Dropsy of the Chest. Hydrothorax.
There is always during health a small quantity of fluid secreted into the cavity of the chest, by the pleural membranes, which keeps the surfaces properly moistened and saves friction between the chest walls and the lungs during the breathing motions. Any inflammation
of these membranes, as in pleurisy, dries up this natural secretion, more or less, during the very first of the attack. Soon, however, the
membranes, excited by the inflammation, pour out a much greater quantity of this lubricating fluid than is require d; and the surplus
quantity, of course, falls into the bottom of the cavity and accumulates there. A considerable amount of this accumulation may take place without doing material harm, and, as the pleurisy is recovered from, the fluid ceases to be further over secreted and the quantity which has already been collected is gradually absorbed by natural processes.
In certain instances, however, the secretion is, little by little, or more frequently somewhat suddenly, poured out in such great quantities that the lungs, pressed by it, or floated on top of it, no longer have room in which to expand sufficiently to take in the required amount of air, and dropsy of the chest is shown to be present.
Symptoms. With the effusion of the fluid the more active febrile symptoms and pains abate, the temperature may fall a little and the pulse be less wiry.
If the fluid now accumulates in very large amount, the pulse becomes much more frequent, is of smaller volume, and may be irregular both in strength and evenness of the beat; the breathing becomes more labored or even very difficult; the flanks heave; there is flapping of the nostrils; the head is protruded; and so great sometimes is the effort to breathe that even the tail moves up and down with each effort. Dropsical swelling appears beneath the skin upon various parts of the body and legs, but, more particularly, just between the forelegs, below the breast, from whence it extends backward, more or less.
Treatment. The administration of very large doses of iodide of potash for horses and cattle, no less than ~ three drams at a dose, repeated three times a day, and given in drinking water, is highly recommended by some. The writer has had good results by setting up severe purgation by the use of raw linseed oil, one quart, to which has been added three large tablespoonfuls of saleratus; all given at one dose, and repeated, in from one half to three quarters of the first dose, if the object sought for has not been reached within twenty-four hours from the time the first dose was given. Tapping of the chest wall and drawing off the fluid is often resorted to. If this is to be effectual it must be done by a veterinarian and before the difficulty in breathing has become very great.
Soreness of the Muscles between the Ribs
This disorder is spoken of in this place because the general appearances of an animal suffering from it so closely resemble those of pleurisy, as to make it possible to easily mistake one for the other. It affects horses.
Causes. These are often spoken of as being of a rheumatic nature, it sometimes appears without any apparent cause, at other times it follows when horses that are quite warm from driving have been allowed to stand without being covered.
Symptoms. Will be those, exactly, of a case of sore pleurisy but accompanied with rather more groaning when the animal is moved or when the muscles between the ribs are pressed by the ends of the fingers. One disease may be separated from the other by the fact that in this one there will be little, if any, rise of temperature, and the character and number of the pulse will be less interfered with.
Treatment. Rub the sides well, once daily, with stimulating liniment and cover them with a dry, folded blanket, the ends of which have been brought up over the back, as already explained. Give one tablespoonful of saleratus, three times daily, in water. The animal should begin to show improvement within three days, or 1688, and be well within a week or ten days.
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