Diseases of the Nervous System.
Inasmuch as the structure of the brain in animals is far less complex than it is in man, and as it forms a much smaller proportionate share of the weight of the body, nervous diseases are of far less frequent occurrence in them.
Inflammation of the Brain.
Causes. Blows upon the bead, which injure the bones of the cranium, or rarely diseases of these bones; exhaustion and exposure, especially to a hot sun; as a result of certain fevers; from the entrance into the system of such specific germs as those of rabies, etc.; as well as in connection with certain forms of indigestion.
Symptoms. When the covering of the brain is the first to be implicated, the attack is noted for the suddenness and violence with which the disorder asserts itself. The general indications are fever, with a sharp, hard and irregular pulse; a high temperature; irregular breathing; and constipation.
There seems to be much pain in the head, it is held stiffly or even pressed into a corner or against a wall; the pupil of the eye is contracted; there is a look of sullenness; there may be convulsive muscular twitching, actual delirium, or strong convulsions if the malady is extensive. Sudden noises will increase any of these symptoms. If this first stage is survived, there will be within from a few hours to two days a new line of symptoms, which indicate that the disorder has progressed sufficiently to complete the deeper brain tissues.
The fever subsides, the temperature is lower, the pulse less frequent, the breathing becomes heavy, the excitability or delirium is gradually lessened; special sensation, as from the prick of a pin, becomes dulled The animal will, if standing, remain listlessly in one position, the head lowered, the eyes glassy, with their pupils dilated. Control over voluntary movements becomes more and more disturbed until he falls; convulsions, followed by insensibility, with snoring, breathing, are then shown; the eyes are open and paralyzed; the body is covered by cold sweats; all of the natural openings are relaxed; and death soon follows.
Treatment. The usual full doses of cathartics for the different animals should at once be given. (See prescriptions.) Cold water or ice should be constantly applied to the head, so far as it is possible. If this is not possible, sop the poll of the head frequently with a good cooling lotion, as: liquor of the acetate of ammonia, one ounce; alcohol, two ounces; water, five ounces. Or, instead, this one: chloride of ammonia, one half ounce; alcohol, one ounce; dilute acetic acid, one and one half ounces; with water enough to make an eight ounce mixture. For the purpose of further lessening the diseased action, there is probably nothing better than iodide of potash, which may be given in large doses every four hours, if possible. Should convalescence happily follow treatment, great care must be taken to keep the animal where it is quiet, and give him easily digested food for a time, or relapse is likely to occur.
Other disorders of the brain, as chronic thickening of its coverings, softening, hardness, tumors, etc., will be discovered only by the expert veterinarian, and they, as well as apoplexy of the brain, are of such a hopeless. nature and occur so rarely that their description here seems to be unnecessary.
Concussion of the Brain without Fracture of
Although the skulls of animals, horses, cattle and particularly sheep, are fairly well guarded from the effects of accidental blows upon the parts of them covering the brain, still it not infrequently happens that blows are received of sufficient force to cause insensibility of longer or shorter duration and importance.
Causes. The condition is apt to occur in horses that rear and fall backward, striking the head upon the floor or other hard substance; that run away and end up by striking the head against a brick wall or plate glass window; or to any animal that receives a blow upon the parts, as from a club or otherwise, which is of sufficient force to cause stupor, more or less insensibility, and loss of muscular power, from which he may rally quickly or not for many hours; or from which he may die almost at once or at the end of some days of insensibility.
Symptoms will vary in accordance with the degree of concussion.
When the shock has been but a slight one the animal soon recovers
from the unconsciousness, showing nothing more than a slight stupor with some unevenness of muscular action in walking, all of which pass off after a rest of two or three days, at most. When the blow received has been more severe, the insensibility continues longer; the animal lies as if in a deep sleep; the eyes are paralyzed; the body surface cold; the muscles soft and relaxed; the pulse fluttering or feeble; and the breathing weak and sometimes almost imperceptible. From this condition the animal gradually recovers in favorable instance; or slowly sinks and dies without having regained consciousness.
