Infectious canine hepatitis
Infectious canine hepatitis refers to a type of inflammation of the liver of dogs that can be transmitted from one dog to another.
Until a few years ago it was considered to be merely a modified form of distemper, but now it is recognized as a distinct disease. The germ that causes it is identical with one that causes a peculiar brain inflammation in foxes, timber wolves, coyotes, and bears. Among domestic animals, it is exclusively a dog disease. It is not transmissible to man.
The disease occurs throughout the world, and it affects dogs of all ages all through the year. Very young puppies, between about five and eight weeks old, seem to be especially susceptible to it, though it is also very common in older dogs. The average mortality rate is about twenty-five per cent, and very young puppies seem to die from it much more often than older animals.
It is estimated that about fifty per cent of all dogs have had the disease before they are one year old. It is thus an important disease, and if it is even vaguely suspected, no attempt at home treatment should be made. It is strictly a veterinary problem in which only the highest skill and most meticulous care of the veterinarian can bring about favorable results.
The disease is caused by a filterable virus and it is spread from dog to dog only by direct contact with the saliva, vomited material, stool, or urine of affected animals. The disease is not carried in the air as is the distemper germ, for experiments have shown that if a dog affected with the disease is confined in a cage, it cannot transmit it to its healthy companion in a cage six inches away.
The disease appears very suddenly, for when susceptible dogs are exposed to the infection symptoms will appear very dramatically within only a few hours to a couple of days. The progress of the disease is equally rapid. Most dogs will either recover or die within a couple of weeks after symptoms appear, and many will succumb within a few days or even within a few hours. A dog that recovers from the disease is capable of transmitting it to susceptible dogs by means of the urine for a period of as long as six and a half months.
Dogs with infectious canine hepatitis show extreme distress, a loss of appetite, and very often an intense thirst. The temperature may rise to as high as 105 degrees Fahrenheit; but later it decreases, and if the animal is going to die, the temperature will fall well below the normal of 101.5 degrees Fahrenheit.
Vomiting and diarrhea are extremely common in this disease, and very often the stool becomes amply tinged with blood. Many affected animals moan in pain, especially when pressure is applied to the abdomen. The eye membranes often become reddened and the eyes may tear copiously. The lining membranes of the mouth are usually pale and the tonsils and throat area are red and swollen.
From the practical standpoint, the pet owner should always be on guard whenever there is a sudden appearance of vomiting and diarrhea combined with inflamed throat and tonsils. Whenever this occurs, infectious canine hepatitis should be suspected and the animal should be taken immediately to a veterinarian.
Affected animals will often show soft, painless swellings of the head, neck, and the lower part of the abdomen. Nervous symptoms are seldom seen. When they do take place, the animal shows spasms of the neck and legs, and once in a while there will be paralysis of the hind legs. As indicated, the entire course of the disease may last anywhere from a few hours to a couple of weeks. In general, it may be said that it is much more likely that the disease will last longer in older dogs than in very young puppies.
Specific treatment of infectious canine hepatitis is ineffective. The veterinarian merely treats the symptoms. However, if an animal recovers from an attack of the disease, it develops a solid immunity to it that is presumed to be permanent.
An immune serum is now available that is reported to have negligible curative and limited preventive properties. It has also been claimed in some quarters that the injection of canine distemper serum will temporarily prevent hepatitis in healthy animals. This is highly questionable.
As for prevention, infectious canine hepatitis immune serum confers a temporary immunity that lasts about two weeks. There is also a combined distemper and hepatitis serum which can simultaneously confer a temporary immunity against both distemper and hepatitis. A recently developed hepatitis vaccine confers permanent protection after a single injection. It is recommended that all dogs be vaccinated against infectious canine hepatitis after they are nine weeks of age.
In recent years, a new vaccine has been produced which confers a permanent immunity against both distemper and infectious canine hepatitis in a single injection. This vaccination is most commonly administered to puppies at any age over nine weeks. It has proven quite successful and has rapidly become the favorite method of a great many veterinarians.
Canine distemper complex
It must be stated at the outset that if, at any time, the owner suspects that his animal has distemper, no effort at home treatment or nursing should be made. The animal should immediately be taken to a veterinarian and should be put under strict veterinary supervision during the entire course of the disease.
Distemper is by far the worst disease of dogs. Of all the dogs that die during the first two years of life, probably ninety-five per cent will die of distemper alone. Among domestic animals, distemper is exclusively a disease of dogs. It is caused by an extremely potent filterable virus, and the extent of the disease is world-wide. The disease may be transmitted by direct contact with infected dogs or indirectly by contact with dogs, persons, or places that have been exposed to the infection. It is not transmissible to man. The virus is everywhere. It is in the air, on the ground, on people’s clothes; it is truly omnipresent. No dog is safe from its ravages.
When distemper first strikes, the primary manifestations are depression, loss of appetite, and high temperature. These symptoms are often overlooked by the owner, and the general feeling usually is that the animal is somehow indisposed. These symptoms last only about two days. Then the virus causes a breakdown of the resistance of the various systems of the body, and a burst of complicating infections results, which give rise to a large variety of secondary symptoms. It is by these secondary symptoms that distemper is commonly characterized. Only the major ones will be considered here because these are the ones that will generally be recognized by the owner.
The most prominent and constant secondary symptom of distemper is a discharge from the eyes which usually starts as a watery exudation and changes in a few days to a dense, whitish, mucous-like accumulation. Often the discharge is so copious that the eyelids stick together, and after the discharge is wiped away the eye membranes appear to have an angry, red aspect.
There may be occasional vomiting. A very common symptom is diarrhea, which may become increasingly severe and bloody as the disease progresses. A watery and, later, a mucous or pus-like nasal discharge is also very characteristic, and this will often be accompanied by rubbing of the nose. Very commonly, too, there is a cough; characteristically this is steady and mild, but there may be occasional paroxysms which often end up in gagging and vomiting. Where the nervous system is involved, there may be twitch-ings of the face, head, and neck, but most often in the limbs.
In severe cases there may be intermittent convulsions, characterized by champing of the teeth, foaming at the mouth, falling on the side, violent shaking movements all over the body, involuntary passage of stool, urine, or both and hysterical running and barking. These convulsions may lead to partial or complete paralysis, but more often they gradually increase in frequency and lead to coma and death.
The skin may also show various manifestations. There may appear small, red spots around the face, eyes, internal surface of the ears or thighs, or on the abdomen. These red spots may become further irritated, swell, and fill with pus and rupture, thereby giving the animal an offensive odor and a scabby form of skin irritation.
Along with these specific symptoms, the animal may show marked temperature variations, variable appetite, intermittent seizures of depression, and any or most of the general signs of disease that were described earlier.
In treating a dog with distemper, the most potent drugs and expert nursing are required—strictly a veterinary problem. Where only the digestive or respiratory systems are primarily affected, about fifty per cent of the cases survive. Where the nervous system is involved, and especially where convulsions have appeared, ninety-nine per cent of the cases will die. The entire course of the disease usually lasts from six to ten weeks.
To combat this frightful scourge, the veterinary profession has devised a very effective method of immunization. This protection should be the first concern of the new dog owner. If he chooses to do nothing more, his dog should at least be afforded the benefit of protection against distemper.
The dog acquires a certain amount of protection from its mother. This protection usually lasts until the animal is about nine weeks old. At this age, some veterinarians proceed directly with the permanent immunization. Other veterinarians prefer a later age at which to give the permanent vaccinations, and in the meantime advise injecting puppies with distemper serum, which consists of secretory and excretory products of the distemper virus and confers a temporary immunity of from one to two weeks (though veterinarians in general place less confidence in serum than they used to.)
The distemper-serum injections are given every one or two weeks until the animal is four months of age or older. Then the animal is given three injections of distemper vaccine, each two weeks apart. Distemper vaccine consists of dead distemper germ. When these three injections are completed, the animal is considered to be protected against the disease for life. The efficiency of this protection is very high and is generally considered to be in the neighborhood of ninety-five per cent.
There are many modifications of this procedure. Some veterinarians prefer to give two injections of distemper vaccine and one of live distemper virus. Others prefer variants of this method. But, as a general rule, most veterinarians use the three-distemper-vaccine method. It is a safe, cautious and proven method of immunization.
Recently, a new method has been devised whereby very young puppies (as young as nine weeks of age) may be given a single vaccination that confers immunity for life. The material injected consists of a form of live virus from which the disease-producing power has been eliminated by various means.
