Flying Pigs

What? You’ve never seen a flying pig? Well not that they actually fly, mind you, but some of us pig parents obtain our pigs from breeders who don’t live next door. Some of us move from one state to the other or travel to visit relatives in another city or state. If we are to take our pet pigs along with us, we need to know how we are going to get them there. Most of the time for short distances, we use our automobiles but sometimes it requires flying them on an airlines.

More often then not this is more stressful on the pig parent then the pigs themselves, if handled appropriately. Most airlines do not want a bad rap for a pet of any kind not arriving safely so they walk the extra mile to see that safety comes first. All airlines offer guidelines to go by when shipping a pet. But way before you take your pet pig to the airport, there are things that need to be done for and with your pet pig, to insure your pet’s safe arrival at the planned destination.

If you are purchasing a baby pig from a breeder or even adopting one, the breeder or organization will handle most of the obstacles at their end. But still there will be things you will need to do so that when the pig arrives where you are, it will adjust with minimal stress.

First let’s look at what has to transpire before the flight. Most airlines require that any pet be at least eight weeks’ old and completely weaned from the mother. The piglet or pig should be used to being in a carrier. Having one at home and using it for the pig to sleep in helps the pig to adjust way before the trip begins.

 Remember that there will be lots of strange noises and jostling around that will put stress on any animal. So the more comfortable the pig is with its own carrier, the less the stress will be when he/she is taken to the airport and put on a flight. Also the pig should have a halter on and tags showing his/her name and address.

Sometimes, not often, a carrier door might come open and the pig will bolt out and run. With a halter, it will be easier to catch and hold on to.

Next a health certificate and blood testing will have to be done by a licensed veterinarian. Since it usually takes about 10 days to get the results back, be sure and allow enough time before flying. Be sure the health certificate is attached to the carrier very securely as it will be needed at the other end of the trip or if the flight gets delayed in another state. You should keep a copy of the certificate for your own records.

You will need to make sure your pet is watered and fed before the trip and make arrangements for feeding if over six hours of flight time is involved. You will also want to make sure the carrier is large enough for the pig to turn around in. Try to book a straight through flight when possible and consider the option of liability insurance. Some airlines will allow you to carry your pet on the plane if you are traveling with them and they are under 40 lbs. and if the carrier can fit under your seat. Be sure you check this out way before flight time. Advise the agent when you make your reservation that your pet will be traveling with you as checked luggage.

Also check with the airlines before leaving for the airport on the weather conditions. Animals are not accepted as checked luggage when the temperatures at a transfer point will exceed 85 degrees Fahrenheit (30 C) at any point on the planned itinerary or if the temperatures drop below 10 degrees Fahrenheit (-12 C). Now these temperature may vary according to airlines but they are a general rule of thumb. In colder climates, choose mid-day flights when it is likely to be warmer and in warmer climate, early morning hours are best.

Never ship more than one animal in a carrier unless they are very small litter mates and be sure the carrier is large enough for them both. Some airlines will not even consider shipping two in the same carrier. Be sure and walk your pet right before they load him/her into the plane and when possible, if there is a layover and you can have someone there to check on him/her. Make sure your carrier is clearly marked “LIVE ANIMALS” and “THIS END UP.”

Sedate your pig only on the advice of your veterinarian since sedation can lead to serious complications. Another thing to know is that if you are shipping to Hawaii or another country, that there will be quarantine periods. Make sure you know the laws before shipping any animal.

Now if you are having a pig flown to you, here are some things you should know. First, the pig is likely to be a little stressed and remember he/she has never met you. Don’t expect him/her to jump into your arms right away. Pigs have a tendency to fear strangers, so be prepared and allow for time.

Taking Gatorade or Pedialyte along with you for the pig to drink will help to balance his/her electrolytes and help to regulate his/her body temperature. Never open the carrier in the terminal. Wait until you are in your auto or home. Have some yummy treats. We all know that the way to a pig’s heart is through his stomach. He will be hungry and probably ready to eat by the time you get him/her home. 

Have a quiet place off by itself where he/she can rest and get used to his/her new home. Don’t be to eager to pick the pig up for a cuddle. Remember you are a stranger to the pig and he/she needs time to adjust. In a rare case that he/she may show signs of injury or illness, call your veterinarian immediately. Make sure it’s a veterinarian that knows and treats potbellied or other miniature pigs.

Once settled into his/her new home, the joy of pig ownership begins. Even if you are just moving into a new place, the pig will adjust as you adjust.

Remember to stay calm and reassuring at all times and enjoy each other.