Is a Pet Pig a Health Hazard?

Taking care of a pet pig is surprisingly similar to caring for a dog or cat, according to some veterinarians. (Photo: Getty Images)
Taking care of a pet pig is surprisingly similar to caring for a dog or cat, according to some veterinarians. (Photo: Getty Images)

Tori Spelling has added another member to her growing family.

The 43-year-old actress, who is married to Dean McDermott and pregnant with baby No. 5, is now the proud owner of a pet pig. Spelling announced her latest arrival on Instagram:

The Beverly Hills 90210 alum added on her personal website, ediTORIal, that she “literally squealed with excitement” back in October when she was told that Nutmeg had been born and would soon be joining her household. “Maybe not the ideal timing with my baby due so soon but all babies are blessings whenever they come into your life!” Spelling wrote.

Although a pig may seem like a questionable choice for a pet, the Spelling/McDermott family is actually following an ongoing trend.

“Pet pig ownership has increased over the years, and perhaps it’s due to the ever-so-suave George Clooney having Max for almost 19 years,” says Katy Nelson, an associate veterinarian at the Belle Haven Animal Medical Center in Alexandria, Va., and host of The Pet Show With Dr. Katy on Washington, D.C.’s News Channel 8. “Or maybe even because Esther the Pig has taken over the Internet.”

Nelson adds that the porcine pet set has “definitely seen an increase over the years, with its largest spike in popularity being in the 1980s, as the first Vietnamese potbellied pigs were imported into the U.S. as pets.”

Carol Osborne, an integrative veterinarian and founder and director of the Chagrin Falls Veterinary Center & Pet Clinic in Ohio, tells Yahoo Beauty about the health benefits of adopting a tiny snorter.

“Pigs exhibit a high level of emotional intelligence, like a dog, and can be a great comfort in times of high emotional stress,” Osborne states. “They can cuddle, snort, frown, and cough and display many other behaviors that will remind you of cuddling up with your favorite dog or cat. Man’s best friend may be a dog, but pigs are pretty cool too.”

And because a pig’s temperament is similar to that of a dog’s or cat’s, “a good home will be the determining factor in the temperament of your new mini-pig,” adds Osborne.

Also, a little oinker could be the perfect pet for anyone who suffers from allergies because “the hair on pigs is hypoallergenic and is not prone to shedding,” she points out. But could a sweet swine carry germs that may harm children, a newborn, or pregnant women?

“Pigs, like most animals, are susceptible to disease, such as campylobacteriosis, cryptosporidiosis, influenza, leptospirosis, rabies, ringworm, salmonellosis, yersiniosis — germs that are very similar to ones that could be contracted from a dog or cat,” says Osborne. “Case in point — staying on top of cleaning and caring for your pet pig will greatly reduce the chances of catching a disease.”

Aside from standard checkups, oral care, and nail trimming, Osborne says that veterinary care is “relatively minimal.” And believe it or not, a house hog isn’t any filthier than a typical pet.

“You can bathe a pig weekly or monthly as needed, and you’d most likely do this in your home,” says Osborne. “But you can always ask your local groomer if they will groom your pig.”

If you’re considering adopting a pet potbelly, Nelson recommends checking out the Pig Placement Network for more information.

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