This method is quickly winning favor among impressive numbers of veterinarians. When it was first produced, it was not without its shortcomings. Considerable caution had to be exercised in its use and disastrous results were occasionally reported in the literature. However, rapid progress has been made and the shortcomings of this single-injection method have been almost entirely eliminated. It is already apparent that if the current wave of popularity continues at its present rate, it will become officially recognized as the best method in the eradication of dogdom’s worst affliction.
The distemper complex
In recent years, veterinarians have come to recognize a whole series of diseases that are closely related to and scarcely distinguishable from distemper itself. These are the diseases of the distemper complex. Their detailed discussion would be useless here.
However it is well to interpolate this note because the subtlety of distinction has been such as occasionally to confuse the dog owner. This is nothing strange since the status of our knowledge on this point is also confused.
One veterinarian will call a particular disease distemper while another will disagree. This is not the place to say which one is correct. They may both be right. But it is unlikely that they are both wrong. In the face of such complexity, the owner should permit free and open consultation among veterinarians concerning this problem and not consider any difference of opinion as a proper reason for mistrust in the profession.
Car sickness in dogs
Carsickness seems to be as common in the dog as it is in the human family. Apparently it is caused by excessive nervousness or involves a peculiar sensitivity to riding in moving vehicles, such as cars, trains, or buses, but occurs most commonly in cars. It manifests itself, while riding, in a stomach upset with symptoms of nausea and vomiting, which quickly disappear when the animal is removed from the vehicle.
Possibly the simplest way to control carsickness is by not feeding the animal before taking it for a drive and also by giving it a mild sedative such as an aspirin tablet. Along with this, the animal should be petted and spoken to softly in an effort to subdue its nervousness. Sometimes it even helps to let the animal play with a favorite toy so that it can get its mind off the fact that it is riding. At best, however, the effectiveness of these procedures is uncertain and variable.
In recent years a new sedative drug has been developed which seems to work quite well in a large percentage of these cases. It comes in tablet form and is called dramamine. The animal should be given the proper dose before taking it for a drive. Dog owners whose pets are afflicted with carsickness are advised to contact their veterinarian to inquire about this drug and its use. Dramamine can be purchased at most pharmacies on a veterinarian’s prescription. Bonamine is another drug that has achieved popularity. Many of the newer forms of tranquillizers are also very effective against carsickness.
Rabies disease in dogs
Rabies is an age-old scourge which has been recognized as a dread disease since ancient times. Though it is primarily a disease of the dog, many other species, including man, are susceptible to infection. It has been reported in the cat, cow, horse, mule, sheep, goat, hog, wolf, fox, coyote, hyena, skunk, monkey, deer, antelope, camel, bear, elk, polecat, bat, squirrel, hare, rabbit, rat, mouse, jackal, marmot, woodchuck, porcupine, weasel, hedgehog, gopher, raccoon, owl, hawk, chicken, pigeon, and stork. It is fairly common throughout the world, though Great Britain, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden have been free from it for several decades and it has not been reported in Australia.
Rabies may occur in the furious and the dumb forms. In the furious form, the dog usually first shows a marked change in disposition. Later the animal has a tendency to wander, and may return home exhausted after a day or two. The animal seems to become vicious and has an abnormal tendency to bite. This is because, at this time, the animal suffers impairment of vision, and, because of fear of its surroundings, the animal will bite at anything in reach that crosses its line of vision. As the disease progresses the animal develops a peculiar hoarseness of voice, shows signs of staggering, paralysis of the lower jaw, partial paralysis of the limbs, excitability, convulsions, and finally complete paralysis and death.
In the dumb form, there may simply be a marked depression and then death, but more commonly the main symptom is paralysis of the lower jaw. The animal may or may not show a change in disposition, has no tendency to roam or bite, and is not excitable.
The dropped-jaw appearance often arouses the erroneous contention that a foreign body might be lodged in the throat. Since the saliva carries the rabies virus, caution should always be used in approaching the mouth of an animal that presents such a symptom. The animal eventually develops complete paralysis and dies. In both furious and dumb rabies in dogs, once the symptoms appear the animal usually dies within three to seven days. The disease has been presented here in its most typical forms. It may occur in many atypical forms, which means that one must always be aware of its possibility.
The term “hydrophobia,” commonly associated with this disease, is a misnomer. The affected animal has no fear of water as the word implies. It simply cannot drink because of the paralysis of the lower jaw and the swallowing mechanism.
The term may have its origin in the fact that humans with rabies develop convulsions due to unsuccessful efforts to drink, and later even the thought of drinking water may bring on convulsions. Thus a dread of drinking water becomes established in many human patients.
Rabies is caused by a filterable virus, is positively diagnosed by the demonstration of certain structures called Negri bodies on microscopic examination of brain tissue, and is transmitted mainly by the bite of rabid dogs, though it has been transmitted experimentally by the feeding of the meat and milk of rabid animals. Rabies is invariably fatal in dogs and man when untreated.
In dogs, the disease may be prevented by vaccination, a single vaccination confering immunity for one year. A newer vaccine is claimed to give protection for at least three years. As a precautionary measure, all bite cases should be reported to the local Board of Health, and the animals involved should be examined to determine whether they have the disease.
Worms in dogs
There are many illusions about worms. Some dog owners believe that worming a dog consists merely of giving the dog a worm tablet or capsule. Others are under the impression that dogs always have worms—that worms are somehow natural to the dog and that all dogs should be wormed periodically. Others have the idea that the feeding of sugar and candy will cause worms in dogs, that garlic will eliminate worms, that there is a worm under a dog’s tongue, and that humans never catch worms from dogs. It is sufficient to state that all these ideas are incorrect.
Worming dogs is a dangerous procedure and should be performed only with expert guidance. In order to undergo the strain of worming, the animal should be in apparent good health, for if some disease process already exists worming might aggravate the condition.
The normally healthy animal should never be wormed unless the parasites are positively identified. Veterinarians do this by microscopic examination of the animal’s stool. Indiscriminate worming will almost invariably affect the dog’s health adversely and should therefore definitely be avoided. The parasite must be positively identified to determine the specific species of worm, since there are many different species and each of these must be treated in a different manner. It is therefore not good sense simply to buy a “worm capsule” and expect it to do its job, since the capsule might incorporate the medication effective against one type of worm while the animal is affected with another.
Animals with worms have a tendency to bloat easily. There may be occasional nausea with some vomiting and diarrhea. The eyes may tear and the animal may rub on its bottom or bite its tail. The animal may appear unhealthy, have a ruffled hair coat and have either a very poor or a ravenous appetite. If there is a mild infestation, many dogs will seem apparently normal in every respect. Worms may occur at any time during the animal’s life, though they seem to be most prevalent in the puppy. This is due to the fact that puppies often have an excellent opportunity to catch worms either from the mother dog or in the kennels where they are raised. The worms are usually found in the stool or they may be vomited.
The types of worms most commonly encountered are tapeworms, roundworms, whipworms, and hookworms. Tapeworms are flat and segmented in structure and their segments are commonly seen with the naked eye, in the stool, in the form of cream-colored, rice-shaped rods; in fact, they look just like slightly enlarged beads of rice. Roundworms may be up to several inches in length, are the easiest to identify, and usually have the appearance of curled-up spaghetti. Whipworms are very thin, are about an inch long, and taper off in a whiplike mechanism at one end. Hookworms are about a quarter of an inch long and are usually identified by noting their eggs on microscopic examination of the stool.
Worms are commonly transmitted from animal to animal by means of the worm egg. Fleas, too, often help to transmit worm larvae. Animals ordinarily become infected by sniffing or licking other animals’ droppings. Thus they pick up worm eggs from the affected stool and, after these eggs mature and reproduce, worms make their appearance in the new host.
The common idea that sweets will cause worms is an old fallacy. Worms can come only from other worms. They can come about in no other way. Because the dog licks up worm eggs from affected stool, it is dangerous to permit it to kiss you because tapeworm eggs may be transmitted in this way, and this worm can develop in the human being as well as in the dog.
There are a great many medicines used in the treatment of worms. There is no point in mentioning them here because the most effective ones can be purchased only on a veterinarian’s prescription. Since most worm medicines in effective doses are poisons, they must be administered with caution and the animal should be under professional supervision during the worming so that proper measures can be taken should any toxic reactions arise from the medication. This note should dispel once and for all the illusion that worming is a simple process that demands no special knowledge or that it might not be dangerous to the animal.
A highly recommended hygienic measure is to have the animal’s stool checked twice a year. If the examination shows that the stool is negative, the owner is assured that the animal is clean. If worms are demonstrated, then the prompt elimination of the infestation is advisable to avoid the possibility of any serious complications.
