What diseases do pot-bellied pigs carry?

Written by shannon fry
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What diseases do pot-bellied pigs carry?
Pot-bellied pigs are not as small as some people think. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Pot-bellied pigs are adorable, inquisitive and social animals that can be kept like household pets. They can grow to be 13 to 20 inches tall, weigh up to 90.7kg. and live 12 to 15 years. They are not as tiny as some people believe them to be. The pot-bellied pig is exceptionally intelligent and can learn tricks, commands and how to use a litter box. Like standard-size pigs, pot-bellied pigs carry many parasites and diseases that are transmittable to humans and other pets. Proper veterinary care is a requirement of raising these animals.

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Porcine Stress Syndrome

Porcine Stress Syndrome, or PSS, can cause sudden death in any swine, including pot-bellied pigs. PSS is the No. 1 concern of pig owners. Signs of PSS are a high temperature, tremors, rapid breathing problems and stiffness in the joints. PSS is a genetic disease. Pigs that carry the PSS gene, but have an inactive dormant gene, may activate the gene by undergoing anaesthesia.


Brucellosis is another disease found in swine. Brucellosis is most common in California, Florida, Texas and Virginia. A pot-bellied pig with brucellosis must immediately be reported to local health authorities. The pig also must be isolated and destroyed. Symptoms of brucellosis include severe flu. Young piglets demonstrate sensitivity in their backs, appear anorexic and feel pain in the head region. Older pigs show symptoms of lethargy, arthritis and depression.


Campylobacteriosis is a bacterial disease that causes infection of the gastrointestinal system. Campylobacteriosis affects all types of swine and house pets, including pot-bellied pigs. Symptoms of campylobacteriosis are cramps in the abdomen, vomiting, a bloody stool, fever and nausea. Campylobacteriosis is transmittable to humans if the faeces come in contact with an open sore, cut or mucus membrane. Campylobacteriosis can be treated by a veterinarian.

Atrophic Rhinitis

Atrophic rhinitis is a bacterial infection that causes colds, sneezing and nasal discharge in all swine. During the first 7 to 14 days, the disease is contagious to other pigs; however, after incubation the pig is no longer contagious. A veterinarian can diagnose and treat atrophic rhinitis.


Ringworm is a fungus that lives under the skin of pigs, animals and humans. A pot-bellied pig with ringworm will show symptoms of hair loss and a ringlike rash under the skin. Ringworm is highly contagious. Veterinarians treat ringworm with antibiotics.


Salmonellosis is a bacterial disease carried in the intestinal tract of all swine and farm animals. Often, it has no effect on the animal; however, bacteria can be transmitted to humans through fecal contact. Practice proper hygiene when handling a pig. Wash your hands with warm soap and water after cleaning up faeces. Do not touch your eyes, mouth or nose while cleaning a stall or kennel. Salmonella in humans causes diarrhoea, fever and stomach pain. See a doctor or go to an emergency room if the infection is severe.


Yersiniosis is a condition similar to salmonella. It does not make a pot-bellied pig sick, but the bacteria carried in its intestines is easily transmitted to humans. Symptoms of yersiniosis are fever, stomach pain and diarrhoea. Joint pain may occur several months later if the virus goes untreated and remains active. As with salmonella, practice good hygiene and see a doctor, if needed.

Pot-bellied Tips

The only difference between pot-bellied pigs and standard pigs is their size. Pot-bellied pigs carry and transmit the same diseases as any other farm animal. For proper medications, vaccines and yearly health checks a veterinarian is the only option. Proper home care should include cleaning the pig's ears and hoof trims every few months. Pot-bellied pigs should also be kept on a strict diet so they don't gain significant weight. Bathe your pig to keep him from smelling musky. Male pigs, just like dogs, have better temperaments when neutered. Daily exercise keeps pot-bellied pigs from gaining weight and getting bored. Pot-bellied pigs can bite and cause serious injuries.

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