This accident, rather frequently observed in horses, less so in dogs and sheep, unless the latter are being fed upon; roots, is one of very common occurrence in cattle; and in all is attended with considerable danger to life. In connection with supposed choking in dogs there is one fact that should always be remembered: persons are apt to believe that these animals are choked when they are not; if a dog coughs, or indicates any peculiar symptoms about
the head and neck, he is oftentimes thought to have a bone in his throat; and inasmuch as rubbing the sides of the throat with the paws, gasping, etc., all of them symptoms of choke, are also seen in connection with rabies, care should be taken, in examining these dogs, that the rather natural but probably fatal mistake is not made.
Causes. These are either dependent upon the animal itself or on the nature and form of the food. Under the first of these may be mentioned any reflex or direct nervous influence which may cause a spasmodic contraction of the muscles of the gullet upon the object swallowed (this chiefly happens in animals that have been rather recently relieved of a previous choke); previous narrowing of the part, as by the tight strap put around the necks of crib biting horses; anything which prevents the proper flow of saliva into the mouth; and anything which prevents the food from being properly chewed and Fixed with the saliva. Of the second class of causes: those case&. in which the object swallowed is sharp pointed, too large, or too dry. Among these may be included fish bones, which are very troublesome in puppies; large, irregular shaped, or sharpened bones. In cattle and sheep the most dangerous articles of food are cut roots, potatoes, and apples. Pieces of com cob, when the grain is fed whole on the ear, in horses. Dry chaff, bran, meal, and even oats are not unapt to accumulate in the gullets of horses and form a most dangerous cause of the accident, instances not being at all rare when the gullet, which runs down the left side of the neck, has been stuffed full for nearly its whole length.
Symptoms may be general, as shown by all the animals; differential,
as indicating the part of the gullet in which the obstruction has taken place; and special, as belonging to the condition exhibited by the different animals.
General Symptoms. Liquids, because they cannot pass by the obstruction into the stomach, are thrown out at once; there is coughing and more or less violent gagging, uneasiness, difficulty in
In breathing, champing of the jaws, and flow of saliva from the mouth.
Differential Symptoms. Then the cause is lodged in the throat, there is great distress, coughing, slavering, symptoms of suffocation, and, in dogs particularly, ineffectual attempts at vomiting. If the obstruction is in that part of the gullet which runs down the neck, a swelling will be seen on the left side, at the given point. General symptoms are more or less intense, and the animal, with anxious face, lowered head, tremors, and partial sweats over the body, shows considerable exhaustion within a short time.
If the offending substance be lodged in the part of the gullet which passes through the cavity of the chest on its way to the stomach, the fact of the presence of this dangerous form of the accident is shown by the absence of the more urgent indications of suffocation.: the temporary distention of the gullet, as it passes upward along the neck, whenever water is swallowed; urgent attempts at vomiting so long as the gullet remains so filled; with a rather rapid progress toward exhaustion.
When impaction occurs from dry feed, bran, oats, etc., the head will be depressed, the eyes bloodshot, mucus and saliva will be discharged from the mouth and nose, and there is an evident swelling along the left side of the neck.
Special Symptoms In Horses. The animal suddenly stops feeding, begins to swallow hard and frequently. If he is not successful in thus getting rid of the trouble, a sort of spasm follows, in which the neck becomes more or less curved, with the chin drawn back towards the counter, and in rare instances, after a considerable continuation of the spasm, the animal shrieks; and the general symptoms are present.
In Cattle. The animal stands with head extended, a profuse flow of saliva from the mouth, cough, and champing of the jaws, together with frequent gulping efforts. The eyes are bulged and bloodshot; he passes both manure and urine frequently. Very soon after the obstruction has taken place the paunch begins to be filled with the repressed gases of digestion and unless the obstruction to its up flow is soon removed, or a puncture is made through the flank, to let the gases out, the animal will die of suffocation. The general symptoms are present.
In Sheep. The animal stops feeding, the breathing is more or less difficult, the paunch swells, and the case proceeds as described in cattle.
In the Dog. Of the general symptoms, violent attempts at vomiting and a persistent cough are the most conspicuous special signs.
Treatment. Various methods of relief are pursued, depending upon the position and character of the obstruction. These are: First, by the hand, and may be used successfully whenever the obstruction is at the back of the mouth or in the top of the gullet. The jaws are to be safely held apart by the insertion of a proper instrument (mouth speculum), if it is possible to obtain one; if not, a round iron ring of sufficient strength and size, a stirrup, or even a plow point may be used, but these last are of danger to the operator's arm, which may be easily broken if the instrument is allowed to slip out of the animal's mouth at the wrong moment. An assistant should attend to keeping the mouth open, while the operator attempts to grasp the object with his fingers and withdraw it; a whole apple is the most difficult to get hold of, but still its removal can be effected after patient effort.
In Sheep this method is more difficult than in horses and cattle
because of the narrowness of the mouth. In dogs it is fairly easy provided the animal is held still by a sufficient number of assistants; the operator is to use his fingers in this animal, which can be done because the mouth opens wide and the parts are quite readily reached. Instruments, as long forceps, can be used in sheep and dogs, if proper ones are obtainable.
If the object cannot quite be reached in this way, an assistant should grasp the outside of the throat below the obstruction and attempt to push it upwards until it can be grasped by the operator.
If a solid object is lodged below the reach of the arm, an attempt to push it along into the stomach should be carefully made. The proper instrument for this purpose is strong, fairly elastic tube having a " cup " end, of sufficient size and strength, called a pro bang. When this is not obtainable the butt end of an elastic horsewhip may be tried for all of the animals excepting the dog, but great care must be taken not to wound or push it through the walls of the gullet, for, if this is done, the animal will die. Before this attempt is made a small quantity of raw linseed oil should be turned into the throat, that the parts may be properly lubricated.
In horses choked with bran, oats, etc., if the obstruction is not too extensive, very much for good may be accomplished by repeatedly turning cold water down the throat and working over the upper end of the obstruction from the outside, with the fingers, giving the animal good opportunity to cough up such portions as have been so loosened, from time to time. No attempt should be made to push such an accumulation on into the stomach. If the services of a veterinarian can possibly be obtained, they should immediately be sought in all of these instances.
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