Heartworms in dogs
Since the heartworm is rather different from the other types of worms, it is well to discuss it separately. This parasite is seen quite often, enjoys a world-wide distribution, but is found most frequently in warmer climates.
The adult worms are slender, whitish in color, and vary in size from five to seven inches in length in the male worm to twice that size in the female. They lodge mainly in the right ventricle of the heart and in the pulmonary artery, though they may be seen, in rare instances, in other parts of the body. Neglected cases of heartworm infestation will invariably result in death. Therefore, in obscure conditions that do not react favorably to routine treatment, the possibility of the existence of heart-worm should be given due consideration.
The symptoms of heartworm infestation are indefinite. Sometimes the animal may appear healthy in every respect and the diagnosis may come as a complete surprise to the owner. In the ordinary case, the animal does not appear in good health, and coughing is a very common symptom. After vigorous exercise the animal may tire easily, lie down, gasp for breath, and sometimes collapse. Long-standing cases may show a marked abdominal enlargement, due to improper circulation resulting in the accumulation of liquid in the abdominal cavity. This condition is called dropsy. Further, swellings may appear on the legs and on other parts of the body. In infected animals, certain nervous symptoms such as a peculiarly fixed stare, fear of light, and convulsions have been noted.
Diagnosis is established by the identification of the heart-worm larvae on microscopic examination of the blood. The blood examination is usually performed after ordinary methods of examination yield inconclusive results. In warmer climates, where the incidence of these worms is often very high, it is advisable to have the blood checked periodically for this parasite.
Heartworm larvae may be transmitted from animal to animal through the bite of certain species of mosquitoes, which act as intermediate hosts. It is believed that dog fleas may also act as intermediate hosts in their transmission.
The treatment of heartworms is specific and has been performed routinely with considerable success in moderate infestations. It consists of a series of injections which are administered periodically until there is no further evidence of heartworm larvae in the blood. The heavier the infestation, the less favorable will be the outcome. There is also a fairly effective tablet medication.
Convulsions in dogs
Convulsions in their most typical form are characterized by champing of the jaws, foaming at the mouth, falling on the side, involuntary passage of urine and stool, violent shaking movements over the whole body, then moaning, barking, and wild running about, and finally complete collapse or depression.
They may occur in varying degrees of severity and any or all of the symptoms stated may present themselves in any one attack. Often, in spite of mild or severe attacks, many animals may appear quite normal between attacks. Nonetheless, a convulsion is a very significant and often ultimately fatal symptom, and no effort at any extensive home treatment should be attempted. A mild sedative such as an aspirin will never do any harm, but it is rather unlikely that it will do any good. A convulsion is a veterinary problem.
Convulsions can come about for a great variety of reasons. They might be due to injury, poisoning from certain chemicals, nervous disorders, brain inflammations due to an infectious disease, certain urinary disturbances, eclampsia, diabetes, foreign bodies in the stomach, or worms.
The treatment of convulsions obviously depends on the cause. Whether or not the treatment can be successful depends upon how readily the cause can be eliminated. As a general rule, in the ordinary case where convulsions appear with increasing frequency, the likelihood of a cure is rather remote. That is why the animal who has convulsions should be brought to a veterinarian at the earliest possible moment. Often the application of quick emergency measures has been able to save many an animal’s life when, on the other hand, even a few moments’ delay would have so changed the situation that the animal would have had only a limited chance for survival.
Uremia in dogs
Uremia is an acute, usually fatal disease, characterized by the accumulation of urinary products in the blood stream. It is caused by the breakdown of kidney tissue with the result that the proper functioning of the kidney is disrupted and waste materials that should go into the formation of urine become absorbed into the blood instead. The disease may occur in animals of all ages but is much more common in old ones.
Animals with uremia usually present a picture of extreme depression, intermittent vomiting and diarrhea, and a strong, fetid odor from the mouth. The veterinarian makes a positive diagnosis of this disease by urine analysis. It may take months and sometimes years before there is sufficient destruction of kidney tissue to give rise to symptoms of uremia. Unless the diagnosis is quickly established and bold therapeutic measures are taken, the animal will usually die. If too much destruction of tissue has already taken place, the animal will die no matter what is done.
The routine manner of handling this condition is to apply heavy doses of dextrose and saline so that the animal does not get depleted. A nonirritating diuretic, such as ascorbic acid, is also indicated. Blood transfusions are of further help. Unfortunately the ordinary case is usually presented to the veterinarian when the animal is beyond hope.
The owner is generally advised to have the animal put to sleep because of the hopelessness of the condition and the expense of the treatment. However, if the owner is willing, the veterinarian will throw everything in the book at the animal, and if it does happen to recover, it will be due less to the skill of the veterinarian than to an aggregate of factors beyond his direct control.
Constipation in dogs
An animal is said to be constipated when the bowel movements are either infrequent or incomplete or when the stool is more or less retained in the intestines. In this condition a large part of the moisture of the stool is often absorbed into the body and the stool comes out gray to whitish in color. In itself constipation is not a serious condition, for it can usually be remedied quite readily by administering a simple laxative such as milk of magnesia or mineral oil, or by giving an enema or using a children’s size suppository. But where it is neglected it can cause serious complications, which might even result in the death of the animal.
While there are many possible causes of constipation, it is most commonly due to lack of exercise, which results in a general sluggishness of all the body functions.
One of the complications that may result from neglected constipation is a stomach upset with symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea. For it is logical that when there is a rectal obstruction, a point is reached where any food that is eaten is likely to be vomited. If this condition is permitted to go untreated, it can lead to significant inflammations of the stomach and intestine, with all the attendant consequences.
The best thing to do in the ordinary case of constipation is to clean out the animal’s bowels and then to feed a bland diet of milk, cereal, or cooked rice mixed with meat broth, while withholding water, meat, and dog food. This diet is continued for a few days until the animal returns to normal, at which time there is a gradual return to the regular diet.A more serious complication of neglected constipation is impaction.
In this condition, the retained stool becomes so firmly lodged in the intestines that the animal cannot pass it unless it has considerable assistance. Sometimes the stool become so massive and hard that it feels like a rock in the intestines. The animal loses its appetite, vomits, and strains pitifully in its unsuccessful efforts to pass the stool.
Poisons from the stool are absorbed into the body after a few days, and the animal starts to develop signs of self-poisoning or – as it is technically called – autointoxication. The animal becomes dizzy, drowsy, and depressed, and runs a high temperature. Further neglect may result in paralysis of the hind legs and death.
Since in treating impaction the veterinarian often finds that even the most thorough enema cannot dislodge the intestinal mass, he has to resort to digging it out with instruments. When the mass is finally removed the animal usually returns to normal in a few days.
As in constipation, a bland diet should be fed for several days, and the meat and water should be eliminated temporarily from it. When the movements become normal, there should be a gradual return to the routine diet.
Straining to pass stool
Excessive straining to pass the stool is most commonly caused by impaction or proctitis. Impaction was discussed in the last section. Proctitis is the term applied to an inflammation of the mucous membranes of the rectum. The outcome of proctitis depends on the severity of the inflammatory process, but when it occurs in an uncomplicated form—that is, where the pathology is confined to the rectal mucosa—its termination is usually favorable. It is frequently encountered in dogs, and though it is not often a serious condition it should be handled only by the veterinarian.
Proctitis may be caused by various mechanical irritants, such as coarse foods, bones, needles, and other foreign bodies. It may come about as a result of the ingestion of irritant chemical substances. It may be one of the manifestations of a heavy parasitic infestation, a bacterial invasion, a rectal growth, or it may appear as a complicating symptom of numerous infectious diseases involving the alimentary canal. It may also be due to direct injury by improper digital manipulation, careless insertion of a thermometer, and so on.
The disease picture presents difficult and painful defecation, with frequent attempts at voiding the stool. This effort may result in the passage of small quantities of matter which often may be tinged with blood. The rectal mucosa is swollen and inflamed, and digital examination elicits a very painful response. The condition is diagnosed on the basis of the symptoms and more rarely by direct examination of the affected area with a rectal speculum.
The first step in treating proctitis is the removal of the cause. Then a bland diet is fed, and sedative, soothing, antiseptic, and tonic medications are administered either orally or directly into the rectum.
Heart diseases in dogs
Even the most competent specialist in canine diseases often finds it difficult to establish clinical diagnoses of the ailments of the heart. It is apparent, therefore, that any detailed description of heart diseases would be of little value to the general reader. However, the intelligent person in the modern world should have some idea of what some of the terms associated with heart diseases signify, since they are so commonly mentioned in everyday conversation.
