To spot a disease among your animals early on can really save you a lot of money.
A simple tip to help spot disease is to inspect an animal’s lining (mucous membrane) of the inside eyelid or the vulva in female animals.
Many deadly diseases cause blood loss in animals, so an examination of these areas can quickly establish the status of the animal’s blood supply.
In these areas, small blood vessels are so close to the skin that they are visible and by looking at them you can quickly see if blood loss is the problem. If not, you at least know you have another problem.
Be careful not to force the eye open and so expose the third eyelid, which is always pale. Therefore make sure that you’re looking at the mucous membrane or inner lining of the lower eyelid.
The normal colour is a healthy pink because red blood cells are transporting oxygen around the body.
If the mucous membrane is pale (in severe cases it can be almost white) you know there are too few red blood cells circulating oxygen in the blood.
This is called anaemia and is always serious because without oxygen the brain can’t function and the animal will die.
Other diseases cause different colour changes in the mucous membrane:
■ A red mucous membrane is an indication of a local infection if observed in one eye and a systemic infection if observed in both. In this instance, it would normally be accompanied by a fever.
■ A purple, or blueish, mucous membrane indicates a lack of oxygen in the blood that may be affecting the animal’s ability to breathe properly.
■ A yellowish mucous membrane indicates advanced liver disease. Urgent treatment is needed.
■ A brownish mucous membrane indicates nitrate poisoning and is not common.
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