Mini Pig Oscar Hates Water: Our Bath Struggle

Oscar hates baths. This is how it all started…

Last summer, my Facebook and Instagram feeds were full of pigs cooling off in small plastic pools. Their pig parents put a little water in a kiddie pool, and the pig climbed in and happily sat or splashed around, cooling off from the summer sun. I was so excited to let Oscar play in his own little pool! I waited until he was about 5 months old and then found him a pool to fill up for his first pool party.  It was going to be his first time in water, and he was going to love it! I put him in the pool, but then he jumped right out. I put him back in; he jumped out again. He finally jumped out the last time and ran off. He hated water.

I gave up on the pool, but then I started wondering how in the world we were going to bathe him if he hated water. Since Oscar had several skin issues when he was younger, including mange and a skin infection, we intentionally held off on bathing him for a long time. We didn’t want to stress him out or dry his skin out more than necessary, so we just wiped him down every few days with a damp towel instead. However, even that was a challenge because he didn’t like even the small amount of water on the towel touching him.

Wiping Oscar down kept him pretty clean until we were ready to try giving him a bath. Oscar was about 10 months old before we finally tried because we knew it would be a struggle. We also waited until the weather warmed up a bit because we didn’t want to risk getting water in Oscar’s ears and increase his chances of pneumonia during the cold winter.

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Before giving Oscar a bath, I get everything ready. I get him towels, a washcloth, baby shampoo, peanut butter, Cheerios, and a baby spoon. A large plastic cup also helps with rinsing the shampoo.

My husband and I teamed up for Oscar’s first bath. I got the shampoo and towel ready and added a small amount of warm water to the bath tub. My husband grabbed the peanut butter, a spoon, and Oscar. Our plan was to put Oscar in the warm water and then I was going to wash him quickly while my husband fed him peanut butter from a spoon. A lot of people prefer to put peanut butter on the side of the tub, but we just used a spoon since there were two of us and we wanted to avoid any chemicals that might be on the side of the tub.

We put Oscar down in the tub, and he freaked out! He panicked and kept trying to jump out of the tub, which meant his poor little hooves didn’t have any traction and kept slipping. On top of it, he was squealing and splashing water all over us. We didn’t want him to slip and fall, so we picked him up, put him in the towel, and dried him off. We needed to rethink our strategy.

Our biggest mistake for Oscar’s first bath was not having a bath mat since he didn’t have a way for his hooves to grip in the tub. It probably would have been fine if he stood still, but his panicking and wiggling made him slip, which made him panic even more. We decided to get a bath mat and then try again but without water. We wanted to just get him used to being in the tub and make it a happy place by using peanut butter before we even added water. I bought Oscar’s bath mat from Target so this isn’t the exact one I use, but it’s really similar. 

I bought a bath mat, put it in the tub, and we tried again. We set Oscar down on the bath mat and immediately started giving him peanut butter from the spoon. So far, so good! I let Oscar get used to the tub and enjoy the peanut butter for a few minutes and then I started slowly running warm water in the tub. I figured he would panic as soon as the water touched his hooves, but he didn’t. He was so focused on the peanut butter that he didn’t even notice. I ran just a small amount of water, enough to clean off his hooves and splash some on his belly, since I didn’t want to scare him. I quickly bathed him and rinsed him off, and he didn’t mind at all as long as the peanut butter kept flowing. As soon as the peanut butter stopped though, he remembered he was in water and all bets were off. We finished up, dried him off thoroughly, and considered it a success!

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Oscar with his peanut butter spoon. Peanut butter on a spoon is how we keep Oscar calm during his baths.

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Oscar has had two other baths so far, both of which were successful. Each time I run just a little more water and bathe a little more of him, being careful not to get water in his ears, and he handles it fine as long as he has constant peanut butter. He eats more peanut butter during his baths than I would normally give him in a day, but we only bathe him when it’s absolutely necessary, so I don’t worry about it.

My husband has helped me bathe Oscar each time, which has made the process easier. However, I have received some really helpful tips over the past few months to make bathing a mini pig easier, particularly with just one person. A really popular one is to smear peanut butter on the side of the bath tub to keep your pig busy during her bath. I avoid that one if possible just because I’m worried about Oscar licking up chemicals from the side of the bathtub, but I am open to trying it someday when I need to bathe Oscar by myself. Another great idea someone shared with me is to cut up apples or use some other small treat like blueberries or Cheerios and put them in the bathtub. Many pigs will keep themselves busy searching or bobbing for the treats and won’t mind the bath as much. We started with peanut butter since it’s a really high-value treat for Oscar, but hopefully we can switch to something smaller and healthier once he’s more used to the process.