The heart is covered by a double membrane, which forms a sac around it. This membrane is called the pericardium, and the sac is called the pericardial cavity. An inflammation of the pericardium is called pericarditis. Where a watery fluid accumulates in the pericardial cavity as a result of some inflammatory process, the condition is called hydropericar-dium. When blood accumulates in the pericardial cavity, the condition is called hemopericardium.
The heart of dogs, as well as that of man, consists of four chambers. Between these chambers are structures known as valves. When the blood is pumped from one chamber to another and from there to the rest of the body, it is the function of these valves to block off the backward flow of blood so that there will be no interference with the impetus which that blood has obtained from the heart.
When there is improper closure of the valves, the condition is known as valvular insufficiency. This will give rise to a sound commonly called a heart murmur.
Sometimes, when the valves are relaxed, they may have some involvement whereby they do not permit proper flow of blood through the blood chambers. In other words, they tend to remain nearly closed all the time. This condition is called valvular stenosis. The muscle tissue of the heart is called the myocardium. An inflammation of this structure is called myocarditis. The lining membrane of the heart chamber is the endocardium. An inflammation of the endocardium is called endocarditis. Where there is an abnormal increase in the size of the heart due to the increase in the quantity of muscle tissue, the condition is called hypertrophy of the heart.
When the heart increases in size due to the enlargement of the heart chambers, the condition is called dilatation of the heart. When the heart is ruptured due to injury or any other cause, then the designation rupture of the heart is applied to the involvement.
Prostate trouble in dogs
An inflammation of the prostate gland is prostatitis. This gland is a small structure located at the neck of the male bladder, and its secretion, which is poured into the urinary tube, is largely responsible for the odor of the semen.
Prostatitis occurs mainly in old dogs and it must be tended to by a veterinarian, not only because it is not amenable to treatment with household remedies, but also for the important reason that it may lead to secondary disturbances of a serious and sometimes fatal nature.
The symptoms of prostatitis vary with the degree and nature of the inflammation of the gland. The most constant feature characterizing the disease is the expression of pain. The animal may arch its back, walk or jump cautiously especially when going up or down stairs, and may occasionally howl for no apparent reason. Since stool in the rectum exerts pressure on the inflamed prostate, there will often be evidence of delayed or painful defecation.
The swollen glands may press upon the urinary tube (urethra) leading from the bladder to the outside, and this may result in frequent, short, and painful urinations. In inflammations of greater severity there may be dribbling of urine, straining, or no passage of urine at all.
Where there is no passage of urine, this should be considered an emergency symptom for, if the animal is not treated promptly, urinary products may become absorbed into the blood and lead to uremia and death. Where the disease occurs in younger animals there may be excessive ejaculations of semen. Dogs have had as many as a dozen spontaneous orgasms in a single day as a result of this condition.
In treating the disease, the pain manifestations are relieved with suitable sedatives. In certain types of inflammations the administration of stilbestrol, either in tablet or in-jectable form, is quite specific and often effects dramatic cures. In some other types, stilbestrol has been effective even when the theoretical reasons for its use have been uncertain. Since stilbestrol is a synthetic form of female hormone, it has a tendency to “feminize” the dog, thus suggesting that pros-tatitis may often be due to excess masculinity. Where there is impairment or stoppage of the urine flow, the treatment is surgical.
Pus dripping in dogs
If there is a fairly persistent dripping of pus from the female opening, the likelihood exists that the condition is pyometra, a disease of female dogs in which pus accumulates in the womb or, as it is called anatomically, the uterus. A fairly common ailment of dogs of all ages, but occurring most often in older animals, it is a condition that demands reasonably prompt professional attention, for excessive delay will render the most effective method of treatment too dangerous to apply.
Pyometra is caused by an infection of pus-forming organisms. The cardinal symptom of the disease is a discharge from the female opening. The character of the discharge may be anywhere from a thin mixture of blood and pus to a thick, creamy accumulation of pus.
The offensiveness of the odor of this discharge will increase as the concentration of pus becomes greater. Sometimes the pus is not readily observable because the animal licks it. Any constant licking should attract the owner’s attention and its cause should be determined.
As the disease progresses, the uterine tubes become filled with more and more pus thereby giving the animal an abnormally fat appearance. The animal may harbor the disease for several months and remain in apparent good health, but as the condition progresses the animal gradually shows lack of appetite, depression, and occasional vomition due to toxic reactions from the absorption of pus.
If the disease is allowed to run its course, considerable quantities of pus will become absorbed into the blood and the animal will die of this complication, which is called pyemia.
In mild cases, pyometra is treated by the administration of drugs which will cause the uterus to contract, thereby expelling the pus. To obtain this reaction, stilbestrol or pituitrin are most commonly used. These are combined with other agents, such as penicillin or the sulfa drugs, which will assist in destroying the pus-forming organisms. But the most permanent and most effective method of treatment is the surgical removal of the uterus. This operation is usually quite safe, but the outcome will be less certain if the animal is too old or too debilitated or if the disease has been allowed to progress too far.
It is obvious that pyometra can be prevented by spaying the animal when it is young, since, in spaying, the uterus is removed. This, however, is an alternative that is entirely at the discretion of the owner.
Itching in dogs
When a dog itches, the best way to get rid of the itching is to remove the cause. Sometimes the cause of the itching is very obvious and in such cases the elimination of the condition will be a very easy problem. Plain ordinary filth is probably the commonest cause. If the animal is laden with fleas, ticks, or lice, it is very likely that when the parasites are destroyed the itching will disappear. Of course the situation is not always so simple.
If the itching is caused by mange mites or ringworm, the problem becomes more difficult because these parasites cannot be seen with the naked eye and have to be identified microscopically. Once the parasite is positively identified, the special medication which can destroy the parasite can be applied. Then treatment becomes a matter of routine and the only demand made upon the owner is just a little patience. But the cause of the itching can be much more obscure. It may be due to certain allergies, to infection, or to certain chemical irritants and the like. In such instances the veterinarian will have a more difficult problem on his hands.
In any case, the dog owner should understand that, as in human medicine skin diseases can be so complex that they often demand painstaking treatment by highly competent specialists, so skin diseases can be complex in our canine patients. The following discussion will consider some of the commonest types and causes of skin irritation and what to do about them.
Fleas on dogs
Anyone who has the least acquaintance with household pets knows that fleas are extremely common in the dog. Their significance is usually underestimated. They are a source of considerable annoyance to the animal and are not averse to biting humans, though their affiliation with man is only temporary. Ordinary infestations are readily controlled by simple hygienic measures, such as bathing with flea soaps or dowsing with flea powder. But in heavy infestations the animal should be placed under professional care in order to avoid more serious conditions that may result from further neglect.
Fleas may be responsible for transmitting certain tapeworms not only from dog to dog but also from dog to man. This is probably the main reason why the kissing of dogs is emphatically ill advised. These parasites may cause variable degrees of skin irritation; they may complicate other skin conditions; and they have been mentioned as a possible source of various allergic manifestations. Fleas may work great havoc when they are present in enormous quantities. One occasionally hears of a dog that has died as a consequence of the depletion and exhaustion caused by these tireless workers of discomfort.
Fleas are rather small and darkish, about ten times the size of the head of a pin. They can be seen quite readily by pushing the hair to one side and noting them running for cover. They are seen much more readily on the underside of the body, especially in the area of the abdomen and the inner surface of the hind legs, where the hair is much more sparse than in other parts of the body.
A thorough bath will eliminate large numbers of these pests. If oil of tar is incorporated into the shampoo in a concentration of about one tablespoonful per quart, it not only will assist in the eradication but will also tend to operate as a mild flea repellent, besides giving the dog a pleasant antiseptic odor. Denis flea powder is the commonest household remedy and is very effective if conscientiously applied.
Five-per-cent D.D.T. powder will do the job with satisfying completeness. Oil emulsions of D.D.T. should not be used because they are often toxic to the animal. In recent years a new chemical has been discovered which is completely sensational. The name of the chemical is malathion, and it is readily available in many commercial preparations. Since these preparations vary in potency, there are slight variations in their use. The dog owner should find out all the essential details about malathion from his veterinarian.
It is almost needless to mention that in addition to ridding the dog of fleas, simple hygienic measures should be used to rid the pet’s bedding and the rest of the household of fleas in order to avoid any reinfestation.
It is hardly possible to keep the dog completely free of fleas under ordinary circumstances. Sooner or later a dog will pick them up either from another dog or by nosing around in an area that a flea-infested dog has previously occupied. But if the above-mentioned treatments are followed at the first sign of any infestation, it is very unlikely that fleas will ever pose a significant problem.
