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Title: Special Report on Diseases of the Horse

Author: United States Department of Agriculture
        Leonard Pearson
        Rush Shippen Huidekoper
        Ch.  B. Michener
        W. H. Harbaugh

Release Date: November 7, 2007 [EBook #23403]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


Produced by Audrey Longhurst, Kevin Handy, Josephine
Paolucci and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at

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A. D. MELVIN, Chief of Bureau.








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Transcriber's note: Minor typos have been corrected and footnotes moved to the end of the sections. The images for the plates are thumbnails that take you to a larger version of the image.

Department of Agriculture,

Washington, March 30, 1916.

This edition of the Special Report on Diseases of the Horse has been prepared in compliance with House Concurrent Resolution No. 13, passed February 3, 1916, as follows:

Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That there be printed and bound in cloth one hundred thousand copies of the Special Report on the Diseases of the Horse, the same to be first revised and brought to date, under the supervision of the Secretary of Agriculture; seventy thousand copies for the use of the House of Representatives and thirty thousand for use of the Senate.

Since the original edition issued by the Department in 1890 several editions have been printed by order of Congress. The work was reprinted in 1896, and revised and reprinted in 1903, 1908, and 1911. In accordance with the foregoing resolution it again has been revised so as to embody the latest practical development of knowledge of the subject.

D. F. Houston,

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The examination of a sick horse. By Leonard Pearson7
Fundamental principles of disease. By Rush Shippen Huidekoper27
Methods of administering medicines. By Ch. B. Michener44
Diseases of the digestive organs. By Ch. B. Michener49
Diseases of the respiratory organs. By W. H. Harbaugh95
Diseases of the urinary organs. By James Law134
Diseases of the generative organs. By James Law164
Diseases of the nervous system. By M. R. Trumbower210
Diseases of the heart, blood vessels, and lymphatics. By M. R. Trumbower247
Diseases of the eye. By James Law274
Lameness. By A. Liautard298
Diseases of the fetlock, ankle, and foot. By A. A. Holcombe395
Diseases of the skin. By James Law458
Wounds and their treatment. By Ch. B. Michener484
Infectious diseases. By Rush Shippen Huidekoper507
Shoeing. By John W. Adams583

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PlateI. Inflammation32
II. Inflammation32
III. Digestive apparatus48
IV. Age of horses as indicated by teeth58
V. Intestinal worms92
VI. Bots92
VII. Position of the left lung112
VIII. Longitudinal section through kidney136
IX. Microscopic anatomy of kidney136
X. Microscopic anatomy of kidney136
XI. Calculi and instrument for removal152
XII. Normal presentation192
XIII. Some factors in difficult labor192
XIV. Instruments used in difficult labor192
XV. Abnormal presentations200
XVI. Abnormal presentations200
XVII. Abnormal presentations200
XVIII. Abnormal presentations200
XIX. The nervous system216
XX. Interior of chest, showing position of heart and diaphragm248
XXI. Circulatory apparatus248
XXII. Diagrammatic vertical section through horse's eye277
XXIII. Skeleton of horse304
XXIV. Superficial layer of muscles304
XXV. Splint312
XXVI. Ringbone312
XXVII. Various types of spavin312
XXVIII. Bone spavin312
XXIX. Bone spavin312
XXX. Dislocation of shoulder and elbow, Bourgelat's apparatus360
XXXI. The sling in use360
XXXII. Anatomy of foot400
XXXIII. Anatomy of foot400
XXXIV. Anatomy and diseases of foot400
XXXV. Sound and contracted feet400
XXXVI. Quarter crack and remedies432
XXXVII. Foundered feet432
XXXVIII. The skin and its diseases458
XXXIX. Mites that infest the horse480
XL. Glanders544
XLI. Glanders544
XLII. Glanders544

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Fig.1. Ground surface of a right fore hoof of the "regular" form590
2. Pair of fore feet of regular form in regular standing position591
3. Pair of fore feet of base-wide form in toe-wide standing position591
4. Pair of fore feet of base-narrow form in toe-narrow standing position592
5. Side view of an acute-angled fore foot, of a regular fore foot, and of a stumpy fore foot592
6. Side view of foot with the foot-axis broken backward as a result of too long a toe595
7. Left fore hoof of a regular form, shod with a plain fullered shoe599
8. Side view of hoof and fullered shoe599
9. An acute-angled left fore hoof shod with a bar shoe601
10. A fairly formed right fore ice shoe for a roadster601
11. Left fore hoof of regular form shod with a rubber pad and "three-quarter" shoe602
12. A narrow right fore hoof of the base-wide standing position shod with a plain "dropped crease" shoe602
13. Hoof surface of a right hind shoe to prevent interfering603
14. Ground surface of shoe shown in fig. 13603
15. Side view of a fore hoof shod so as to quicken the "breaking over" in a "forger"604
16. Side view of a short-toed hind hoof of a forger604
17. A toe-weight shoe to increase the length of stride of fore feet605
18. Most common form of punched heel-weight shoe to induce high action in fore feet605

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By Leonard Pearson, B. S., V. M. D.

In the examination of a sick horse it is important to have a method or system. If a definite plan of examination is followed one may feel reasonably sure, when the examination is finished, that no important point has been overlooked and that the examiner is in a position to arrive at an opinion that is as accurate as is possible for him. Of course, an experienced eye can see, and a trained hand can feel, slight alterations or variations from the normal that are not perceptible to the unskilled observer. A thorough knowledge of the conditions that exist in health is of the highest importance, because it is only by a knowledge of what is right that one can surely detect a wrong condition. A knowledge of anatomy, or of the structure of the body, and of physiology, or the functions and activities of the body, lie at the bottom of accuracy of diagnosis. It is important to remember that animals of different races or families deport themselves differently under the influence of the same disease or pathological process. The sensitive and highly organized thoroughbred resists cerebral depression more than does the lymphatic draft horse. Hence a degree of fever that does not produce marked dullness in a thoroughbred may cause the most abject dejection in a coarsely bred, heavy draft horse. This and similar facts are of vast importance in the diagnosis of disease and in the recognition of its significance.

The order of examination, as given hereafter, is one that has proved to be comparatively easy of application and sufficiently thorough for the purpose of the readers of this work, and is recommended by several writers.[Pg 8]


It is important to know, first of all, something of the origin and development of the disease; therefore the cause should be looked for. The cause of a disease is important, not only in connection with diagnosis, but also in connection with treatment. The character of feed that the horse has had, the use to which he has been put, and the kind of care he has received should all be closely inquired into. It may be found by this investigation that the horse has been fed on damaged feed, such as brewers' grains or moldy silage, and this may be sufficient to explain the profound depression and weakness that are characteristic of forage poisoning. If it is learned that the horse has been kept in the stable without exercise for several days and upon full rations, and that he became suddenly lame in his back and hind legs, and finally fell to the ground from what appeared to be partial paralysis, this knowledge, taken in connection with a few evident symptoms, will be enough to establish a diagnosis of azoturia (excess of nitrogen in the urine). If it is learned that the horse has been recently shipped in the cars or has been through a dealer's stable, we have knowledge of significance in connection with the causation of a possible febrile disease, which is, under these conditions, likely to prove to be influenza, or edematous pneumonia.

It is also important to know whether the particular horse under examination is the only one in the stable, or on the premises, that is similarly afflicted. If it is found that several horses are afflicted much in the same way, we have evidence of a common cause of disease which may prove to be of an infectious nature.

Another item of importance in connection with the history of the case relates to the treatment that the horse may have had before he is examined. It sometimes happens that medicine given in excessive quantities produces symptoms resembling those of disease, so it is important that the examiner be fully informed as to the medication that has been employed.


Before beginning the special examination, attention should be paid to the attitude and general condition of the animal. Sometimes horses assume positions that are characteristic of a certain disease. For example, in tetanus (lockjaw) the muscles of the face, neck, and shoulders are stiff and rigid, as well as the muscles of the jaw. This condition produces a peculiar attitude, that once seen is subsequently recognized as rather characteristic of the disease. A horse with tetanus stands with his muscles tense and his legs in a somewhat bracing position, as though he were gathered to repel a shock. The neck is stiff and hard, the head is slightly extended upon it, and the[Pg 9] face is drawn, and the nostrils are dilated. The tail is usually held up a little, and when pressed down against the thighs it springs back to its previous position. In inflammation of the throat, as in pharyngolaryngitis, the head is extended upon the neck and the angle between the jaw and the lower border of the neck is opened as far as possible to relieve the pressure that otherwise would fall upon the throat. In dumminess, or immobility, the hanging position of the head and the stupid expression are rather characteristic. In pleurisy, peritonitis, and some other painful diseases of the internal organs, the rigid position of the body denotes an effort of the animal to avoid pressure upon and to protect the inflamed sensitive region.

The horse may be down in the stall and unable to rise. This condition may result from paraplegia (paralysis), from azoturia, from forage poisoning, from tetanus, or from painful conditions of the bones or feet, such as osteoporosis or founder. Lying down at unusual times or in unusual positions may indicate disease. The first symptom of colic may be a desire on the part of the horse to lie down at an unusual or inappropriate time or place. Sometimes disinclination to lie down is an indication of disease. When there is difficulty in breathing, the horse knows that he can manage himself better upon his feet than upon his breast or his side. It happens, therefore, that in nearly all serious diseases of the respiratory tract he stands persistently, day and night, until recovery has commenced and breathing is easier, or until the animal falls from sheer exhaustion. If there is stiffness and soreness of the muscles, as in rheumatism, inflammation of the muscles from overwork, or of the bones in osteoporosis, or of the feet in founder, or if the muscles are stiff and beyond control of the animal, as in tetanus, a standing position is maintained, because the horse seems to realize that when he lies down he will be unable to rise.

Abnormal attitudes are assumed in painful diseases of the digestive organs (colic). A horse with colic may sit upon his haunches, like a dog, or may stand upon his hind feet and rest upon his knees in front, or he may endeavor to balance himself upon his back, with all four feet in the air. These positions are assumed because they give relief from pain by lessening pressure or tension upon the sensitive structures.

Under the general condition of the animal it is necessary to observe the condition or state of nutrition, the conformation, so far as it may indicate the constitution, and the temperament. By observing the condition of nutrition one may be able to determine to a certain extent the effect that the disease has already had upon the animal and to estimate the amount of strength that remains and that will be available for the repair of the diseased tissues. A good condition of nutrition is shown by the rotundity of the body, the pliability and[Pg 10] softness of the skin, and the tone of the hair. If the subcutaneous fat has disappeared and the muscles are wasted, allowing the bony prominences to stand out; if the skin is tight and inelastic and the coat dry and harsh, we have evidence of a low state of nutrition. This may have resulted from a severe and long-continued disease or from lack of proper feed and care. When an animal is emaciated—that is, becomes thin—there is first a loss of fat and later the muscles shrink. By observing the amount of shrinkage in the muscles one has some indication as to the duration of the unfavorable conditions under which the animal has lived.

By constitution we understand the innate ability of the animal to withstand disease or unfavorable conditions of life. The constitution depends largely upon the conformation. The type of construction that usually accompanies the best constitution is deep, broad chest, allowing plenty of room for the lungs and heart, indicating that these vital organs are well developed; capacious abdomen, allowing sufficient space for well-developed organs of digestion; the loins should be short—that is, the space should be short between the last rib and the point of the hip; the head and neck should be well molded, without superfluous or useless tissue; this gives a clear-cut throat. The ears, eyes, and face should have an expression of alertness and good breeding. The muscular development should be good; the shoulders, forearms, croup, and thighs must have the appearance of strength. The withers are sharp, which means that they are not loaded with useless, superfluous tissue; the legs are straight and their axes are parallel; the knees and hocks are low, which means that the forearms and thighs are long and the cannons relatively short. The cannons are broad from in front to behind and relatively thin from side to side. This means that the bony and tendinous structures of the legs are well developed and well placed. The hoofs are compact, tense, firm structures, and their soles are concave and frogs large. Such a horse is likely to have a good constitution and to be able to resist hard work, fatigue, and disease to a maximum degree. On the other hand, a poor constitution is indicated by a shallow, narrow chest, small bones, long loins, coarse neck and head, with thick throat, small, bony, and muscular development, short thighs and forearms, small joints, long, round cannons, and hoofs of open texture with flat soles.

The temperament is indicated by the manner in which the horse responds to external stimuli. When the horse is spoken to, or when he sees or feels anything that stimulates or gives alarm, if he responds actively, quickly, and intelligently, he is said to be of lively, or nervous, temperament. On the other hand, if he responds in a slow, sluggish manner, he is said to have a sluggish, or lymphatic,[Pg 11] temperament. The temperament is indicated by the gait, by the expression of the face, and by the carriage of the head and ears. The nature of the temperament should be taken into consideration in an endeavor to ascertain the severity of a given case of illness, because the general expression of an animal in disease as well as in health depends to a large extent on the temperament.


The condition of the skin is a fair index to the condition of the animal. The effect of disease and emaciation upon the pliability of the skin have been referred to above. There is no part of the body that loses its elasticity and tone as a result of disease sooner than the skin. The practical herdsman or flockmaster can gain a great deal of information as to the condition, of an animal merely by grasping the coat and looking at and feeling the skin. Similarly, the condition of the animal is shown to a certain extent by the appearance of the mucous membranes. For example, when the horse is anemic as a result of disease or of inappropriate feed the mucous membranes become pale. This change in the mucous membranes can be seen most readily in the lining of the eyelids and in the lining of the nostril. For convenience of examination the eyelids can readily be everted. Paleness means weak circulation or poor blood. Increased redness occurs physiologically in painful conditions, excitement, and following severe exertion. Under such conditions the increase of circulation is transitory. In fevers there is an increased redness in the mucous membrane, and this continues so long as the fever lasts. In some diseases red spots or streaks form in the mucous membrane. This usually indicates an infectious disease of considerable severity, and occurs in blood poisoning, purpura hemorrhagica, hemorrhagic septicemia, and in urticaria. When the liver is deranged and does not operate, or when the red-blood corpuscles are broken down, as in serious cases of influenza, there is a yellowish discoloration of the mucous membrane. The mucous membranes become bluish or blue when the blood is imperfectly oxidized and contains an excess of carbon dioxid. This condition exists in any serious disease of the respiratory tract, as pneumonia, and in heart failure.

The temperature of the skin varies with the temperature of the body. If there is fever the temperature of the skin is likely to be increased. Sometimes, however, as a result of poor circulation and irregular distribution of the blood, the body may be warmer than normal, while the extremities (the legs and ears) may be cold. Where the general surface of the body becomes cold it is evident that the small blood vessels in the skin have contracted and are keeping the blood away, as during a chill, or that the heart is weak and is[Pg 12] unable to pump the blood to the surface, and that the animal is on the verge of collapse.

The skin is moist, to a certain degree, at all times in a healthy horse. This moisture is not in the form of a perceptible sweat, but it is enough to keep the skin pliable and to cause the hair to have a soft, healthy feel. In some chronic diseased conditions and in fever, the skin becomes dry. In this case the hair has a harsh feel that is quite different from the condition observed in health, and from the fact of its being so dry the individual hairs do not adhere to one another, they stand apart, and the animal has what is known as "a staring coat." When, during a fever, sweating occurs, it is usually an indication that the crisis is passed. Sometimes sweating is an indication of pain. A horse with tetanus or azoturia sweats profusely. Horses sweat freely when there is a serious impediment to respiration; they sweat under excitement, and, of course, from the well-known physiological causes of heat and work. Local sweating, or sweating of a restricted area of the body, denotes some kind of nerve interference.

Swellings of the skin usually come from wounds or other external causes and have no special connection with the diagnosis of internal diseases. There are, however, a number of conditions in which the swelling of the skin is a symptom of a derangement of some other part of the body. For example, there is the well-known "stocking," or swelling of the legs about the fetlock joints, in influenza. There is the soft swelling of the hind legs that occurs so often in draft horses when standing still and that comes from previous inflammation (lymphangitis) or from insufficient heart power. Dropsy, or edema of the skin, may occur beneath the chest or abdomen from heart insufficiency or from chronic collection of fluid in the chest or abdomen (hydrothorax, ascites, or anemia). In anasarca or purpura hemorrhagica large soft swellings appear on any part of the skin, but usually on the legs, side of the body, and about the head.

Gas collects under the skin in some instances. This comes from a local inoculation with an organism which produces a fermentation beneath the skin and causes the liberation of gas which inflates the skin, or the gas may be air that enters through a wound penetrating some air-containing organ, as the lungs. The condition here described is known as emphysema. Emphysema may follow the fracture of a rib when the end of a bone is forced inward and caused to penetrate the lung, or it may occur when, as a result of an ulcerating process, an organ containing air is perforated. This accident is more common in cattle than it is in horses. Emphysema is recognized by the fact that the swelling that it causes is not hot or sensitive on pressure. It emits a peculiar crackling sound when it is stroked or pressed upon.[Pg 13]

Wounds of the skin may be of importance in the diagnosis of internal disease. Wounds over the bony prominence, as the point of the hip, the point of the shoulder, and the greatest convexity of the ribs, occur when a horse is unable to stand for a long time and, through continually lying upon his side, has shut off the circulation to the portion of the skin that covers parts of the body that carry the greatest weight, and in this way has caused them to mortify. Little, round, soft, doughlike swellings occur on the skin and may be scattered freely over the surface of the body when the horse is afflicted with urticaria. Similar eruptions, but distributed less generally, about the size of a silver dollar, may occur as a symptom of dourine, or colt distemper. Hard lumps, from which radiate welt-like swellings of the lymphatics, occur in glanders, and blisterlike eruptions occur around the mouth and pasterns in horsepox.


The first item in this portion of the examination consists in taking the pulse. The pulse may be counted and its character may be determined at any point where a large artery occupies a situation close to the skin and above a hard tissue, such as a bone, cartilage, or tendon. The most convenient place for taking the pulse of the horse is at the jaw. The external maxillary artery runs from between the jaws, around the lower border of the jawbone, and up on the outside of the jawbone to the face. It is located immediately in front of the heavy muscles of the cheek. Its throb can be felt most distinctly just before it turns around the lower border of the jawbone. The balls of the first and second or of the second and third fingers should be pressed lightly on the skin over this artery when its pulsations are to be studied.

The normal pulse of the healthy horse varies in frequency as follows:

Stallion28 to 32 beats per minute.
Gelding33 to 38 beats per minute.
Mare34 to 40 beats per minute.
Foal 2 to 3 years old40 to 50 beats per minute.
Foal 6 to 12 months old45 to 60 beats per minute.
Foal 2 to 4 weeks old70 to 90 beats per minute.

The pulse is accelerated by the digestion of rich food, by hot weather, exercise, excitement, and alarm. It is slightly more rapid in the evening than it is in the morning. Well-bred horses have a slightly more rapid pulse than sluggish, cold-blooded horses. The pulse should be regular; that is, the separate beats should follow each other after intervals of equal length, and the beats should be of equal fullness, or volume.[Pg 14]

In disease, the pulse may become slower or more rapid than in health. Slowing of the pulse may be caused by old age, great exhaustion, or excessive cold. It may be due to depression of the central nervous system, as in dumminess, or be the result of the administration of drugs, such as digitalis or strophantus. A rapid pulse is almost always found in fever, and the more severe the infection and the weaker the heart the more rapid is the pulse. Under these conditions, the beats may rise to 80, 90, or even 120 per minute. When the pulse is above 100 per minute the outlook for recovery is not promising, and especially if this symptom accompanies high temperature or occurs late in an infectious disease. In nearly all of the diseases of the heart and in anemia the pulse becomes rapid.

The pulse is irregular in diseases of the heart, and especially where the valves are affected. The irregularity may consist in varying intervals between the beats or the dropping of one or more beats at regular or irregular intervals. The latter condition sometimes occurs in chronic diseases of the brain. The pulse is said to be weak, or soft, when the beats are indistinct, because little blood is forced through the artery by each contraction of the heart. This condition occurs when there is a constriction of the vessels leading from the heart and it occurs in certain infectious and febrile diseases, and is an indication of heart weakness.

In examining the heart itself it is necessary to recall that it lies in the anterior portion of the chest slightly to the left of the median line and that it extends from the third to the sixth rib. It extends almost to the breastbone, and a little more than half of the distance between the breastbone and the backbone. In contracting, it rotates slightly on its axis, so that the point of the heart, which lies below, is pressed against the left chest wall at a place immediately above the point of the elbow. The heart has in it four chambers—two in the left and two in the right side. The upper chamber of the left side (left auricle) receives the blood as it comes from the lungs, passes it to the lower chamber of the left side (left ventricle), and from here it is sent with great force (for this chamber has very strong, thick walls) through the aorta and its branches (the arteries) to all parts of the body. The blood returns through the veins to the upper chamber of the right side (right auricle), passes then to the lower chamber of the right side (right ventricle), and from this chamber is forced into the lungs to be oxidized. The openings between the chambers of each side and into the aorta are guarded by valves.

If the horse is not too fat, one may feel the impact of the apex of the heart against the chest wall with each contraction of the heart by placing the hand on the left side back of the fifth rib and above the point of the elbow. The thinner and the better bred the horse is the more distinctly this impact is felt. If the animal is excited, or if he[Pg 15] has just been exercised, the impact is stronger than when the horse is at rest. If the horse is weak, the impact is reduced in force.

The examination of the heart with the ear is an important matter in this connection. Certain sounds are produced by each contraction of the normal heart. It is customary to divide these into two, and to call them the first and second sounds. These two sounds are heard during each pulsation, and any deviation of the normal indicates some alteration in the structure or the functions of the heart. In making this examination, one may apply the left ear over the heavy muscles of the shoulder back of the shoulder joint, and just above the point of the elbow, or, if the sounds are not heard distinctly, the left fore leg may be drawn forward by an assistant and the right ear placed against the lower portion of the chest wall that is exposed in this manner.

