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Dogs: Their Management Part II

Vermin often are very troublesome to dogs, and I have known these animals destroyed because their owners were ignorant of the process by which the annoyance might have been readily conquered. There are many powerful drugs recommended by different writers to effect this end; but though all of them are sufficiently potent to annihilate the parasite, most of them are also strong enough to kill the dog. When fleas are numerous, the dog must be taken from the place where it has[Pg 105] been accustomed to sleep. The bed must be entirely removed, and the kennel sluiced—not merely washed—with boiling water, after which it ought to be painted over with spirits of turpentine. The dog itself ought to be washed with eggs and water, as before directed; but with the yelk of every egg a teaspoonful of spirits of turpentine should be blended. After this, the animal should have pine shavings to sleep upon, and if these are frequently renewed, the annoyance will seldom be again complained of. As, however, exceptional cases will always start up, should the tribe not be entirely dispersed, the washing must be repeated; or if from want of time or other cause it be inconvenient to renew that operation, a little powdered camphor rubbed into the coat will mostly abate and often eradicate the nuisance.

Lice often cover the body of the dog, and especially crowd upon its head around the eyes and lips. There need be no dread of their presence, since these vermin will not live upon the human being, though similar to the kind which will. When they are perceived, the dog should be carried into some place in which grease stains are not of much consequence. It ought then to be covered with castor oil till the hair is completely saturated. In this state it should be allowed to remain at least twelve hours, at the expiration of which time the oil may be removed with yelk of eggs and water: only an additional number of eggs will be required. As to the quantity of castor oil which may be necessary, a moderate-sized dog with a long coat will require about a[Pg 106] pound, and a large Newfoundland four times that amount. The process, as might be anticipated, operates upon the bowels; but I have never found it to do so with any dangerous power; on the contrary, the laxative effect is generally in these cases beneficial.

Medicine to the dog requires to be administered with caution. The nostrums which are so particularly recommended by grooms and farriers ought never to be made use of. The veterinary surgeon is less likely to commit error; but there are, however, few of the profession who devote attention to the dog with the zeal which the comprehension of its diseases and their treatment demand. Huntsmen and gamekeepers are generally from practical experience not altogether inapt dog doctors, where the larger and more robust kind of animal is to be treated, but for the smaller and petted species these persons ought not to be consulted. Many of their receipts are harsh—not a few of them inoperative—and some even dangerous; while all for the most part are pushed down at random, or in total ignorance of any effect the agents employed may induce beyond the intended one of doing good or working a certain cure. Nevertheless, with the kind of animals generally entrusted to their charge, such persons are so far successful that, in the absence of better advice, they deserve to be consulted for the larger species of dogs. The human physician will also, on occasions, be enabled to prescribe advantageously for the canine race; but not knowing the treatment of the diseases, and the symptoms being too often deceptive, the highest[Pg 107] opinions are by no means to be absolutely relied upon.

Dog-doctoring is, in fact, a separate branch of science so intricate as to call for intense study strengthened by constant observation. No one not attached to the animal should attempt to master it, for success in such a case would be hopeless. The annoyances are so great that the patience is continually being tried; and the facts on which reliance can be placed are so few, that he who is content to depend upon the received assertions will never be able to realize his expectation. Nothing is more erroneous than to believe that there is any close analogy between man and the dog in the operation of medicinal substances. Aloes, rhubarb, &c., are not purgatives to the dog; but castor oil, which to the human being is a gentle laxative, to the dog is an active purge; while Epsom salts are a violent hydragogue to the canine patient, producing copious and watery stools. Common salt is in large doses a poison, and in apparent small quantities is so strong an emetic as to be dangerous. Salivation speedily ensues upon the use of minute quantities of mercury, which therefore cannot be considered safe in the hands of the general practitioner. Secale cornutum has little specific action beyond that of inducing vomiting; and strychnia cannot be with security administered, on account of its poisonous operation upon the animal. Other instances, casting more than suspicion upon the inferences which every writer upon Materia Medica draws from the action of drugs given to dogs,[Pg 108] could easily be quoted, but they would here be somewhat out of place; and probably sufficient has been said to check a dangerous reliance upon results that admit of no positive deduction.