Ticks on dogs
There are eight species of ticks that affect dogs. These may cause considerable annoyance to the animal and some of them act as vectors in the transmission of human disease. Some of the species may also invade the household and this is naturally a source of considerable distress to the owner. They may hide in the folds of curtains, in baseboards, and in other woodwork, and present an annoying sanitary problem. Where there are marked seasonal variations in climate, ticks cause their greatest havoc in the spring and summer. In warmer climates they thrive abundantly throughout the year.
Ticks are very easy to identify. The adult females have a tan to gray greenish cast, eight legs, and may be as large as house flies. The males also have eight legs, are dark-brown to black in color, and are about one fifth to one tenth the size of the females and sometimes even smaller. They appear most commonly on the head, neck, ears, armpits, and between the toes, though they may be found on any part of the body. They may cause varying degrees of skin irritation, though often the itchiness caused by ticks is very slight or negligible.
Ticks do not run over the body like fleas. They usually adhere directly to the skin, feel like small bumps on it, and sometimes even present the illusion of being small growths. They adhere so tightly to the skin that when they are pulled off with a tweezer, they will almost invariably pull a small piece of skin with them, with the result that a small blood spot will show up at the point where they are removed.Dog ticks are extremely hearty parasites and are very resistant to ordinary parasitic medications. They depend on dog’s blood for survival and the blood sucked from a single bite is often sufficient to keep them alive for from eight months to two years. Until recently the routine medications have been only moderately effective against ticks. But with the advent of malathion the problem is now quite simple to handle.
Your veterinarian will advise you in the use of this wonderful chemical. It is often suggested that dogs with ticks should be clipped. This assists the treatment by permitting better penetration of the medication. Further, if new infestations occur they can be seen more readily on a clipped animal.
Ticks live mostly in grassy and wooded areas. It is therefore advisable, when exercising the dog, to avoid such areas wherever possible. This is, of course, more practicable in cities than in country places. In any case, if the animal does happen to pick up an infestation it should be attended to at the earliest possible moment. Malathion may also be used to eliminate these pests from the household. Details on its household use should be requested from an exterminator.
Lice on dogs
Two varieties of lice are very common in the dog. One lives by sucking the dog’s blood, and the other gets its nourishment by feeding on the scales on the superficial layers of the skin as well as on hair. The blood-sucking variety is more troublesome, but for the most part all louse infestations are highly amenable to treatment and are responsible for serious complications only in cases of very extreme neglect.
Lice appear as dull, whitish, flake-like accumulations except when they are engorged with blood. Then they have a dark, dirty-grayish appearance. They are about the size of large flakes of dandruff.
On close observation they may be noted to move and are thus readily identifiable with the naked eye. However, it is advisable to make a positive diagnosis by microscopic examination in order to determine the specific species and also to get an impressive idea of what the parasite looks like.
The eggs, or nits, adhere firmly to the hair, and are seen as white specks about the size of the head of a pin. Lice seem to have a special preference for the head, neck, and ears, though they may be found on any part of the body. The blood-sucking variety is much more dangerous than the other because if it is present in sufficient numbers it can cause depletion and exhaustion of the animal much more readily. In rare cases even death may ensue as a result. However, the resistance of the animal is so great that this practically never occurs.
Lice give rise to symptoms of scratching wherever the parasites occur. Since they appear so often on the ears, shaking of the head and digging at the ears are fairly constant symptoms. Animals seem to tolerate lice better than many other parasites and there is often less scratching than with flea or mange infestations. Since scratching of the skin may give rise to a dermatitis which may obscure complicating invasions of other parasites, the animal with lice should also be checked for other parasitic infestations.
Lice are very responsive to treatment. Creolin, derris powder, D.D.T. powder, household vinegar, and best of all malathion are effective against lice. It is best that treatment be administered under professional supervision in order to avoid possible toxic reactions with these medications. Clipping the hair will assist the treatment. Many nits and lice will thus be removed with the hair, and the medication applied will have a better chance to make contact with and destroy the remaining parasites. Proper combing and grooming at all times is always advisable because cleanliness discourages lice. Where lice infestations have occurred, proper measures should be taken to restore household cleanliness so that rein-festation may be prevented.
Ringworm on dogs
Ringworm in dogs is a fairly common parasitic disease caused by various fungi. It may be spread from animal to animal by direct contact or by exposure to contaminated quarters. It is also mildly transmissible to man. If it is given prompt attention the disease is readily amenable to treatment, but cautious measures must be taken because of its contagious nature.
In its most typical form, ringworm is characterized by small, denuded, raised, circular areas, varying in size from about a dime to a nickel. The areas may be pinkish to dirty-gray in color, or covered with brownish-yellow crusts or scabs. The condition most commonly starts on the head, neck, or limbs, but may appear on any part of the body. As the disease progresses, the small lesions increase in size and small patches may fuse to form larger ones. Scratching or rubbing may cause the lesions to have an irritated or bloody appearance. In many cases, however, there is little or no scratching. In certain cases, the patches of affected skin may not have the typical circular shape, being of variable size and of every conceivable shape.
Neglect of the condition may result in its spread over the entire body of the animal. The ensuing discomfort may lead to lack of appetite, gradual emaciation, exhaustion, and death. However, since the ordinary case is treated within a reasonable time, such drastic end results are exceedingly rare.
Though ringworm is so characteristic that the veterinarian usually makes his diagnosis directly from the symptoms, positive diagnosis can be established only by microscopic identification. Ringworm is treated by the application of various fungicides prescribed by the veterinarian. Though the treatment itself is relatively simple, it may take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to destroy all the parasites. This depends on the severity of the infestation and the amount of resistance of the particular organism to treatment.
New drugs are constantly making their appearance and the prospects of quick recoveries are rapidly improving. One of these is an oral medication called griseofulvin. Preliminary research has yielded sensational results. Because of the contagious and transmissible nature of the disease, animals, with severe cases of ringworm are occasionally put to sleep.
Mange on dogs
Mange of dogs is a parasitic skin disease caused by certain mange mites. There are three species of mites that commonly affect dogs, and these give rise to the sarcoptic, demodectic, and otodectic (ear) varieties of the disease. Ear mange is the most amenable to treatment because the mites do not burrow beneath the skin as in the other forms, and remains localized in the ear. Sarcoptic and demodectic mange usually demand a long course of treatments, and if the matter is not given prompt attention a valuable animal may be rendered worthless. All these varieties of mange are contagious to other dogs and the sarcoptic form is transmissible to man. The disease affects dogs of all ages, though the demodectic form seems to occur more commonly in the young of short-haired breeds. Diagnosis is established by microscopic indentifica-tion of the parasite.
Ear mange gives rise to an inflammation of the lining membrane of the ear, with its accompanying symptoms of shaking of the head and scratching of the ears, and the accumulation of ear wax and other exudations incident to the inflammation. The condition is treated with appropriate insecticides that destroy the mites, and antiseptics that soothe and heal the irritated membranes. The disease process is readily eliminated.
Sarcoptic mange usually starts around the eyes, bridge of the nose, and base of the ears, but sometimes it is first noted on the abdomen, chest, under the front legs, or on the inner surface of the thighs. Red points develop into small blisters that rupture and eliminate a discharge that forms scabs. The animal emits a mousy odor. The itching is very intense, the irritation soon becomes generalized, and the distinguishing characteristics of the disease become obscured. In treating sarcoptic mange, it is advisable first to clip long-haired animals and to remove the scabby accumulations. Sulphur preparations are most often recommended, though sensationally effective results have been reported with benzyl benzoate. The latter preparation must be used with caution because it may give rise to toxic reactions. Chlordane and malathion are very useful in the treatment of sarcoptic mange.
Demodectic mange usually starts around the eyes, elbows, hocks, and toes, though it may appear anywhere on the body. It is characterized by patches of denuded hair which gradually become reddened and copper-colored. There is very little itching at this stage, but soon the irritation becomes complicated by invading germs, and the resultant irritation becomes intensely itchy, though rarely as severe as the sarcoptic form. Treatment of demodectic mange is often very discouraging because of the care, time, and expense involved. The most effective remedies are usually built on a rotenone basis. Chlordane is also very helpful.
Eczema on dogs
Eczema is intense itching, frequent loss of hair, and the accumulation of a considerable amount of scurf. If the skin has a weeping appearance as a result of the inflammation, it is referred to as moist eczema. If it is dry and scaly, it is called dry eczema. Eczema exhibits a marked tendency to become chronic.