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Using a washcloth during his bath helps get any rusty spots off of Oscar.
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A large cup is handy for rinsing the shampoo off.

Once Oscar’s bath is finished, I towel dry him as much as possible. He doesn’t like the towel much, so then I dry him off the rest of the way with a hair dryer. I keep the heat low and usually put his harness on before blow drying him so that I have a handle in case he tries to run off. He doesn’t care for the hair dryer, but I like to make sure he’s dry to reduce his risk of pneumonia.

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As soon as his bath is finished, I towel dry Oscar as much as possible.
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After towel drying, I dry him the rest of the way with a hair dryer. Putting his harness on gives me a handle to keep him close while I finish drying him.
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All finished! Clean, dry, and fluffy! Still foamy though…

Don’t worry – Rylee was next but she got Cheerios too.

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After Oscar finished his bath, Rylee was next.
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Rylee is used to baths and behaves well, but she got some Cheerios anyway.

There are so many pigs who love water and don’t mind baths. However, if you’re like us and have a pig who hates water, hopefully our experience will help as you try to bathe your mini pig!

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6 thoughts on “Mini Pig Oscar Hates Water: Our Bath Struggle”

  1. We give Petunia small grapes and let them float in the water. She especially loves the Cotton candy grapes in the spring early summer. She hated her first 2 baths but now she loves them. I didnt want to do the pb on the side of the tub for the same reasons as you and am glad the grapes work.

    1. I’m glad Petunia is loving her baths now! The first few baths can be stressful…phew. When I need to bathe Oscar by myself next, I’m going to try grapes in the tub. It seems so simple to just throw some in the tub, and I think Oscar is calm enough in the tub now that he’ll notice the grapes and go after them. The first time, we couldn’t get him to calm down long enough to even notice fruit in the tub, but that seems to work well for a lot of people. I’ve heard of cotton candy grapes, and I’m hoping I can find some one day! I haven’t noticed them in stores here yet, but I’m excited to try them (Oscar is too…haha!). Thanks for sharing what works for Petunia! I know bathes are a struggle for a lot of mini pig owners.

  2. Hi, our little mini pig Nellie doesnt like peanut butter so we are not able to use that. what we do instead for bathtime is to cut up lettuce and let it float in the water while we bathe her. We put a handful in and start bathing and while she chases it around the tub with her nose we are able to bathe her well. If i see some soapy lettuce i try to spray it before it gets to her mouth but she a lot of times will rinse it off herself before eating it. I keep a little extra outside the tub incase she runs out during the tub or i use it to keep her still while i dry her off. This also works to get him to enjoy the pool for a couple minutes. We put nellie in the pool and drop a couple small pieces in at a time. After she has found them and quit looking for more and just seems ready to get out we will drop a couple more to keep her in longer. She is adjusting well to the pool and tub but i can tell you the first tub she screamed until we dumped lettuce in!

    1. Hi Nichole! Thanks for sharing that! I’m so surprised that Nellie doesn’t like peanut butter. I never thought about that not being a high-value treat for a pig. It’s awesome that she’ll eat lettuce instead, especially since it has fewer calories. I love that she stays busy chasing it around; I bet that’s adorable. That could be a great option for someone with a pig who doesn’t like peanut butter or who maybe won’t eat fruit thrown in the tub. I might also have to try this with the pool. Oscar absolutely hates the pool, but I would love it if he could enjoy cooling off during the summer and stay outside longer. I’ll have to give that a try!

  3. I wouldn’t wanna try putting my pet pig Kiwi in a bath, it doesn’t sound like much fun! I have always just taken Kiwi with me in the shower. I’ll lure him with some lettuce or tomatoes, then close the door and wash him down with the water running. He’s not keen on having water sprayed in his face, so I use a cloth to wash him all over. He does go into the running water on his own sometimes though.

    1. Hi Kristine! You’re right about the bath not being much fun…haha! I’ve actually tried the shower like you do with Kiwi and had more luck than I thought I would. Oscar needed a bath one day when my husband wasn’t here to lift him into the tub, so I took Oscar into the walk-in shower. I thought he would panic, but he just stayed out of the direct water and grunted every once in a while to remind me that he wasn’t thrilled about the whole process. 🙂 The cloth is a great idea, and I did the same thing especially on Oscar’s face. But, it wasn’t a disaster like I thought it would be and should be a good option now that he’s harder to get into the bathtub. Thanks for sharing that!

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