It is painful to peruse the "experiments" made especially by the French authors. We read that so much of some particular agent caused death to a dog in such a period; but he must be wise indeed who learns anything from statements of this kind. The word dog represents animals of various sizes and very diverse constitutions; therefore no conclusion can be drawn from an assertion that does not embrace every particular. Unfortunately, however, the operators think it no disgrace to their scientific attainments to put forth such loose and idle assertions; nor do they seem to hold it derogatory to their intelligence that they assume to reach a show of certainty by experimentalising upon a creature about which, as their reports bear witness, they literally know nothing. Equally unsatisfactory are the surgical and physiological experiments made upon these creatures. No results deduced from such acts can be of the slightest importance. The anatomy of the dog is not by them generally understood. There is no book upon this subject that is deserving of commendation; and, to instance the ignorance which prevails even in places where a superficial knowledge ought to exist, I will mention but one circumstance.

At the Royal Veterinary College there is a professor of Particular Anatomy, whose duty it is specially to instruct[Pg 109] the pupils concerning the dog. The lectures, however, embrace but little, and that little is principally devoted to wandering remarks upon the osseous structure. Of the value of such teaching some opinion may be formed when the skeleton at the College actually exhibits the bones placed in wrong or unnatural situations. After the proof thereby afforded, with what reliance can any sane mind accept the awful declarations of those anatomists who, upon the living bodies of these creatures, have, according to their own accounts, exhibited a nicety and certainty of skill which the profoundest acquaintance with the various structures and parts would still leave incomprehensible? Such reports evidence only the presumptuous folly of individuals—the publication of such records testifies no more than the ignorance of the age.

To give medicine to the Dog often creates more bustle than the magnitude of the creature appears to justify. Moreover, if the parties concerned in the undertaking are not quite up to their business, the animal, which, between its gasping, howling, and struggling, will find time to bite, increases the activity by provoking human exclamations. I have known this species of confusion to have been continued for half an hour; during which work was stopped in a forge, and three brawny smiths joined a veterinary surgeon's efforts to give a pill to a little spaniel that could not have weighed above eight pounds. The dog was beaten and hands were bitten, but after all no pill was swallowed. The result was the natural consequence of the manner of proceeding. No[Pg 110] man should contend with an animal, and especially with a dog, whose excitement soon renders it incapable of obedience.

With brutes of every kind, if the mastery cannot, by a bold stratagem, be gained at once, it should be only established through the confidence of the animal, which a few acts of kindness will, in the majority of cases, easily win. I have had dogs brought to me which seemed disposed rather to part with life than permit their jaws to be handled. The poor beasts had been harshly used by the persons who had previously undertaken to treat them. These creatures have remained with me, and in a little time have grown so submissive that my shop-boy could with ease give any kind of physic which I ordered to be prepared. Firmness and kindness were the only stratagems I employed. I took care never to give the dog a chance of mastery, but while ensuring my victory, I was careful that the conquest caused no sense of pain. A few pats, with a kind word, and an occasional reward in the shape of a bit of meat, induced the creature more willingly to submit when the next dose came round.

A small dog should be taken into the lap, the person who is to give the physic being seated. If the animal has learned to fight with its claws, an assistant must kneel at the side of the chair and tightly hold them when the dog has been cast upon its back. The left hand is then made to grasp the skull, the thumb and fore finger being pressed against the cheeks so as to force[Pg 111] them between the posterior molar teeth. A firm hold of the head will thus be gained, and the jaws are prevented from being closed by the pain which every effort to shut the mouth produces. No time should be lost, but the pill ought to be dropped as far as possible into the mouth, and with the finger of the right hand it ought to be pushed the entire length down the throat. This will not inconvenience the dog. The epiglottis is of such a size that the finger does not excite a desire to vomit; and the pharynx and œsophagus are so lax that the passage presents no obstruction.

[Pg 112]

[Pg 113]