Eczema is most common during the warmer seasons of the year, and for this reason the popular term of summer eczema has been applied to it. This is a misnomer. Eczema is more prevalent in the summer time because the predisposing and causative factors of the disease are more plentiful then than during the other seasons. Eczema may be caused by an allergic reaction to foods of high protein content, or it may be due to a hypersensitivity to certain chemicals or drugs. Such external parasites as fleas, ticks, lice, fungi, and chiggers, as well as internal parasites, may be direct or predisposing causative agents. Dietary imbalance or improper hygiene may also be responsible for it. Anal-gland infections, discussed below, will often start eczematous manifestations.
Eczema usually starts at the base of the tail or in the hip region, and then spreads over the rest of the body. Clinically, this would appear to be due, most often, to the discomfort caused by anal gland involvements. Recent reports indicate that it might also be due to derangements of sweat glands at the base of the tail. In any case, eczema may start on any part of the body. The animal scratches intensely, and the severity of the condition depends upon the amount of damage that the animal does to itself. In long-standing cases, or chronic eczema as it is properly called, the skin becomes thickened, the irritation less intense, and the condition more resistant to treatment.
Occasionally there are spontaneous recoveries from eczema. But the average case is treated by eliminating the cause and applying soothing and healing lotions or ointments (usually made with a sulphur base) to the irritated parts. It is always advisable to evacuate the contents of the anal glands, and to administer supportive treatment in the form of blood, digestive, or general body tonics. These may be given by injection or orally in tablet or liquid forms. Often the injection of various protein substances, as an auxiliary measure, exercises salutary effects in alleviating severe eczemas. Cortisone preparations have also been very effective in treating eczemas.
The anal glands
Derangements of the anal glands in dogs are among the commonest causes of numerous other involvements, and their importance in the maintenance of pet health is too often overlooked. These structures are small outpouchings near the end of the rectum and are analogous to the scent glands of lower animals which in dogs, in the course of their evolution to higher forms, have become modified and have lost their function.
These glands occasionally become filled with secretions and excretions of the gland membranes. The filling of these glands makes the rectal passage narrower, and when the animal is ready to move its bowels the pressure of the stool against these full pouches causes considerable pain and annoyance. As a consequence, the animal will rub on its bottom, bite at its back end or at its hip region, and sometimes will even bite its feet, apparently as a compensatory reaction. This combination of symptoms makes the average owner think of worms, and he is often quite startled when the actual condition is demonstrated.
When the animal finds that passage of its stool is painful it will withhold it as long as possible. The liquid portion of the stool will gradually be absorbed and the stool itself will get hard and dry, thus making passage still more difficult and painful. This may lead to constipation. Constipation may lead to vomiting, because it is logical that if the back end of an animal’s digestive tube is plugged up, what is taken in at the front end cannot readily be retained. A severe gastroenteritis, characterized by vomiting and diarrhea, may ensue. Another condition that may result from occluded anal glands is a severe irritation of the skin. The difficulty starts with the biting at the back end, which sets up a local skin irritation. In time the animal feels itchy all over, scratches over its whole body, and the irritation becomes generalized.
In cases of prolonged neglect the anal glands may abscess and break through the skin on either side of the anal opening, thus forming a pathway of pus (fistula) between the glands and the outside.
Occluded anal glands are quickly relieved by applying pressure on these pouches by placing the thumb on one side of the anal opening and the forefinger on the other, and then squeezing out the contents. To soothe the inflamed glands and to prevent a recurrence of the condition, a rectal ointment of the type used for human hemorrhoids should be applied. These preparations should be applied before the dog goes to bed because, if it is done during the day, the ointment will pass out with the animal’s stool and will not be able to exercise its beneficial effects. If the glands prove to be excessively troublesome, they may be removed surgically.
The terms “excess weight” or “obesity” refer to an excessive accumulation of fat in the body. This may be confined to certain localized areas, or it may be distributed throughout the organism. It appears rather commonly in dogs, smaller breeds seeming to be more susceptible to obesity than larger ones.
Obesity is caused most often by excessive feeding and lack of exercise. Phlegmatic animals tend to become fat because of insufficient activity and, of course, lack of exercise. Castration sometimes induces this phlegmatism and may be considered as another predisposing factor. The same may be said about spaying though animals get fat after spaying much less often than after castration. The tendency of castrated animals to get fat seems to be more marked if the operation is performed after, rather than before, maturity. Certain glandular disturbances, such as insufficiency of the secretions of the thyroid glands, may also result in obesity. Certain anemic conditions which cause a reduction of muscular energy may also lead to the accumulation of body fat.
The most common locations of observable body fat deposits are the neck, hips, shoulders, and abdomen. The animal shows a rapid increase in weight, a change of body contour, and a change in disposition. The animal breathes heavily after light exercise. The diagnosis of the condition is obvious.
Obesity is not good for the well-being of the animal. It often leads to derangements of the vital organs, especially the heart, and seems to predispose the animal to digestive disturbances and anemia. It is advisable, therefore, to administer appropriate measures to eliminate or control the condition.
Treatment consists in eliminating the cause. Since improper feeding and lack of exercise are most often responsible, regulated feeding and proper exercise will commonly result in a rapid cure. There is also now manufactured a special reducing diet for dogs that can be obtained on a veterinarian’s prescription. This method is both scientific and effective. Where there are constitutional disturbances, ultimate success will depend on how amenable these conditions are to treatment. In fat castrated or spayed animals, usually nothing is done because of the long duration and often prohibitive expense of the treatment. In the latter instance, probably the best routine would be to feed the prescription reducing diet.
Dog sneezing and coughing
When a dog does any persistent sneezing and coughing and at the same time maintains its normal pep and appetite, there is usually not very much to worry about. The likelihood is that the animal has a simple cold, and the same common-sense hygienic measures that are used in taking care of colds in humans apply to dogs. This means that the animal must be kept in a room that is well-ventilated and free from drafts and fed light nourishing food.
If the coughing and sneezing cause excessive discomfort, the same household cold remedies and nose drops as used by man may be used in much the same way in the dog. Naturally the dosage should be smaller for the dog, but sufficient amounts may be given to bring about obvious relief. In any case, the only function of these drugs is to relieve and not to cure. So far as curing is concerned, the job is best left to nature, for the symptoms will be observed to disappear gradually over a period of from ten days to two weeks.
The only time that any special attention needs to be paid to coughing and sneezing is when they are accompanied by lack of appetite, depression, and fever. In such cases the situation may not be at all simple, and if the common hygienic measures outlined above do not yield improvement within a couple of days, it is best to have the animal examined by a veterinarian. Sometimes neglect of a common cold may lead to an attack of laryngitis, bronchitis, or even pneumonia, and these could be quite serious. At least they are well beyond the scope of the ordinary layman and do not readily yield to household remedies.
In speaking of these respiratory disorders and of any other disorders, for that matter—we often make a distinction between the acute and the chronic form of a disease. When we speak of the acute form, we refer to a sudden and often violent attack, which usually reacts to proper medication and is not long-lasting.
Acute respiratory attacks may last anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks. When we speak of the chronic form, we usually refer to an attack of gradual onset that is relatively mild, but somehow does not react readily to routine medication and may persist for a considerable time.
Chronic respiratory attacks may last anywhere from four to six weeks or longer. Especially in the case of coughing, a cough may last for many years. Everybody knows that among the human family chronic coughs are very common. The persistent hacking of a heavy cigarette smoker may last throughout the adult life. Older folks, with asthmatic conditions, often have a similar complaint.
Chronic coughs are rather common in dogs also, especially as they get older. These few notes have been written as a general introduction to a more detailed discussion of the common disease conditions associated with coughing and sneezing. It will be noted that, for the most part, treatment is stated only in general terms. This was done on purpose, because specific treatment must be adapted to the individual animal and can be determined only by the veterinarian who is treating the particular case.
Rhinitis in dogs
Rhinitis is the term applied to an inflammation acute or chronic of the membranes lining the nasal passages. Rhinitis is a rather common and mild disease of dogs, and while recovery from the acute form is often spontaneous or in response to simple medication, the chronic form also very often has a favorable outcome though it is somewhat more refractory to treatment and demands more prolonged medication.
Acute rhinitis may be caused by infection, exposure to cold, inhalation of irritating substances, and the early stages of nasal parasite invasion. Chronic rhinitis is usually the result of repeated attacks of the acute form, though it may result from an ordinary infection, a prolonged parasitic invasion, or from the development of tumorous growths within the nasal passages.
