Pigs tend to dislike change, and most are not big fans of travel. However, you will invariably need to transport
your companion pig at some point, even just to bring her home after adoption. You also never know when an
emergency might require transportation, and it’s best to plan ahead and be prepared.
Advance Planning and Preparation
In some situations, such as an adoption/rehoming or a scheduled veterinary appointment, you may have more
time to prepare for the trip. In that case, try to practice with your pig in advance. Get her used to going in and
out of a crate, in and out of your vehicle, and perhaps even a few drives around the block. If your pig is having a
health emergency or a natural disaster forces you to evacuate your home, this may not be possible, so if you
have the opportunity, it can be helpful to acclimate your pig to the elements of travel on a periodic basis.
You’ll also want to have the necessary supplies on hand so that you’re not scrambling when time is of the
essence. Here are some of the supplies you’ll likely need for pig transportation:
Vehicle: The safest way to transport a pig is in a secure carrier (see “Crate” section below) inside of an
SUV or other enclosed and climate-controlled vehicle. A pig who is loose in the car may try to climb into
the front seat with you or create other unsafe distractions. She could also be injured if an accident or
sudden stop were to throw her across the vehicle.
Check to make sure that the crate that fits your pig will also fit into your vehicle, as some smaller SUVs
are too short to accommodate an XL dog crate. It’s best if your pig can be in the vehicle with you so you
can monitor her for signs of stress and talk soothingly to her. She is also protected and remains at a
comfortable temperature. Transporting in an open truck bed leaves a pig exposed to the elements and
Horse trailers are not ideal, as they are not climate-controlled and pigs can be sensitive to temperature
extremes. You also can’t easily check on your pig, and she could be thrown in a sudden stop. However,
some larger pigs cannot fit into even the largest available crates, so a truck and trailer may be necessary.
A cargo van that is open between the cab and body of the vehicle (or, even better, has a grated door
between the two) can be a safer alternative.
If the pig cannot be crated, bed down the van with straw and use a ramp to walk her up into the back of the vehicle.
She will be safely enclosed in a climate-controlled space where you can easily monitor and access her as needed.
Cargo vans often have rubberized flooring; if not, make sure to put down some kind of mats for traction.
Cargo vans also work well to hold oversized crates, which can be secured in the back. They can be especially useful when
transporting multiple pigs at once. Do not use a fully-enclosed utility van or box truck; these have no
ventilation and can cause death by suffocation or heat stress.
You may need to borrow an appropriate vehicle from a friend or rent a cargo van. If this is the case,
make arrangements ahead of time so that you can move quickly to access the vehicle. And make sure
that it is well-maintained so a flat tire or other mechanical issue doesn’t derail the transportation or
cause an accident.
Crate: As stated above, a crate will help keep your pig safe in transit, and can help her feel secure during
a potentially stressful experience. Make sure you have a sturdy crate large enough for your pig to turn
around. For most pigs, this will be an XL dog crate (if your pig is young, remember that she can grow
until age five, so it can be wise to size up accordingly). Plastic-sided crates are generally sturdier than
wire crates. Pigs tend to feel safer in a more enclosed “cave,” where they can’t see traffic whizzing by, so
if you use a wire crate, cover it with a sheet or blanket so she feels more protected.
Place a piece of thick cardboard in the bottom of the crate for traction. If she urinates en route, the
cardboard will also elevate her above the wet floor. Provide your pig with comfortable bedding, be it
towels and blankets or straw—whatever she is used to.
Harness and Lead: If your pig is harness-trained, it can make the loading process easier. If you are
traveling to a vet’s office, it may be helpful to have her in a harness when you arrive at your destination
as well. Keep in mind that a pig doesn’t walk on a leash the way a dog does; you can’t pull her to go
where you want or she will just become upset, making your job all the more difficult. She still needs to
think it’s all her idea!
Be sure to use a pig-specific harness such as this one; dog harnesses do not fit a pig’s body shape
properly. Follow the harness instructions carefully to ensure that it is fitted and on properly.
Treats or Food: Pigs are extremely food-motivated, and loading is a time to use that trait to your
advantage! Their high motivation means they may be happy to go into a crate for small amounts of
healthy treats like unsalted air-popped popcorn, baby carrots, or healthy cereal. You can up the ante as
needed (with pig-safe foods) until they can’t resist!
