As a 2nd-year veterinary student trailing 4th-year students on their Large Animal Medicine rotation, I have seen and participated in some pretty cool things. Every selective shift, I observed at least one colic diagnostic work-up — complete with history-taking, physical exam, bloodwork, rectal palpation, ultrasound, and abdominal tap. The rest of the afternoon was filled in with Jeopardy! (Surgery students vs. Medicine students), rectal palpation practice, 2pm and 4pm treatments, ophthalmology appointments, and student presentations on various categories of disease.
On one lucky occasion I was able to assist in a “Day of Beauty” appointment, when a client’s pet pig was anesthetized and treated to important routine health care. More and more people are living with companion pigs, and it’s very important to be able to provide care to these animals in the safest, least stressful way possible.
So, what exactly happens on a pig spa day? The awake pig is examined as much as is possible for that particular animal, and then the pig is put under a light plane of anesthesia. The veterinary staff can then perform a more complete physical exam and get to work trimming hoofs, giving vaccines, and trimming tusks. Even domesticated pigs have tusks, which are simply canine teeth that continue to grow throughout the animal’s life. If the tusks aren’t worn down, the pig can have trouble eating or may have injuries to its lips and mouth. After all “beauty” procedures are completed, the pig is returned to its stall to wake up amidst a pile of blankets and toys!