!

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“Why is that basket blocking my heat vent, mom?”

When none of my “home remedies” helped and his skin continued to get worse, I had to consider what I’d been avoiding all along: maybe Oscar had mange again. The discoloration in his skin and the scabbing were not as severe as when he had mange, but they looked similar. However, some things didn’t add up. Oscar hasn’t been around any other pigs, and we thoroughly treated the house and our dog after his second round of mange, so I couldn’t figure out how he could possibly have mange again. Regardless, all of my thinking and worrying and speculating about whether it made sense that he had mange again wasn’t fixing the problem. I needed to just take him to the vet to find out and then face and deal with whatever the problem was to make sure Oscar was healthy.

I made an appointment and took Oscar to the vet yesterday afternoon. I was so nervous! My biggest fear was that he had mange again and we would have to isolate him for weeks. The vet examined Oscar’s skin and did a skin scrape. She told me that she wasn’t concerned about the brown discoloration since that can be normal and particularly noticeable on pink pigs like Oscar, but she said the scabbing isn’t normal and needed to be treated. After the exam, Oscar and I waited for the results.

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Oscar in the car on his way to the veterinarian.

The test results didn’t show any mites! After all of my stressing and worrying and rationalizing, I was so relieved that the vet didn’t find any mites on Oscar. Since we don’t have any evidence of mange, the vet believes Oscar has a bacterial infection on his skin and is treating it like the staph infection he had several months ago. I wish he didn’t have the skin infection, but I’m relieved it’s not contagious, it’s easy to treat with an oral liquid antibiotic, and that he should be back to normal soon.

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Oscar getting ready to take his liquid oral antibiotic for his skin infection.

The biggest lesson I learned in all this is that I just should’ve taken Oscar to the vet when I noticed the problem. Since I’m around Oscar the most, I’m the best judge of what’s normal and not normal with his skin. Instead of spending so much time and energy worrying about what the issue could have been, Oscar would have been better off going to the vet sooner so that we could identify the real issue and solution. If you notice any changes in your mini pig’s skin or have concerns about skin discoloration or scabbing, I recommend finding a veterinarian you trust and getting a skin scrape on your mini pig to make sure there are no mites or infections that need to be treated.

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Oscar’s skin looks a little better already and hopefully will continue to improve as he takes his antibiotic!


The Importance of a Mini Pig Community

Before we decided to get Oscar, I did a ton of research on how to provide a safe, comfortable home for a mini pig. When the time came for us to go pick him up for the first time, I was nervous but felt prepared. However, as the months went on, I realized there was so much I didn’t know about mini pigs. Oscar seemed happy, but I worried constantly that I would overlook an important medical or behavioral issue just because I didn’t know the signs or symptoms.

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With our dog, I have so many resources. We are surrounded by other dog owners, online resources, and tons of experienced veterinarians. With our mini pig, it has been really difficult finding answers to everyday questions, particularly the “is this normal or something I should be concerned about?” type. For most mini pig owners, even experienced and knowledgeable veterinarians are hard to find.

Over the past few months, I have found some great communities made up of other mini pig owners willing to share their experiences and help answer questions. So far I’ve had the best luck finding communities online with social media, particularly Facebook and Instagram. Facebook has some large groups of mini pig owners, but I’ve had mixed experiences with those groups. My favorite resources are individual mini pig accounts on Facebook and Instagram since they often show everyday life with a mini pig. Over time, I have figured out which people I feel comfortable reaching out to, the ones willing to help other pig owners and kindly answer questions. Even better, I’ve learned so much just by seeing what concerns other people have so that I’m better prepared if an issue pops up with Oscar.

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When searching for a mini pig community, it’s important to find one that makes you feel comfortable. Particularly in a larger group, see how group members respond to questions before you commit. Few things make me more angry than a new mini pig owner asking a question and being berated by other pig owners. If that happens to you or you see that happening, leave and find a group that makes you feel comfortable asking questions. We are all in this together and it’s hard to find good answers, so don’t tolerate a community that responds negatively to people reaching out for help.

It can be difficult at first to build up a community of helpful mini pig owners, but the payoff is worth it. A good community provides you with people going through similar experiences with many of the same questions you have. Because they have their own mini pigs, they understand the love you have for your pig and know that you are doing the best you can with the information you have. We’re all learning together, and it helps to have some friends who can help!

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