Sorting boards: Also called pig boards or squeeze boards, these strong but lightweight plastic panels
serve as a moveable “wall” to block a pig’s line of sight and direct her to where you want her to go. Pigs
generally respond well to them, so you can move them gently but firmly without a fight. Two people can
use two sorting boards to form a “v” shape behind the pig and urge her into a crate. If you don’t want to
purchase a sorting board, a piece of study plywood can serve the same purpose. In this video, Pig
Placement Network president and cofounder Susan Magidson discusses sorting boards and
demonstrates their use.
If you need to corral an unsocialized pig, you may need additional barriers such as temporary fencing, as
discussed later in this article.
Assistance, Lift, Dolly and/or Ramp: Once you get your pig into her crate, you will need to get her into
your vehicle. For all but young piglets, this is not an easy one-person job! An extra set of hands and a
strong back may be enough to lift the carrier between two people, but this may require prior
coordination and practice. Be sure you have someone who can help you in case of an emergency.
Another way to lift the carrier into the vehicle is with a hydraulic lift. While an investment, this piece of
machinery can be a back-saver—and potentially a life-saver if you don’t have help available in an
emergency. A furniture dolly or cart may be helpful to wheel the crate to your vehicle if you load your
pig some distance away.
An alternative approach is to set the empty carrier in the vehicle and use a ramp to walk your pig up into
the vehicle and into the crate. Make sure that the ramp is stable and secure, at a gradual slope, and
strong enough to support her weight. Traction and side rails will help her navigate the ramp more safely
Calming Items: Travel is stressful for most pigs, but there are ways to help them feel more comfortable
during their journey. In addition to a covered crate and cozy bedding, soothing music and products such
as these floral essences or Rescue Remedy may be calming. Be aware that some essential oils and other
products not made for pigs may be unsafe; check with your vet if you have questions or concerns on this
Do not drug your pig or give her alcohol, Benadryl or the like! These substances can be dangerous.
Always discuss with your pig-savvy vet before giving any medications.
Cleaning Supplies: It is very common for pigs to go to the bathroom during travel, even if they are
housetrained. You may want to bring gloves, baggies, and towels, or whatever supplies you might need
to clean up messes along the way.
Health certificates or other paperwork may be required in some places to transport your pig across state lines.
Companion pigs are legally considered “swine,” as they share the same diseases as pigs raised for meat, so they
fall under “livestock” laws. Each state has its own rules regarding animals crossing into the state, so check with
the USDA for the relevant regulations. Taking your companion pig in the back of your car to a vet appointment in
a neighboring state is unlikely to cause you any problems. But if you are traveling long distances with multiple
pigs in a trailer, it may be worth checking in advance to find out if there are steps needed to transport legally.
Catching and Loading a Pig
Many house pigs like sleeping in a covered crate; as mentioned above, it can feel like a cozy little cave to them.
An added bonus to this is that if your pig sees the crate as a safe and familiar space, she will be much more
willing to go into it when it is time for travel than if you only bring it out before a vet appointment. Pigs tend to
be wary of new things, so even if she doesn’t have a negative association with the carrier, she may be hesitant
to enter it if it is unfamiliar. If she is used to going into her bed, don’t make a fuss when you need to load her;
just calmly toss in a treat and close the door behind her. She may feel more comfortable traveling in her safe
space, as well.
You can also use the above approach with an outdoor pig by placing the crate where she normally sleeps inside
her shelter and placing bedding inside. She may appreciate the extra bit of body heat retained in the winter as a
If you choose not to use the crate as a bed, you can acclimate your pig to it by feeding her her regular meals in
the crate. Begin doing this well in advance of the transport date, and again, don’t make a big deal of it.
Incorporate it into her routine over time, and soon she will be happy to go in. Hold off on feeding her the
morning of the trip so that she’s particularly eager for her meal when it’s time to load her.
