Clinical examination of an individual pig


Follow a set procedure to examine the animal

Clinical preexam1

Pet pig farm

pet pigs litter

Assess the pig’s normal behaviour, its locomotion and its response to its owners.  Enquire about eating, urination and defecating patterns.

Remember that the pig may live in a group (sounder) at home and other pigs may be presenting with the same clinical signs

Enquire about the recent history of the pig

Examination of an cooperative pig

Clinical abdomen exam

Clinical exam rectal temp

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

Take the rectal temperature. Normal 39°C.  Examine the external genitalia.

Palpate the lumbar muscles, hind legs, abdomen and mammary area.

Clinical exam heart

Clinical head exam

Clinical ear exam

Some pigs may allow auscultation – but this is generally unrewarding

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

Clinical exam feet


Clinical exam siting down

Examine the feet while standing

Grasp the pig’s front legs firmly.  The pig is likely to vocally object.

Place the pig on its rear, holding its back with your knees

Clinical exam front foot

Clinical exam hind foot

Clinical exam bleeding site

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

Collect any samples are required.  A blood sample can be obtained in this sitting position from the jugular vein

Uncooperative pig

In an uncooperative pig, from the sitting position restrain the pig on its back where it will generally stop struggling.

A full clinical examination can now be completed starting from the rear of the pig to the front of the pig

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Walk backwards and lower the pig between your legs.  Support its back with your feet and lower leg.

Keep a hold on the back legs and take the pig’s rectal temperature

Examine the anus for any discharge.  Take samples if necessary

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Examine the external genitalia

Examine the superficial lymph nodes

Examine the left hind leg from toe to hip

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Examine the right hind leg from toe to hip

Examine the  caudal ventral body wall and mammary glands

Carefully move or rotate your body to face the pig’s head

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Support the pig with your feet under the shoulder blades (arrow)

Examine the pig’s eyes and jaw

Examine the pig’s ears

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Examine the pig’s mouth using a mouth gag

Auscultate the heart and chest

Examine the left  and right foreleg

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Examine the cranial ventral body wall

Relax your left foot from the shoulder the pig will rotate onto its feet

Examine the dorsal body wall as the pig moves away