I The symptoms afforded by the apparent variations in temperature of the external surface of the body are few, but are generally noted as being very good aids in helping to locate the disorder. Cold or cool extremities indicate an improper and too small blood supply at the part; and, when occurring persistently, it becomes a symptom of some importance, as indicating a tendency toward internal congestions or weakness of the action of the heart.
Sweating, aside from that which properly comes from exercise, or too much clothing, indicates pain, and, if in patches, pain or impaired nervous function of the part.
Clinical thermometry, as it is called, is the means by which the internal temperature of the body of any animal may be easily measured; and a knowledge of how to understand the indications thus furnished are extremely valuable in many instances, as they often give the earliest notice obtainable of certain oncoming disorders, as well as being an early indicator of progress, for good or bad, in a patient under continued treatment.
Two facts justify its application to practice: the invariability of the temperature in a healthy animal, and its variations from this in those who are the victims of a wide class of disorders.
A normal temperature does not necessarily indicate health, but all those animals in which the temperature either exceeds or falls short of the normal range, for any length of time together, are not healthy. The ranges of temperature in disease which may occur in the horse, and still be followed by recovery, is from ninety-five to one hundred and eight; in cattle, from ninety-five to one hundred and ten; and in dogs, ninety-eight to one hundred and five.
Unappreciable influences which do not at all disturb the temperature of a healthy animal, quite frequently derange that of the sick one before they affect the sickness in any other observable degree, until some time afterward. Thus we are furnished with a notice of coming trouble and can take early measures to prevent bad results.
In this same direction the discovery of a constant abnormal temperature, in an animal which in all other ways is apparently healthy, is an early means of discovering or confirming the suspected existence of latent disease. This is valuable, for instance, in a stable of horses, among which a case of glanders has been found, the use of the thermometer for a few days, subsequent to the discovery, among the remaining horses, although they appear to be in perfect health, will give early opportunity for removing any others that may have been attacked by the contagion, and so help materially in limiting the spread in that stable.
A normal temperature during sickness is only a relative sign, which will exclude certain classes of disease; its value being in this only. Certain abnormal temperatures are generally associated with a certain type of disease. A rapid increase of the heat of the body, and decrease of the appreciable surface heat is associated with chills and generally is a sign of an oncoming, strong attack of fever. A protracted temperature of one hundred and two or more is usually accompanied with dullness, thirst, frequency of the pulse, and increasing thinness of the body.
Any considerable diminution of warmth in the extremities, as the legs and ears, with a high temperature, or with one below the normal, is expressed by a small pulse, sunken eyes, and, if it be maintained, collapse and death. An elevated temperature, whatever its cause, has by itself an influence on the functions of the general system. Men it is only slightly raised, its action may not be appreciated; but when it is, and remains, considerably raised, the most evident effect will be a loss of flesh; the pulse and respirations win be faster and the brain may exhibit functional disturbances; the secretion of urea increases, making the urine heavy and of a dark color; and there is a tendency to local congestion and fatty degeneration of various organs; and, as already intimated, we know that the
continuance of fife is impossible with certain continued elevations of temperature.
A clinical thermometer is obtainable, at a small cost, from most any druggist, who will also gladly explain the proper method of using it. All internal temperatures, in animals, are taken by inserting the wet or well soaped thermometer into the rectum, for about two thirds of its length, and letting it remain there for three minutes. An instrument of four inches, or even a little less, is as good for use among animals as one that is larger. Care must be taken to see that the mercury column is properly shaken down just before it is to be used.
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