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4th, The period of convalescence. On the average, each of these will occupy a week or ten days, varying with the mildness or severity of the attack.
When the head is attacked, there may or may not be a running from the nose and eyes; but more usually there is some evidence of congestion in these organs, the eyes being weak and glued up with the mucus, and the nose running more or less. A fit is, however, the clearest evidence of brain affection, and, to a common observer, the only reliable one. Sometimes there is stupor without a fit, gradually increasing till the dog becomes insensible, and dies. At others, a raving delirium comes on, easily mistaken for hydrophobia, but distinguished from it by the presence of the premonitory symptoms peculiar to distemper. This is the most fatal complication of all, and, if the dog recovers, he is often a victim to palsy or chorea for the rest of his life.
If the lungs are attacked, there is very rapid breathing, with cough, and almost always a considerable running from the eyes and nose, and expectoration of thick frothy mucus. If inflammation of the lungs is established, the danger is as great as when the head is the seat of the seizure.
The bowels may be known to be seized when there is a violent purging of black offensive matter, often tinged with blood, and sometimes mixed with patches or shreds of a white leathery substance, which is coagulable lymph. The discharge of blood is in some cases excessive, and rapidly carries off the dog.
If the skin is attacked, which is a favourable sign, there is a breaking out of pustules on the inside of the thighs and
belly, which fill with matter often tinged with dark blood, and sometimes with blood itself of a dark purple colour. .
To distinguish distemper from similar affections is not always easy to an inexperienced observer, but the practised eye at once detects the difference. The chief diseases which are likely to be confounded with it are, the true canine madness, common “cold,” or influenza, inflammation of the lungs, and diarrhæa. The first of these runs a more rapid course, and is ushered in by peculiar changes in the temper, which will be described under the head of HYDROPHOBIA. “Cold” and influenza cause no great prostration of strength; and the former comes on after exposure to the weather, while the latter is sure to be prevalent at the time. Inflammation of the lungs must be studied to be known, and simple diarrhæa has no fever attending upon it.
The treatment of distemper is twofold: firstly, being directed to the safe conduct through the lowering effects of the complaint; and secondly, to ward off the fatal results which are likely to be occasioned by the local complications in the brain, lungs, or bowels. It must be remembered that the disease is an effort of nature to get rid of a poison; and, therefore, the powers of the system must be aided throughout, or they will be incompetent to their task. One great means of carrying off this poison is to be looked for in the bowels and kidneys; and, as far as possible, these organs must be restored to their natural state, taking care that, in trying to effect these desirable objects, they are not injured by the remedies used. Thus it is well known that aperients, and especially calomel, have the property of restoring the suspended action of the liver; but they also have an injurious effect upon the strength of the general system, and therefore must be used with great caution; the best formulæ being (13) or (15) given only once or twice, at intervals of two or three days. After the secretions are restored, the next thing to be done is to look out for the complications in the brain, lungs, and bowels, which are to be expected ; and, if present, to counteract them by appropriate remedies. Thus a seton put into the back of the neck, covering the tape with blister ointment, will be likely to relieve the head, together with cold applications of vinegar and water by means of a sponge. At the same time the fever mixture (51) may be regularly administered. For any trifling complication in the lungs the fever powder (49) will generally suffice; but, if severe, blood must be taken from the neck vein; though this, if possible, should be avoided, and the cough bolus or draught (46) or (47) administered. Dairrhæa must be at once checked by one of the mixtures (6) or (8); or, if very severe, by the pill (19). At the same time, rice-water should be given as the only drink; and beef-tea, thickened with arrow-root or rice, as the sole article of diet, changing it occasionally for port wine and arrow-root. When the stage of exhaustion has commenced, the tonic mixture (63) will almost always be required; and it is astonishing what may be done by a perseverance in its use. Dogs which appear to be dying will often recover; and no case should be given up as long as there is any life remaining.
The diet should be carefully attended to, little or no food being required on the first four or six days, beyond weak broth or gruel, no solid food from the first being permitted, and this restriction being maintained till the dog is quite recovered. When the state of exhaustion or prostration comes on, good strong beef-tea should be given every three or four hours, and, if the dog will not swallow it, force should be used; a spoonful at a time being given in the way ordered for drenching at page 361. At this time also port wine is often of service, thickened with arrow-root, and given alternately with the beef-tea. For a dog of average size the plan is to give a teacupful of beef-tea, then, after two hours, the same quantity of arrow-root and wine; then, again after two hours, a dose of the tonic mixture, and so on through the twenty-four hours. Perseverance in this troublesome plan will generally be rewarded with success; but, of course, it is only a valuable dog which will reward it properly. In less important animals the beef-tea may be provided, and if it is not voluntarily swallowed the poor patient often dies for want of the compulsion, so that humanity as well as self-interest counsels the adoption of what often appears a harsh proceeding.
No exercise, even of the most gentle kind, should be allowed, it being found invariably to bring on a return of the disease, whenever it is indulged in. Many a young dog has been sacrificed to the mistaken kindness of his master, who has thought that a "breath of fresh air” would do him good; and so it would if taken in an easy carriage, at rest; but the muscular exertion necessary to procure it is highly injurious, and should
be delayed until the strength is restored. This is one reason why dogs in the country bear distemper so much better than in towns; for, as it is known that they are in the fresh air, no attempt is made to take them to it, and so they are left alone, and are not induced to exert their strength prematurely. Even when the dog appears nearly well it is better to lead him out to exercise for the first day or two, for otherwise he is almost sure to over-exert himself, and a gallop will often do more harm than can be rectified in many days afterwards.
Ventilation should not be neglected, but moderate warmth is essential to a cure, and a delicate dog like the greyhound should have a cloth on him in cold weather. The greatest cleanliness should be observed, but this should be done as far as possible without making the kennel damp with water. Clean straw must be liberally provided, and all offensive matters removed as often as they are voided.
Summary of treatment.-In the early stage get the bowels into good order by mild doses of aperient medicine: (11), (13), or (15). Attend to any complication which may come on, using a seton for the head, or the appropriate remedies for the chest, or mixture for the bowels (6) if there is diarrhæa. For the exhaustion, when the violent symptoms are abated, give the tonic (63); and during the whole period attend to the diet, ventilation, cleanliness, and rest, as previously described.
Vaccination has been recommended as a remedy for distemper, and has been largely tried both in foxhound and greyhound kennels, as well as among pointers and setters. "The