The first sound of the heart occurs while the heart muscle is contracting and while the blood is being forced from the heart and the valves are rendered taut to prevent the return of the blood from the lower to the upper chambers. The second sound follows quickly after the first and occurs during rebound of blood in the arteries, causing pressure in the aorta and tensions of the valves guarding its opening into the left ventricle. The first sound is of a high pitch and is longer and more distinct than the second. Under the influence of disease these sounds may be altered in various ways. It is not profitable, in a work such as this, to describe the details of these alterations. Those who are interested will find this subject fully discussed in the veterinary textbooks.


The temperature of the horse is determined roughly by placing the fingers in the mouth or between the thighs or by allowing the horse to exhale against the cheek or back of the hand. In accurate examination, however, these means of determining temperature are not relied upon, but recourse is had to the use of the thermometer. The thermometer used for taking the temperature of a horse is a self-registering clinical thermometer, similar to that used by physicians, but larger, being from 5 to 6 inches long. The temperature of the animal is measured in the rectum.

The normal temperature of the horse varies somewhat under different conditions. It is higher in the young animal than in the old, and is higher in hot weather than in cold. The weather and exercise decidedly influence the temperature physiologically. The normal temperature varies from 99.5° to 101° F. If the temperature rises to 102.5° the horse is said to have a low fever; if the temperature reaches 104° the fever is moderate; if it reaches 106° it is high,[Pg 16] and above this point it is regarded as very high. In some diseases, such as tetanus or sunstroke, the temperature goes as high as 108° or 110°. In the ordinary infectious diseases it does not often exceed 106°. A temperature of 107.5° and above is very dangerous and must be reduced promptly if the horse is to be saved.


In examining this system of organs and their functions it is customary to begin by noting the frequency of the respiratory movements. This point can be determined by observing the motions of the nostrils or of the flanks; on a cold day one can see the condensation of the moisture of the warm air as it comes from the lungs. The normal rate of respiration for a healthy horse at rest is from 8 to 16 per minute. The rate is faster in young animals than in old, and is increased by work, hot weather, overfilling of the stomach, pregnancy, lying upon the side, etc. Acceleration of the respiratory rate where no physiological cause operates is due to a variety of conditions. Among these is fever; restricted area of active lung tissue, from filling of portions of the lungs with inflammatory exudate, as in pneumonia; compression of the lungs or loss of elasticity; pain in the muscles controlling the respiratory movements; excess of carbon dioxid in the blood; and constriction of the air passages leading to the lungs.

Difficult or labored respiration is known as dyspnea. It occurs when it is difficult, for any reason, for the animal to obtain the amount of oxygen that it requires. This may be due to filling of the lungs, as in pneumonia; to painful movements of the chest, as in rheumatism or pleurisy; to tumors of the nose and paralysis of the throat, swellings of the throat, foreign bodies, or weakness of the respiratory passages, fluid in the chest cavity, adhesions between the lungs and chest walls, loss of elasticity of the lungs, etc. Where the difficulty is great the accessory muscles of respiration are brought into play. In great dyspnea the horse stands with his front feet apart, with his neck straight out, and his head extended upon his neck. The nostrils are widely dilated, the face has an anxious expression, the eyeballs protrude, the up-and-down motion of the larynx is aggravated, the amplitude of the movement of the chest walls increased, and the flanks heave.

The expired air is of about the temperature of the body. It contains considerable moisture, and it should come with equal force from each nostril and should not have an unpleasant odor. If the stream of air from one nostril is stronger than from the other, there is an indication of an obstruction in a nasal chamber. If the air possesses a bad odor, it is usually an indication of putrefaction of a tissue or[Pg 17] secretion in some part of the respiratory tract. A bad odor is found where there is necrosis of the bone in the nasal passages or in chronic catarrh. An ulcerating tumor of the nose or throat may cause the breath to have an offensive odor. The most offensive breath occurs where there is necrosis, or gangrene, of the lungs.

In some diseases there is a discharge from the nose. In order to determine the significance of the discharge it should be examined closely. One should ascertain whether it comes from one or both nostrils. If but from one nostril, it probably originates in the head. The color should be noted. A thin, watery discharge may be composed of serum, and it occurs in the earlier stages of coryza, or nasal catarrh. An opalescent, slightly tinted discharge is composed of mucus and indicates a little more severe irritation. If the discharge is sticky and puslike, a deeper difficulty or more advanced irritation is indicated. If the discharge contains flakes and clumps of more or less dried, agglutinated particles, it is probable that it originates within a cavity of the head, as the sinuses or guttural pouches. The discharge of glanders is of a peculiar sticky nature and adheres tenaciously to the wings of the nostrils. The discharge of pneumonia is of a somewhat red or reddish brown color and, on this account has been described as a prune-juice discharge. The discharge may contain blood. If the blood appears as clots or as streaks in the discharge, it probably originates at some point in the upper part of the respiratory tract. If the blood is in the form of a fine froth, it comes from the lungs.

In examining the interior of the nasal passage one should remember that the normal color of the mucous membrane is a rosy pink and that its surface is smooth. If ulcers, nodules, swellings, or tumors are found, these indicate disease. The ulcer that is characteristic of glanders is described fully in connection with the discussion of that disease.

Between the lower jaws there are several clusters of lymphatic glands. These glands are so small and so soft that it is difficult to find them by feeling through the skin, but when a suppurative disease exists in the upper part of the respiratory tract these glands become swollen and easy to feel. They may become soft and break down and discharge as abscesses; this is seen constantly in strangles. On the other hand, they may become indurated and hard from the proliferation of connective tissue and attach themselves to the jawbone, to the tongue, or to the skin. This is seen in chronic glanders. If the glands are swollen and tender to pressure, it indicates that the disease causing the enlargement is acute; if they are hard and insensitive, the disease causing the enlargement is chronic.[Pg 18]

The manner in which the horse coughs is of importance in diagnosis. The cough is a forced expiration, following immediately upon a forcible separation of the vocal cords. The purpose of the cough is to remove some irritant substance from the respiratory passages, and it occurs when irritant gases, such as smoke, ammonia, sulphur vapor, or dust, have been inhaled. It occurs from inhalation of cold air if the respiratory passages are sensitive from disease. In laryngitis, bronchitis, and pneumonia, cough is very easily excited and occurs merely from accumulation of mucus and inflammatory product upon the irritated respiratory mucous membrane. If one wishes to determine the character of the cough, it can easily be excited by pressing upon the larynx with the thumb and finger. The larynx should be pressed from side to side and the pressure removed the moment the horse commences to cough. A painful cough occurs in pleurisy, also in laryngitis, bronchitis, and bronchial pneumonia. Pain is shown by the effort the animal exerts to repress the cough. The cough is not painful, as a rule, in the chronic diseases of the respiratory tract. The force of the cough is considerable when it is not especially painful and when the lungs are not seriously involved. When the lungs are so diseased that they can not be filled with a large volume of air, and in heaves, the cough is weak, as it is also in weak, debilitated animals. If mucus or pus is coughed out, or if the cough is accompanied by a gurgling sound, it is said to be moist; it is dry when these characteristics are not present—that is, when the air in passing out passes over surface not loaded with secretion.

In the examination of the chest we resort to percussion and auscultation. When a cask or other structure containing air is tapped upon, or percussed, a hollow sound is given forth. If the cask contains fluid, the sound is of a dull and of quite a different character. Similarly, the amount of air contained in the lungs can be estimated by tapping upon, or percussing, the walls of the chest. Percussion is practiced with the fingers alone or with the aid of a special percussion hammer and an object to strike upon known as a pleximeter. If the fingers are used, the middle finger of the left hand should be pressed firmly against the side of the horse and should be struck with the ends of the fingers of the right hand bent at a right angle so as to form a hammer. The percussion hammer sold by instrument makers is made of rubber or has a rubber tip, so that when the pleximeter, which is placed against the side, is struck the impact will not be accompanied by a noise. After experience in this method of examination one can determine with a considerable degree of accuracy whether the lung contains a normal amount of air or not. If, as in pneumonia, air has been displaced by inflammatory product occupying the air space, or if fluid collects in the lower part of the chest, the percussion sound becomes dull. If, as in emphysema, or in pneumothorax,[Pg 19] there is an excess of air in the chest cavity, the percussion sound becomes abnormally loud and clear.

Auscultation consists in the examination of the lungs with the ear applied closely to the chest wall. As the air goes in and out of the lungs a certain soft sound is made which can be heard distinctly, especially upon inspiration. This sound is intensified by anything that accelerates the rate of respiration, such as exercise. This soft, rustling sound is known as vesicular murmur, and wherever it is heard it signifies that the lung contains air and is functionally active. The vesicular murmur is weakened when there is an inflammatory infiltration of the lung tissue or when the lungs are compressed by fluid in the chest cavity. The vesicular murmur disappears when air is excluded by the accumulation, of inflammatory product, as in pneumonia, and when the lungs are compressed by fluid in the chest cavity. The vesicular murmur becomes rough and harsh in the early stages of inflammation of the lungs, and this is often the first sign of the beginning of pneumonia.

By applying the ear over the lower part of the windpipe in front of the breastbone a somewhat harsh, blowing sound may be heard. This is known as the bronchial murmur and is heard in normal conditions near the lower part of the trachea and to a limited extent in the anterior portions of the lungs after sharp exercise. When the bronchial murmur is heard over other portions of the lungs, it may signify that the lungs are more or less solidified by disease and the blowing bronchial murmur is transmitted through this solid lung to the ear from a distant part of the chest. The bronchial murmur in an abnormal place signifies that there exists pneumonia or that the lungs are compressed by fluid in the chest cavity.

Additional sounds are heard in the lungs in some diseased conditions. For example, when fluid collects in the air passages and the air is forced through it or is caused to pass through tubes containing secretions or pus. Such sounds are of a gurgling or bubbling nature and are known as mucous râles. Mucous râles are spoken of as being large or small as they are distinct or indistinct, depending upon the quantity of fluid that is present and the size of the tube in which this sound is produced. Mucous râles occur in pneumonia after the solidified parts begin to break down at the end of the disease. They occur in bronchitis and in tuberculosis, where there is an excess of secretion.

Sometimes a shrill sound is heard, like the note of a whistle, fife, or flute. This is due to a dry constriction of the bronchial tubes and it is heard in chronic bronchitis and in tuberculosis.

A friction sound is heard in pleurisy. This is due to the rubbing together of roughened surfaces, and the sound produced is similar to a dry rubbing sound that is caused by rubbing the hands together or by rubbing upon each other two dry, rough pieces of leather.[Pg 20]


The first point in connection with the examination of the organs of digestion is the appetite and the manner of taking food and drink. A healthy animal has a good appetite. Loss of appetite does not point to a special diseased condition, but comes from a variety of causes. Some of these causes, indeed, may be looked upon as being physiological. Excitement, strange surroundings, fatigue, and hot weather may all cause loss of appetite. Where there is cerebral depression, fever, profound weakness, disorder of the stomach, or mechanical difficulty in chewing or swallowing, the appetite is diminished or destroyed. Sometimes there is an appetite or desire to eat abnormal things, such as dirty bedding, roots of grass, soil, etc. This desire usually comes from a chronic disturbance of nutrition.

Thirst is diminished in a good many mild diseases unaccompanied by distinct fever. It is seen where there is great exhaustion or depression or profound brain disturbance. Thirst is increased after profuse sweating, in diabetes, diarrhea, in fever, at the crises of infectious diseases, and when the mouth is dry and hot.

Some diseases of the mouth or throat make it difficult for the horse to chew or swallow his feed. Where difficulty in this respect is experienced, the following named conditions should be borne in mind and carefully looked for: Diseases of the teeth, consisting in decay, fracture, abscess formation, or overgrowth; inflammatory conditions, or wounds or tumors of the tongue, cheeks, or lips; paralysis of the muscles of chewing or swallowing; foreign bodies in upper part of the mouth between the molar teeth; inflammation of throat. Difficulty in swallowing is sometimes shown by the symptom known as "quidding." Quidding consists in dropping from the mouth well-chewed and insalivated boluses of feed. A mouthful of hay, for example, after being ground and masticated, is carried to the back part of the mouth. The horse then finds that from tenderness of the throat, or from some other cause, swallowing is difficult or painful, and the bolus is then dropped from the mouth. Another quantity of hay is similarly prepared, only to be dropped in turn. Sometimes quidding is due to a painful tooth, the bolus being dropped from the mouth when the tooth is struck and during the pang that follows. Quidding may be practiced so persistently that a considerable pile of boluses of feed accumulate in the manger or on the floor of the stall. In pharyngitis one of the symptoms is a return through the nose of fluid that the horse attempts to swallow.

In some brain diseases, and particularly in chronic internal hydrocephalus, the horse has a most peculiar manner of swallowing and of taking feed. A similar condition is seen in hyperemia of the brain. In eating the horse will sink his muzzle into the grain in[Pg 21] the feed box and eat for a while without raising the head. Long pauses are made while the feed is in the mouth. Sometimes the horse will eat very rapidly for a little while and then slowly; the jaws may be brought together so forcibly that the teeth gnash. In eating hay the horse will stop at times with hay protruding from the mouth and stand stupidly, as though he has forgotten what he was about.

In examining the mouth one should first look for swellings or for evidence of abnormal conditions upon the exterior; that is, the front and sides of the face, the jaws, and about the muzzle. By this means wounds, fractures, tumors, abscesses, and disease accompanied by eruptions about the muzzle may be detected. The interior of the mouth is examined by holding the head up and inserting the fingers through the interdental space in such a way as to cause the mouth to open. The mucous membrane should be clean and of a light-pink color, excepting on the back of the tongue, where the color is a yellowish gray. As abnormalities of this region, the chief are diffuse inflammation, characterized by redness and catarrhal discharge; local inflammation, as from eruptions, ulcers, or wounds; necrosis of the lower jawbone in front of the first back tooth; and swellings. Foreign bodies are sometimes found embedded in the mucous membrane lining of the mouth or lodged between the teeth.

The examination of the pharynx and of the esophagus is made chiefly by pressing upon the skin covering these organs in the region of the throat and along the left side of the neck in the jugular gutter. Sometimes, when a more careful examination is necessary, an esophageal tube or probang is passed through the nose or mouth down the esophagus to the stomach.

Vomiting is an act consisting in the expulsion of all or part of the contents of the stomach through the mouth or nose. This act is more difficult for the horse than for most of the other domestic animals, because the stomach of the horse is small and does not lie on the floor of the abdominal cavity, so that the abdominal walls in contracting do not bring pressure to bear upon it so directly and forcibly, as is the case in many other animals. Beside this, there is a loose fold of mucous membrane at the point where the esophagus enters the stomach, and this forms a sort of valve which does not interfere with the passage of food into the stomach, but does interfere with the exit of food through the esophageal opening. Still, vomiting is a symptom that is occasionally seen in the horse. It occurs when the stomach is very much distended with food or with gas. Distention stretches the mucous membrane and eradicates the valvular fold referred to, and also makes it possible for more pressure to be exerted upon the stomach through the contraction of the abdominal muscles. Since the[Pg 22] distention to permit vomiting must be extreme, it not infrequently happens that it leads to rupture of the stomach walls. This has caused the impression in the minds of some that vomiting can not occur in the horse without rupture of the stomach, but this is incorrect, since many horses vomit and afterwards become entirely sound. After rupture of the stomach has occurred vomiting is impossible.

In examination of the abdomen one should remember that its size depends largely upon the breed, sex, and conformation of the animal, and also upon the manner in which the animal has been fed and the use to which it has been put. A pendulous abdomen may be the result of an abdominal tumor or of an accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity; or, on the other hand, it may merely be an indication of pregnancy, or of the fact that the horse has been fed for a long time on bulky and innutritious food. Pendulous abdomen occurring in a work horse kept on a concentrated diet is an abnormal condition. The abdomen may increase suddenly in volume from accumulation of gas in tympanic colic. The abdomen becomes small and the horse is said to be "tucked up" from long-continued poor appetite, as in diseases of the digestive tract and in fever. This condition also occurs in tetanus from the contraction of the abdominal walls and in diarrhea from emptiness.

In applying the ear to the flank, on either the right or left side, certain bubbling sounds may be heard that are known as peristaltic sounds, because they are produced by peristalsis, or wormlike contraction of the intestines. These sounds are a little louder on the right side than on the left on account of the fact that the large intestines lie in the right flank. Absence of peristaltic sounds is always an indication of disease, and suggests exhaustion or paralysis of the intestines. This may occur in certain kinds of colic and is an unfavorable symptom. Increased sounds are heard where the intestines are contracted more violently than in health, as in spasmodic colic, and also where there is an excess of fluid or gas in the intestinal canal.

The feces show, to a certain extent, the thoroughness of digestion. They should show that the feed has been well ground, and should, in the horse, be free from offensive odor or coatings of mucus. A coating of mucus shows intestinal catarrh. Blood on the feces indicates severe inflammation. Very light color and bad odor may come from inactive liver. Parasites are sometimes in the dung.

Rectal examination consists in examination of the organs of the pelvic cavity and posterior portion of the abdominal cavity by the hand inserted into the rectum. This examination should be attempted by a veterinarian only, and is useless except to one who has a good knowledge of the anatomy of the parts concerned.[Pg 23]


The great brain, or cerebrum, is the seat of intelligence, and it contains the centers that control motion in many parts of the body. The front portion of the brain is believed to be the region that is most important in governing the intelligence. The central and posterior portions of the cerebrum contain the centers for the voluntary motions of the face and of the front and hind legs. The growth of a tumor or an inflammatory change in the region of a center governing the motion of a certain part of the body has the effect of disturbing motion in that part by causing excessive contraction known as cramps, or inability of the muscles to contract, constituting the condition known as paralysis. The nerve paths from the cerebrum, and hence from these centers to the spinal cord and thence to the muscles, pass beneath the small brain, or the cerebellum, and through the medulla oblongata to the spinal cord. Interference with these paths has the effect of disturbing motion of the parts reached by them. If all of the paths on one side are interfered with, the result is paralysis of one side of the body.

The small brain, or cerebellum, governs the regularity, or coordination, of movements. Disturbances of the cerebellum cause a tottering, uncertain gait. In the medulla oblongata, which lies between the spinal cord and the cerebellum, are the centers governing the circulation and breathing.

The spinal cord carries sensory messages to the brain and motor impressions from the brain. The anterior portions of the cord contain the motor paths, and the posterior portions of the cord contain the sensory paths.

Paralysis of a single member or a single group of muscles is known as monoplegia and results from injury to the motor center or to a nerve trunk leading to the part that is involved. Paralysis of one-half of the body is known as hemiplegia and results from destruction or severe disturbances of the cerebral hemisphere of the opposite side of the body or from interference with nerve paths between the cerebellum, or small brain, and the spinal cord. Paralysis of the posterior half of the body is known as paraplegia and results from derangement of the spinal cord. If the cord is pressed upon, cut, or injured, messages can not be transmitted beyond that point, and so the posterior part becomes paralyzed. This is seen when the back is fractured.

Abnormal mental excitement may be due to congestion of the brain or to inflammation. The animal so afflicted becomes vicious, pays no attention to commands, cries, runs about in a circle, stamps with the feet, strikes, kicks, etc. This condition is usually followed by a dull, stupid state, in which the animal stands with his head down, dull and[Pg 24] irresponsive to external stimuli. Cerebral depression also occurs in the severe febrile infectious diseases, in chronic hydrocephalus, in chronic diseases of the liver, in poisoning with a narcotic substance, and with chronic catarrh of the stomach and intestines.

Fainting is a symptom that is not often seen in horses. When it occurs it is shown by unsteadiness of gait, tottering, and, finally, inability to stand. The cause usually lies in a defect of the small brain, or cerebellum. This defect may be merely in respect of the blood supply, to congestion, or to anemia, and in this case it is likely to pass away and may never return, or it may be due to some permanent cause, as a tumor or an abscess, or it may result from a hemorrhage, from a defect of the valves of the heart, or from poisoning.

Loss of consciousness is known as coma. It is caused by hemorrhage in the brain, by profound exhaustion, or may result from a saturation of the system with the poison of some disease. Coma may follow upon cerebral depression, which occurs as a secondary state of inflammation of the brain.

Where the sensibility of a part is increased the condition is known as hyperesthesia, and where it is lost—that is, where there is no feeling or knowledge of pain—the condition is known as anesthesia. The former usually accompanies some chronic disease of the spinal cord or the earlier stages of irritation of a nerve trunk. Hyperesthesia is difficult to detect in a nervous, irritable animal, and sometimes even in a horse of less sensitive temperament. An irritable, sensitive spot may be found surrounded by skin that is not sensitive to pressure. This is sometimes a symptom of beginning of inflammation of the brain. Anesthesia occurs in connection with cerebral and spinal paralysis, section of a nerve trunk leading to a part, in severe mental depression, and in narcotic poisoning.


In considering the examination of the urinary and sexual organs we may consider, at the beginning, a false impression that prevails to an astonishing extent. Many horsemen are in the habit of pressings upon the back of a horse over the loins or of sliding the ends of the fingers along on either side of the median line of this region. If the horse depresses his back it is at once said "his kidneys are weak." Nothing could be more absurd or further from the truth. Any healthy horse—any horse with normal sensation and with a normally flexible back—will cause it to sink when manipulated in this way. If the kidneys are inflamed and sensitive, the back is held more rigidly and is not depressed under this pressure.

To examine the kidneys by pressure the pressure should be brought to bear over these organs. The kidneys lie beneath the ends of the[Pg 25] transverse processes of the vertebræ of the loins and beneath the hind-most ribs. If the kidneys are actually inflamed and especially sensitive, pressure or light blows applied here may cause the horse to shrink.

The physical examination of the sexual and generative organs is made in large part through the rectum, and this portion of the examination should be carried out by a veterinarian only. By this means it is possible to discover or locate cysts of the kidneys, urinary calculi in the ureters, bladder, or upper urethra, malformations, and acute inflammations accompanied by pain. The external genital organs are swollen, discolored, or show a discharge as a result of local disease or from disease higher in the tract.

