How to Identify Sick Animals: 10 Signs to Watch Out For

What is Animal Health and Disease?

Animal Health is the ability of an animal to successfully interact with its environment and is expressed as the optimal production that it can obtain. Disease, on the other hand, is the loss of animal productivity in a given environment.

There are a number of signs that one would see to determine if an animal is healthy, sick or suffering from certain ailments. A good farmer on seeing these signs takes proactive measures to rescue the animals from further harm by giving medications. Below are some signs to determine if an animal is healthy or ill. These signs of good and ill health in farm animals are as follows.

How to identify sick animals

Signs of Good Health and Ill Health in Animals

Appearance and behavior

Healthy animals exhibit normal posture. They are alert, have clear eyes and respond well to a touch. Any abnormal running nose and dull eyes may indicate ill health.


Any animal that cannot walk or stand properly must be closely watched since something might be wrong with it. When you notice that the animal is walking and favoring the leg, it would be advisable to restrain that animal and find out what is causing it to do so.

Appetite and feeding

Healthy animals have a good appetite for feed and generally like to feed to their satisfaction. Sick animals have no appetite for food. When you notice that your animal suddenly loses appetite for food, you shouldn’t take it as normal because it may be a sign of it beginning to fall ill.


The normal color of urine is pale yellow. Much deviation like deep yellow, blood-stained or cloudy urine shows ill health. When your animal finds urination painful, it shows that there is something wrong with its urinal system and any other color apart from pale yellow is a sign of ill health.


When an animal coughs continuously, it shows that something is irritating its throat and you need to find out why that keeps happening. Coughing is a good sign of good health but it shouldn’t be a continuous cough.


Healthy animals do not show signs of pain but when animals begin to show signs of pain by grinding of teeth or groaning, it is an indication that something is wrong and such animal needs to be examined immediately.

Faeces and defecation

Any deviation of the faeces i.e. too hard, too watery or stained with blood, or contaminated with worm segments, is an indication of ill health. When you see that your animal begins to defecate on its body it is an indication that it has a problem in its alimentary canal and immediate attention needs to be given to the animal.

Skin and coat

The coats of healthy animals should be clean, smooth and shiny and show a complete cover. Signs of ill health are; the coat looks dull and hairs falling out. Cold, dry and scary skin signifies diseases. When you see your animal suddenly show symptoms of a skin disorder, immediate attention should be given to the animal because if that is not done, the hide value of the animal will reduce.

Temperature, pulse rate and respiratory rate

Every animal has a specific range of body temperature, pulse rate and respiratory rate that determines healthy condition. Radical deviation from these values signifies ill health. You will have to check your farm animal to ensure that it is physically, mentally and psychologically fit. Any deviations in these show that your animal is ill.

Mucous membrane

These are the lining of various systems and organs of the body, e.g. eyes, nose, anus, etc. The mucous lining of healthy animals is moist. When all these places become dry the animal experiences discomfort and when noticed immediate attention should be given to the animal before it becomes very severe.

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Akinbobola A.

I'm a livestock farmer, certified animal scientist and agro consultant. You can follow Livestocking on Facebook and Twitter. Click here to send me an email
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