The acute form is characterized first by redness and dry-ness of the nasal mucosa, which progresses to a nasal discharge that may be watery or pus-like in character. This is accompanied by sneezing, rubbing of the nose, and the accumulation of dried matter around the nasal openings.
In the chronic form, the discharge is usually pus-like, the odor from it may be offensive, and sometimes it may be tinged with blood. The animal may suffer violent paroxysms of sneezing. Where the nasal passages are clogged, the animal may breathe through its mouth. When the condition is especially severe, there may be loss of appetite, dullness, and depression.
The treatment of rhinitis consists of the application of proper hygienic measures and the administration of tonics, nasal antiseptics, and germ-killing and alleviatory preparations in tablet, injection, liquid, spray, or ointment forms. If the chronic form proves particularly resistant, vaccines prepared from the nasal discharge have occasionally been used with favorable results. The course of acute rhinitis usually lasts from seven to ten days. The chronic form may persist from three to four weeks or longer.
Laryngitis in dogs
The larynx is popularly known as the voice box. An inflammation of the lining membrane of the larynx is known as laryngitis. Suddent attacks are called acute laryngitis. Repeated attacks may lead to chronic laryngitis. The condition is very common in the dog. If the factors responsible for the acute form are eliminated, the chronic affection may be avoided.
Acute laryngitis may be caused by excess barking, inhalation of irritating substances, infection and extension of the inflammation from adjacent organs. The symptoms are hoarseness, frequent attempts at swallowing, sensitivity to pressure over the larynx, coughing after exercise or drinking very cold water and a harsh dry cough that gradually becomes softer as the condition becomes alleviated. Chronic laryngitis is characterized by symptoms similar to the acute form though less marked and more persistent, and the larynx is much less sensitive to pressure. There may also be intermittent acute attacks in chronic laryngitis.
The outcome is more favorable in the acute than in the chronic form. Where acute laryngitis appears as an uncomplicated disease, it is usually completely cured in from seven to ten days. In the chronic form, however, the outcome is much less optimistic in that improvement is generally rather slow and complete recovery seldom takes place.
The treatment of both acute and chronic laryngitis consists in keeping the animal warm, making sure that it gets plenty of fresh air, and feeding it warm, soothing foods, such as milk, a cereal mixture of milk and pablum, meat broth, and similar preparations. Medical treatment is based on the administration of drugs that will destroy incriminated germs and on those that will stimulate the flow of saliva. These latter drugs, called expectorants, are useful because the flow of saliva is very soothing to the irritated membranes and will contribute substantially to the comfort of the animal.
Chronic bronchitis and asthma in dogs
Old dogs commonly become afflicted with severe and raucous coughing spasms that often become aggravated during the night, thereby causing considerable discomfort to the animal and sleepless hours for the owner. These spasms appear rather suddenly and, instead of disappearing like the ordinary cold, the symptoms not only persist but may become worse.
The condition is due to an inflammation of the lining membranes of the bronchi, the respiratory tubes between the throat and the lungs. Such an inflammation is called a bronchitis, and if it persists for many weeks it is classified as a chronic bronchitis. In old dogs the condition rarely appears independently but is ordinarily associated with the breakdown of lung tissue, causing what is commonly known as asthma. It also bears a distinct relation to the gradual breakdown of cardiac or heart tissue. Thus it happens that, when some veterinarians give a diagnosis of chronic bronchitis, and others give the designation of cardiac asthma to the condition, they often refer to the same disease.
The violence of the spasms usually causes the owner great concern, but his consternation is considerably relieved when he notices that between spasms the animal retains its normal appetite and shows no abnormality in the performance of its vital functions. The owner is led to believe that the disturbance is only temporary but, after he has spent a few sleepless nights and is on the verge of nervous prostration from lack of sleep, he is finally driven to solicit the benevolent assistance of a veterinary surgeon.
Most of the time chronic bronchitis is incurable and the veterinarian can offer only relief measures in the form of syrupy cough mixtures, bland diet, honey, heart stimulants, and the like. The cough mixture will contain some form of cough sedative to relieve the violence of the spasms, and it will also include some agent that will cause the bronchi to dilate so as to make breathing easier.
The average owner finds the cough spasms so disturbing that the animal is often put to sleep before it can live out its natural life. Though the cough is a detriment to health, the animal can live an appreciable time with it. Thus, whether or not euthanasia (putting an animal to sleep) is decided upon is entirely at the discretion of the owner.
Acute bronchitis in dogs
Dogs with acute bronchitis act very much like dogs with chronic bronchitis, with the difference that the cough is usually more severe, but it gradually subsides and finally disappears in from ten to fourteen days if the animal is given routine cough medicines, proper hygiene, and certain germ-killing drugs when they are necessary. Most often this form of the disease occurs as a complication of a bad cold.
Pneumonia in dogs
Pneumonia is not readily amenable to definition in nontechnical terms. For all practical purposes it is sufficient to state that pneumonia refers to an inflammatory process of the small tubules known as bronchioles and the related structures in the lung tissue. At one time pneumonia was considered to be, almost invariably, a fatal affliction. But with the advent of some of the newer drugs of modern medicine, its danger has been considerably curtailed. None the less, it is still a boldly significant disease condition, the neglect of which may have fatal consequences.
Pneumonia may be caused by the inhalation of irritant substances. Changeable weather and improper hygiene may predispose an animal to it. It may occur as a result of a specific infection, or as a secondary manifestation of certain infectious diseases. Pneumonia may also be produced by the extension of an inflammatory condition higher in the respiratory tract. Thus, the neglect of a common cold or of acute bronchitis may lead to pneumonia. A form of the disease known as foreign-body pneumonia may result from the in-gestion of various substances into the lungs. This may be caused by improper swallowing due to faulty technique in the administration of medicines. People who insist on excessive home treatment of dogs should take particular note of this fact.
The most characteristic symptom of pneumonia is labored breathing with a unique intermittent puffing up and relaxation of the cheeks. In severe cases, a sonorous, crackling sound may be heard when the animal breathes, and sometimes a peculiar rumbling actually can be felt when the palm of the hand is placed over the ribs. This is accompanied by high fever, depression, and sometimes restlessness. Often there is a deep, sharp cough with some nasal discharge. If the disease process runs its course, the animal dies of asphyxiation. The veterinarian usually diagnoses the disease on the basis of the symptoms.
The outlook in cases of pneumonia is favorable if the disease is caught in time, less optimistic if it is treated in an advanced stage, and unfavorable in foreign-body pneumonia.
Treatment is based upon the maintenance of clean, well-ventilated quarters and proper hygiene, the feeding of highly nutritious, easily digestable foods, and the administration of appropriate drugs, usually in the form of penicillin, au-reomycin, terramycin, and the sulfa preparations.
Tuberculosis in dogs
Tuberculosis is rather uncommon in the dog. The germ that causes it most often gains entrance into the body by inhalation or by ingestion with the food. Though dogs may conceivably transmit tuberculosis to man, and may likewise acquire it from man, the possibility is insignificant from the standpoint of public health.
Tuberculosis is a chronic, wasting disease and its symptoms develop very slowly. The affected animal appears generally unhealthy, and in spite of a good appetite becomes gradually emaciated. When emaciation sets in, the distinctive symptoms manifest themselves with greater emphasis.
If the germ infects the respiratory system, it will give rise to the pulmonary form of tuberculosis, characterized by a short, dry cough that later becomes moist and is accompanied by labored breathing, exhaustion after mild exercise, and the accumulation of phlegm, which is usually swallowed. Where the germ has gained entrance into the body by way of the digestive system, it will give rise to the intestinal form of the disease. This is characterized by chronic diarrhea refractory to treatment. The disease may run its course over several years, but emaciation is indicative of the latter stages of the affliction, and death ensues within a short time after it sets in.
Because of its relative rarity, tuberculosis is often diagnosed only by post-mortem examination. While the animal is still alive, the tuberculin test might be applied, but this has been found generally unreliable in carnivorous animals. The better approach would be to attempt to identify the tuberculosis germ by means of a bacteriological examination of the sputum or the bowel discharge. An X-ray may assist materially in diagnosis. Obviously tuberculosis is a problem for the veterinarian.If the diagnosis can be established in the early stages, treatment may be attempted in the form of good nutrition, potent tonics, and good hygienic measures. In the latter stages of the disease, a favorable outcome is very unlikely and putting the animal to sleep is the only humane alternative.