The manner of urinating is sometimes of considerable diagnostic importance. Painful urination is shown by frequent attempts, during which but a small quantity of urine is passed; by groaning, by constrained attitude, etc. This condition comes from inflammation of the bladder or urethra, urinary calculi (stones of the bladder or urethra), hemorrhage, tumors, bruises, etc. The urine is retained from spasms of the muscle at the neck of the bladder, from calculi, inflammatory growths, tumors, and paralysis of the bladder.

The urine dribbles without control when the neck of the bladder is weakened or paralyzed. This condition is seen after the bladder is weakened from long-continued retention and where there is a partial paralysis of the hind quarters.

Horses usually void urine five to seven times a day, and pass from 4 to 7 quarts. Disease may be shown by increase in the number of voidings or of the quantity. Frequent urination indicates an irritable or painful condition of the bladder or urethra or that the quantity is excessive. In one form of chronic inflammation of the kidneys (interstitial nephritis) and in polyuria the quantity may be increased to 20 or 30 quarts daily. Diminution in the quantity of urine comes from profuse sweating, diarrhea, high fever, weak heart, diseased and nonsecreting kidneys, or an obstruction to the flow.

The urine of the healthy horse is a pale or at times a slightly reddish yellow. The color is less intense when the quantity is large, and is more intense when the quantity is diminished. Dark-brown urine is seen in azoturia and in severe acute muscular rheumatism. A brownish-green color is seen in jaundice. Red color indicates admixture of blood from a bleeding point at some part of the urinary tract, usually in the kidneys.

The urine of the healthy horse is not clear and transparent. It contains mucus, which causes it to be slightly thick and stringy, and a certain amount of undissolved carbonates, causing it to be cloudy. A sediment collects when the urine is allowed to stand. The urine of the horse is normally alkaline. If it becomes acid the bodies in suspension[Pg 26] are dissolved and the urine is made clear. The urine may be unusually cloudy from the addition of abnormal constituents, but to determine their character a chemical or microscopic examination is necessary. Red or reddish flakes or clumps in the urine are always abnormal, and denote a hemorrhage or suppuration in the urinary tract.

The normal specific gravity of the urine of the horse is about 1.040. It is increased when the urine is scanty and decreased when the quantity is excessive.

Acid reaction of the urine occurs in chronic intestinal catarrh, in high fever, and during starvation. Chemical and microscopic tests and examinations are often of great importance in diagnosis, but require special apparatus and skill.

Other points in the examination of a sick horse require more discussion than can be afforded in this connection, and require special training on the part of the examiner. Among such points may be mentioned the examination of the organs of special sense, the examination of the blood, the microscopic examination of the secretions and excretions, bacteriological examinations of the secretions, excretions, and tissues, specific reaction tests, and diagnostic inoculation.

[Pg 27]


By Rush Shippen Huidekoper, M. D., Vet.

[Revised by Leonard Pearson, B. S., V. M. D.]


The nonprofessional reader may regard the animal tissues, which are subject to inflammation, as excessively simple structures, as similar, simple, and fixed in their organization as the joists and boards which frame a house, the bricks and iron coils of pipe which build a furnace, or the stones and mortar which make the support of a great railroad bridge. Yet while the principles of structure are thus simple, for the general understanding by the student who begins their study the complete appreciation of the shades of variation, which differentiate one tissue from another, which define a sound tendon or a ligament from a fibrous band—the result of disease filling in an old lesion and tying one organ with another—is as complicated as the nicest jointing of Chinese woodwork, the building of a furnace for the most difficult chemical analysis, or the construction of a bridge which will stand for ages and resist any force or weight.

All tissues are composed of certain fundamental and similar elements which are governed by the same rules of life, though at first glance they may appear to be widely different. These are (a) amorphous substances, (b) fibers, and (c) cells.

(a) Amorphous substances may be in liquid form, as in the fluid of the blood, which holds a vast amount of salts and nutritive matter in solution; or they may be in a semiliquid condition, as the plasma which infiltrates the loose meshes of connective tissue and lubricates the surface of some membranes; or they may be in the form of a glue or cement, fastening one structure to another, as a tendon or muscle end to a bone; or, again, they hold similar elements firmly together, as in bone, where they form a stiff matrix which becomes impregnated with lime salts. Amorphous substances, again, form the protoplasm or nutritive element of cells or the elements of life.

(b) Fibers are formed of elements of organic matter which have only a passive function. They can be assimilated to little strings, or cords, tangled one with another like a mass of waste yarn, woven regularly like a cloth, or bound together like a rope. They are of two[Pg 28] kinds—white connective tissue fibers, only slightly extensible, pliable, and very strong, and yellow elastic fibers, elastic, curly, ramified, and very dense. These fibers once created require the constant presence of fluids around them in order to retain their functional condition, as a piece of harness leather demands continual oiling to keep its strength, but they undergo no change or alteration in their form until destroyed by death.

(c) Cells, which may even be regarded as low forms of life, are masses of protoplasm or amorphous living matter, with a nucleus and frequently a nucleolus, which are capable of assimilating nutriment or food, propagating themselves either into others of the same form or into fixed cells of another outward appearance and different function but of the same constitution. It is simply in the mode of the grouping of these elements that we have the variation in tissues, as (1) loose connective tissue, (2) aponeurosis and tendons, (3) muscles, (4) cartilage, (5) bones, (6) epithelia and endothelia, (7) nerves.

(1) Loose connective tissue forms the great framework, or scaffolding, of the body, and is found under the skin, between the muscles surrounding the bones and blood vessels, and entering into the structures of almost all the organs. In this the fibers are loosely meshed together like a sponge, leaving spaces in which the nutrient fluid and cells are irregularly distributed. This tissue we find in the skin, in the spaces between the organs of the body where fat accumulates, and as the framework of all glands.

(2) Aponeurosis and tendons are structures which serve for the termination of muscles and for their contention, and for the attachment of bones together. In these the fibers are more frequent and dense, and are arranged with regularity, either crossing each other or lying parallel, and here the cells are found in minimum quantity.

(3) In the muscles the cells lie end to end, forming long fibers which have the power of contraction, and the connective tissue is in small quantity, serving the passive purpose of a band around the contractile elements.

(4) In cartilage a mass of firm amorphous substance, with no vascularity and little vitality, forms the bed for the chondroplasts, or cells of this tissue.

(5) Bone differs from the above in having the amorphous matter impregnated with lime salts, which gives it its rigidity and firmness.

(6) Epithelia and endothelia, or the membranes which cover the body and line all its cavities and glands, are made up of single or stratified and multiple layers of cells bound together by a glue of amorphous substance and resting on a layer composed of fibers.[Pg 29] When the membrane serves for secreting or excreting purposes, as in the salivary glands or the kidneys, it is usually simple; when it serves the mechanical purpose of protecting a part, as over the tongue or skin, it is invariably multiple and stratified, the surface wearing away while new cells replace it from beneath.

(7) In nerves, stellate cells are connected by their rays to each other, or to fibers which conduct the nerve impressions, or they act as receptacles, storehouses, and transmitters for them, as the switch-board of a telephone system serves to connect the various wires.

All these tissues are supplied with blood in greater or less quantity. The vascularity depends upon the function which the tissue is called upon to perform. If this is great, as in the tongue, the lungs, or the sensitive part of the hoof, a large quantity of blood is required; if the labor is a passive one, as in cartilage, the membrane over the withers, or the tendons of the legs, the vessels only reach the periphery, and nutrition is furnished by imbibition of the fluids brought to their surface by the blood vessels.

Blood is brought to the tissues by arterioles, or the small terminations of the arteries, and is carried off from them by the veinlets, or the commencement of the veins. Between these two systems are small, delicate networks of vessels called capillaries, which subdivide into a veritable lacework so as to reach the neighborhood of every element.

In health the blood passes through these capillaries with a regular current, the red cells or corpuscles floating rapidly in the fluid in the center of the channel, while the white or ameboid cells are attracted to the walls of the vessels and move very slowly. The supply of blood is regulated by the condition of repose or activity of the tissue, and under normal conditions the outflow exactly compensates the supply. The caliber of the blood vessels, and consequently the quantity of blood which they carry, is governed by nerves of the sympathetic system in a healthy body with unerring regularity, but in a diseased organ the flow may cease or be greatly augmented. In health a tissue or organ receives its proper quantity of blood; the nutritive elements are extracted for the support of the tissue and for the product, which the function of the organ forms. The force required in the achievement of this is furnished by combustion of the hydrocarbons and oxygen brought by the arterial blood, then by the veins this same fluid passes off, less its oxygen, loaded with the waste products, which are the result of the worn-out and disintegrated tissues, and of those which have undergone combustion. The foregoing brief outline indicates the process of nutrition of the tissues.

Hypernutrition, or excessive nutrition of a tissue, may be normal or morbid. If the latter, the tissue becomes congested or inflamed.[Pg 30]


Congestion is an unnatural accumulation of blood in a part. Excessive accumulation of blood may be normal, as in blushing or in the red face which temporarily follows a violent muscular effort, or, as in the stomach or liver during digestion, or in the lungs after severe work, from which, in the latter case, it is shortly relieved by a little rapid breathing. The term congestion, however, usually indicates a morbid condition, with more or less lasting effects. Congestion is active or passive. The former is produced by an increased supply of blood to the part, the latter by an obstacle preventing the escape of blood from the tissue. In either case there is an increased supply of blood, and as a result increased combustion and augmented nutrition.


Active congestion is caused by—

(1) Functional activity.—Any organ which is constantly or excessively used is habituated to hold an unusual quantity of blood; the vessels become dilated; if overstrained the walls become weakened, lose their elasticity, and any sudden additional quantity of blood engorges the tissues so that they can not contract, and congestion results. Example: The lungs of a race horse, after an unusual burst of speed or severe work, in damp weather.

(2) Irritants.—Heat and cold, chemical or mechanical. Any of these, by threatening the vitality of a tissue, induce immediately an augmented flow of blood to the part to furnish the means of repair—a hot iron, frostbites, acids, or a blow.

(3) Nerve influence.—This may produce congestion either by acting on the part reflexly or as the result of some central nerve disturbance affecting the branch which supplies a given organ.

(4) Plethora and sanguinary temperament.—Full-blooded animals are much more predisposed to congestive diseases than those of a lymphatic character or those in an anemic condition. The circulation in them is forced to all parts with much greater force and in large quantities. A well-bred, full-blooded horse is much more subject to congestive diseases than a common, coarse, or old, worn-out animal.

(5) Fevers.—In fever the heart works more actively and forces the current of blood more rapidly; the tissues are weakened, and it requires but a slight local cause at any part to congest the structures already overloaded with blood. Again, in certain fevers, we find alteration of the blood itself, rendering it less or more fluid, which interferes with its free passage through the vessels and induces a local predisposition to congestion.[Pg 31]

(6) Warm climate and summer heat.—Warmth of the atmosphere relaxes the tissues; it demands of the animals less blood to keep up their own body temperature, and the extra quantity accumulates in the blood-vessel system. It causes sluggishness in the performance of the organic functions, and in this way it induces congestion, especially of the internal organs. So we find founders, congestive colics, and staggers more frequent in summer than in winter.

(7) Previous congestion.—Whether the previous congestion of any organ has been a continuous normal one—that is, a repeated functional activity—or has been a morbid temporary overloading, it always leaves the walls of the vessels weakened and more predisposed to recurrent attacks from accidental causes than are perfectly healthy tissues. Thus a horse which has had a congestion of the lungs from a severe drive is liable to have another attack from even a lesser cause.

The alterations of congestion are distention of the blood vessels, accumulation of the cellular elements of the blood in them, and effusion of a portion of the liquid of the blood into the fibrous tissues which surround the vessels. When the changes produced by congestion are visible, as in the eye, the nostril, the mouth, the genital organs, and on the surface of the body in white or unpigmented animals, the part appears red from the increase of blood; it becomes swollen from the effusion of liquid into the spongelike connective tissues; it is at times more or less hot from the increased combustion; the part is frequently painful to the animal from pressure of the effusion on the nerves, and the function of the tissue is interfered with. The secretion or excretion of glands may be augmented or diminished. Muscles may be affected with spasms or may be unable to contract. The eyes and ears may be affected with imaginary sights and sounds.


Passive congestion is caused by interference with the return of the current of blood from a part.

Old age and debility weaken the tissues and the force of the circulation, especially in the veins, and retard the movement of the blood. We then see horses of this class with stocked legs, swelling of the sheath of the penis or of the milk glands, and of the under surface of the belly. We find them also with effusions of the liquid parts of the blood into the lymph spaces of the posterior extremities and organs of the pelvic cavity.

Tumors or other mechanical obstructions, by pressing on the veins, retard the flow of blood and cause it to back up in distal parts of the body causing passive congestion.

The alterations of passive congestion, as in active congestion, consist of an increased quantity of blood in the vessels and an exudation[Pg 32] of its fluid into the tissues surrounding them, but in passive congestion we have a dark, thick blood which has lost its oxygen, instead of the rich, combustible blood rich in oxygen which is found in active congestion.

The termination of congestion is by resolution or inflammation. In the first case, the choked-up blood vessels find an outlet for the excessive quantity of blood and are relieved; the transuded serum or fluid of the blood is reabsorbed, and the part returns almost to its normal condition, with, however, a tendency to weakness predisposing to future trouble of the same kind. In the other case further alterations take place, and we have inflammation.


(Plates I and II.)

Inflammation is a hypernutrition of a tissue. It is described by Dr. Agnew, the surgeon, as "a double-edged sword, cutting either way for good or for evil." The increased nutrition may be moderate and cause a growth of new tissue, a simple increase of quantity at first; or it may produce a new growth differing in quality; or it may be so great that, like luxuriant, overgrown weeds, the elements die from their very haste of growth, and we have immediate destruction of the part. According to the rapidity and intensity of the process of structural changes which takes place in an inflamed tissue, inflammation is described as acute or chronic, with a vast number of intermediate forms. When the phenomena are marked it is termed sthenic; when less distinct, as the result of a broken-down and feeble constitution in the animal, it is called asthenic. Certain inflammations are specific, as in strangles, the horsepox, glanders, etc., where a characteristic or specific cause or condition is added to the origin, character of phenomena, or alterations which result from an ordinary inflammation. An inflammation may be circumscribed or limited, as in the abscess on the neck caused by the pressure of a collar, in pneumonia, in glanders, in the small tumors of a splint or a jack; or it may be diffuse, as in severe fistulas of the withers, in an extensive lung fever, in the legs in a case of grease, or in the spavins which affect horses with poorly nourished bones. The causes of inflammation are practically the same as those of congestion, which is the initial step of all inflammation.

The temperament of a horse predisposes the animal to inflammation of certain organs. A full-blooded animal, whose veins show on the surface of the body, and which has a strong, bounding heart pumping large quantities of blood into the vascular organs like the lungs, the intestines, and the laminæ of the feet, is more liable to have pneumonia, congestive colics, and founder, than lymphatic, cold-blooded animals which have pleurisies, inflammation of the bones, spavins, ringbones, inflammation of the glands of the less vascular skin of the extremities, greasy heels, thrush, etc.



[Pg 33]Young horses have inflammation of the membranes lining the air passages and digestive tract, while older animals are more subject to troubles in the closed serous sacs and in the bones.

The work to which a horse is put (saddle or harness, speed or draft) will influence the predisposition of an animal to inflammatory diseases. As in congestion, the functional activity of a part is an important factor in localizing this form of disease. Given a group of horses exposed to the same draft of cold air or other exciting cause of inflammation, the one which has just been eating will be attacked with an inflammation of the bowels; the one that has just been working so as to increase its respiration will have an inflammation of the throat, bronchi, or lungs; the one that has just been using its feet excessively will have a founder or inflammation of the laminæ of the feet.

The direct cause of inflammation is usually an irritant of some form. This may be a pathogenic organism—a disease germ—or it may be mechanical or chemical, external or internal. Cuts, bruises, injuries of any kind, parasites, acids, blisters, heat, cold, secretions, such as an excess of tears over the cheek or urine on the legs, all cause inflammation by direct injury to the part. Strains or wrenches of joints, ligaments, and tendons cause trouble by laceration of the tissue.

Inflammations of the internal organs are caused by irritants as above, and by sudden cooling of the surface of the animal, which drives the blood to that organ which at the moment is most actively supplied with blood. This is called repercussion. A horse which has been worked at speed and is breathing rapidly is liable to have pneumonia if suddenly chilled, while an animal which has just been fed is more liable to have a congestive colic if exposed to the same influence, the blood in this case being driven from the exterior to the intestines, while in the former it was driven to the lungs.

Symptoms.—The symptoms of inflammation are, as in congestion, change of color, due to an increased supply of blood; swelling, from the same cause, with the addition of an effusion into the surrounding tissues; heat, owing to the increased combustion in the part; pain, due to pressure on the nerves, and altered function. This latter may be augmented or diminished, or first one and then the other. In addition to the local symptoms, inflammation always produces more or less constitutional disturbance or fever. A splint or small spavin will cause so little fever that it is not appreciable, while a severe spavin, an inflamed joint, or a pneumonia may give rise to a marked fever.[Pg 34]

The alterations in an inflamed tissue are first those of congestion, distention of the blood vessels, and exudation of the fluid of the blood into the surrounding fibers, with, however, a more nearly complete stagnation of the blood; fibrin, or lymph, a plastic substance, is thrown out as well, and the cells, which we have seen to be living organisms in themselves, no longer carried in the current of the blood, migrate from the vessels and, finding proper nutriment, proliferate or multiply with greater or lesser rapidity. The cells which lie dormant in the meshes of the surrounding fibers are awakened into activity by the nutritious lymph which surrounds them, and they also multiply.

Whether the cell in an inflamed part is the white ameboid cell of the blood or the fixed connective tissue embedded in the fibers, it multiplies in the same way. The nucleus in the center is divided into two, and then each again into two, ad infinitum. If the process is slow, each new cell may assimilate nourishment and become, like its ancestor, an aid in the formation of new tissues; if, however, the changing takes place rapidly, the brood of young cells have not time to grow or use up the surrounding nourishment, and, but half developed, they die, and we then have destruction of tissue, and pus or matter is formed, a material made up of the imperfect dead elements and the broken-down tissue. Between the two there is an intermediate form, where we have imperfectly formed tissues, as in "proud flesh," large, soft splints; fungous growths, greasy heels, and thrush.

Whether the inflamed tissue is one like the skin, lungs, or intestines, very loose in their texture, or a tendon or bone, dense in structure, and comparatively poor in blood vessels, the principle of the process is the same. The effects, however, and the appearance may be widely different. After a cut on the face or an exudation into the lungs, the loose tissues and multiple vessels allow the proliferating cells to obtain rich nourishment; absorption can take place readily, and the part regains its normal condition entirely, while a bruise at the heel or at the withers finds a dense, inextensible tissue where the multiplying elements and exuded fluids choke up all communication, and the parts die (necrose) from want of blood and cause a serious quittor, or fistula.

This effect of structure of a part on the same process shows the importance of a perfect knowledge in the study of a local trouble, and the indispensable part which such knowledge plays in judging of the gravity of an inflammatory disease, and in formulating a prognosis or opinion of the final termination of it. It is this which allows the veterinarian, through his knowledge of the intimate structure of a part and the relations of its elements, to judge of the severity of a disease, and to prescribe different modes of treatment in two animals for troubles[Pg 35] which, to the less experienced observer, appear to be absolutely identical.

Termination of inflammation.—Like congestion, inflammation may terminate by resolution. In this case the exuded lymph undergoes chemical change, and the products are absorbed and carried off by the blood vessels and lymphatics, to be thrown out of the body by the kidneys, liver, the glands of the skin, and the other excretory organs. The cells, which have wandered into the neighboring tissues from the blood vessels, gradually disappear or become transformed into fixed cells. Those which are the result of the tissue cells, wakened into active life, follow the same course. The vessels themselves contract, and, having resumed their normal caliber, the part apparently reassumes its normal condition; but it is always weakened, and a new inflammation is more liable to reappear in a previously inflamed part than in a sound one. The alternate termination is necrosis, or mortification. If the necrosis, or death of a part, is gradual, by small stages, each cell losing its vitality after the other in more or less rapid succession, it takes the name of ulceration. If it occurs in a considerable part at once, it is called gangrene. If this death of the tissues occurs deep in the organism, and the destroyed elements and proliferated and dead cells are inclosed in a cavity, the result of the process is called an abscess. When it occurs on a surface, it is an ulcer, and an abscess by breaking on the exterior becomes then also an ulcer. Proliferating and dying cells, and the fluid which exudes from an ulcerating surface and the débris of broken-down tissue is known as pus, and the process by which this is formed is known as suppuration. A mass of dead tissue in a soft part is termed a slough, while the same in bone is called a sequestrum. Such changes are especially liable to occur when the part becomes infected with microorganisms that have the property of destroying tissue and thus causing the production of pus. These are known as pyogenic microorganisms. There are also bacilli that are capable of multiplying in tissues and so irritating them as to cause them to die (necrose) without forming pus.

Treatment of inflammation.—The study of the causes and pathological alterations of inflammation has shown the process to be one of hypernutrition, attended by excessive blood supply, so this study will indicate the primary factor to be employed in the treatment of it. Any agent which will reduce the blood supply and prevent the excessive nutrition of the elements of the part will serve as a remedy. The means employed may be used locally to the part, or they may be constitutional remedies, which act indirectly.

Local treatment.—Removal of the cause will frequently allow the part to heal at once. Among causes of inflammation may be mentioned a stone in the frog, causing a traumatic thrush; a badly fitting[Pg 36] harness or saddle, causing ulcers of the skin; decomposing manure and urine in a stable, which, by their vapors, irritate the air tubes and lungs and cause a cough.

Motion stimulates the action of the blood, and thus feeds an inflamed tissue. This is alike applicable to a diseased point irritated by movement to an inflamed pair of lungs surcharged with blood by the use demanded of them in a working animal, or to an inflamed eye exposed to light, or an inflamed stomach and intestines still further fatigued by feed. Rest, absolute quiet, a dark stable, and small quantities of easily digested feed will often cure serious inflammatory troubles without further treatment.