When the finger is withdrawn, the jaws ought to be clapped together, and the attention of the creature diverted. The tongue being protruded to lick the nose and lips will certify that the substance has been swallowed, and after a caress or two the dog may be released. Large brutes, however, are not thus easily mastered. Creatures of this description must be cheated, and they fortunately are not so naturally suspicious as those of the smaller kind. For months I have thus deceived a huge, ferocious, but noble guardian of a yard, who appeared incapable of conceiving that deception was being practised. The dog bolts its food, and, unless the piece be of unusual size, it is rarely masticated. The more tempting the morsel, the more eagerly is it gorged; and a bit of juicy or fat meat, cut so as to contain and cover the pill, ensures its being swallowed. Medicine, however, which in this manner is to be administered, ought to be perfectly devoid of smell, or for a certainty the trick will be discovered. Indeed, there are but few drugs possessed of odour which can be long used in dog practice, and even those that are endowed with much taste cannot be continuously employed. When the dog is very ill, the intelligent beast becomes conscious of its danger, and almost any kind or any form of medicine will be accepted. There is no difficulty generally then; but in chronic diseases, that only vex the temper and scarcely lower the spirit, the ingenuity will mostly need to be exerted. Some medicines, however, can be dissolved in the water; others may be smeared upon the food; and fortunately the majority of those drugs appropriate to slow and inveterate disorders admit of being thus exhibited. Fluids are perhaps more readily than solids given to dogs, by the generality of inexperienced persons. To administer liquids, the jaws should not be forced open and the bottle emptied into the mouth, as when this method is pursued the greater portion will be lost. The animal's head being gently raised, the corner of the mouth should be drawn aside, so as to pull the cheek from the teeth. A kind of funnel will thus be formed, and into this a quantity of the medicine equal to its capacity should be poured. After a little while the fluid will, by its own gravity, trickle into the pharynx, and oblige the dog, however unwilling it may be, to swallow. A second portion should then be given in the like way, and thus, little by little, till the full dose is consumed. Often dogs treated in this fashion swallow a draught very expeditiously; but others will remain a considerable time before they deglutate. Some, spite of every precaution, will manage to reject the greater part, and others will not waste a drop. The dexterity of the practitioner makes some difference; but no skill can ensure the drink being taken. Patience, however, is here of most avail; but when the mouth is full of fluid, by gently separating the jaws the animal may be caused to deglutate.

[Pg 114]

Two pieces of tape, one passed behind the canine teeth or tusks of the upper, and the other in like manner upon the lower jaw, have been recommended. The tapes are given to an assistant, who, pulling at them, forces the mouth open, and holds it in that position. In certain cases this may be adopted for pills; indeed every stratagem will be needed to meet the multifarious circumstances that will arise. For ordinary occurrences, however, the practice is not to be commended, and should never be embraced when drinks have to be given: the animal cannot swallow while the jaws are held asunder; but for solids this plan answers better. There are several objections, however, to be urged against its constant use. The operation is violent, and the restraint it necessitates not alone prevents the poor animal deglutating fluids, but also terrifies the brute, who, on the next occasion, naturally is the more resistful. Difficulties, therefore, increase, and the dog generally is not long before it learns to baffle the attempt to confine it. Moreover, unless the assistant be very well up to his business, his steadiness cannot be depended upon, and the hand often is wounded by the teeth of the patient.

I therefore do not, as a general custom, resort to the tapes, and I advise others only to employ them upon necessity. There are some creatures so artful and so resolute that any attempt to give them physic is certain[Pg 115] to be frustrated. These are mostly small dogs that have been tutored by severity, and such animals are not subdued by any amount of suffering. The poor beasts fear the doctor more than the disease; and, though gentle in their dispositions, are resolute in their resistance. For such cases I employ the stomach pump, and by its aid introduce a dose of sulphate of magnesia; for in general it is only purgatives that require to be given in bulk. Other drugs may be either disguised, or exhibited by injection. Enemata are of great service to this animal, and I make much use of them. In their exhibition, care should always be taken to introduce the pipe without any force; having previously greased the tube to ensure its passing the more readily. While the instrument is in the rectum the dog should be firmly held, else, in its struggles, the intestine may be injured. The fluid should be gently thrown up, even when a large quantity is employed. For those injections, however, which it is desirable to have retained, from an ounce to a quarter of a pound will be sufficient. Warm water ought not to be used as an injection, since it washes away the mucus, renders the intestinal surface harsh, and prevents the passage of the fœces. Linseed tea or any mucilaginous fluid answers the purpose better, and a solution of soap is excellent in many cases, when only a laxative effect is desired. The form, however, as will in the course of this work be explained, must be repeatedly varied, since this agent may be rendered medicinal or nutritive.

Purgatives are most valuable, but are not free from[Pg 116] danger. The digestive canal of the dog is peculiarly irritable, and no less sensitive to the action of medicine. There are few diseases in which the stomach and intestines are not involved, and very many in which purgatives are directly contra-indicated. No one should get into the habit of thrusting physic of this nature down the throats of his animals; and sportsmen may rest assured that, to the dog at all events, preparatory doses are not necessary to condition. Those, however, who persist in using such stuffs will do well not to employ the compounds in general use. The mixture of poppies, buckthorn, and castor oil is a filthy mess; and I do not understand the principles upon which the abomination is based. A better and more cleanly mixture is thus made:—

Ol: Ricini 4 parts.
Ol: Olivæ 2    "
Ol: Anisi Q. s. Mix.