What if you need to catch an unsocialized outdoor pig, as in an adoption or rescue scenario? If acclimating her to
a crate isn’t an option, it’s important to get the lay of the land and think through the process before making an
attempt. Pigs are smart, strong, and willful, so a botched effort can set you back and make her extra suspicious
the next time around. Spend some time with her so she sees you as a positive presence, if you have the ability to
Here are a few things to consider as you make a plan:
- What is the size and layout of the enclosure?
- Is the fencing secure?
- Where in the pen is the shelter located, and does it have doors you can close securely?
- Can you drive your vehicle into the enclosure; if not, how close can you get?
- Do you have supplies to put up temporary fencing? What kind of assistance do you have?
- What can you learn about the pig’s personality?
It can work well to close the pig in her shelter or other small area, bring in a crate, and gently urge her into it
using sorting boards. However, this may not work if she is terrified of people and panics when a stranger comes
into her space. Depending on the layout of the enclosure, you may be able to create a “chute” between one
fence-line and a barrier you erect to funnel the pig into a trailer or crate. This could be a few sorting boards if it’s
a short distance. For a longer stretch, pallets, hog panels, or other sturdy barriers can work; a visual barrier will
be more effective than one the pig can see through and look for an alternate exit. Secure the barriers so the pig
can’t plow them over, or if that is not possible, station strong assistants along the way to hold them in place
(again, this works better if the barriers block her view of the people).
Importantly, never chase a pig! She is a prey animal and will panic and run. Pigs are so strong, fast, and wily that
you will not be able to catch her, and the stress will make your job significantly harder. It’s amazing what a
terrified pig can squeeze through or climb over if she feels desperate. Pigs have even been known to die from
extreme stress. Crowding her with a bunch of unknown people will also set off her alarm bells. Patience,
calmness, and trust-building are the way to go. If you are struggling, stop and give the pig and the humans a
break, and come up with a new strategy. Pig Placement Network staff are happy to help guide you through this
process and offer additional suggestions.
The Transport Itself
Plan to get on the road as soon as possible once you have your pig loaded and her carrier secured inside the
vehicle. Pigs don’t sweat and can overheat if stressed, so set the climate control in the vehicle to cool but
comfortable (sweater temperature for the driver). Playing some quiet, mellow music and talking to your pig
throughout the drive can help comfort her. As stated previously, do not give her alcohol or drugs in an attempt
to keep her calm;consult with your knowledgeable pig vet before giving any medications.
Don’t be surprised if your pig goes to the bathroom during the loading process or soon after you begin the drive.
Be extremely careful if you open the door to clean up the mess (or for any other reason), as a nervous pig may
try to bolt through any hint of an opening!
A runaway pig is also a serious concern if you are transporting in a trailer. Try to avoid opening the trailer door,
but if you need to enter for any reason, make sure it is well-blocked, ideally with a second person guarding the
Try to avoid transporting in extreme weather or temperatures, both of which can be dangerous for the pig, and
potentially for the driver. Unless it’s an acute emergency, delay the trip to avoid storms, ice, and other bad
weather that make the roads hazardous. Since pigs in trailers are susceptible to temperature stress, also delay
trips in frigid weather. Since pigs don’t sweat, they can be very susceptible to dangerous heat stress. If you must
transport during a heat wave, there are precautions you can take to keep them from overheating.
- Loading and traveling at night, when the temperature has dropped, is much safer than during the
blazing heat of the day.
Wood shavings hold heat less than straw, so can be a better bedding choice in hot weather.
- Emphasize calm in the loading process, and hit the road as soon as the pig is safely on board, stopping as
little as possible en route. If you must stop, park in the shade.
- Make sure all vents in the trailer are open, and increase airflow through fans (make sure all components
are out of reach of curious piggy mouths!).
- For an extended trip, have ice water available in a trough that won’t dump along the way. The pig can
drink it or cool off by lying against the cool surface.
- Spritzing the pig with a mister can help bring down her body temperature when the trailer is in motion.
- Check the pig at every stop for signs of heat stress, which, according to the Michigan State University
Extension Office (MSU), can include “open-mouth breathing, vocalization, blotchy skin, stiffness, muscle
tremors and the reluctance to move.” If you see any of these signs, get her into the shade and lightly
mist her with cool water (MSU reminds us that pouring cold water on an overheated pig could send her
into shock). Again, exercise caution if you need to open the trailer for any reason to avoid an escape!