The application of ice bags or cold water by bandages, douching with a hose, or irrigation with dripping water, contracts the blood vessels, acts as a sedative to the nerves, and lessens the vitality of a part; it consequently prevents the tissue change which inflammation produces.

Either dry or moist heat acts as a derivative. It quickens the circulation and renders the chemical changes more active in the surrounding parts; it softens the tissues and attracts the current of blood from the inflamed organ; it also promotes the absorption of the effusion and hastens the elimination of the waste products in the part. Heat may be applied by hand rubbing or active friction and the application of warm coverings (bandages) or by cloths wrung out of warm water; or steaming with warm, moist vapor, medicated or not, will answer the same purpose. The latter is especially applicable to inflammatory troubles in the air passages.

Local bleeding frequently affords immediate relief by carrying off the excessive blood and draining the effusion which has already occurred. It affords direct mechanical relief, and, by a stimulation of the part, promotes the chemical changes necessary for bringing the diseased tissues to a healthy condition. Local blood-letting can be done by scarifying, or making small punctures into the inflamed part, as in the eyelid of an inflamed eye, or into the sheath of the penis, or into the skin of the latter organ when congested, or the leg when acutely swelled.

Counterirritants are used for deep inflammations. They act by bringing the blood to the surface and consequently lessening the blood pressure within. The derivation of the blood to the exterior diminishes the amount in the internal organs and is often very rapid in its action in relieving a congested lung or liver. The most common counterirritant is mustard flour. It is applied as a soft paste mixed with warm water to the under surface of the belly and to the sides, where the skin is comparatively soft and vascular. Colds in the throat or inflammations at any point demand the treatment applied in the same manner to the belly and sides and not to the throat[Pg 37] or on the legs, as so often used. Blisters, iodin, and many other irritants are used in a similar way.

Constitutional treatment in inflammation is designed to reduce the current of blood, which is the fuel for the inflammation in the diseased part, to quiet the patient, and to combat the fever or general effects of the trouble in the system, and to favor the neutralization or elimination of the products of the inflammation.

Reduction of blood is obtained in various ways. The diminution of the quantity of the blood lessens the amount of pressure on the vessels, and, as a sequel, the volume of it which is carried to the point of inflammation; it diminishes the body temperature or fever; it numbs the nervous system, which plays an important part as a conductor of irritation in diseases.

Blood-letting is the most rapid means, and frequently acts like a charm in relieving a commencing inflammatory trouble. One must remember, however, that the strength of the body and repair depend on the blood; hence blood-letting should be practiced only in full-blooded, well-nourished animals and in the early stages of the disease.

Cathartics act by drawing off a large quantity of fluid from the blood through the intestines, and have the advantage over the last remedy of removing only the watery and not the formed elements from the circulation. The blood cells remain, leaving the blood as rich as it was before. Again, the glands of the intestines are stimulated to excrete much waste matter and other deleterious material which may be acting as a poison in the blood.

Diuretics operate through the kidneys in the same way.

Diaphoretics aid depletion of the blood by pouring water in the form of sweat from the surface of the skin and stimulating the discharge of waste material out of its glands, which has the same effect on the blood pressure.

Antipyretics are remedies to reduce the temperature. This may be accomplished by depressing the center in the brain that controls heat production. Some coal-tar products are very effective in this way, but they have the disadvantage of depressing the heart, which should always be kept as strong as possible. If they are used it must be with knowledge of this fact, and it is well to give heart tonics or stimulants with them. The temperature of the body may be lowered by cold packs or by showering with cold water. This is a most useful procedure in many diseases.

Depressants are drugs which act on the heart. They slow or weaken the action of this organ and reduce the quantity and force of the current of the blood which is carried to the point of local disease; they lessen the vitality of the animal, and for this reason are now used much less than formerly.[Pg 38]

Anodynes quiet the nervous system. Pain in the horse, as in the man, is one of the important factors in the production of fever, and the dulling of the former often prevents, or at least reduces, the latter. Anodynes produce sleep, so as to rest the patient and allow recuperation for the succeeding struggle of the vitality of the animal against the exhausting drain of the disease.

The diet of an animal suffering from acute inflammation is a factor of the greatest importance. An overloaded circulation can be starved to a reduced quantity and to a less rich quality of blood by reducing the quantity of feed given to the patient. Feeds of easy digestion do not tire the already fatigued organs of an animal with a torpid digestive system. Nourishment will be taken by a suffering brute in the form of slops and cooling drinks when it would be totally refused if offered in its ordinary form, as hard oats or dry hay, requiring the labor of grinding between the teeth and swallowing by the weakened muscles of the jaws and throat.

Tonics and stimulants are remedies which are used to meet special indications, as in the case of a feeble heart, and which enter into the after treatment of inflammatory troubles as well as into the acute stages of them. They brace up weakened and torpid glands; they stimulate the secretion of the necessary fluids of the body, and hasten the excretion of the waste material produced by the inflammatory process; they regulate the action of a weakened heart; they promote healthy vitality of diseased parts, and aid the chemical changes needed for returning the altered tissues to their normal condition.


Fever is a general condition of the animal body in which there is an elevation of the animal body temperature, which may be only a degree or two or may be 10° F. The elevation of the body temperature, which represents tissue change or combustion, is accompanied with an acceleration of the heart's action, a quickening of the respiration, and an aberration in the functional activity of the various organs of the body. These organs may be stimulated to the performance of excessive work, or they may be incapacitated from carrying out their allotted tasks, or, in the course of a fever, the two conditions may both exist, the one succeeding the other. Fever as a disease is usually preceded by chills as an essential symptom.

Fevers are divided into essential fevers and symptomatic fevers. In symptomatic fever some local disease, usually of an inflammatory character, develops first, and the constitutional febrile phenomena are the result of the primary point of combustion irritating the whole body, either through the nervous system or directly by means of the waste material which is carried into the circulation and through the[Pg 39] blood vessels, and is distributed to distal parts. Essential fevers are those in which there is from the outset a general disturbance of the whole economy. This may consist of an elementary alteration in the blood or a general change in the constitution of the tissues. Fevers of the latter class are usually due to some infecting agent and belong, therefore, to the class of infectious diseases.

Essential fevers are subdivided into ephemeral fevers, which last but a short time and terminate by critical phenomena; intermittent fevers, in which there are alterations of exacerbations of the febrile symptoms and remissions, in which the body returns to its normal condition or sometimes to a depressed condition, in which the functions of life are but badly performed; and continued fevers, which include contagious diseases, such as glanders, influenza, etc., the septic diseases, such as pyemia, septicemia, etc., and the eruptive fevers, such as variola, etc.

Whether the cause of the fever has been an injury to the tissues, such as a severe bruise, a broken bone, an inflamed lung, or excessive work, which has surcharged the blood with the waste products of the combustion of the tissues, which were destroyed to produce force, or the toxins of influenza in the blood, or the presence of irritating material, either in the form of living organisms or of their products, as in glanders or tuberculosis—the general train of symptoms are much the same, varying as the amount of the irritant differs in quantity, or when some special quality in them has a specific action on one or another tissue.

There is in fever at first a relaxation of the small blood vessels, which may have been preceded by a contraction of the same if there was a chill, and as a consequence there is an acceleration of the current of the blood. There is, then, an elevation of the peripheral temperature, followed by a lowering of tension in the arteries and an acceleration in the movement of the heart. These conditions may be produced by a primary irritation of the nerve centers of the brain from the effects of heat, as is seen in thermic fever, or sunstroke, or by the entrance into the blood stream of disease-producing organisms or their chemical products, as in anthrax, rinderpest, influenza, etc.

There are times when it is difficult to distinguish between the existence of fever as a disease and a temporary feverish condition which is the result of excessive work. Like the condition of congestion of the lungs, which is normal up to a certain degree in the lungs of a race horse after a severe race, and morbid when it produces more than temporary phenomena or when it causes distinct lesions, the temperature may rise from physiological causes as much as four degrees, so fever, or, as it is better termed, a feverish condition, may follow any work or other employment of energy in which excessive tissue[Pg 40] change has taken place; but if the consequences are ephemeral, and no recognizable lesion is apparent, it is not considered morbid. This condition, however, may predispose to severe organic disturbance and local inflammations which will cause disease, as an animal in this condition is liable to take cold and develop lung fever or a severe enteritis, if chilled or otherwise exposed.

Fever in all animals is characterized by the same general phenomena, but we find the intensity of the symptoms modified by the species of animals affected, by the races which subdivide the species, by the families which form groups of the races, and by certain conditions in individuals themselves. For example, a pricked foot in a Thoroughbred may cause intense fever, while the same injury in the foot of a Clydesdale may scarcely cause a visible general symptom. In the horse, fever produces the following symptoms:

The normal body temperature, which varies from 99° to 100° F., is elevated from 1° to 9°. A temperature of 102° or 103° F. is moderate fever, 104° to 105° F. is high, and 106° F. and over is excessive. The temperature is accurately measured by means of a clinical thermometer inserted in the rectum.

This elevation of temperature can readily be felt by the hand placed in the mouth of the animal, or in the rectum, and in the cleft between the hind legs. It is usually appreciable at any point over the surface of the body and in the expired air emitted from the nostrils. The ears and cannons are often as hot as the rest of the body, but are sometimes cold, which denotes a debility in the circulation and irregular distribution of the blood. The pulse, which in a healthy horse is felt beating about 42 to 48 times in the minute, is increased to 60, 70, 90, or even 100. The respirations are increased from 14 or 16 to 24, 30, 36, or even more. With the commencement of a fever the horse usually has diminished appetite, or it may have total loss of appetite if the fever is excessive. There is, however, a vast difference among horses in this regard. With the same degree of elevation of temperature one horse may lose its appetite entirely, while another, usually of the more common sort, will eat at hay throughout the course of the fever, and will even continue to eat oats or other grains. Thirst is usually increased, but the animal desires only a small quantity of water at a time, and in most cases of fever a bucket of water should be kept standing before the patient, which may be allowed to drink ad libitum. The skin becomes dry and the hairs stand on end. Sweating is almost unknown in the early stage of fevers, but frequently occurs later in their course, when an outbreak of warm sweat is often a most favorable symptom. The mucous membranes, which are most easily examined in the conjunctivæ of the eyes and inside of the mouth, change color if the fever is an[Pg 41] acute one; without alteration of blood the mucous membranes become of a rosy or deep-red color at the outset; if the fever is attended with distinct alteration of the blood, as in influenza, and at the end of two or three days in severe cases of pneumonia or other extensive inflammatory troubles the mucous membranes are tinged with yellow, which may even become a deep ocher in color, the result of the decomposition of the blood corpuscles and the freeing of their coloring matter, which acts as a stain. At the outset of a fever the various glands are checked in their secretions, the salivary glands fail to secrete the saliva, and we find the surface of the tongue and inside of the cheeks dry and covered with a brownish, bad-smelling deposit. The excretion from the liver and intestinal glands is diminished and produces an inactivity of the digestive organs which causes a constipation. If this is not remedied at an early period, the undigested material acts as an irritant, and later we may have it followed by an inflammatory process, producing a severe diarrhea.

The excretion from the kidneys is sometimes at first entirely suppressed. It is always considerably diminished, and what urine is passed is dark in color, undergoes ammoniacal change rapidly, and deposits quantities of salts. At a later period the diminished excretion may be replaced by an excessive excretion, which aids in carrying off waste products and usually indicates an amelioration of the fever.

While the ears, cannons, and hoofs of a horse suffering from fever are usually found hot, they may frequently alternate from hot to cold, or be much cooler than they normally are. This latter condition usually indicates great weakness on the part of the circulatory system.

It is of the greatest importance, as an aid in diagnosing the gravity of an attack of fever and as an indication in the selection of its mode of treatment, to recognize the exact cause of a febrile condition in the horse. In certain cases, in very nervous animals, in which fever is the result of nerve influence, a simple anodyne, or even only quiet with continued care and nursing, will sometimes be sufficient to diminish it. When fever is the result of local injury, the cure of the cause produces a cessation in the constitutional symptoms. When it is the result of a pneumonia or other severe parenchymatous inflammation, it usually lasts for a definite time, and subsides with the first improvement of the local trouble, but in these cases we constantly have exacerbations of fever due to secondary inflammatory processes, such as the formation of small abscesses, the development of secondary bronchitis, or the death of a limited quantity of tissue (gangrene).

In specific cases, such as influenza, strangles, and septicemia, there is a definite poison in the blood-vessel system and carried to the heart and to the nervous system, which produces a peculiar irritation, usually lasting for a specific period, during which the temperature can be but slightly diminished by any remedy.[Pg 42]

In cases attended with complications, the diagnosis at times becomes still more difficult, as at the end of a case of influenza which becomes complicated with pneumonia. The high temperature of the simple inflammatory disease may be grafted on that of the specific trouble, and the determination of the cause of the fever, as between the two, is therefore frequently a difficult matter but an important one, as upon it depends the mode of treatment.

Any animal suffering from fever, whatever the cause, is much more susceptible to attacks of local inflammation, which become complications of the original disease, than are animals in sound health. In fever we have the tissues and the walls of the blood vessels weakened, we have an increased current of more or less altered blood flowing through the vessels and stagnating in the capillaries, which need but an exciting cause to transform the passive congestion of fever into an active congestion and acute inflammation. These conditions become still more distinct when the fever is accompanied with a decided deterioration in the blood itself, as is seen in influenza, septicemia, and at the termination of severe pneumonias.

Fever, with its symptoms of increased temperature, acceleration of the pulse, acceleration of respiration, dry skin, diminished secretions, etc., must be considered as an indication of organic disturbance. This organic disturbance may be the result of local inflammation or other irritants acting through the nerves on nerve centers, alterations of the blood, in which a poison is carried to the nerve centers, or direct irritants to the nerve centers themselves, as in cases of heat stroke, injury to the brain, etc.

The treatment of fever depends upon its cause. One of the important factors in treatment is absolute quiet. This may be obtained by placing a sick horse in a box stall, away from other animals and extraneous noises and sheltered from excessive light and drafts of air. Anodynes, belladonna, hyoscyamus, and opium act as antipyretics simply by quieting the nervous system. As an irritant exists in the blood in most cases of fever, any remedy which will favor the excretion of foreign elements from it will diminish this cause. We therefore use diaphoretics to stimulate the sweat and excretions from the skin; diuretics to favor the elimination of matter by the kidneys; cholagogues and laxatives to increase the action of the liver and intestines, and to drain from these important organs all the waste material which is aiding to choke up and congest their rich plexuses of blood vessels. The heart becomes stimulated to increased action at the outset of a fever, but this does not indicate increased strength; on the contrary, it indicates the action of an irritant to the heart that will soon weaken it. It is, therefore, irrational further to depress the heart by the use of such drugs as aconite. It is better to strengthen it and to favor the elimination of the substance that is[Pg 43] irritating it. The increased blood pressure throughout the body may be diminished by lessening the quantity of blood. This is obtained in some cases with advantage when the disease is but starting and the animal is plethoric by direct abstraction of blood, as in bleeding from the jugular or other veins; or by derivatives, such as mustard, turpentine, or blisters applied to the skin; or by setons, which draw to the surface the fluid of the blood, thereby lessening its volume without having the disadvantage of impoverishing the elements of the blood found in bleeding. In many cases antipyretics given by the mouth and cold applied to the skin are most useful.

When the irritation which is the cause of fever is a specific one, either in the form of bacteria (living organisms), as in glanders, tuberculosis, influenza, septicemia, etc., or in the form of a foreign element, as in rheumatism, gout, hemaglobinuria, and other so-called diseases of nutrition, we employ remedies which have been found to have a direct specific action on them. Among the specific remedies for various diseases are counted quinin, carbolic acid, salicylic acid, antipyrene, mercury, iodin, the empyreumatic oils, tars, resins, aromatics, sulphur, and a host of other drugs, some of which are of known effect and others of which are theoretical in action. Certain remedies, like simple aromatic teas, vegetable acids, such as vinegar, lemon juice, etc., alkalines in the form of salts, sweet spirits of niter, etc., which are household remedies, are always useful, because they act on the excreting organs and ameliorate the effects of fever. Other remedies, which are to be used to influence the cause of fever, must be selected with judgment and from a thorough knowledge of the nature of the disease.

[Pg 44]


By Ch. B. Michener, V. S.

[Revised by Leonard Pearson, B. S., V. M. D.]

Medicine may enter the body through any of the following designated channels: First, by the mouth; second, by the air passages; third, by the skin; fourth, by the tissue beneath the skin (hypodermic methods); fifth, by the rectum; sixth, by the genito-urinary passages; and, seventh, by the blood (intravenous injections).

By the mouth.—Medicines can be given by the mouth in the form of solids, as powders or pills; liquids, and pastes, or electuaries.

Powders.—Solids administered as powders should be as finely pulverized as possible, in order to obtain rapid solution and absorption. Their action is in this way facilitated and intensified. Powders must be free from any irritant or caustic action upon the mouth. Those that are without any disagreeable taste or smell are readily eaten with the feed or taken in the drinking water. When placed with the feed they should first be dissolved or suspended in water and thus sprinkled on the feed. If mixed dry the horse will often leave the medicine in the bottom of his manger. Nonirritant powders may be given in capsules, as balls are given.

Pills, or "balls" when properly made, are cylindrical in shape, 2 inches in length and about three-fourths of an inch in diameter. They should be fresh, but if necessary to keep them some time they should be made up with glycerin, or some such agent, to prevent their becoming too hard. Very old, hard balls are sometimes passed whole with the manure without being acted upon at all. Paper is sometimes wrapped around balls when given, if they are so sticky as to adhere to the fingers or the balling gun. Paper used for this purpose should be thin but firm, as the tougher tissue papers. Balls are preferred to drenches when the medicine is extremely disagreeable or nauseating; when the dose is not too large; when the horse is difficult to drench; or when the medicine is intended to act slowly. Certain medicines can not or should not be made into balls, as medicines requiring to be given in large doses, oils, caustic substances, unless in small dose and diluted and thoroughly mixed with the vehicle, deliquescent, or efflorescent salts. Substances suitable for balls can be made up by the addition of honey, sirup, soap, etc., when required for immediate use. Gelatin capsules of different sizes are now obtainable and are a convenient means of giving medicines in ball form.[Pg 45]

When balls are to be given we should observe the following directions: In shape they should be cylindrical, of the size above mentioned, and soft enough to be easily compressed by the fingers. If made round or egg-shaped, if too long or too hard, they are liable to become fixed in the gullet and cause choking. Balls may be given with the "balling gun" (obtainable at any veterinary instrument maker's) or by the hand. If given by the hand a mouth speculum or gag may be used to prevent the animal from biting the hand or crushing the ball. Always loosen the horse before attempting to give a ball; if tied he may break his halter and injure himself or the one giving the ball. With a little practice it is much easier to give a ball without the mouth gag, as the horse always fights more or less against having his mouth forced open. The tongue must be firmly grasped with the left hand and gently pulled forward; the ball, slightly moistened, is then to be placed with the tips of the fingers of the right hand as far back into the mouth as possible; as the tongue is loosened it is drawn back into the mouth and carries the ball backward with it. The mouth should be kept closed for a minute or two. We should always have a pail of water at hand to offer the horse after balling. This precaution will often prevent him from coughing out the ball or its becoming lodged in the gullet.

Pastes or electuaries are medicines mixed with licorice-root powder, ground flaxseed, molasses, or sirup to the consistency of honey, or a "soft solid." They are intended, chiefly, to act locally upon the mouth and throat. They are given by being spread upon the tongue, gums, or teeth with a wooden paddle or strong, long-handled spoon.

Liquids.—It is, very often, impossible to get balls properly made, or to induce owners or attendants to attempt to give them, and for these reasons medicines by the mouth are mostly given in the form of liquids. Liquids may be given as drenches when the dose is large, or they may, when but a small quantity is administered, be injected into the mouth with a hard-rubber syringe or be poured upon the tongue from a small vial.

When medicine is to be given as a drench we must be careful to use water or oil enough to dissolve or dilute it thoroughly; more than this Wakes the drench bulky and is unnecessary. Insoluble medicines, if not irritant or corrosive, may be given simply suspended in water, the bottle to be well shaken immediately before giving the drench. The bottle used for drenching purposes should be clean, strong, and smooth about its neck; it should be without shoulders, tapering, and of a size to suit the amount to be given. A horn or tin bottle may be better, because it is not so easily broken by the teeth. If the dose is a small one the horse's head may be held up by the left hand, while the medicine is poured into the mouth by the right. The left thumb is to be placed in the angle of the lower jaw, and the fingers spread[Pg 46] out in such manner as to support the lower lip. Should the dose be large, the horse ugly, or the attendant unable to support the head as directed above, the head is then to be held up by running the tines of a long-handled wooden fork under the noseband of the halter or the halter strap or a rope may be fastened to the noseband and thrown over a limb, beam, or through a pulley suspended from the ceiling. Another way of supporting the head is to place a loop in the end of a rope, and introduce this loop into the mouth just behind the upper front teeth or tusks of the upper jaw, the free end to be run through a pulley, as before described, and held by an assistant. It is never to be fastened, as the horse might in that case do himself serious injury. The head is to be elevated just enough to prevent the horse from throwing the liquid out of his mouth. The line of the face should be horizontal, or only the least bit higher. If the head is drawn too high the animal can not swallow with ease or even with safety. (If this is doubted, just fill your mouth with water, throw-back the head as far as possible, and then try to swallow.) The person giving the drench should stand on some object in order to reach the horse's mouth—on a level, or a little above it. The bottle or horn is then to be introduced at the side of the mouth, in front of the molar teeth, in an upward direction. This will cause the horse to open his mouth, when the base of the bottle is to be elevated, and about 4 ounces of the liquid allowed to escape on the tongue as far back as possible, care being taken not to get the neck of the bottle between the back teeth. The bottle is to be immediately removed, and if the horse does not swallow this can be encouraged by rubbing the fingers or neck of the bottle against the roof of the mouth, occasionally removing them. As soon as this is swallowed repeat the operation until he has taken all the drench. If coughing occurs, or if, by any mishap, the bottle should be crushed in the mouth, lower the head immediately.

