Pot Bellied Pigs/Advice For my Pig
I've had my pet pig for almost a year now and overall he is a good pet, well mannered and affectionate. He is a little over one years old.
He has become somewhat grumpy lately and has been developing a black-brown goop around his eyes that I understand is called entropion. I've been told the grumpiness is related as it interferes with his eyesight and makes him jumpy and paranoid. The best way to help with this is weight loss as he is a bit on the heavy side.
Do you know how I should go about helping him slim down? Should I simply cut back on his food a bit and get him to exercise or is there anything special I should do?
Entropion is the condition when the eyelashes grow inwards towards the eye. It can be painful and lead to blindness.
Weight loss is the most important step, but it's also a slow process. In the meantime, keep piggy's eyes cleaned. Try working with him at his normal nap time. Using a soft cloth, tissue or your finger, clean his eyes. Try to gently grasp the eyelashes, and pull the lid away from the eye. Wipe away the gunk.
A combination of exercise and diet is the best way to help piggy loose weight. "Full" pigs sleep. "Hungry" pigs snurdle around looking for goodies. A training program gives "hungry" piggy something to do and think about, along with rewards for good behavior.
Start by figuring out exactly what piggy is eating and how much. Keep a log of everything piggy eats, and how much of it. Usually the problem is too many treats and goodies.
Once you know what piggy is eating, you can start cutting back reasonably. Plain fresh or cooked veggies and fruits are fine. People food, like cookies and french fries, is not. So start by eliminating all people food treats.
Also eliminate all "unearned" treats. Piggy must do a trick, like sit or spin or come, in order to get a treat. During training sessions, use healthy tidbits for training treats. A single slice of carrot, a single cheerio, one raisin.
After a few days or a week, you can start cutting back on the size of piggys meals. I think it's easier on piggy if a portion of the pellets are replaced with ordinary uncooked oatmeal. For example, if piggy is getting 2 cups of pellets per day, switch to 1-1/2 cups plus 1/2 cup of oatmeal.
After a few more days or another week (you can see why this is a slow process!), if piggy has not started to slim down, it's time to cut back on the amount of pellets. Cut back a tiny amount, maybe just 1/8 c. After another week, you may need to cut back again.
All along the way you should monitor his weight. There's a Weight-By-Measurement formula at www.farec.org (I think under Education). You should see a very slow, but steady loss.