Treatment. At first quiet. If after a few hours some degree of consciousness has returned and reaction seems to be strong, the head of the animal should be raised and placed comfortably on bundles of straw or other covenant article, and finely pounded ice in a bladder or rubber bag put onto the parts, which may be all that is required. Generally speaking, however, the depressing effect upon the system is so great that stimulants, such as brandy or the aromatic spirits of ammonia, properly diluted in cold water, should be cautiously given. At the same time, so long as the body surface remains cold, the animal should be rubbed, blanketed, bandaged, and made as warm and comfortable as possible. Further treatment will consist in keeping the bowel discharges in rather a loose condition by a proper regulation of the food, if possible; if not, by the use of small doses of oil or epsom salts.
Sunstroke follows exposure to hot sun rays in an overheated atmosphere, in some individuals; and affects horses, cattle, and dogs.
Causes. Horses are generally attacked during work; cattle and dogs when they are confined, as in a small yard where no shade is obtainable, for a length of time.
Symptoms. It may be noticed that the horse does not sweat as he should; it will be noticed that he seems dull, becomes unsteady, and then falls, lying more or less fully insensible. The other animals He and pant until they gradually become more or less unconscious. The skin is hot; the breathing difficult; the heart's action irregular; and, just before death, the breathing gets gasping.
Treatment will consist in removing, the animal to a cool, shady place, or in erecting a temporary shade over him where he lies; cold water sponging of the head; the judicious administration of stimulants, as brandy or ammonia, as soon as the animal is able to swallow, with, as soon as he can drink, iced water in small quantities at a time, but at frequent intervals.
Blind Staggers; Vertigo; Cerebral Congestion.
This is one of the most frequently seen disturbances of the b In horses, as every one knows.
Causes. Temporary congestions of the brain are seen in horses of all makes, shapes, and sizes, and are generally dependent upon some condition of indigestion, together with exercise too soon after eating. "Fits" in dogs are often of this nature and due to the same causes. Their occurrence may also be due to a plethoric condition of body; to certain disorders of the heart, either functional or organic; or to any cause through which the proper circulation of the blood is so interfered with as to allow too much of that fluid to reach the brain, or to be retained in that structure, as by a badly fitting "breastplate" or collar.
Symptoms. These are invariably sudden in their appearance. If upon the road, the horse slackens his pace or suddenly stops; there is a shaking of the head as if some object had entered the ear, or the head is "tossed" up and down. The blood vessels of the neck and head look full; the eyes stare; the nostrils are held wide open; the breathing is rapid, with perhaps some little noise; the muscles of the face and neck show a slight, rapid, twitching movement; the body is covered by a moderate sweat; and the front legs are braced apart, as if for support. Occasionally, the attack proceeds no further, when after a few moments the animal proceeds on his journey in a listless way at first, afterward with his usual interest.
When, however, the case is one of greater severity, the muscular twitching become more extensive; excitement is greater, until action reaches to beyond the control of the animal; he plunges forward, bolts, or rears and falls to the ground. The paroxysm rarely lasts for more than a few minutes.
Treatment. The first indication will be to remove the cause, if it is due to pressure from the collar or breastplate. All further necessary treatment in any case will be to dash cold water onto the head, until all excitement is passed away; or, if this cannot be done, hold the animal as still as possible until the fit passes off, which will be, as a rule, but a very few minutes. The common practice of " bleeding " these horses in the mouth is entirely without effect, for the amount of blood that is thus allowed to escape is so small as to have no effect whatever upon the animal. Besides which, the operation is not without danger to the horse, because, if the cut is made at all deeply, at the part usually selected, the third " bar " behind the upper teeth, a rather large artery will be opened, which, because of the hard nature of the tissues in which it is situated, is exceedingly difficult to close.
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