Do not rub, pinch, or pound the throat nor draw out the tongue when giving a drench. These processes in no way aid the horse to swallow and oftener do harm than good. In drenching, swallowing may be hastened by pouring into the nose of the horse, while the head is high, a few teaspoonfuls of clean water, but drenches must never be given through the nose. Large quantities of medicine given by pouring into the nose are liable to strangle the animal, or, if the medicine is irritating, it sets up an inflammation of the nose, fauces, windpipe, and sometimes the lungs.

By the air passages.—Medicines are administered to the lungs and upper air passages by insufflation, inhalation, injection, and nasal douche.

Insufflation consists in blowing an impalpable powder directly into the nose. It is but rarely resorted to.[Pg 47]

Inhalation.—Gaseous and volatile medicines are given by inhalation, as is also medicated steam or vapor. Of the gases used there may be mentioned, as the chief ones, sulphurous acid gas and, occasionally, chlorin. The animal or animals are to be placed in a tight room, where these gases are generated until the atmosphere is sufficiently impregnated with them. Volatile medicines—as the anesthetics (ether, chloroform, etc.)—are to be given by the attending surgeon only. Medicated vapors are to be inhaled by placing a bucket containing hot water, vinegar and water, scalded hay or bran, to which carbolic acid, iodin, compound tincture of benzoin, or other medicines have been added, in the bottom of a long grain bag. The horse's nose is to be inserted into the top of the bag, and he thus inhales the "medicated steam." Care must be taken not to have it hot enough to scald the animal. The vapor from scalding bran or hay is often thus inhaled to favor discharges in sore throat or "distemper."

Injections are made into the trachea by means of a hypodermic syringe. This method of medication is used for the purpose of treating local diseases of the trachea and upper bronchial tubes. It has also been used as a mode of administering remedies for their constitutional effect, but is now rarely used for this purpose.

The nasal douche is employed by the veterinarian in treating some local diseases of the nasal chambers. Special appliances and professional knowledge are necessary when using liquid medicines by this method. It is not often resorted to, even by veterinary surgeons, since, as a rule, the horse objects very strongly to this mode of medication.

By the skin.—Medicines are often administered to our hair-covered animals by the skin, yet care must be taken in applying some medicines—as tobacco water, carbolic-acid solutions, strong creolin solutions, mercurial ointment, etc.—over the entire body, as poisoning and death follow in some instances from absorption through the skin. For the same reasons care must also be exercised and poisonous medicines not applied over very large raw or abraded surfaces. With domestic animals medicines are only to be applied by the skin to allay local pain or cure local disease.

By the tissue beneath the skin (hypodermatic method).—Medicines are frequently given by the hypodermic syringe under the skin. It is not safe for any but medical or veterinary practitioners to use this form of medication, since the medicines thus given are powerful poisons. There are many precautions to be observed, and a knowledge of anatomy is indispensable. One of the chief precautions has to do with the sterilization of the syringe. If it is not sterile an abscess may be produced.

By the rectum.—Medicines may be given by the rectum when they can not be given by the mouth, or when they are not retained in[Pg 48] the stomach; when we want a local action on the last gut; when it is desired to destroy the small worms infesting the large bowels or to stimulate the peristaltic motion of the intestines and cause evacuation. Medicines are in such cases given in the form of suppositories or as liquid injections (enemas.) Foods may also be given in this way.

Suppositories are conical bodies made up of oil of theobroma and opium (or whatever medicine is indicated in special cases), and are introduced into the rectum or vagina to allay irritation and pain of these parts. They are not much used in treating horses.

Enemas, when given for absorption, should be small in quantity, neutral or slightly acid in reaction, and of a temperature of from 90° to 100° F. These, like feeds given by the rectum, should be introduced only after the last bowel has been emptied by the hand or by copious injections of tepid water. Enemas, or clysters, if to aid the action of physics, should be in quantities sufficient to distend the bowel and cause the animal to eject them. Simple water, salt and water, or soap and water, in quantities of a gallon or more, may be given every half hour. It is best that the horse retain them for some little time, as the liquid serves to moisten the dung and favors a passage. Stimulating enemas, as glycerin, should be administered after those already mentioned have emptied the last bowel, with the purpose of still further increasing the natural motion of the intestines and aiding the purging medicine.

Liquids may be thrown into the rectum by the means of a large syringe or a pump. A very good "irrigator" can be bought of any tinsmith at a trifling cost, and should be constantly at hand on every stock farm. It consists of a funnel about 6 inches deep and 7 inches in diameter, which is to be furnished with a prolongation to which a piece of rubber hose, such as small garden hose, 4 feet long may be attached. The hose, well oiled, is to be inserted gently into the rectum about 2 feet. The liquid to be injected may then be poured in the funnel and the pressure of the atmosphere will force it into the bowels. This appliance is better than the more complicated and expensive ones.

Ordinary cold water or even ice-cold water is highly recommended by many as a rectal injection for horses overcome by the excessive heat of summer, and may be given by this simple pipe.

By the genito-urinary passages.—This method of medication is especially useful in treating local diseases of the genito-urinary organs. It finds its chief application in the injection and cleansing of the uterus and vagina. For this purpose a large syringe or the irrigator described above may be used.

By the blood.—Injections directly into veins are to be practiced by medical or veterinary practitioners only, as are probably some other means of giving medicines—intratracheal injections, etc.


[Pg 49]


By Ch. B. Michener, V. S.

[Revised by John R. Mohler, V. M. D.]

It is not an easy task to write "a plain account of the common diseases, with directions for preventive measures, hygienic care, and the simpler forms of medical treatment," of the digestive organs of the horse. Being limited as to space, the endeavor has been made to give simply an outline—to state the most important facts—leaving many gaps, and continually checking the disposition to write anything like a full description as to cause, prevention, and modes of treatment of diseases.


It is generally held, at least in practice, that any water that stock can be induced to drink is sufficiently pure for their use. This practice occasions losses that would startle us if statistics were at hand. Water that is impure from the presence of decomposing organic matter, such as is found in wells and ponds in close proximity to manure heaps and cesspools, is frequently the cause of diarrhea, dysentery, and many other diseases of stock, while water that is impregnated with different poisons and contaminated in very many instances with specific media of contagion produces death.

Considering first the quantity of water required by the horse, it may be stated that when our animals have access to water continually they never drink to excess. Were the horse subjected to ship voyages or any other circumstances where he must depend upon his attendant for the supply of water, it may be roughly stated that he requires a daily average of about 8 gallons of water. This varies somewhat upon the character of his feed; if upon green feed, less water will be needed than when fed upon dry hay and grain.

The time of giving water should be carefully studied. At rest, the horse should receive it at least three times a day; when at work, more frequently. The rule should be to give it in small quantities and often. There is a popular fallacy that if a horse is warm he should not be allowed to drink, many asserting that the first swallow of water "founders" the animal or produces colic. This is erroneous. No matter how warm a horse may be, it is always entirely safe to allow him from six to ten swallows of water. If this is given on[Pg 50] going into the stable, he should have at once a pound or two of hay and allowed to rest about an hour before feeding. If water is now offered him it will in many cases be refused, or at least he will drink but sparingly. The danger, then, is not in the "first swallow" of water, but is due to the excessive quantity that the animal will take when warm if he is not restrained.

Ice-cold water should never be given to horses. It may not be necessary to add hot water, but we should be careful in placing water troughs about our barns to have them in such position that the sun may shine upon the water during the winter mornings. Water, even though it is thus cold, seldom produces serious trouble if the horse has not been deprived for a too great length of time.

In reference to the purity of water, Smith, in his "Veterinary Hygiene," classes spring water, deep-well water, and upland surface water as wholesome; stored rain water and surface water from cultivated land as suspicious; river water to which sewage gains access and shallow-well water as dangerous. The water that is used so largely for drinking purposes for stock throughout some States can not but be impure. I refer to those sections where there is an impervious clay subsoil. It is the custom to scoop, or hollow out, a large basin in the pastures. During rains these basins become filled with water. The clay subsoil, being almost impervious, acts as a jug, and there is no escape for the water except by evaporation. Such water is stagnant, but would be kept comparatively fresh by subsequent rains were it not for the fact that much organic matter is carried into it by surface drainage during each succeeding storm. This organic matter soon undergoes decomposition, and, as the result, we find diseases of different kinds much more prevalent where this water is drunk than where the water supply is wholesome. Again, it must not be lost sight of that stagnant surface water is much more certainly contaminated than is running water by one diseased animal of the herd, thus endangering the remainder.

The chief impurities of water may be classified as organic and inorganic. The organic impurities are either animal or vegetable substances. The salts of the metals are the inorganic impurities. Lime causes hardness of water, and occasion will be taken to speak of this when describing intestinal concretions. Salts of lead, iron, and copper are also frequently found in water; they also will be referred to.

About the only examination of water that can be made by the average stock raiser is to observe its taste, color, smell, and clearness. Pure water is clear and is without taste or smell.

Chemical and microscopic examination will frequently be necessary in order to detect the presence of certain poisons, bacteria, etc., and can, of course, be conducted by experts only.[Pg 51]


In this place one can not attempt anything like a comprehensive discussion of the subject of feeds and feeding, and I must content myself with merely giving a few facts as to the different kinds of feed, preparation, digestibility, proper time of feeding, quality, and quantity. Improper feeding and watering will doubtless account for more than one-half the digestive disorders met with in the horse, and hence the reader can not fail to see how very important it is to have some proper ideas concerning these subjects.


In this country horses are fed chiefly upon hay, grass, corn fodder, roots, oats, corn, wheat, and rye. Many think that they could be fed on nothing else. Stewart, in "The Stable Book," gives the following extract from Loudon's Encyclopedia of Agriculture, which is of interest at this point:

In some sterile countries they [horses] are forced to subsist on dried fish, and even on vegetable mold; in Arabia, on milk, flesh balls, eggs, broth. In India horses are variously fed. The native grasses are judged very nutritious. Few, perhaps no, oats are grown; barley is rare, and not commonly given to horses. In Bengal a vetch, something like the tare, is used. On the western side of India a sort of pigeon pea, called gram (Cicer arietinum), forms the ordinary food, with grass while in season, and hay all the year round. Indian corn or rice is seldom given. In the West Indies maize, guinea corn, sugar-corn tops, and sometimes molasses are given. In the Mahratta country salt, pepper, and other spices are made into balls, with flour and butter, and these are supposed to produce animation and to fine the coat. Broth made from sheep's head is sometimes given. In France, Spain, and Italy, besides the grasses, the leaves of limes, vines, the tops of acacia, and the seeds of the carob tree are given to horses.

We can not, however, leave aside entirely here a consideration of the digestibility of feeds; and by this we mean the readiness with which they undergo those changes in the digestive canal that fit them for absorption and deposition as integral parts of the animal economy.

The age and health of the animal will, of course, modify the digestibility of feeds, as will also the manner and time of harvesting, preserving, and preparing.

In the horse digestion takes place principally in the intestines, and here, as in all other animals and with all feeds, it is found that a certain part only of the provender is digested; another portion is undigested. This proportion of digested and undigested feed must claim passing notice at least, for if the horse receives too much feed, or bulky feed containing much indigestible waste, a large portion of it must pass out unused, entailing not only the loss of this unused feed, but also calling for an unnecessary expenditure of vital force on[Pg 52] the part of the digestive organs of the horse. It is thus that, in fact, too much feed may make an animal poor.

In selecting feed for the horse we should remember the anatomical arrangement of the digestive organs, as well as the physiological functions performed by each one of them. Feeds must be wholesome, clean, and sweet, the hours of feeding regular, the mode of preparation found by practical experience to be the best must be adhered to, and cleanliness in preparation and administration must be observed.

The length of time occupied by stomach digestion in the horse varies with the different feeds. Hay and straw pass out of the stomach more rapidly than oats. It would seem to follow, then, that oats should be given after hay, for if reversed the hay would cause the oats to be sent onward into the intestines before being fully acted upon by the stomach, and as a result produce indigestion. Experience confirms this. There is another good reason why hay should be given first, particularly if the horse is very hungry or if exhausted from overwork, namely, it requires more time in mastication (insuring proper admixture of saliva) and can not be bolted, as are the grains. In either instance water must not be given soon after feeding, as it washes or sluices the feed from the stomach before it is fitted for intestinal digestion.

The stomach begins to empty itself very soon after the commencement of feeding, and continues rapidly while eating. Afterwards the passage is slower, and several hours are required before the stomach is entirely empty. The nature of the work required of the horse must guide us in the selection of his feed. Rapid or severe labor can not be performed on a full stomach. For such labor feed must be given in small quantity and about two hours before going to work. Even horses intended for slow work must never be engorged with bulky, innutritious feed immediately before going to labor. The small stomach of the horse would seem to lead us to the conclusion that he should be fed in small quantities and often, which, in reality, should be done. The disproportion between the size of the stomach and the quantity of water drunk tells us plainly that the horse should always be watered before feeding. One of the common errors of feeding, and the one that produces more digestive disorders than any other, is to feed too soon after a hard day's work. This must never be done. If a horse is completely jaded, it will be found beneficial to give him an alcoholic stimulant on going into the stable. A small quantity of hay may then be given, but his grain should be withheld for one or two hours. These same remarks will apply with equal force to the horse that for any reason has been fasting for a long time. After a fast, feed less than the horse would eat, for if allowed too much the stomach becomes engorged, its walls paralyzed, and "colic" is almost sure to follow. The horse should be fed[Pg 53] three or four times a day. It will not do to feed him entirely upon concentrated feed. Bulky feed must be given to detain the grains in their passage through the intestinal tract; bulk also favors distention, and thus mechanically aids absorption. For horses that do slow work the greater part of the time, chopped or cut hay fed with crushed oats, ground corn, etc., is the best manner of feeding, as it gives the required bulk, saves time, and half the labor of feeding.

Sudden changes of diet are always dangerous. When desirous of changing, do so very gradually. If a horse is accustomed to oats, a sudden change to a full meal of corn will almost always sicken him. If we merely intend to increase the quantity of the usual feed, this also must be done gradually. The quantity of feed given must always be in proportion to the amount of labor to be performed. If a horse is to do a small amount of work, or rest entirely from work for a few days, he should receive a proportionate quantity of feed. If this should be observed even on Saturday night and Sunday, there would be fewer cases of "Monday morning sickness," such as colics and lymphangitis.

Feeds should also be of a more laxative nature when the horse is to stand for several days.

Musty or moldy feeds.—Above all things, avoid feeding musty or moldy feeds. They are very frequent causes of disease of different kinds. Lung trouble, such as bronchitis and "heaves," often follows their use. The digestive organs always suffer from moldy or musty feeds. Musty hay is generally considered to produce disorder of the kidneys, and all know of the danger from feeding pregnant animals upon ergotized grasses or grains. It has often been said to produce that peculiar disease known variously as cerebrospinal meningitis, putrid sore throat, or choking distemper.

Hay.—The best hay for horses is timothy. It should be about one year old, of a greenish color, crisp, clean, fresh, and possessing a sweet, pleasant aroma. Even this good hay, if kept too long, loses part of its nourishment, and, while it may not be positively injurious, it is hard, dry, and indigestible. New hay is difficult to digest, produces much salivation (slobbering), and occasional purging and irritation of the skin. If fed at all it should be mixed with old hay.

Second crop, or aftermath.—This is not considered good hay for horses, but it is prized by some farmers as good for milch cows, the claim being made that it increases the flow of milk. The value of hay depends upon the time of cutting, as well as care in the curing. Hay should be cut when in full flower, but before the seeds fall; if left longer it becomes dry, woody, and lacks in nutrition.[Pg 54] An essential point in making hay is that when the crop is cut it should remain in the field as short a time as possible. If left too long in the sun it loses color, flavor, and dries or wastes. Smith asserts that one hour more than is necessary in the sun causes a loss of 15 to 20 per cent in the feeding value of hay. It is impossible to state any fixed time that hay must have to cure, this depending, of course, upon the weather, thickness of the crop, and many other circumstances; but it is well known that in order to preserve the color and aroma of hay it should be turned or tedded frequently and cured as quickly as possible. On the other hand, hay spoils in the mow if harvested too green or when not sufficiently dried. Mow-burnt hay produces disorder of the kidneys and bowels and causes the horse to fall off in condition.

The average horse on grain should be allowed from 10 to 12 pounds of good hay a day. It is a mistake of many to think that horses at light work can be kept entirely on hay. Such horses soon become potbellied, fall off in flesh, and do not thrive. The same is true of colts; unless the latter are fed with some grain they grow up to be long, lean, gawky creatures, and never make so good horses as those accustomed to grain with, or in addition to, their hay.

Straw.—The straws are not extensively fed in this country, and when used at all they should be cut and mixed with hay and ground or crushed grain. Wheat, rye, and oat straw are the ones most used; of these, oat straw is most easily digested and contains the most nourishment. Pea and bean straw are occasionally fed to horses, the pea being preferable, according to most writers.

Chaff.—Wheat and rye chaff should never be used as a feed for horses. The beards frequently become lodged in the mouth or throat and are productive of more or less serious trouble. In the stomach and intestines they often serve as the nucleus of the "soft concretions," which are to be described when treating of obstructions of the digestive tract.

Oat chaff, if fed in small quantities and mixed with cut hay or corn fodder, is very much relished by horses. It is not to be given in large quantities, as I have repeatedly witnessed a troublesome and sometimes fatal diarrhea following the practice of allowing horses or cattle free access to a pile of oat chaff.

Grains.—Oats take precedence of all grains as a feed for horses, as the ingredients necessary for the complete nutrition of the body exist in them in the best proportions. Oats are, besides, more easily digested and a larger proportion absorbed and converted into the various tissues of the body. Care must be taken in selecting oats. According to Stewart, the best oats are one year old, plump, short, hard, clean, bright, and sweet. New oats are indigestible. Kiln-dried[Pg 55] oats are to be refused, as a rule, for even though originally good this drying process injures them. Oats that have sprouted or fermented are injurious and should never be fed. Oats are to be given either whole or crushed—whole in the majority of instances; crushed to old horses and those having defective teeth. Horses that bolt their feed are also best fed upon crushed oats and out of a manger large enough to permit of spreading the grain in a thin layer.

In addition to the allowance of hay above mentioned, the average horse requires about 12 quarts of good oats daily. The best oats are those cut about one week before they are fully ripe. Not only is the grain richer in nutritive materials at this time, but there is also less waste from "scattering" than if left to become dead ripe. Moldy oats, like hay and straw, not only produce serious digestive disorders but have been the undoubted cause of outbreaks of that dread disease in horses, already referred to, characterized by inability to eat or drink, sudden paralysis, and death.

Wheat and rye.—These grains are not to be used for horses except in small quantities, bruised or crushed, and fed mixed with other grains or hay. If fed alone, in any considerable quantities, they are almost certain to produce digestive disorders, laminitis (founder), and similar troubles. They should never constitute more than one-fourth the grain allowance, and should always be ground or crushed.

Bran.—The bran of wheat is the one most used, and its value as a feeding stuff is variously estimated. It is not to be depended upon if given alone, but may be fed with other grains. It serves to keep the bowels open. Sour bran is not to be given, for it disorders the stomach and intestines and may even produce serious results.

Maize (corn).—This grain is not suitable as an exclusive feed for young horses, as it is deficient in salts. It is fed whole or ground. Corn on the cob is commonly used for horses affected with "lampas." If the corn is old and is to be fed in this manner it should be soaked in pure, clean water for 10 or 12 hours. Corn is better given ground, and fed in quantities of from 1 to 2 quarts at a meal, mixed with crushed oats or wheat bran. Great care should be taken in giving corn to a horse that is not accustomed to its use. It must be commenced in small quantities and very gradually increased. I know of no grain more liable to produce what is called acute indigestion than corn if these directions are not observed.

Linseed.—Ground linseed is occasionally fed with other feeds to keep the bowels open and to improve the condition of the skin. It is of particular service during convalescence, when the bowels are sluggish in their action. Linseed tea is very often given in irritable or inflamed conditions of the digestive organs.[Pg 56]

Potatoes.—These are used as an article of feed for the horse in many sections. If fed raw and in large quantities they often produce indigestion. Their digestibility is increased by steaming or boiling. They possess, in common with other roots, slight laxative properties.

Beets.—These are not much used as feed for horses.

Carrots.—These make a most excellent feed, particularly during sickness. They improve the appetite and slightly increase the action of the bowels and kidneys. They possess also certain alterative properties, making the coat smooth and glossy. Some veterinary writers assert that chronic cough is cured by giving carrots for some time. The roots may be considered, then, as an adjunct to the regular regimen, and if fed in small quantities are highly beneficial.

Grasses.—Grass is the natural food of horses. It is composed of a great variety of plants, differing widely as to the amount of nourishment contained, some being almost entirely without value and only eaten when nothing else is obtainable, while others are positively injurious, or even poisonous. None of the grasses are sufficient to keep the horse in condition for work. Horses thus fed are "soft," sweat easily, purge, and soon tire on the road or when at hard work. Grass is indispensable to growing stock, and there is little or no doubt that it acts as an alterative when given to horses accustomed to grain and hay. It must be given to such horses in small quantities at first. The stomach and intestines undergo rest, and recuperate if the horse is turned to grass for a time each year. It is also certain that during febrile diseases grass acts almost as a medicine, lessening the fever and favoring recovery. Wounds heal more rapidly than when the horse is on grain, and some chronic disorders (chronic cough, for instance) disappear entirely when at grass. In my experience, grass does more good when the horse crops it himself. This may be due to the sense of freedom he enjoys at pasture, to the rest to his feet and limbs, and for many other similar reasons. When cut for him it should be fed fresh or when but slightly wilted.

