Clinical Examination of a Pet Pig


This is not easy.  Most pigs are not used to being handled. 

They become very vocal when caught and will not settle easily. 

Ideally try to assess as much as possible before handling the animal.



Young pigs may  be  picked up and will generally settle

Older pigs examine while loose, restrain with food or if necessary use a loop around the upper jaw

Observe any normal  behavior such as defecation, urination or signs of oestrus

If you visit the pig at home and the pig lives with others, watch the behaviour of the group and other animals.

 Even getting the pig into the surgery can be an adventure.

Most adult pigs less than 40 kg (88 lbs) can be picked up.


Follow a set procedure to examine the animal – there are few differences with other animals

Make contact both vocally and physically.   Assess the body condition.  Check breathing rate

Pigs like to be scratched particularly behind the ear and  along the back

Check the head of the  pig for any discharges from the nose, eyes, mouth

When handling the head watch that the pig does not try and bite

Take  the rectal temperature normal 39C  (102.5F)

Examine the external genitalia.  Note the mucosa color


Palpate the lumbar muscles of the pig

Some pigs may allow auscultation

Examine the mammary glands. 

Examine the feet while standing

Grasp the pig’s front legs and pick the pig up and place on its back side holding its back with your knees

Palpation of the limbs should start  at the top and work down the limb to the feet

Other examinations  are possible after the initial examination is complete

Collect any samples as required.  Blood samples can be obtained in the sitting position via the proximal jugular

Auscultation in the conscious pig is generally unrewarding as the animal vocalizes and moves too much.  The stethoscope can still be used to help diagnose broken bones etc.


If the pigs are transported to the surgery, ensure that they are transported safely and legally.

As part of the clinical examination ensure that you include the pigs housing and general environment



Restraint of the pig on your own

Catch the pig

Left the pig using your legs to support its back

Lower the pig onto its back

Allow the pig to lie on its back.  Keep it restrained with your lower legs

Reverse your position, keeping the pig restrained with your legs

With the client help, the pig can be restrained for routine examination

Thanks to Dr A Wilburs