This section is from the book "Sporting Dogs. Their Points And Management In Health, And Disease", by Frank Townend Barton. Also available from Amazon: Sporting Dogs; Their Points and Management in Health and Disease.
When consolidation of the lungs has taken place, their respiratory usefulness becomes materially interfered with, so that, frequently, the animal has to make use of his lips as an auxiliary, the cheeks being inflated in a spasmodic manner. Recovery in this advanced condition of disease is exceedingly rare, though we have known it occur.
Pericardial (heart sac) inflammation is not uncommon in distemper, resulting through extension of inflammation from the pleural membranes.
A disordered liver is indicated by yellowness of the skin and mucous membranes, this bilious or hepatic form of the complaint being fairly common.
A fetid breath and pustular eruption over the belly, and on the skin inside the thighs are commonly observed; in fact, the pustular eruption is the most significant sign one can find.
Its presence is at once demonstrative that the animal is affected with what is known to the professional as a specific eruptive fever, which will run a definite course, and no amount of medicinal agents can cut it short.
One may control it by good nursing, suitable surroundings, and the judicious use of medicinal agents, but for any man to say that it is within his power to stay its normal progress, would, we opine, be bordering on madness. So much for distemper cures and their curers.
Ordinary small-pox vaccine has been employed as a preventative for distemper. Almost everyone knows that when the arm of the human subject is scarified with the lancet, so as to admit the reception of the vaccine into the system, the part becomes inflamed and swollen, the seat of vaccination also showing a vesicle, etc., typical of a mild form of the disease, and if this does not take place the vaccine is said not to have " taken," i.e., it has done no good.
This is exactly what happens when used in the same way upon the dog, there being neither inflammation nor yet other signs, typical of local reaction, therefore it can be no use.
The mere fact of the disease never having occurred in a certain dog that has been vaccinated is not the least evidence in support of its utility.
Many dogs are very refractory to certain diseases, amongst these being distemper.
The Commission of Veterinary Surgeons, appointed to inquire into the utility of Dr Physalix's Vaccine, has convinced the writer that it was a failure from beginning to end, and he advises all dog admirers, Masters of Hounds, etc., to steer clear of its use.
There is no doubt that in course of time an anti-toxin, or some other attenuated form of distemper virus will be produced for the cure, or prevention of, this deadly canine malady.
Regarding the treatment of distemper, it has been suggested that a dose of castor oil may, with advantage, be given at the outset.
The author does not consider this advisable : the oil, owing to its extremely nauseating properties, tends to further weaken the animal by the production of vomition, etc. Moreover, castor oil leaves the bowels in a drier condition than before —an undesirable effect.
A soft—not dysenteric—condition of the evacuations is advantageous, much of the poison being got rid by the alimentary canal in this way.
A moist condition of the bowels is best maintained by the daily use of some of the natural aperient waters, such as Apenta, Hunyadi-Janos, etc., given in small doses once a day; say, every morning, taking particular care not to go too far.
The superiority of these saline aperients to those of oleaginous and other resinous purgatives, is further evidenced by the fact that they also act as febrifuges, lowering the excessive heat, thus diminishing the rapid loss of flesh, so characteristic of this affection.
For the husky cough give from one teaspoonful to a tablespoonful of ipecacuanha wine, just as it is. This should induce vomiting, and ought not to be repeated, at least for several days.
As a rule, very satisfactory results follow its use.
Inhalations of turpentine, eucalyptus, and spirit of camphor, or a little menthol, are exceedingly beneficial.
Four teaspoonfuls of each of the three first-named may be mixed together, and then one teaspoonful added to half a pint of boiling water, the dog being made to inhale the steam.
Five to ten drops of oil of eucalyptus, mixed with a little fine sugar, and placed inside the mouth night and morning, is good for the catarrhal symptoms of distemper, and the author can, from experience, recommend its employment.
When chest complications are marked, the application of mustard paste to the sides will do good.
Put the fore and hind limbs through holes cut in a thick piece of woollen blanket, and fasten it over the back. This will keep the chest warm and prevent the mustard from being rubbed off, more especially if a bit of brown paper be interposed.
Stimulants are indispensable in distemper, so that bovril, claret, and brandy are required. Brand's Essence is the best for nourishment. Give it in teaspoonful doses every hour. One may add the same quantity of brandy or whisky to it.
Bovril is a good stimulant in distemper, but it will certainty make the dog vomit, unless given in very small quantities, so long as the stomach is in an irritable condition, one or two tablespoonfuls each time being quite sufficient.
As restoratives, claret and Coca Wine are excellent.
When dysenteric symptoms are troublesome, give an injection into the rectum night and morning. Use two to six tablespoonfuls of tepid boiled starch, to which 1/2 drachm of laudanum, 10 drops of turpentine and 1 drachm of tincture of hamamaledin has been added, injecting the lot, and then keeping the dog very still until the discomfiture of the injection has subsided.
In addition to this, from 5 to 15 grains of grey powder may be given, and repeated in the doses first named, daily. If no improvement, give 10 grains of powdered ipecacuanha every 10 hours.
To relieve the congested condition of the liver, the use of hot linseed and mustard poultices over the organ will be of service, followed by 10 to 20 grains of sal ammoniac, along with 5 grains of hyposulphite of soda, given in a tablespoonful of water night and morning.
Most reliance must be placed upon careful nursing, and if this is properly carried out better may be the issue, though, as already stated, no amount of careful nursing, or use of -medicinal agents, will stop the ravages of distemper.
Fits are frequent, and another very common result is chorea, or St Vitus' dance, also called the twitch, jumps, etc. For fits, give 20 grains of bromide of potash, and if this does no good, double the close, and for chorea try a course of Easton's Syrup — in capsules—malt, cod-liver oil, etc. Paralysis is not an uncommon sequel.
Dialysed iron—10-drop doses in a tablespoonful of water—is a very satisfactory drug to use so as to restore the weakened constitution, and bring back the appetite after distemper.