Silage.—Regarding silage as a feed for horses, Rommel in Farmers' Bulletin 578 writes as follows:

Silage has not been generally fed to horses, partly on account of a certain amount of danger which attends its use for this purpose, but still more, perhaps, on account of prejudice. In many cases horses have been killed by eating moldy silage, and the careless person who fed it at once blamed the silage itself, rather than his own carelessness and the mold which really was the cause of the trouble. Horses are peculiarly susceptible to the effects of molds, and under certain conditions certain molds grow on silage which are deadly poisons to both horses and mules. Molds must have air to grow, and therefore silage which is packed air-tight and fed out rapidly will not become moldy. If the feeder watches the silage carefully as the weather warms up he can soon detect the presence of mold. When mold appears, feeding to horses or mules should stop immediately.[Pg 57]

It is also unsafe to feed horses frozen silage on account of the danger of colic. * * *

To summarize, silage is safe to feed to horses and mules only when it is made from fairly mature corn, properly stored in the silo. When it is properly stored and is not allowed to mold, no feed exceeds it as a cheap winter ration. It is most valuable for horses and mules which are not at heavy work, such as brood mares and work horses during the slack season. With plenty of grain on the cornstalks, horses will keep in good condition on a ration of 20 pounds of silage and 10 pounds of hay for each 1,000 pounds of live weight.


Feed is prepared for any of the following reasons: To render it more easily eaten; to make it more digestible; to economize in amount; to give it some new property; and to preserve it. We have already spoken of the preparation of drying, and need not revert to this again, as it only serves to preserve the different feeds. Drying does, however, change some of the properties of feed, i. e., removes the laxative tendency of most of them.

The different grains are more easily eaten when ground, crushed, or even boiled. Rye or wheat should never be given whole, and even of corn it is found that there is less waste when ground, and, in common with all other grains, it is more easily digested than when fed whole.

Hay and fodder are economized when cut in short pieces. Not only will the horse eat the necessary quantity in a shorter time, but it will be found that there is less waste, and the mastication of the grains (whole or crushed) fed with them is insured.

Reference has already been made to those horses that bolt their feed, and we need only remark here that the consequences of such ravenous eating may be prevented if the grains are fed with cut hay, straw, or fodder. Long or uncut hay should also be fed, even though a certain quantity of hay or straw is cut and fed mixed with grain.

One objection to feeding cut hay mixed with ground or crushed grains, and wetted, must not be overlooked during the hot months. Such feed is liable to undergo fermentation if not fed directly after it is mixed; even the mixing trough, unless frequently scalded and cleaned, becomes sour and enough of its scrapings are given with the feed to produce flatulent (wind) colic. A small quantity of salt should always be mixed with such feed. Bad hay should never be cut simply because it insures a greater consumption of it; bad feeds are dear at any price, and should never be fed.

The advantage of boiling roots has been mentioned. Not only does this render them less liable to produce digestive disorders, but it also makes them clean. Boiling or steaming grains is to be recommended when the teeth are poor, or when the digestive organs are weak.[Pg 58]


Dentition.—This covers the period during which the young horse is cutting his teeth—from birth to the age of 5 years. With the horse more difficulty is experienced in cutting the second or permanent teeth than with the first or milk teeth. There is a tendency among farmers and many veterinarians to pay too little attention to the teeth of young horses. Percivall relates an instance illustrative of this that is best told in his own words:

I was requested to give my opinion concerning a horse, then in his fifth year, who had fed so sparingly for the last fortnight, and so rapidly declined in condition in consequence, that his owner, a veterinary surgeon, was under no light apprehensions about his life. He had himself examined his mouth without having discovered any defect or disease, though another veterinary surgeon was of opinion that the difficulty or inability manifested in mastication, and the consequent cudding, arose from preternatural bluntness of the surfaces of the molar teeth, which were, in consequence, filed, but without beneficial result. It was after this that I saw the horse, and I confess I was, at my first examination, quite as much at a loss to offer any satisfactory interpretation as others had been. While meditating, however, after my inspection, on the apparently extraordinary nature of the case, it struck me that I had not seen the tusks. I went back into the stable and discovered two little tumors, red and hard, in the situation of the inferior tusks, which, when pressed, gave the animal insufferable pain. I instantly took out my pocketknife and made crucial incisions through them both, down to the coming teeth, from which moment the horse recovered his appetite and, by degrees, his wonted condition.

The mouths of young horses should be examined from time to time to see whether one or more of the milk teeth are not remaining too long, causing the second teeth to grow in crooked, in which case the first teeth should be removed with the forceps.

Irregularities of teeth.—There is a fashion of late years, especially in large cities, to have horses' teeth regularly "floated," or "rasped," by "veterinary dentists." In some instances this is very beneficial, while in most cases it is entirely unnecessary. From the character of the feed, the rubbing, or grinding, surface of the horse's teeth should be rough. Still, we must remember that the upper jaw is somewhat wider than the lower, and that, from the fact of the teeth not being perfectly apposed, a sharp ridge is left unworn on the inside of the lower molars and on the outside of the upper, which may excoriate the tongue or cheeks to a considerable extent. This condition may readily be felt by the hand, and these sharp ridges when found should be rasped down by a guarded rasp. In some instances the first or last molar tooth is unnaturally long, owing to the fact that its fellow in the opposite jaw has been lost or does not close perfectly against it. Should it be the last molar that is thus elongated, it will require the aid of the veterinary surgeon, who has the necessary forceps or chisel for cutting it. The front molar may be rasped down, if much patience is taken. In decay of the teeth it is quite common to find the tooth corresponding to the decayed one on the opposite jaw very much elongated, sometimes to such an extent that the mouth can not be perfectly closed. Such teeth must also be shortened by the tooth forceps, chisel, tooth saw, or rasp. In all instances in which horses "quid" their feed, if they are slobbering, or evince pain in mastication, shown by holding the head to one side while chewing, the teeth should be carefully examined. Horses whose teeth have unduly sharp edges are liable to drive badly; they pull to one side, do not bear on the bit, or bear on too hard and "big," toss the head, and start suddenly when a tender spot is touched. If, as is mostly the case, all the symptoms are referable to sharp corners or projections, these must be removed by the rasp. If decayed teeth ere found, or other serious difficulty detected, or if the cause of the annoying symptoms is not discovered, an expert should be called.

Age of Horses as Indicated by Teeth.

Longitudinal section of left central lower incisor and cross sections of same tooth showing table surfaces as they appear at the ages of 3, 5, 7, 9, 15, 20 and 25 years. C, Cement; D, Dentine; E, Enamel; I, Infundibulum; K, Cup; P, Pulp Cavity; S, Star.

[Pg59]Toothache.—This is rare in the horse and is mostly witnessed when there is decay of a tooth or inflammation about its root. Toothache is to be discovered in the horse by the pain expressed by him while feeding or drinking cold water. I have seen horses, affected with toothache, that would suddenly stop chewing, throw the head to one side, and slightly open the mouth. They behave as though some sharp body had punctured the mouth. If upon examination, no foreign body is found, we must then carefully examine each tooth. If this can not be done with the hand in the mouth, we can, in most instances, discover the aching tooth by pressing each tooth from without. By tapping the teeth in succession with a hard object, such as a small hammer, the one that is tender may be identified. The horse will flinch when the sore tooth is pressed or tapped upon. In most cases there is nothing to be done but extract the decayed tooth, and this, of course, is to be attempted by the veterinarian only.

Deformity.—There is a deformity, known as parrot-mouth, that interferes with prehension, mastication, and, indirectly, with digestion. The upper incisors project in front of and beyond the lower ones. The teeth of both jaws become unusually long, as they are not worn down by friction. Such horses experience much difficulty in grazing. Little can be done except to examine the teeth occasionally, and if those of the lower jaw become so long that they bruise the "bars" of the upper jaw, they must be shortened by the rasp or saw. Horses with this deformity should never be left entirely at pasture.

The method of determining the age of a horse by the teeth is illustrated in Plate IV.[Pg 60]



Lampas is the name given to a swelling of the mucous membrane covering the hard palate and projecting in a more or less prominent ridge immediately behind the upper incisors. The hard palate is composed of spongy tissue that fills with blood when the horse is feeding, which causes the ridges to become prominent, and they then help to keep feed from dropping from the mouth. This swelling is entirely natural and occurs in every healthy horse. Where there is some irritation in the mouth, as in stomatitis or during teething, the prominence of the hard palate may persist, owing to the increased blood supply. In such cases the cause of the irritation should be nought for and removed. By way of direct treatment, slight scarification is the most that will be required. Burning the lampas is barbarous and injurious, and it should never be tolerated.

It is a quite common opinion among owners of horses and stablemen that lampas is a disease that very frequently exists. In fact whenever a horse fails to eat, and if he does not exhibit very marked symptoms of a severe illness, they say at once "he has the lampas." It is almost impossible to convince them to the contrary; yet it is not the case. It may be put down, then, as an affliction of the stable-man's imagination rather than of the horse's mouth.


Stomatitis is an inflammation of the mucous membrane lining the mouth and is produced by irritating medicines, feeds, or other substances. The symptoms are swelling of the mouth, which is also hot and painful to the touch; there is a copious discharge of saliva; the mucous membrane is reddened, and in some cases vesicles or ulcers in the mouth are observed. The treatment is simple, soft feed alone often being all that is necessary. A bucket of fresh, cold water should be kept constantly in the manger so that the horse may drink or rinse his mouth at will. In some instances, it may be advisable to use a wash of chlorate of potash, borax, or alum, about one-half ounce to a pint of water. Hay, straw, or oats should not be fed unless steamed or boiled. A form of contagious stomatitis, characterized by the formation within the mouth of small vesicles, or blisters, sometimes occurs. In this disease the horse should be isolated from other horses, and his stall, especially the feed box, and his bit should be disinfected.


Glossitis, or inflammation of the tongue, is very similar to stomatitis, and mostly exists with it and is due to the same causes. Injuries to the tongue may produce this simple inflammation of its covering[Pg 61] membrane, or, if severe, may produce lesions much more extensive, such as lacerations, abscesses, etc. These latter would require surgical treatment, but for the simpler forms of inflammation of the tongue the treatment recommended for stomatitis should be followed.


Ptyalism, or salivation, consists in an abnormal and excessive secretion of saliva. This is often seen as a symptom of irregular teeth; inflammation of the mouth or tongue, or of the use of such medicines as lobelia, mercury, and many others. Some feeds, such as clover, and particularly second crop, produce it; foreign bodies, such as nails, wheat chaff, and corncobs becoming lodged in the mouth, also are causes. If the cause is removed no further attention is necessary, as a rule. Astringent washes may be applied to the mouth as a gargle or by means of a sponge.


Pharyngitis is an inflammation of the mucous membrane lining of the pharynx or throat. It rarely exists unless accompanied with stomatitis or laryngitis, especially the latter. In those rare instances in which the inflammation is mostly confined to the pharynx are noticed febrile symptoms—difficulty of swallowing either liquids or solids; there is but little cough except when trying to swallow; there is no soreness on pressure over larynx (head of the windpipe). Increased flow of saliva, difficulty of swallowing liquids in particular, and cough only when attempting to swallow, are the symptoms best marked in pharyngitis. In some cases the throat becomes gangrenous and the disease ends in death. For treatment a wet sheet should be wrapped around the throat and covered with rubber sheeting and a warm blanket. This should be changed three times daily; or the region of the throat may be rubbed with mercurial ointment twice daily until the skin becomes irritated, but no longer; chlorate of potash may be given in 2-dram doses four times daily, mixed with flaxseed meal or licorice-root powder and honey, as an electuary. Soft feeds should be given, and fresh water should be constantly before the horse.


Paralysis of the pharynx, or, as it is commonly called, "paralysis of the throat," is a rare but very serious disease. The symptoms are as follows: The horse will constantly try to eat or drink, but will be unable to do so; if water is offered him from a pail he will apparently drink with avidity, but the quantity of water in the pail will remain about the same; he will continue by the hour to try to drink; if he can get any fluid into the back part of the mouth it will come out at once through the nose. Feeds also return through the[Pg 62] nose, or are dropped from the mouth, quidded. An examination of the mouth by inserting the hand fails to find any obstruction or any abnormal condition. These cases go on from bad to worse; the horse constantly and rapidly loses in condition, becomes very much emaciated, the eyes are hollow and lusterless, and death occurs from inanition.

Treatment is very unsatisfactory. A severe blister should be applied behind and under the jaw; the mouth is to be frequently swabbed out with alum or chlorate of potash, 1 ounce to a pint of water, by means of a sponge fastened to the end of a stick. Strychnia may be given in 1-grain doses two or three times a day.

This disease may be mistaken at times for foreign bodies in the mouth or for the so-called cerebrospinal meningitis. It is to be distinguished from the former, upon a careful examination of the mouth, by the absence of any offending body and by the flabby feel of the mouth, and from the latter by the animal appearing in perfect health in every particular except this inability to eat or drink.


Abscesses sometimes form back of the pharynx and give rise to symptoms resembling those of laryngitis or distemper. Interference with breathing that is of recent origin and progression, without any observable swelling or soreness about the throat, will make one suspect the formation of an abscess in this location. But little can be done in the way of treatment, save to hurry the ripening of the abscess and its discharge by steaming with hops, hay, or similar substances and by poulticing the throat. The operation for opening an abscess in this region necessitates an intimate knowledge of the complex anatomy of the throat region.


It is rare to find diseases of this organ, except as a result of the introduction of foreign bodies too large to pass or to the administering of irritating medicines. In the administration of irritant or caustic medicines great care should be taken that they be thoroughly diluted. If this is not done, erosions and ulcerations of the throat ensue, and this again is prone to be followed by constriction (narrowing) of the gullet.


The mechanical trouble of choking is quite common. It may occur when the animal is suddenly startled while eating apples or roots, and we should be careful never to approach suddenly or put a dog after horses or cows that are feeding upon such substances. If left alone these animals very rarely attempt to swallow the object until it is sufficiently masticated.[Pg 63]

Choking also arises from feeding oats in a deep, narrow manger to such horses as eat very greedily or bolt their feed. Wheat chaff is also a frequent cause of choke. This accident may result from the attempts to force eggs down without breaking or from giving balls that are too large or not of the proper shape.

Whatever object causes the choking, it may lodge in the upper part of the esophagus, at its middle portion, or close to the stomach, giving rise to the designations of pharyngeal, cervical, and thoracic choke. In some cases where the original obstruction is low we find all that part of the gullet above it to be distended with feed.

Symptoms.—The symptoms vary somewhat according to the position of the body causing choke. In pharyngeal choke the object is lodged in the upper portion of the esophagus. The horse will present symptoms of great distress, hurried breathing, frequent cough, excessive flow of saliva, sweating, trembling, or stamping with the fore feet. The abdomen rapidly distends with gas. The diagnosis is completed by manipulating the upper part of the throat from without and by the introduction of the hand into the back part of the mouth, finding the body lodged here. In cervical choke (where the obstruction is situated at any point between the throatlatch and the shoulder) the protrusion caused by the object can be seen and the object can be felt. The symptoms here are not so severe; the horse will be seen occasionally to draw himself up, arch his neck, and make retching movements as though he wished to vomit. The abdomen may be tympanitic. Should there be any question as to the trouble, a conclusion may be reached by pouring water into the throat from a bottle. If the obstruction is complete, by standing on the left side of the horse and watching the course of the esophagus, you can see the gullet, just above the windpipe, become distended with each bottle of water. This is not always a sure test, as the obstruction may be an angular body, in which case liquids would pass it. Solids taken would show in these cases; solids should not, however, be given, as they serve to increase the trouble by rendering the removal of the body more difficult.

In thoracic choke the symptoms are less severe. Feed or water may be ejected through the nose or mouth after the animal has taken a few swallows. There will be some symptoms of distress, fullness of the abdomen, cough, and occasionally retching movements. Sometimes a choking horse is heard to emit groans. The facial expression always denotes great anxiety and the eyes are bloodshot. The diagnosis is complete if, upon passing the probang (a flexible tube made for this purpose), an obstruction is encountered.

Treatment.—If the choke is at the beginning of the gullet (pharyngeal) an effort must be made to remove the obstacle through the mouth. A mouthgag, or speculum, is to be introduced into the[Pg 64] mouth to protect the hand and arm of the operator. Then, while an assistant, with his hands grasped tightly behind the object, presses it upward and forward with all his force, the operator must pass his hand into the mouth until he can seize the obstruction and draw it outward. This mode of procedure must not be abandoned with the first failure, as by continued efforts we may get the obstacle farther toward the mouth. If we fail with the hand, forceps may be introduced through the mouth and the object seized when it is just beyond the reach of the fingers. Should our efforts entirely fail, we must then endeavor to force the obstruction downward by means of the probang. This instrument, which is of such signal service in removing choke in cattle, is decidedly more dangerous to use for the horse, and I can not pass this point without a word of caution to those who have been known to introduce into the horse's throat such objects as whipstalks, shovel handles, etc. These are always dangerous, and more than one horse has been killed by such barbarous treatment.

In cervical as well as in thoracic choke we must first of all endeavor to soften or lubricate the obstruction by pouring oil or mucilaginous drinks down the gullet. After this has been done endeavor to move the object by gentle manipulations with the hands. If choked with oats or chaff (and these are the objects that most frequently produce choke in the horse), begin by gently squeezing the lower portion of the impacted mass and endeavor to work it loose a little at a time. This is greatly favored at times if we apply hot fomentations immediately about the obstruction. Persist in these efforts for at least an hour before deciding to resort to other and more dangerous modes of treatment. If unsuccessful, however, the probang may be used. In the absence of the regular instrument, a piece of inch hose 6 feet long or a piece of new three-quarter-inch manila rope well wrapped at the end with cotton twine and thoroughly greased with tallow should be used. The mouth is to be kept open by a gag of wood or iron and the head slightly raised and extended. The probang is then to be carefully guided by the hand into the upper part of the gullet and gently forced downward until the obstruction is reached. Pressure must then be gradual and firm. At first too much force should not be used, or the esophagus will be ruptured. Firm, gentle pressure should be kept up until the object is felt to move, after which it should be followed rapidly to the stomach. If this mode of treatment is unsuccessful, a veterinarian or a physician should be called, who can remove the object by cutting down upon it. This should scarcely be attempted by a novice, as a knowledge of the anatomy of the parts is essential to avoid cutting the large artery, vein, and nerve that are closely related to the esophagus in its cervical portion.[Pg 65]

Thoracic choke can be treated only by means of the introduction of oils and mucilaginous drinks and the careful use of the probang.


This is due to corrosive medicines, previous choking (accompanied with lacerations, which, in healing, narrow the passage), or pressure on the gullet by tumors. In the majority of cases of stricture, dilatation of the gullet in front of the constricted portion soon occurs. This dilatation is the result of the frequent accumulation of solid feed above the constriction. Little can be done in either of these instances except to give sloppy or liquid feed.


This follows choking, and is due to stretching or rupture of the muscular coat of the gullet, allowing the internal, or mucous, coat to protrude through the lacerated muscular walls. Such a dilatation, or pouch, may gradually enlarge from the frequent imprisonment of feed. When liquids are taken, the solid materials are partially washed out of the pouch.

The symptoms are as follows: The horse is able to swallow a few mouthfuls without apparent difficulty; then he will stop feeding, paw, contract the muscles of his neck, and eject a portion of the feed through his nose or mouth, or it will gradually work down to the stomach. As the dilatation thus empties itself the symptoms gradually subside, only to reappear when he has again taken solid feed. Liquids pass without any, or but little, inconvenience. Should this dilatation exist in the cervical region, surgical interference may sometimes prove effectual; if in the thoracic portion, nothing can be done, and the patient rapidly passes from hand to hand by "swapping," until, at no distant date, the contents of the sac become too firm to be dislodged as heretofore, and the animal succumbs.


As a rule it is most difficult to distinguish between diseases of the stomach and of the intestines of the horse. The reason for this is that the stomach is relatively small. It lies away from the abdominal wall, and so pressure from without can not be brought to bear upon it to reveal sensitiveness or pain. Nor does enlargement, or distention, of the stomach produce visible alteration in the form of the abdomen of the horse. Moreover, it is a rule to which there are few exceptions, that an irritant or cause of disease of the stomach acts likewise upon the intestines, so that it is customary to find them similarly deranged. For these reasons it is logical to discuss together[Pg 66] the diseases of the stomach and intestines and to point out such localizations in one organ or another as are of importance in recognizing and treating the diseases of the digestive organs of the horse.

It should be understood that gastritis signifies an inflammation of the stomach and enteritis an inflammation of the intestines. The two terms may be used together to signify a disease of the stomach and intestines, as gastro-enteritis.


The disease of the horse that is most frequently met with is what is termed "colic," and many are the remedies that are reputed to be "sure cures" for this disease. Let us discover, then, what the word "colic" means. This term is applied loosely to almost all diseases of the organs of the abdomen that are accompanied with pain. If the horse evinces abdominal pain, he probably will be considered as suffering with colic, no matter whether the difficulty is a cramp of the bowel, an internal hernia, overloading of the stomach, or a painful disease of the bladder or liver. Since these conditions differ so much in their causation and their nature, it is manifestly absurd to treat them alike and to expect the same drugs or procedures to relieve them all. Therefore, it is important that, so far as possible, the various diseased states that are so roughly classed together as colic shall be separated and individualized in order that appropriate treatments may be prescribed. With this object in view, colics will be considered under the following headings: (1) Engorgement colic, (2) obstruction colic, (3) flatulent or tympanitic colic, (4) spasmodic colic. Worm colic is discussed under the heading "Gastrointestinal parasites," page 90.

The general symptoms of abdominal pain, and therefore of colic, are restlessness, cessation of whatever the horse is about, lying down, looking around toward the flank, kicking with the hind feet upward and forward toward the belly, jerky switching of the tail, stretching as though to urinate, frequent change of position, and groaning. In the more intense forms the horse plunges about, throws himself, rolls, assumes unnatural positions, as sitting on the haunches, and grunts loudly. Usually the pain is not constant, and during the intermissions the horse may eat and appear normal. During the period of pain sweat is poured out freely. Sometimes the horse moves constantly in a circle. The respirations are accelerated, and usually there is no fever.

