While no attempt will be made here to treat this subject exhaustively, it is still felt that, for those who really care to make themselves fairly well able to distinguish one disease from another, at times, some idea should be had of what is meant by the terms and what their presence generally indicates.
A Symptom is a sign of disease, obvious to all who see the animal; the symptoms of some disorders are much more noticeable than those of others. All Symptoms, in animal practice, are objective, that is, they must be found as a result of a person's observation of the ailing animal; he cannot describe his own feelings or state just where the pain is located. A good or bad observation of these, results in a good or bad Diagnosis, that is to say, a valuable or a valueless opinion as to what the matter is; and this is by far the hardest and most important part of the whole matter, for it is a comparative easy process, the name of the disorder having once been ascertained without doubt’, to find out how the case should be treated, what medicines or care are likely to give the best results. To help this there are a certain set of what, in all animals, may be called general symptoms, a full understanding of which will very much simplify the whole matter and generally point to the part of the body, at any rate, in which the disorder exists. These general symptoms will be found by:
First. A close observation of the expression of the face and the position in which the animal places his body when he is allowed to do what he wishes.
Second. The condition and color of the membranes fining the nostrils and the eyelids.
Third. The pulse.
Fourth. The movements made in breathing.
Fifth. The condition of the surface of the body and the extremities, i.e., feet, legs, and tips of the ears; and
Sixth. The internal temperature of the body.
Expression. The face may show anxiety, alarm, or be "pinched." This indicates some disorder accompanied by pain, the present importance of which is shown by the expression; as anxiety; a newly realized pain of slight degree; alarm; an increased and considerable pain; while the pinched expression indicates either very severe or long continued suffering.
Appearance of Membranes. This, in health, is a palish red and should be examined, so that its healthy color may be easily recognized. Increased redness is a sign of overexcitement of the blood circulation and, unless it be due to recent exercise, which is a natural cause, indicates fright, great excitement, anger, overwork of the heart, or general fever. Small, deep red scattered dots, or even rather larger patches of red, indicate the presence of something that has changed the quality of the blood; some disorder of the blood. These diseases generally arise from unhealthy surroundings, poor quality of food, or a contagion.
Yellowness indicates a disorder of the liver either functional or organic, in which some of the bile is not fully excreted from the blood. Organic disease, i.e., disease of the liver itself, is comparatively very rare; the symptom generally means some disordered condition of the digestion, and is helped by a good physic, epsom salts in preference.
A Livid or Bluish Color. A condition of the blood in which there is an insufficient amount of oxygen; it may arise from any cause which prevents the free access of air into the lungs; as bronchitis, pneumonia, various troubles in the throat or nostrils, too much pressure on the windpipe as from a high breastplate, a small collar, a tight cribbing strap; certain cases of heaves, especially in an animal that has eaten a large amount of hay or grass. The slate color is often seen in the nostrils of old horses, where its existence may be simply due to old age and a consequent poor circulation of the blood.
Pallidity, Bloodlessness, Anemia, and General Debility. If it happens suddenly, it is due to a large loss of blood; as from an internal or external hemorrhage; in which case the extremities will be cold, the pulse fast, and the animal may yawn more or less.
The condition of the tongue and mouth is occasionally of considerable importance in helping to point out the seat of trouble. Over redness of it indicates an irritable and congested condition of the digestive organs. Around the free borders of the tongue and upon its surfaces, more particularly the under one, large, irregularly shaped but very shallow patches are occasionally met with, which axe due to some form of indigestion in the stomach probably. In some other forms of dyspepsia there will be seen a slightly foul or soapy condition of the membranes in the mouth, although the foul condition of the mouth and tongue so commonly seen in human medical practice is not by any means so common in animals; its nearer approach being in the dog.
Dryness of the Mouth is often indicative of inflammatory diseases, more particularly those affecting those of the digestive organ
An Over moist Condition of the mouth arises from an over secretion by the salivary glands, and may be due to catarrhal disease,inflammation of the membrane at the extreme end of the cavity of the mouth (pharyngitis), paralysis of the muscles of swallowing (not particularly uncommon in the horse), the presence of sharp teeth (in horses), or some foreign body which may have become lodged between the teeth, in the cheek, under the tongue, or some other part of the cavity, as a thorn from the hay, a sliver of wood, piece of bone (in dogs), etc.; nausea, choking, certain weeds in the hay or pasture, and other conditions which may or may not be easily discoverable. In these latter conditions in horses or cattle the over secretion can be controlled by the proper administration of belladonna.
Sudden pallor of the mouth and tongue, with coldness of the body surface and extremities denotes approaching death from hemorrhage. A soft, flabby tongue with perhaps a little swelling of it, leaving impressions of the teeth upon its sides, indicates a chronic indigestion, and will be best treated with a dose of physic, to be followed by a course of good tonic medicine.
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