Examine the Head
The physical exam
typically begins with the head. Mucous membrane color is assessed
by looking at the conjunctiva, gums, or vulva. The gums of most
small ruminants are variably pigmented making an accurate assessment of
membrane color difficult. The bulbar and palpebral conjunctiva is
a more accurate place to look. Holding the eyelids open and
applying pressure at the lateral canthus of the globe causes the third
eyelid to appear and allow good visualization of the conjunctiva.
Pale to white is suggestive of haemonchosis, yellow to light brown is
suggestive of hemolysis secondary to copper toxicosis, and large
prominent vessels in the bulbar conjunctiva is indicative of toxemia.
Pale mucous membranes.
face should be assessed for asymmetry. Unilateral cranial nerve
damage resulting in flaccid paralysis of the ear, eyelid, muzzle, cheek,
and/or nostril combined with excessive drooling and/or tongue protrusion
indicating an inability to swallow is highly suggestive of listeriosis.
Examine the eyes noting eye position, pupillary light reflex, and menace
response. No menace response with an intact pupillary light reflex
is common with polioencephalomalacia. A bilateral, clear to serous
nasal discharge is normal. Mucopurulent discharges are commonly
associated with respiratory disease. Crusting of the nose occurs
in sick animals that fail to clean their nose. The presence of
ulcerative or proliferative lesions on the lips, muzzle, and nostril may
indicate ORF or bluetongue. An accumulation of fluid in the
submandibular space (bottle jaw) is often secondary to gastrointestinal
parasitism particularly if the animal also has pale mucous
membranes. An acetone odor to the breath indicates ketosis
typically associated with pregnancy toxemia in the sheep. A foul
odor from the mouth suggests necrotic stomatitis, pharyngitis, or even
pneumonia. Vomiting in the small ruminant is almost always
associated with a toxic plant ingestion, rhododendron and azalea
commonly recognized in the Eastern US.
Various focal swellings
may occur on the face. Large, firm, round swellings located behind
the ramus of the mandible or between the mandibles are suggestive of
caseous lymphadenitis affecting the parotid or submandibular lymph nodes
respectively. Swellings located along the cheek may be associated
with abscesses, salivary gland mucoceles, or impacted cud. Firm,
nodular swellings along the lower jaw often indicate actinobacillosis in
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