Engorgement colic.—This form of colic consists in an overloading of the stomach with feed. The horse may have been overfed or the feed may have collected in the stomach through failure of this organ to digest it and pass it backward into the intestines. Even a normal quantity of feed that the horse is unaccustomed to may cause[Pg 67] disease. Hence a sudden change of feed may produce engorgement colic. Continued full rations while the horse is resting for a day or two or working too soon after feeding may serve as a cause. New oats, corn, or hay, damaged feed, or that which is difficult of digestion, such as barley or beans, may incite engorgement colic. This disease may result from having fed the horse twice by error or from its having escaped and taken an unrestricted meal from the grain bin. Ground feeds that pack together, making a sort of dough, may cause engorgement colic if they are not mixed with cut hay. Greedy eaters are predisposed to this disease.

Symptoms.—The horse shows the general signs of abdominal pain, which may be long continued or of short duration. Retching or vomiting movements are made; these are shown by labored breathing, upturned upper lip, contraction of the flank, active motion at the throat, and drawing in of the nose toward the breast, causing high arching of the neck. The horse may assume a sitting position like a dog. At times the pain is very great and the horse makes the most violent movements, as though mad. At other times there is profound mental depression, the horse standing in a sleepy, or dazed, way, with the head down, the eyes closed, and leaning his head against the manger or wall. There is, during the struggles, profuse perspiration. Following retching, gas may escape from the mouth, and this may be followed by a sour froth and some stomach contents. The horse can not vomit except when the stomach is violently stretched, and, if the accumulation of feed or gas is great enough to stretch the stomach so that vomiting is possible, it may be great enough to rupture that organ. So it happens not infrequently that a horse dies from ruptured stomach after vomiting. After the stomach ruptures, however, vomiting is impossible. The death rate in this form of colic is high.

Treatment.—The bowels should be stimulated to contraction by the use of clysters of large quantities of water and of glycerin. Veterinarians use hypodermic injections of eserin or arecolin or intravenous injections of barium chlorid, but they must be employed with great caution. It is not profitable to give remedies by the stomach, for they can not be absorbed. But small doses of morphin (5 grains) or of the fluid extract of Indian hemp (2 drams) may be placed in the mouth and are absorbed in part, at least, without passing to the stomach. These drugs lessen pain and thus help to overcome the violent movements that are dangerous, because they may be the means of causing rupture of the diaphragm or stomach. If facilities are available, relief may be afforded by passing an esophageal tube through which some of the gaseous and liquid contents of the stomach may escape.[Pg 68]

Rupture of the stomach.—This mostly occurs as a result of engorged or tympanitic stomach (engorgement colic) and from the horse violently throwing himself when so affected. It may result from disease of the coats of the stomach, gastritis, stones (calculi), tumors, or anything that closes the opening of the stomach into the intestines, and very violent pulling or jumping immediately after the animal has eaten heartily of bulky feed. These or similar causes may lead this accident.

The symptoms of rupture of the stomach are not constant or always reliable. Always make inquiry as to what and how much the horse has been fed at the last meal. Vomiting may precede rupture of this organ, as stated above. This accident appears to be most liable to occur in heavy draft horses. A prominent symptom observed (though it may also occur in diaphragmatic hernia) is when the horse, if possible, gets the front feet on higher ground than the hind ones or sits on his haunches, like a dog. This position affords relief to some extent, and it will be maintained for several minutes; it is also quickly regained when the horse has changed it for some other. Colicky symptoms, of course, are present, which vary much and present no diagnostic value. As the case progresses the horse will often stretch forward the fore legs, lean backward and downward until the belly nearly touches the ground, and then rise up again with a groan, after which the fluid from his nostrils is issued in increased quantity. The pulse is fast and weak, breathing hurried, body bathed in a clammy sweat, limbs tremble violently, the horse reels or staggers from side to side, and death quickly ends the scene.

In the absence of any pathognomonic symptom we must consider the history of the case; the symptoms of colic that cease suddenly and are succeeded by cold sweats and tremors; the pulse quick and small and thready, growing weak and more frequent, and at length running down and becoming altogether imperceptible; looking back at the flank and groaning; sometimes crouching with the hind quarters; with or without eructation and vomiting.

There is no treatment that can be of any use whatever. Could we be sure of our diagnosis it would be better to destroy the animal at once. Since, however, there is always the possibility of a mistake in diagnosis, we may give powdered opium in 1-dram doses every two or three hours, with the object of keeping the stomach as quiet as possible.

Obstruction colic.—The stomach or bowels may be obstructed by accumulations of partly digested feed (fecal matter), by foreign bodies, by displacements, by paralysis, or by abnormal growths.

Impaction of the large intestines.—This is a very common bowel trouble and one which, if not promptly recognized and properly[Pg 69] treated, results in death. It is caused by overfeeding, especially of bulky feed containing an excess of indigestible residue; old, dry, hard hay, or stalks when largely fed; deficiency of secretions of the intestinal tracts; lack of water; want of exercise, medicines, etc.

Impaction of the large bowels is to be diagnosed by a slight abdominal pain, which may disappear for a day or two to reappear with more violence. The feces are passed somewhat more frequently, but in smaller quantities and drier; the abdomen is full, but not distended with gas; the horse at first is noticed to paw and soon begins to look back at his sides. Probably one of the most characteristic symptoms is the position assumed when down. He lies flat on his side, head and legs extended, occasionally raising his head to look toward his flank; he remains on his side for from five to fifteen minutes at a time. Evidently this position is the one giving the most freedom from pain. He rises at times, walks about the stall, paws, looks at his sides, backs up against the stall, which he presses with his tail, and soon lies down again, assuming his favored position. The intestinal sounds, as heard by applying the ear to the flank, are diminished, or there is no sound, indicating absence of motion of the bowels. The bowels may cease entirely to move. The pressure of the distended intestine upon the bladder may cause the horse to make frequent attempts to urinate. The pulse is but little changed at first, being full and sluggish; later, if this condition is not overcome, it becomes rapid and feeble. Horses may suffer from impaction of the bowels for a week, yet eventually recover, and cases extending two or even three weeks have ended favorably. As a rule, however, they seldom last more than four or five days, many, in fact, dying sooner than this.

The treatment consists of efforts to produce movement of the bowels and to prevent inflammation of the same from arising. A large cathartic is to be given as early as possible. Either of the following is recommended: Powdered Barbados aloes 1 ounce, calomel 2 drams, and powdered nux vomica 1 dram; or linseed oil 1 pint and croton oil 15 drops; or from 1 pint to 1 quart of castor oil may be given. Some favor the administration of Epsom or Glauber's salt, 1 pound, with one-quarter pound of common salt, claiming that this causes the horse to drink largely of water, thus mechanically softening the impacted mass and favoring its expulsion. Whichever physic is selected, it is essential that a full dose be given. This is much better than small and repeated doses. It must be borne in mind that horses require about twenty-four hours in which to respond to a physic, and under no circumstances is it to be repeated sooner. If aloes has been given and has failed to operate at the proper time, oil or some different cathartic should then be administered. Allow[Pg 70] the horse all the water he will drink. Calomel may be administered in half-dram doses, the powder being placed on the tongue, one dose every two hours until four doses are given.

Enemas of glycerin, 2 to 4 ounces, are often beneficial. Rubbing or kneading of the abdominal walls and the application of stimulating liniments or strong mustard water also, at times, favor the expulsion of this mass. Walking exercise must occasionally be given. If this treatment is faithfully carried out from the start the majority of cases will terminate favorably. When relief is not obtained inflammation of the bowels may ensue and cause death.

Constipation, or costiveness.—This is often witnessed in the horse, and particularly in the foal. Many colts die every year from failure on the part of the attendant to note the condition of the bowels soon after birth. Whenever the foal fails to pass any feces, and in particular if it presents any signs of colicky pains—straining, etc.—immediate attention must be given it. As a rule, it will be necessary only to give a few injections of soapy water in the rectum and to introduce the finger through the anus to break down any hardened mass of dung found there. If this is not effective a purgative must be given. Oils are the best for these young animals, and preferably castor oil, giving from 2 to 4 ounces. The foal should always get the first of the mother's milk, which, for a few days, possesses decidedly laxative properties. If a mare, while suckling, is taking laudanum, morphin, atropia, or similar medicines, the foal during this time should be fed by hand and the mare milked upon the ground. Constipation in adult horses is often the result of long feeding on dry, innutritious feed, deficiency of intestinal secretions, scanty water supply, or lack of exercise. If the case is not complicated with colicky symptoms a change to light, sloppy diet, linseed gruel or tea, with plenty of exercise, is all that is required. If colic exists a cathartic is needed. In very many instances the constipated condition of the bowels is due to lack of intestinal secretions, and when so caused may be treated by giving fluid extract of belladonna in 2-dram doses three times a day and handful doses of Epsom salt daily in the feed. It is always best, when possible, to overcome this trouble by a change of diet rather than by the use of medicines. For the relief of constipation such succulent feeds as roots, grass, or green forage are recommended. Silage, however, should be fed sparingly, and not at all unless it is in the very best condition. Moldy silage may cause fatal disease.

Foreign bodies (calculi, stones) in the stomach.—There are probably but few symptoms exhibited by the horse that will lead one to suspect the presence of gastric calculi, and possibly none by which we can unmistakably assert their presence. They have been found most frequently in millers' horses fed sweepings from the mills. A depraved[Pg 71] and capricious appetite is common in horses that have a stone forming in the stomachs. There is a disposition to eat the woodwork of the stable, earth, and, in fact, almost any substance within their reach. This symptom must not, however, be considered as pathognomonic, since it is observed when calculi are not present. Occasional colics may result from these "stomach stones," and when the latter lodge at the outlet of the stomach they may give rise to symptoms of engorged stomach, already described. There is, of course, no treatment that will prove effective. Remedies to move the bowels, to relieve pain, and to combat inflammation should be given.

Intestinal concretions (calculi or stones in the intestines).—These concretions are usually found in the large bowels, though they are occasionally seen in the small intestines. They are of various sizes, weighing from 1 ounce to 25 pounds; they may be single or multiple, and differ in composition and appearance, some being soft (composed mostly of animal or vegetable matter), while others are porous, or honeycombed (consisting of animal and mineral matter), and others are entirely hard and stonelike. The hair balls, so common to the stomach and intestines of cattle, are very rare in horses. Intestinal calculi form around some foreign body, as a rule—a nail or piece of wood—whose shape they may assume to a certain extent. Layers are arranged concentrically around such nucleus until the sizes above spoken of are attained. These stones are also often found in millers' horses, as well also as in horses in limestone districts, where the water is hard. When the calculi attain a sufficient size and become lodged or blocked in some part of the intestines, they cause obstruction, inflammation of the bowels, colicky symptoms, and death. There are no certain signs or symptoms that reveal them. Recurring colics of the type of impaction colic, but more severe, may lead one to suspect the existence of this condition. Examination through the rectum may reveal the calculus.

The symptoms will be those of obstruction of the bowels. Upon post-mortem examinations these stones will be discovered mostly in the large bowels; the intestines will be inflamed or gangrenous about the point of obstruction. Sometimes calculi have been expelled by the action of a physic, or they may be removed by the hand when found to occupy the rectum.

As in concretions of the stomach, but little can be done in the way of treatment more than to overcome spasm (if any exists), and to give physics with the hope of dislodging the stone or stones and carrying them on and outward.

Intussusception, or invagination.—This is the slipping of a portion of the intestine into another portion immediately adjoining, like a partially turned glove finger. This may occur at any part of the bowels, but is most frequent in the small guts. The invaginated portion[Pg 72] may be slight—2 or 3 inches only—or extensive, measuring as many feet. In intussusception, the inturned bowel is in the direction of the anus. There are adhesions of the intestines at this point, congestion, inflammation, or even gangrene. This accident is most liable to occur in horses that are suffering from spasm of the bowel, or in those in which a small portion of the gut is paralyzed. The natural wormlike or ringlike contraction of the gut favors the passage of the contracted or paralyzed portion into that immediately behind it. It may occur during the existence of almost any abdominal trouble, as diarrhea, inflammation of the bowels, or from injuries, exposure to cold, etc. A fall or leaping may give the initial maldirection. Foals are most likely to be thus afflicted.

Unless the invaginated portion of the gut becomes strangulated, probably no symptoms except constipation will be appreciable. Strangulation of the bowel may take place suddenly, and the horse die within 24 hours, or it may occur after several days—a week even—and death then follow. There are no symptoms positively diagnostic. Colicky pains, more or less severe and continuous, are observed, and at first there may be diarrhea, followed by constipation. Severe straining occurs in some instances of intussusception, and when this occurs it should receive due credit. As death approaches, the horse sweats profusely, sighs, presents an anxious countenance, the legs and ears become cold, and there is often freedom from pain immediately before death. In some rare instances he recovers, even though the invaginated portion of the gut has become strangulated. In this case the imprisoned portion sloughs away so gradually that a union has taken place between the intestines at the point where one portion has slipped into that behind it. The piece sloughing off is found passed with the manure. Such cases are exceedingly rare. Nonirritating laxatives, such as castor oil, sweet oil, or calomel in small doses, should be given. Soft feed and mucilaginous and nourishing drinks should be given during these attacks. E. Mayhew Michener has operated successfully on a foal with intussusception by opening the abdomen and releasing the imprisoned gut.

Volvulus, gut tie, or twisting of the bowels.—These are the terms applied to the bowels when twisted or knotted. This accident is rather a common one, and frequently results from the violent manner in which a horse throws himself about when attacked by spasmodic colic. The symptoms are the same as those of intussusception and obstructions of the bowels; the same directions as to treatment are therefore to be observed.

Paralysis of the intestine.—This occurs in old, debilitated animals that have been fed on coarse, innutritious fodder. This produces a condition of dilatation so pronounced as to make it impossible for the intestine to advance its contents, and so obstruction results. The[Pg 73] symptoms are as in other forms of obstruction colic. The history of the case is of much service in diagnosing the trouble. The treatment consists in the administration of laxatives. One may give 1 quart of raw linseed oil and follow it the next day with 1 pound of Glauber's salt dissolved in a quart of warm water. Strychnia may be given in doses of 1 grain two or three times daily. If the stagnant mass of feces is in the rectum, it must be removed with the hand.

Abnormal growths, such as tumors or fibrous tissue, producing contraction or stricture, may be causes of obstruction. The colic caused by these conditions is chronic. The attacks occur at gradually shortening intervals and become progressively more severe. Relief is afforded by the use of purgatives that render the feces soft and thin and thus enable them to pass the obstruction, but in time the contracted place is liable to close so far that passage is impossible and the horse will die.

Flatulent colic (tympanitic colic, wind colic, or bloat).—Among the most frequent causes of this form of colic are to be mentioned sudden changes of feed, too long fasting and feed then given while the animal is exhausted, new hay or grain, large quantities of feed that is green or that has lain in the manger for some time and become sour, indigestible feed, irregular teeth, crib biting, and, in fact, anything that produces indigestion may produce flatulent colic.

Symptoms.—The symptoms of wind colic are not so suddenly developed nor so severe as those of cramp colic. At first the horse is noticed to be dull, paws slightly, and may or may not lie down. The pains from the start are continuous. The belly enlarges, and by striking it in front of the haunches a drumlike sound results. If not soon relieved the above symptoms are aggravated, and in addition difficult breathing, bloodshot eyes, and red mucous membranes, loud tumultuous heart beat, profuse perspiration, trembling of front legs, sighing respiration, staggering from side to side are noticed, and, finally, plunging forward dead. The diagnostic symptom of flatulent colic is the distention of the bowels with gas, detected by the bloated appearance and resonance on percussion.

Treatment.—The treatment for wind colic differs very greatly from that of cramp colic. Absorbents are of some service, and charcoal may be given in any quantity. Relaxants and antispasmodics are also beneficial in this form of colic. Chloral hydrate not only possesses these qualities, but it also is an antiferment and a pain reliever. It is, then, particularly well adapted to the treatment of wind colic, and should be given in the same-sized doses and in the manner directed for spasmodic colic. Diluted alcohol or whisky may be given, or aromatic spirits of ammonia in 1-ounce doses at short intervals.[Pg 74]

A physic should always be given as early as possible in flatulent colic, the best being Barbados aloes in the dose already mentioned. Injections, per rectum, of turpentine 1 to 2 ounces, linseed oil 8 ounces, may be given frequently to stimulate the peristaltic motion of the bowels and to favor the escape of wind. Blankets wrung out of hot water do much to afford relief; they should be renewed every 5 or 10 minutes and covered with a dry woolen blanket. This form of colic is much more fatal than cramp colic, and requires prompt and persistent treatment. It is entirely unsafe to predict the result, some apparently mild attacks going on to speedy death, while others that at the onset appear to be very severe yielding rapidly to treatment. No efforts should be spared until the animal is known to be dead. In these severe cases puncturing of the bowels in the most prominent (distended) part by means of a small trocar and cannula or with a needle of a hypodermic syringe, thus allowing the escape of gas, has often saved life, and such punctures, if made with a clean, sharp instrument that is not allowed to remain in the horse too long, are accompanied with little danger and do more to relieve the patient quickly than any other treatment.

Spasmodic or cramp colic.—This is the name given to that form of colic produced by contraction, or spasm, of a portion of the small intestines. It is produced by indigestible feed; large drinks of cold water when the animal is warm; driving a heated horse through deep streams; cold rains; drafts of cold air, etc. Unequal distribution of or interference with the nervous supply here produces cramp of the bowels, the same as external cramps are produced. Spasmodic colic is much more frequently met with in high-bred, nervous horses than in coarse, lymphatic ones.

Symptoms.—These should be carefully studied in order to diagnose this from other forms of colic requiring quite different treatment. Spasmodic colic always begins suddenly. If feeding, the horse is seen to stop abruptly, stamp impatiently, and probably look back. He soon evinces more acute pain, shown by pawing, suddenly lying down, rolling, and getting up. During the period of pain the intestinal sounds, as heard by applying the ear over the flank, are louder than in health. There is then an interval of ease; he will resume feeding and appear to be entirely well. In a little while, however, the pains return and are increased in severity, only to pass off again for a time. As the attack progresses these intervals of ease become shorter and shorter, and pain may be continuous, though even then there are exacerbations of pain. Animals suffering from this form of colic evince the most intense pain; they throw themselves, roll over and over, jump up, whirl about, drop down again, paw, or strike rather, with the front feet, steam and sweat, and make frequent attempts to pass their urine. Only a small quantity of water[Pg 75] is passed at a time; this is due to the bladder being so frequently emptied. These attempts to urinate are often regarded by horsemen as symptoms of trouble of the kidneys or bladder. In reality they are only one of the many ways in which the horse expresses the presence of pain. As a matter of fact, diseases of the bladder or kidneys of the horse are exceedingly rare.

To recapitulate the symptoms of spasmodic colic: The history of the case, the type of horse, the suddenness of the attack, the increased intestinal sounds, the intervals of ease (which become of shorter duration as the case progresses), the violent pain, the normal temperature and pulse during the intervals of ease, the frequent attempts to urinate, etc., should be kept in mind, and there is then but little danger of confounding this with other forms of colic.

Treatment.—Since the pain is due to spasm or cramp of the bowels, medicines that overcome spasms—antispasmodics—are the ones indicated. Chloral hydrate may be used. This is to be given in a dose of 1 ounce in a pint of water as a drench. As this drug is irritant to the throat and stomach, it has to be well diluted. A common and good remedy is sulphuric ether and laudanum, of each 2 ounces, in a half pint of linseed oil. Another drench may be composed of 2 ounces each of sulphuric ether and alcohol in 8 ounces of water. If nothing else is at hand give whisky, one-half pint in hot water. Jamaica ginger is useful. If relief is not obtained in one hour from any of the above doses, they may then be repeated. The body should be warmly clothed and perspiration induced. Blankets dipped in very hot water to which a small quantity of turpentine has been added should be placed around the belly and covered with dry blankets or the abdomen may be rubbed with stimulating liniments or mustard water. The difficulty, however, of applying hot blankets and keeping them in place forces us in most instances to dispense with them. If the cramp is due to irritants in the bowels, a cure is not complete until a cathartic of 1 ounce of aloes or 1 pint of linseed oil is given. Injections of warm, soapy water or salt and water into the rectum aid the cure.

Rectal injections, clysters, or enemas as a rule should be lukewarm, and from 3 to 6 quarts are to be given at a time. They may be repeated every half hour if necessary. Great care is to be taken not to injure the rectum in giving such injections. A large syringe or a piece of rubber hose 4 or 5 feet long, with a funnel attached at one end, affords the best means by which to give them. The pipe of the syringe or the hose introduced into the rectum must be blunt, rounded, and smooth; it is to be thoroughly oiled and then carefully pushed through the anus in a slightly upward direction. Much force must be avoided, for the rectum may be lacerated and serious complications or even death result. Exercise will aid the action of the bowels in this and similar colicky troubles, but severe galloping or trotting is to be[Pg 76] avoided. If the horse can have a loose box or paddock, it is the best, as he will then take what exercise he wants. If the patient is extremely violent, it is often wise to restrain him by leading him with a halter, since rupture of the stomach or displacement of the bowels may result and complicate the trouble.


From the facts that they merge insensibly into each other and usually occur simultaneously, there is ample reason for considering these conditions together. This condition may be acute—that is, of sudden onset—or it may be chronic. The changes of structure produced by this disease occur in the mucous membrane lining of the stomach and intestines. This membrane becomes red from increased blood supply or from hemorrhage into it, is swollen, and is covered by a coating of slimy mucus. In some especially severe cases the membrane is destroyed in spots, causing the appearance of ulcers or of erosions.

The causes of indigestion are numerous, but nearly all are the result of errors in feeding.