Once you reach your destination, you will need to unload your pig safely, so think through the process and make
sure you have the help and equipment you need. If going to a vet appointment, it’s worth contacting the office
in advance to find out if they have a cart to wheel the crate to an exam room, sorting boards, or any other
needed supplies; if not, you may need to provide your own.
If you are bringing home a new pig you just adopted, make sure her space is fully set up and ready for her
arrival. Since she will need to settle in and the two of you will need to establish your relationship, don’t assume
she will stay close by; make sure you have a secure enclosure to release her into upon your arrival.
Emergency situations, including evacuations and medical emergencies, bring their own challenges. If you live in
an area prone to wildfires, hurricanes, or other natural disasters, it may be especially important to plan ahead in
case you need to evacuate quickly. Make sure you have a stash of emergency supplies on hand, likely including
- Emergency contact information, including your vet’s phone number, and, ideally, information for a
couple of backup vets. Also include contact information for neighbors who could help and for friends
you and your pig could possibly stay with. It may not be easy to find a hotel where you can take
your pig (even if they allow dogs and cats), so try to identify some options in advance, call to confirm
that they allow pet pigs, and have a list of their contacts handy. PetFriendlyTravel.com,
PetsWelcome.com, TravelPets.com, and TakeYourPet.com are just a few websites that can get you
started on this search. Also identify shelters and boarding facilities that could keep your pig safe if
you must separate.
- Identification information for your pig: a current photo, description, and microchip number if
- Medical records, including vaccination history and a list of current medications/treatments. Make
sure you have a supply of your pig’s medications to last a week or two, as well as a prescription for
- At least a week’s supply of your pig’s feed (stored in a waterproof container) and of water, as well as
some non-perishable treats.
- A bedded crate and a way to load it into your vehicle.
- A halter and lead if your pig is harness-trained.
- An emergency kit, including first aid supplies, flashlight, radio, extra batteries, whistle, cell phone
and charger, emergency blanket and/or rain gear, and local maps.
- An emergency fund that can cover unexpected costs of housing, veterinary costs, and other
incidentals that may arise during the evacuation and recovery.
Even if your pig is accustomed to loading and travel on a good day when you can take your time, remember that
she will sense the stress of the situation and may balk just when you need to move quickly. Come up with an
evacuation plan in advance, practicing as needed. Err on the side of caution and evacuate as early as possible to
maximize time and minimize stress.
Never release your pig to fend for herself if your family must evacuate. She is a domesticated prey animal who is
not likely to survive on her own. Likewise, leaving her behind in your house or unattended in a car are both very
dangerous. Your pig is part of your family, and she depends on you to keep her safe.
You may need to be able to act quickly to save your pig in a medical emergency, as well. These emergencies can
take a variety of forms; regardless, having the contact information for both your vet and a backup emergency
vet, is essential. In an ideal world, a mobile vet would come to you, but this is not always an option. Consider
how you might load and transport your pig if she were unable to walk. Do you have a sling you can use to safely
lift her? Can you lift her into the bottom half of a plastic crate and wheel or sled it to your vehicle? What if she is
in distress and panicking? You will need to discuss the situation with your vet if and when such a situation arises,
but it can be wise to think through some different scenarios so that you aren’t trying to make a plan from
scratch when stress is high and time is short.
For more on transporting your pig and emergencies, see the following resources:
Pig Placement Network Video: Sorting Board Training
Pig Placement Network Video: Harness Training Your Pig
How to Transport Your Potbellied Pig–Howcast
Shepherd’s Green: Traveling with a Pig
SCAMPP: Safe Transportation
SCAMPP: Piggy Harness Training
Central Texas Pig Rescue: Temporary Pig Harness
Mini Pig Info: How to Catch a Pig
SCAMPP: Disaster Preparation
Mini Pig Info: Preparing for Emergencies with Pigs
Emergency evacuation supply list taken in part from Vet Street: “How to Keep Your Exotic Pet Safe When a
Hurricane Hits” by Dr. Laurie Hess.
Thanks to Farm Sanctuary for the hot weather transport tips.