Veterinary Handbook Disease Finder

Veterinary Handbook Contents

10.2 Equipment

Equipment is needed for safety, dissection, sampling, recording, and cleaning.

  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) to help prevent risk of exposure to potential zoonotic conditions while examining sick or dead animals, and also to reduce the risk of spread of disease to other animals. Consider use of rubber boots, disposable examination gloves, overalls and an apron.
  • A bucket of water with detergent and brush to keep gloves, knife handles and other equipment clean and non-slippery.
  • A waterproof digital camera in resealable plastic bags for recording findings.
  • A good quality skinning knife and a good quality boning knife.
  • A fine grit sharpening stone and a steel.
  • Sterile disposable scalpel blades.
  • A pair of medium-sized scissors and forceps for sampling gut and lymph nodes.
  • Horticultural lopping shears to cut through ribs and other bones.
  • A light axe or hatchet and a mash hammer to remove the brain and as an alternative to lopping shears.
  • Safety glasses for when using the axe, hatchet and hammer.
  • Multi-test dip sticks to test urine and rumen contents for pH and nitrate, and additionally, to test urine for ketones, glucose, protein and leucocytes.
  • A range of specimen containers including polypropylene plastic containers with tight fitting leak proof screw top lids to store formalinised samples and faeces, zip-lock plastic bags in which to collect fresh solid tissues, swabs and transport media for microbiological sampling, and a range of the different types of blood collection tubes and needles, some of which can be used to collect urine and eye fluids.
  • Permanent ink marking pens to indelibly label sample containers.
  • Deep probe digital thermometer such as a cooking thermometer, for measuring core temperature of a carcass.

10.2.1 Storing, Transporting And Setting Up Equipment

A two-bucket system with lids as shown in Figure 10.1 is a good method for storing, transporting and setting-up equipment.


Figure 10.1: Photograph of a two bucket system used to store and carry necropsy equipment on board a ship

A suggested item list for a single bucket or double bucket necropsy kit is below.

Necropsy kits and other equipment can be purchased on

10.2.2 How to Choose, Sharpen and Maintain Necropsy Knives

A razor sharp knife makes a necropsy quicker, easier, safer and results in better quality specimens. The article below provides information for veterinarians and animal health technicians on choosing necropsy knives and describes a freehand method of getting a knife razor sharp and keeping it that way.
How to Choose, Sharpen and Maintain Autopsy Knives