It is the initial part of the examination and is of major importance. The aim of it is firstly to identify abnormalities for more detailed investigation and secondly to observe signs which would otherwise be missed if the animal was disturbed or only viewed at close proximity.


The animal may show signs of abnormal behavior being separated from the rest of the herd which may help in the diagnosis of disease. If animal responds normally to stimuli such as light, sound, and movement it is classified as bright.

If the reactions are sluggish and the animal exhibits relative indifference to normal stimuli it is called dull or apathetic (e.g. Carbohydrate engorgement in cattle)

DUMMY SYNDROME – In this state, the animal remains standing and is able to move but does not respond at all to external stimuli.

(e.g.- Subacute lead poisoning, listeriosis, acetonaemia in cattle, encephalomyelitis and hepatic cirrhosis in horses).

COMA – It is a terminal depression in which an animal is unconscious and cannot be roused. Increased response of mild degree is manifested by the state of anxiety or apprehension where the animal looks anxious. This may progress to restlessness in which animal moves about lies down and gets up and may exhibit other abnormal movements such as looking at the flanks, kicking at its belly, rolling and bellowing this demeanor is indicative of pain

More an extreme degree of excited demeanor include-

Mania and frenzy – In mania animals perform abnormal movements like licking or chewing their own body or inanimate objects. In frenzy, actions are wild and uncontrolled. Mania and frenzy are normally seen in rabies, acute lead poisoning, and some cases of nervous acetonaemia.

Hyperaesthenia- Is also another form of increased response. The appearance of the animal may be normal or it may be large or small for its age.

Voice – Alteration of voice also helps in disease diagnosis soundless bellowing and yawning are commonly seen in rabid cattle. Yawning is a common sign in animals affected with hepatic insufficiency.

Eating - Any abnormality pertaining to prehension mastication or swallowing must be examined. Prehension may be interfered with by painful condition of the mouth, paralysis of the tongue, cerebellar ataxia osteomyelitis, and painful condition of the neck.

Mastication - May be abnormal in the affection of teeth, space-occupying lesion of the cranium or encephalomyelitis. Swallowing may be impaired in physical obstructions like esophageal diverticula or stenosis, foreign body in the pharynx or paralysis of the pharynx.

Defecation- Abnormalities of defecation like diarrhea, constipation, dysentery are to be examined. Constipation and rectal paralysis or stenosis act of defecation may be difficult. The frequency, volume, and character of feces are to be taken into consideration. The feces may be characterized as well set or normal, loose, watery, tarry colored, blood-tinged.

Urination- The act of micturition may be difficult due to obstruction of the urinary tract or inflammation of the bladder and/or urethra. The abnormalities of urination include- polyuria, oliguria, anuria, dysuria, pyuria, hematuria, hemoglobinuria, and urinary incontinence.

Posture- It is the anatomical configuration of the animal during its stationary phase. While abnormal posture is not always indicative of disease, when combined with other symptoms, it may show the location and severity of the disease. The various abnormal posture observed in animals are-

Arching of the back (kyphosis) e.g. nephritis mild abdominal pain

Dog sitting posture e.g - in a horse in acute gastric dilatation.

Abduction of elbows-indicates chest pain or difficult breathing

Rigidity of tail, ears, and limbs - e.g. tetanus

Saw horse posture - e.g. severe abdominal pain.

Frog like posture - e.g. bilateral hip dislocation.

Lateral kink - e.g. parturient paresis

Gait- Abnormality of gait can be observed when the animal moves about voluntarily or is made to move. Limb movements can be assessed with respect to their rate, range, force, and direction. Abnormal movements - 

High stepping gait - e.g. louping ill.

Stumbling gait - e.g. Laminitis.

Goose stepping gait - e.g. pantothenic acid deficiency.

Stiff gait - e.g. arthritis.

Sway back - e.g. copper deficiency.

Circling gait - e.g. listeriosis, gid.

Compulsive walking - e.g. liver disease, encephalomyelitis.

Physical condition- The animal may be in the normal body condition or obese, thin or emaciated or cachexic.

Skin - The abnormalities of skin are to be examined in respect to changes in the hair or wool, abnormal sweating presence of discrete or diffused lesion or itching etc.

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By-Dr. Jitendra kumar sahu (B.V.Sc & A.H.)

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