The fits that usually appear in dogs, though not very different in appearance from each other, arise from very different causes, and, therefore, require very different treatment The epileptic fits that attack dogs of all ages, and and otherwise apparently healthy, may be idiopathic, or they may probably arise from costiveness or worms, etc. In countries where there are lead mines, dogs have often violent fits from the effects of the lead on the water. The oxen, sheep, goats and horses, of such situations, also participate. Mercury appears to form the best antidote for these contractions, either rubbed externally or given internally.
In the treatment of (its, it is evident that the cause producing them must be attended to, to effect a cure. The immediate fit itself may be removed at once usually, by plunging the dog into cold water; or sprinkling it in his face even, is sufficient in many cases. Whenever a fit has happened to a healthy dog, he should immediately have a brisk purge given him, for fits are very frequently brought on by simple costiveness : and even if such was not the case previous to the fit, tins treatment would be the most proper. Should it be at all suspected that the affection arose from worms, treat as directed under that head. Some dogs are so irritable, that whatever raises any strong passion in their minds produces an epileptic attack : hence dogs much confined, on being suffered to run out, frequently have a fit. It is this irritability in the mind, likewise, that produces fits in Pointers and setters when hunting; for they are more frequent in the highbred and eager, than in the cool coarse dog. As a general rule, more frequent exercise should be allowed ; and, in this latter instance of sporting dogs, the general constitution should as much as possible be strengthened; for fits are here the effect of too much energy of the mind, beyond the powers of the body : and in all cases they are, probably, the effect of a peculiar debility. The irritability of the mind itself should also bo attempted to be lessened: in sporting dogs, it is best done by habituating them to the sight of much game, which greatly lessens their eagerness. For a very valuable dog, belonging to a gentleman in Kent, affected with fits whenever he hunted, I recommended a removal into a country more plentifully supplied with game than his neigh borhood afforded ; the consequence of which was, that though, for a few days after his removal, he had more frequent fits than ever, yet they gradually lessened, and at length wholly left him. Some dogs, however, who exercise much, have fits merely from the repletion of the head: in this case bleeding, an occasional purgative, with a seton worn some time in the neck, proves useful: and, whenever fits have become habitual, a seton should be applied, and kept in some months. Fear in irritable dogs produces fits, of which I have seen innumerable instances.
A very distressing and dangerous kind of epileptic fits sometimes attacks bitches while suckling. In these cases it arises from the owners being too anxious to rear several puppies, by which they burthen the mother beyond her powers: the consequence is an attack of convulsions, which too frequently destroys the animal. Teething in puppies will sometimes produce fits; but some sportsmen, aware of this, fall into another extreme, and consider all the fits of young dogs to originate from this cause: when by far the greater number of these attacks are the effect of worms, or the precursors of distemper.
The fits that are the consequence of distemper, may be usually discovered by the other attendant symptoms: sometimes, however, a fit is the very first symptom, in which case it is remarkable, that the fit augurs nothing unfavourable : but when a fit comes on some time after distemper has made its appearance, the animal seldom recovers. The convulsions accompanying distemper are more frequent in winter than in summer, which shows that warmth is one of the best preventives against these attacks. The convulsion most usually present in distemper begin in the head, and first attacks the muscles of the face and jaws, producing a quick champing of the mouth, with a flow of frothy saliva from the jaws : each succeeding fit is usually stronger and more violent. Another form in which these fits make their appearance in this disease, is, by a running round, with other violent contortions of the whole body. In other instances, there is universal and continued spasm of the whole of the external muscles, very much resembling St. Vitus's- dance. All these varieties are sometimes blended, or degenerate into each other.
The idiopathic epilepsy, or those fits which appear habitual, and not dependent on any temporary cause, as costiveness, distemper, etc, are, in general, very difficult of cure. In dogs of very full habit, bleeding, emetics, and an occasional purge, should all be premised. In others, the following medicines may be at once proceeded on :—
Mix, and divide into nine, twelve, or fifteen parcels, according to the size of the dog, and and give one every morning. After these have been fully tried, in case the attacks do not relax, try the following :—
Lunar caustic, finely powdered
Spiders' web, called cobweb
Conserve of roses
Sufficient to make nine, twelve, or fifteen bales, according to the size of the dog; of which give one every morning.
The limbs of dogs are very liable to become fractured ; but irritability of the constitution is so much less in these animals than in ourselves, that they suffer comparatively but little on these occasions: and the parts soon reinstate themselves, even without assistance, though in such cases the limb in general remains crooked. The thigh is a very common subject of fracture; and though it appears a most serious bone to break, yet it is one that, with a little assistance, commonly unites straight, and forms a good limb. When a fracture has happened to the thigh, in case the violence has injured the fleshy parts also, so as to produce tension, heat, and inflammations, foment with vinegar and water till the swelling is reduced. When this is effected, apply a plaster of pitch or other adhesive matter, spread on moderately firm leather, sufficiently large to cover the outside of the thigh, and to double a little over the inside of it also. Then attach a long splent upon this, which should reach from the toes, to an inch or two above the back, and will steady the limb very much. This splent must be kept in its situation by a long bandage carefully wound round the limb, beginning at the toes, and continuing it up the thigh ; when it must be crossed over the back, continued down around the other thigh, and then fastened. This would, however, slip over the tail, without other assistance; for which reason it must be kept in its place by means of another slip passed round the neck and along the back.
Fractures of the shoulder should be treated in a similar manner.
In fractures of fore and hind legs, very great care is necessary to ensure a straight union. As soon as the inflammation and swelling will admit of it (sometimes there is little or none from the first), apply an adhesive plaster neatly and firmly around the part; then fill up the inequalities by tow or lint, so that the limb shall appear of one size throughout, otherwise the points of the joints will be irritable and made sore by the pressure of the splents. After this has been done, apply two. three, or four, splents of thin pliable wood before, behind, and on each side of the limb, and secure them in their places by flannel bandage. In all fractures, great caution must be observed not to tighten the part, by either the plaster or bandage, so as to bring on swelling; for, when this has been clone, mortification has followed. In fractures of the fore-legs, a supporting bandage, with side splents, should be kept on a longer time than is necessary for fractures of the hinder ones. If this precaution is not observed, the leg is apt to become gradually crooked, after the apparatus is removed.
In cases of compound fracture, that is, where there is an open wound, which penetrates to the divided bones: the same means must be pursued as are practised in the human subject. Irritating pointed portions must be sawed off; the loose ones should be removed; and every means must be used to close the wound as early as possible: during which process, the bones should be kept in contact with each other, and supported by soft bandages; until the cicatrization of the wound will allow of proper splents and tighter bandaging.
It likewise not unfrequently happens, that a compound fracture, or even a simple one, when neglected,, becomes united by a soft union ; that is, instead of the callus interposed between the divided ends being bony, it proves cartilaginous only. In such a case the fractured limb never becomes firm; but, on the contrary, when examined, an obscure motion may be felt, like au imperfect joint, which utterly precludes any strength in the limb. I have frequently been consulted on these cases, all of which originated in the neglect of a proper treatment at first.
As a remedy for the evil, one of two practices must be pursued. We should either open the skin opposite the fracture, and, laying bare the bone, should remove the soft portion interposed, with a fine saw, treating the case afterwards as a compound fracture. Or we should insert a seton exactly through the soft cartilaginous portion, and keep it in ten days or a fortnight. After this time it may be removed, the wound closed, and the part treated as a simple fracture. Either of these plans will usually prove successful, and firmly consolidate the limb; but, when there is no lapping over of the ends of the bones, the latter is the most mild and convenient, and equally certain of success.