Enlarged abdomen in dogs
Sometimes there is a general enlargement of the entire belly region in older dogs. The entire abdomen appears to have dropped down. While this may be due to a variety of reasons, one of the most common causes is dropsy, a disorder of circulation in which certain body fluids, that should normally be distributed throughout the organism or eliminated as waste material through the urine, become accumulated in the abdominal cavity. Though it may occur in young dogs, it is encountered most often in very old ones, and is one of the prominent diseases associated with geriatrics—that is, the study of the diseases of old age.
While the disease process is in operation, the animal appears normal in every respect except that the abdomen is noted to increase gradually in size. For a while the animal maintains its accustomed appetite and properly performs its vital functions. As time goes on, the abdomen increases further in size, the animal shows distress and decreased appetite, and occasionally will vomit because of the pressure of the excess abdominal fluid on its digestive organs. If the disease is allowed to run its course, the animal will die of either heart failure or gradual suffocation.
Dropsy is caused by the breakdown of the vital organs of the body. Disease processes in the liver, kidneys, heart, and lungs are associated in this circulatory disturbance. In fact, when there is a breakdown of any one of the vital organs of the body, this will lead inevitably to a breakdown of the others. The speed with which this will come about will depend upon the resistance of the animal and the severity of the affliction. The disease process may go on for several years before the symptoms show up, but once they appear they will become increasingly evident in anywhere from a few weeks to several months.
Because of the extensive tissue breakdown, the disease is generally classified as incurable. In rare cases the disease process may be arrested, but for the most part only relief measures are applied. Diuretics – drugs that will stimulate urination—are given in the form of ascorbic acid and certain arsenicals.
The most effective measure is to have the abdominal fluid tapped, giving the animal immediate relief, so that it will get along very well for a period of from two weeks to about two months, depending upon the degree of tissue destruction. Within this period the abdominal fluid will usually return, at which time the animal must be tapped again. The owner is advised that the animal may pass away at any time either during or between tappings.
It is usually advisable to have the animal put to sleep when it is affected with dropsy but, if the owner insists, the dog may be subjected to intermittent tappings. There are many cases on record where animals treated in this manner have been kept alive tolerably well for several years.
Running fits in dogs
Running fits is a nervous affliction of dogs that is also variously known as barking fits, fright disease, furious fits, or canine hysteria. Dogs of all breeds and ages and of both sexes are subject to it, and though it is prevalent throughout the country, it is observed most often in the South. It is not attended by high mortality.
Usually, the animal first shows signs of restlessness, and the eyes bear an anxious, fearful expression. Then the animal has an attack of running and barking, with expressions of excitement and fear, which may last anywhere from a few minutes to half an hour. Between attacks, the animal may either appear normal or show signs of dullness and listless-ness. These manifestations are intermittent in character, and may extend over a period of a few days, weeks, months, or years. In mild attacks, the animal may simply hide for a variable period of time and then appear normal. In severe attacks, there may be typical convulsions, with involuntary passage of urine and stool, and salivation. Sometimes the disposition of the animal remains timid, commands are not readily obeyed, and the slightest stimulus provokes snapping and barking.
The cause of this peculiar disease is obscure. Various factor, such as infection, improper diet, hereditary predisposition, circulatory disturbances, indigestion, inbreeding, parasites, heat period, and the like have been ascribed as possible causes. Recent investigations have pointed to a possible deficiency in vitamins A or B. In any case, the actual cause has not yet been established.
Treatment consists in the feeding of fresh foods, maintaining bowel regularity, and control of parasites and other conditions, which might add to discomfort and thus possibly aggravate the fit attacks. Supplementary quantities of vitamins A and B should be incorporated into the diet. The ultimate outcome will depend upon the general resistance of the animal and the severity of the fit manifestations. Treatment should be undertaken only under veterinary supervision.
Dog twitching and flinching
Persistent twitching is most commonly due to a disease called chorea. A nervous involvement characterized by intermittent twitching of certain muscles or a group of muscles, chorea is quite common. The ailment may persist for months or years and, though it may occasionally contribute to discomfort, the normal functions of the animal remain apparently unaffected, and its longevity seems unimpaired.
The cause of the disease is obscure. Most cases seem to occur as an aftermath of a severe attack of distemper. It may also be a symptom of an inflammatory condition of the membranes that cover the nerves or spinal cord, and it occasionally appears in the early stages of rickets. Even the most exacting microscopic examination of the body tissues, on post mortem, have failed to reveal specific, characteristic manifestations of the disease complex, though anemia has been a pretty constant finding.
The muscles of the head and legs are most commonly affected in chorea, though the twitching may occur in any part of the body. In mild cases, the spasmodic movements are most readily observed while the animal is lying on its side. The spasms are often less marked while the animal is asleep, and excitement may cause exaggeration of the symptoms. Consciousness is not disturbed in cases of chorea. Diagnosis is based on the history of the case, the lack of general symptoms and the characteristic periodic movements.
Treatment of chorea is usually ineffective, and it is not often attempted because results cannot be expected unless medication is administered over long periods of time. Various tonic preparations containing arsenic or iron compounds have occasionally been used with indifferent results. Highly nourishing food should back up any course of treatment.
In the above, chorea has been discussed in its pure form, that is, where it is present in the otherwise normal animal. Very often chorea arises as a complication of a severe attack of distemper at the height of the disease. In such cases death almost invariably ensues.
Dog painful swallowing
When a dog eats its food cautiously and seems to swallow with difficulty, the likelihood is that it is affected either by a sore throat or by tonsillitis. If it is nothing more than a sore throat, it will usually go away by itself in a few days.
Swabbing the throat two or three times a day with a household antiseptic, such as tincture of metaphen, will be of assitance in overcoming the ailment more rapidly. However, if the symptoms persist or are accompanied by loss of appetite, depression, and high temperature, there is a strong possibility of tonsillitis.
Tonsillitis in dogs
The tonsils are rodlike structures, which lie in small grooves on either side of the back of the mouth. An inflammation of these structures is called tonsillitis. The inflammation may be either acute or chronic. The acute form responds readily to simple medical treatment. The chronic form is often resistant to medical treatment, and requires surgical removal of the tonsils for the permanent elimination of the condition. Tonsillitis does not appear too frequently in dogs, though the Boston Terrier seems to have a special predilection for it.
Improper hygienic surroundings will predispose the animal to tonsillitis. The ailment may also be caused by infection or various mechanical or chemical irritants. It may occur as an incidental complication of numerous infectious diseases.
In the acute form, the animal swallows with difficulty and may vomit occasionally. The head may be extended, and manipulation over the throat region may elicit a response of pain. The tonsils themselves may appear red and congested, and exude a discharge of pus-like character. When the attack is mild, the only symptoms may be that the dog eats its food slowly and swallows with caution. In severe attacks, there may be complete lack of appetite, depression, and fever.
The chronic form of tonsillitis is characterized by slow eating, cautious swallowing, and occasional vomiting, but the animal may appear normal in every other respect The tonsils themselves are hard, gray, swollen, and insensitive to pain stimuli.
The treatment of acute tonsillitis consists in removing the cause, and in applying antiseptic and alleviatory measures to the inflamed tonsils. Various germ-killing agents, such as penicillin or aureomycin, may be used either in tablet or injectable form. As stated above, chronic tonsillitis does not respond readily to routine treatment and surgery is the best alternative.
Dog has bloody urine
The appearance of blood in the urine of the dog is a significant symptom. Not always an emergency symptom, it nevertheless warrants veterinary consultation without unnecessary delay. Though it may be observed in dogs of any age, it occurs most often in older ones.
Bloody urine is due mainly to an inflammation of the bladder or of the urethra, the tube that conducts the urine from the bladder to the outside. The inflammation may be due to injury, infection, or the accumulation of stones or gravel in the affected parts. Dogs withstand bladder and urethra inflammations quite well and seem to maintain their normalcy in every other respect for variable periods. Neglect of the symptom may result in stoppage of the urine flow, in which case portions of the retained urine may be absorbed into the blood and lead to uremia and death.
When animals with bloody urine urinate, they may show signs of straining and dribbling and when the urine flow is free, blood may appear only intermittently. Because of the possible fatal termination in animals showing this symptom, early diagnosis and treatment are essential. A positive diagnosis of stones may be made by X-ray. The nature and extent of any other cause of inflammation is usually established by urine analysis. Stones may be remedied by surgical removal. The operation for the removal of bladder or urethral stones is quite safe if the animal is in good condition and if the disease process has not progressed too far. In debilitated animals the outlook is less optimistic. Inflammations not due to stones are treated with appropriate medications, usually in the form of the conventional germ-killing agents.
The symptom of blood in the urine may be caused by certain parasites of the urinary system, but since they are relatively uncommon it has been deemed advisable merely to mention them and not to discuss them in detail.