A little pounded sugar added to this will often render it palatable, which, being of a fluid consistency, is without difficulty exhibited. The compound, however, flows the more readily if it be slightly warmed, and in winter it even requires to be thus prepared. Sulphate of magnesia I rarely employ; and, as a general purgative, it is not suited to the dog, though in exceptional cases it will be seen I recommend it. Should pills be preferred, the following will be found to answer every purpose:—

Ext: Col: Half a scruple.
Pulv: Colch: Six grains.
Pil: Hydrarg: Five grains.

[Pg 117]

This is for one pill, which is a dose for a small dog of seven or eight pounds weight. Three times the quantity would be required for a Newfoundland. It is not very powerful in its action; its effect upon the system being quite as much alterative as laxative. The animal under its operation is evidently nauseated, and refuses food for about twelve hours; at the expiration of which time relief is afforded by a not very copious, but bilious evacuation. It is, however, important that, after the administration of a purgative, the dog should be permitted to remain perfectly quiet; since, if put to exercise, or much excited, the medicine will in all probability be ejected.

Emetics are shamefully abused, being so universally employed by the owners of dogs, and so strenuously recommended by writers upon their treatment, that one might think these agents were held to possess some charmed power over the health of the animal. Lecturers are marvellously fluent upon the subject of the dog's vomiting, which they dwell upon with such delight that their auditors must suppose the act of revulsion in the canine species is a pleasurable performance. Let any one, however, possessed of sense and reason, observe the creature in the act of being sick. The attitude is not characterised by ease; but the body is drawn up preparatory for some unusual effort. The countenance does not bespeak tranquillity; but the face is expressive of inward oppression. The animal's frame is shaken by convulsive spasms, each throe being announced by a deep[Pg 118] pectoral sound, and only after this has repeatedly been heard is the stomach able to cast off its contents.

The description denotes nothing calculated to suggest that the organ whose derangement is so marked should be rudely tampered with. It is true the dog can readily be made to vomit. No creature is more easily moved in that way; but in such a circumstance reason should perceive no license to thrust emetics down the animal's throat. The organ which is so readily excited, by the fact asserts its sensibility, and on that very account ought to be the more respected. I have found oftener difficulty to check this tendency than reason to provoke it. Repeatedly are tonics rejected, and only by the reduction of the dose can the dog's stomach be made to retain the medicine. The emetics in common use are, moreover, far too violent. Antimonial wine, from half a teaspoonful to a dessertspoonful, is much preferable to tartar emetic and calomel.

On no account should such doses as Blaine prescribes ever be exhibited. Youatt in his recommendation is much better, but even the amount he orders is too great.[Pg 119] A quarter of a grain of tartar emetic in solution is sufficient for a middling sized dog; and four grains of ipecacuanha is equally effective. If in two hours (which rarely happens) no effect is produced, it is better to repeat the dose, and continue even to do so, than to commence with a larger quantity in the first instance. These animals in their constitutions are so various, and the practitioner has so little to guide his judgment, that the utmost caution will not in every instance protect him from self-reproach; and in no case is he warranted in closing his mind against the suggestions of prudence. It is true the primary effects of an emetic are generally gratifying, but the after consequences, if carefully traced, will not be found to be equally satisfactory. Often the purge and the vomit, with which every dabbler commences his treatment of a "dog-case," appear to give relief; but, commonly, when the immediate excitation which their first operation naturally calls forth passes away, debility ensues, and the termination is not in harmony with the beginning. I once was very partial to emetics. I now rarely make use of them, and have no reason to lament my change of practice.

No notice will be bestowed upon those mysterious compounds known as alteratives, sedatives, &c., which are given merely because habit has sanctioned their administration. Names are in medicine dangerous things, and give a currency to error which, to man and beast alike, has proved fatal. Neither will any attempt be made to classify diseases; which custom, though it has some advantages, is likely to mislead, by setting up a system[Pg 120] where no positive connexion can be demonstrated. The disorders of the dog in this work will be treated of after no formal plan; but the index must supply that want of arrangement, the absence of pretence to which probably will give offence to regular students.

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