Some horses are naturally endowed with weak digestive organs, and such are predisposed to this condition. Anything that irritates the stomach or intestines may cause this disease. Feeds that the animal is unaccustomed to, sudden changes of diet, imperfectly cured, unripe, or damaged feeds are all fruitful causes, and so are worms. In suckling foals this condition may come from some disease of the dam that renders her milk indigestible, or from overexertion or overheating of the mare. Another prolific cause is bad teeth, making mastication imperfect, and thus causing the horse to swallow his feed in a condition unfit for the action of the digestive juices. Working a horse too soon or too hard after feeding may cause either colic or indigestion. Any condition that reduces the vitality, such as disease, overwork, poor feed, or lack of care, may directly bring on indigestion by weakening the digestive organs.

Symptoms.—Indigestion is characterized by irregular appetite; refusing all feed at times, and at others eating ravenously; the appetite is not only irregular, but is often depraved; there is a disposition on the part of the horse to eat unusual substances, such as wood, soiled bedding, or even his own feces; the bowels are irregular to-day, loose and bad smelling, to-morrow bound; whole grain is often passed in the feces, and the hay passed in balls or impacted masses, undergoing but little change; the horse frequently passes considerable quantities of sour-smelling wind. The animal loses flesh, the skin presents a hard, dry appearance and seems very tight (hidebound). If the stomach is very seriously involved, the horse may yawn by[Pg 77] stretching the head forward and upward and by turning the upper lip outward. There may be more or less colicky pain. In the chronic cases there is mental depression; the horse is sluggish and dull. The abdomen gradually becomes small, giving a "tucked up" appearance, or, on the other hand, it becomes flaccid and pendulous.

Treatment.—One should commence with the feed—its quality, quantity, and time of feeding; examine the water supply, and see, besides, that it is given before feeding; then carefully observe the condition of the mouth and teeth; and, continuing the observations as best we may, endeavor to find the seat of the trouble. If the teeth are sharp or irregular they must be rasped down; if any are decayed they must be extracted; if indigestion is due to ravenous eating or bolting, the feed must then be given from a large manger where the grain can be spread and the horse thus compelled to eat slowly.

Any irritation, such as worms, undigested feed, etc., that is operating as a cause is to be removed by appropriate treatment, as advised elsewhere. If there is a tendency to distention of the stomach and bowels, with gas, during indigestion, the following may be used: Baking soda, powdered ginger, and powdered gentian, equal parts. These are to be thoroughly mixed and given in heaping tablespoonful doses, twice a day, before feeding. This powder is best given by dissolving the above-named quantity in a half pint of water and given as a drench.

As a digestive tonic the following is good: Glauber's salt, 2 pounds; common salt, 1 pound; baking soda, one-half pound. Of this a heaping tablespoonful may be given in each feed. If diarrhea exists, the treatment advised below may be used.


Diarrhea is due to indigestion or intestinal catarrh or to irritation of the bowels from eating moldy or musty feed, drinking stagnant water, diseased condition of the teeth, eating irritating substances, to being kept on low, marshy pastures, and to exposure during cold nights, or in low, damp stables. Some horses are predisposed to scour and are called "washy" by horsemen; they are those with long bodies, long legs, and narrow, flat sides. Horses of this build are almost sure to scour if fed or watered immediately before being put to work. Fast or road work, of course, aggravates this trouble. Diarrhea may exist as a complication of other diseases, as pneumonia and influenza, for instance, and again during the diseases of the liver.

The symptoms are the frequent evacuations of liquid stools, with or without pronounced abdominal pain, loss of appetite, emaciation, etc.

Treatment is at times very simple, but requires the utmost care and judgment. If due to faulty feed or water it is sufficient to change these. If it results from some irritant in the intestines this is best[Pg 78] gotten rid of by the administration of an oleaginous purge, for which nothing is better than castor oil, although raw linseed oil may be used if the case is not severe. The diarrhea often disappears with the cessation of the operation of the medicine. If, however, purging continues it may be checked by giving wheat flour in water, starch water, white-oak bark tea, chalk, opium, or half-dram doses of sulphuric acid in one-half pint of water twice or thrice daily. Good results follow the use of powdered opium 2 drams and subnitrate of bismuth 1 ounce, repeated three times a day. In all cases it should be remembered to look to the water and feed the horse is receiving. If either of these is at fault it is at once to be discontinued. We should feed sparingly of good, easily digested feeds. With that peculiar build of nervous horses that scour on the road but little can be done as a rule. They should be watered and fed as long as possible before going on a drive. If there is much flatulency accompanying diarrhea baking soda or other alkaline medicines may effect a cure, while if the discharges have a very disagreeable odor it may be corrected by 1 ounce of sulphite of soda or dram doses of creolin in water, repeated twice a day. Be slow to resort to either the vegetable or mineral astringents, since the majority of cases will yield to change of feed and water or the administration of oils. Afterwards feed upon wheat-flour gruel or other light feeds. The body should be warmly clothed.

Superpurgation.—This is the designation of that diarrhea, or flux from the bowels, that, at times, is induced by and follows the action of a physic. It is accompanied with much irritation or even inflammation of the bowels and is always of a serious character. Although in rare instances it follows from a usual dose of physic and where every precaution has been taken, it is most likely to result under the following circumstances: Too large a dose of physic; giving physics to horses suffering from pneumonia, influenza, or other debilitating diseases; riding or driving a horse when purging; exposure or drafts of cold air; or giving large quantities of cold water while the physic is operating. There is always danger of superpurgation if a physic is given to a horse suffering from diseases of the respiratory organs. Small and often-repeated physics are also to be avoided, as they produce debility and great depression of the system and predispose to this disorder. When a physic is to be given one should rest the horse and give him sloppy feed until the medicine begins to operate; clothe the body with a warm blanket; keep out of drafts; give only warm water in small quantities. After a horse has purged from twelve to twenty-four hours it can mostly be stopped, or "set," as horsemen say, by feeding on dry oats and hay. Should the purging continue, however, it is best treated by giving demulcent drinks—linseed tea and oatmeal or wheat-flour[Pg 79] gruel. After this the astringents spoken of for diarrhea may be given. Besides this the horse is to receive brandy in doses of from 2 to 4 ounces, with milk and eggs, four or five times a day.

Laminitis ("founder") is a frequent sequel of superpurgation and is to be guarded against by removing the shoes and standing the horse on moist sawdust or some similar bedding.


This disease, sometimes called "bloody flux," is an intestinal disease attended with fever, occasional abdominal pains, and fluid discharges mingled with blood. Discharges in dysentery are coffee colored or bloody, liquid, and very offensive in odor, and passed with much straining. It is rare in the horse, but is sometimes quite prevalent among foals.

Causes.—Probably the most common cause is keeping young horses in particular for a long time on low, wet, marshy pastures, without other feed (a diarrhea of long standing sometimes terminates in dysentery); exposure during cold, wet weather; decomposed feeds; stagnant water that contains large quantities of decomposing vegetable matter; low, damp, and dark stables, particularly if crowded; the existence of some disease, as tuberculosis of the abdominal form. In suckling foals it may come from feeding the dam on irritant feeds or from disease of the udder. In other foals it may be produced by exposure to cold and damp, to irritant feed, or to worms.

Symptoms.—The initial symptom is a chill, which probably escapes notice in the majority of instances. The discharges are offensive and for the most part liquid, although it is common to find lumps of solid fecal matter floating in this liquid portion; shreds of mucous membrane and blood may be passed or the evacuations may be mucopurulent; there is much straining, and, rarely, symptoms of abdominal pain; the subject lies down a great deal; the pulse is quickened and the temperature elevated. Thirst is a prominent symptom. In the adult, death rarely follows under two to three weeks, but in foals the disease may end in death after a few days.

Treatment.—This is most unsatisfactory, and I am inclined to place more dependence upon the care and feed than any medication that may be adopted. First of all the horse must be placed in a dry, warm, yet well-ventilated stable; the skin is to receive attention by frequent rubbings of the surface of the body, with blankets, and bandages to the legs. The water must be pure and given in small quantities; the feed, that which is light and easily digested. Medicinally, give at first a light dose of castor oil, about one-half pint, to which has been added 2 ounces of laudanum. The vegetable or mineral astringents are also to be given. Starch injections containing laudanum often afford great relief. The strength must be kept up[Pg 80] by milk punches, eggs, beef tea, oatmeal gruel, etc. In spite of the best care and treatment, however, dysentery is likely to prove fatal. In the case of nurslings, the dam should be placed in a healthy condition or, failing in this, milk should be had from another mare or from a cow.


This condition consists in an inflammation of the stomach and intestines. Instead of being confined to the mucous, or lining, membrane, as in gastrointestinal catarrh, the inflammatory process extends deeper and may even involve the entire thickness of the wall of the organ.

This disease may be caused by irritant feed, hot drinks, sudden chilling, moldy or decayed feeds, foul water, parasites, or by chemical poisons. It may also complicate some general diseases, especially infectious diseases, as anthrax, influenza, rabies, or petechial fever. Long-continued obstruction of the bowels or displacement resulting in death are preceded by enteritis.

Symptoms.—The symptoms differ somewhat with the cause and depend also, to some extent, upon the chief location of the inflammation. In general the animal stops eating or eats but little; it shows colicky pain; fever develops; the pulse and respiration become rapid; the mucous membrane becomes red; the mouth is hot and dry. Pressure upon the abdomen may cause pain. Intestinal sounds can not be heard at the flank. There is constipation in the earlier stages that is, followed later by diarrhea. The extremities become cold. Sometimes the feces are coated with or contain shreds of fibrin, looking like scraps of dead membrane, and they have an evil, putrid odor. If the disease is caused by moldy or damaged feed there may be great muscular weakness, with partial paralysis of the throat, as shown by inability to swallow. If chemical poisons are the cause, this fact may be shown by the sudden onset of the disease, the history of the administration of a poison or the entire absence of known cause, the rapid development of threatening symptoms, the involvement of a series of animals in the absence of a contagious disease, and the special symptoms and alterations known to be produced by certain poisons. To make this chain of evidence complete, the poison may be discovered in the organs of the horse by chemical analysis. In nearly all cases of gastro-enteritis there is nervous depression.

The poisons that are most irritant to the digestive tract are arsenic, corrosive sublimate, sugar of lead, sulphate of copper, sulphate or chlorid of zinc, lye, or other strong alkalies, mineral acids, and, among the vegetable poisons, tobacco, lobelia, and water hemlock.

Treatment.—The treatment will depend upon the cause, but if this can not be detected, certain general indications may be observed. In all cases feed should be given in small amounts and should be of the[Pg 81] most soothing description, as oatmeal gruel, flaxseed tea, hay tea, fresh grass, or rice water. The skin should be well rubbed with alcohol and wisps of straw, to equalize the distribution of the blood; the legs, after being rubbed until warm, should be bandaged in raw cotton or with woolen bandages. The horse should be warmly blanketed. It is well to apply to the abdomen blankets wrung out of hot water and frequently changed; or mustard paste may be rubbed on the skin of the belly. Internally, opium is of service to allay pain, check secretion, and soothe the inflamed membrane. The dose is from 1 to 2 drams, given every three of four hours. If there is constipation, the opium should be mixed with 30 grains of calomel. Subnitrate of bismuth may be given with the opium or separately in 2-dram doses. Stimulants, such as alcohol, aromatic spirits of ammonia, or camphor may be given in 2-ounce doses, mixed with warm water to make a drench.

If putrid feed has been consumed, creolin may be administered in doses of 2 drams, mixed with 1 pint of warm water or milk. If there is obstinate constipation and if a laxative must be employed, it should be sweet or castor oil, from 1 pint to 1 quart.

Antidotes for poisons.—For the various poisons the remedies are as follows:

Arsenic: Oxyhydrate of iron solution, 1 pint to 1 quart; or calcined magnesia, one-half ounce in 1 pint of water.

Corrosive sublimate (bichlorid of mercury): The whites of a dozen eggs, or 2 ounces of flowers of sulphur.

Sugar of lead: Glauber's salt, 1 pound in 1 quart of warm water; to be followed with iodid of potash, 3 drams at a dose, in water, three times daily for five days.

Sulphate of copper: Milk, the whites of eggs, or reduced iron.

Sulphate or chlorid of zinc: Milk, the whites of eggs, or calcined magnesia.

Lye or alkalies, as caustic potash or soda: Vinegar, dilute sulphuric acid, and linseed tea, with opium, 3 drams.

Mineral acids: Chalk, or calcined magnesia, or baking soda; later give linseed tea and opium.


These are rare, comparatively, in horses. They are diagnosed by the appearance of bright-red irregular tumors after defecation, which may remain visible at all times or be seen only when the horse is down or after passing his manure. They are mostly due to constipation, irritation, or injuries, or follow from the severe straining during dysentery. I have observed them to follow from severe labor pains in the mare.[Pg 82]

Treatment.—Attention must be paid to the condition of the bowels; they should be soft, but purging is to be avoided. The tumors should be washed in warm water and thoroughly cleansed, after which scarify them and gently but firmly squeeze out the liquid that will be seen to follow the shallow incisions. After thus squeezing these tumors and before replacing through the anus, bathe the parts with some anodyn wash. For this purpose the glycerite of tannin and laudanum in equal parts is good. Mucilaginous injections into the rectum may be of service for a few days.


There are several kinds or hernias that require notice, not all of which, however, produce serious symptoms or results. Abdominal hernias, or ruptures, are divided into reducible, irreducible, and strangulated, according to condition; and into inguinal, scrotal, ventral, umbilical, and diaphragmatic, according to their situation. A hernia is reducible when the displaced organ can be returned to its natural location. It consists of a soft swelling, without heat, pain, or any uneasiness, generally larger on full feed, and decreases in size as the bowels become empty. An irreducible hernia is one that can not be returned into the abdomen, and yet does not cause any pain or uneasiness. Strangulated hernia is one in which the contents of the sac are greatly distended, or when from pressure upon the blood vessels of the imprisoned portion the venous circulation is checked or stopped, thereby causing congestion, swelling, inflammation, and, if not relieved, gangrene of the part and death of the animal. According to the time or mode of origin, hernias may be congenital or acquired.

Congenital scrotal hernia.—Not a few foals are noticed from birth to have an enlarged scrotum, which gradually increases in size until about the sixth month, sometimes longer. Sometimes the scrotum of a six-months-old colt is as large as that of an adult stallion, and operative treatment is considered. This is unnecessary in the great majority of cases, as the enlargement often disappears by the time the colt has reached his second year. Any interference, medicinal or surgical, is worse than useless. If the intestine contained within the scrotum should at any time become strangulated, it must then be treated the same as in an adult horse.

Scrotal hernia is caused by dilatation of the sheath of the testicle, combined with relaxation of the fibrous tissues surrounding the inguinal ring, thus allowing the intestine to descend to the scrotum. At first this is intermittent, appearing during work and returning when the horse is at rest. For a long time this form of hernia may[Pg 83] not cause the least uneasiness or distress. In course of time, however, the imprisoned gut becomes filled with feces, its return into the abdominal cavity is prevented, and it becomes strangulated. While the gut is thus filling the horse often appears dull, is disinclined to move, appetite is impaired, and there is rumbling and obstruction of the bowels. Colicky symptoms now supervene. Strangulation and its consequent train of symptoms do not always follow in scrotal hernia, for often horses have this condition for years without suffering inconvenience.

Inguinal hernia is but an incomplete scrotal hernia, and, like the latter, may exist and cause no signs of distress, or, again, it may become strangulated and cause death. Inguinal hernia is seen mostly in stallions, next in geldings, and very rarely in the mare. Bearing in mind that scrotal hernia is seen only in entire horses, we may proceed to detail the symptoms of strangulated, inguinal, and scrotal hernia at the same time. When, during the existence of colicky symptoms, we find a horse kicking with his hind feet while standing or lying upon his back, we should look to the inguinal region and scrotum. If scrotal hernia exists, the scrotum will be enlarged and lobulated; by pressure we may force a portion of the contents of the gut back into the abdomen, eliciting a gurgling sound. If we take a gentle but firm hold upon the enlarged scrotum and then have an assistant cause the horse to cough, the swelling will be felt to expand and as quickly contract again.

The history of these cases will materially aid us, as the owner can often assure us of preceding attacks of "colic," more or less severe, that have been instantaneously relieved in some (to him) unaccountable manner. The colicky symptoms of these hernias are not diagnostic, but, probably, more closely resemble those of enteritis than any other bowel diseases. In many cases the diagnosis can be made only by a veterinarian, when he has recourse to a rectal examination; the bowels can here be felt entering the internal abdominal ring.

Treatment of inguinal hernia.—If the reader is sure of the existence of hernia, he should secure the horse upon its back, and, with a hand in the rectum, endeavor to catch hold of the wandering bowel and pull it gently back into the cavity of the abdomen. Pressure should be made upon the scrotum during this time. If this fails, a veterinarian must be called to reduce the hernia by means of incising the inguinal ring, replacing the intestines, and to castrate, using clamps and performing the "covered operation."

Ventral hernia.—In this form of hernia the protrusion is through some accidental opening or rupture of the abdominal wall. It may occur at any part of the belly except at the umbilicus, and is caused by kicks, blows, hooks, severe jumping or pulling, etc. Ventral[Pg 84] hernia is most common in pregnant mares, and is here due to the weight of the fetus or to some degenerative changes taking place in the abdominal coats. It is recognized by the appearance of a swelling, at the base of which can be felt the opening or rent in the abdominal tunics, and from the fact that the swelling containing the intestines can be made to disappear when the animal is placed in a favorable position.

Treatment of ventral hernia.—In many instances there is no occasion for treatment, and again, where the hernial sac is extensive, treatment is of no avail. If the hernia is small, a cure may be attempted by the methods to be described in treating of umbilical hernia. If one is fortunate enough to be present when the hernia occurs, and particularly if it is not too large, he may, by the proper application of a pad and broad bandage, effect a perfect cure.

Umbilical hernia is the passing of any portion of the bowel or omentum ("caul") through the navel, forming a "tumor" at this point. This is often congenital in our animals, and is due to the imperfect closure of the umbilicus and to the position of the body. Many cases of umbilical hernia, like inguinal and scrotal of the congenital kind, disappear entirely by the time the animal reaches its second or third year. Advancing age favors cure in these cases from the fact that the omentum (swinging support of the bowels) is proportionally shorter in adults than in foals, thus lifting the intestines out of the hernial sac and allowing the opening in the walls to close. Probably one of the most frequent causes of umbilical hernia in foals is the practice of keeping them too long from their dams, causing them to fret and worry, and to neigh, or cry, by the hour. The contraction of the abdominal muscles and pressure of the intestines during neighing seem to open the umbilicus and induce hernia. Accidents may cause umbilical hernia in adults in the same manner as ventral hernia is produced, though this is very rare.

Treatment of umbilical hernia.—In the treatment of umbilical hernia it should be remembered that congenital hernias are often removed with age, but probably congenital umbilical hernias less frequently than others. Among the many plans of treatment are to be mentioned the application of a pad over the tumor, the pad being held in place by a broad, tight bandage placed around the animal's body. The chief objection to this is the difficulty in keeping the pad in its place. Blisters are often applied over the swelling, and, as the skin hardens and contracts by the formation of scabs, an artificial bandage or pressure is produced that at times is successful. Another treatment that has gained considerable repute of late years consists in first clipping off the hair over the swelling. Nitric acid is then applied with a small brush, using only enough to moisten the skin.[Pg 85] This sets up a deep-seated, adhesive inflammation, which, in very many cases, closes the opening in the navel. Still another plan is to inject a solution of common salt by means of the hypodermic syringe at three or four points about the base of the swelling. This acts in the same manner as the preceding, but may cause serious injury if the syringe or solution is not sterile.

Others, again, after keeping the animal fasting for a few hours, cast and secure it upon its back; the bowel is then carefully returned into the abdomen. The skin over the opening is pinched up and one or two skewers are run through the skin from side to side as close as possible to the umbilical opening. These skewers are kept in place by passing a cord around the skin between them and the abdomen and securely tying it. Great care must be taken not to draw these cords too tight, as this would cause a speedy slough of the skin, the intestines would extrude, and death result. If properly applied, an adhesion is established between the skin and the umbilicus, which effectually closes the orifice. Special clamps are provided for taking up the fold of the skin covering the hernial sac and holding it until the adhesion is formed.

Diaphragmatic hernia.—This consists of the passage of any of the abdominal viscera through a rent in the diaphragm (midriff) into the cavity of the thorax. It is a rather rare accident, and one often impossible to diagnose during life. Colicky symptoms, accompanied with great difficulty in breathing, and the peculiar position so often assumed (that of sitting upon the haunches), are somewhat characteristic of this trouble, though these symptoms, as we have already seen, may be present during diseases of the stomach or anterior portion of the bowels. Even could we diagnose with certainty this form of hernia, there is little or nothing that can be done. Leading the horse up a very steep gangway or causing him to rear up may possibly cause the hernial portion to return to its natural position. This is not enough, however; it must be kept there.


Peritonitis is an inflammation of the serous membrane lining the cavity of and covering the viscera contained within the abdomen. It is very rare to see a case of primary peritonitis. It is, however, somewhat common as a secondary disease from extension of the inflammatory action involving organs covered by the peritoneum. Peritonitis is often caused by injuries, as punctured wounds of the abdomen, severe blows or kicks, or, as is still more common, following the operation of castration. It follows strangulated hernia, invagination, or rupture of the stomach, intestines, liver, or womb.[Pg 86]

Symptoms.—Peritonitis is mostly preceded by a chill; the horse is not disposed to move, and, if compelled to do so, moves with a stiff or sore gait; he paws with the front feet and may strike at his belly with the hind ones; lies down very carefully; as the pain is increased while down, he maintains the standing position during most of the time; he walks uneasily about the stall. Constipation is usually present. Pressure on the belly causes acute pain, and the horse will bite, strike, or kick if so disturbed; the abdomen is tucked up; the extremities are fine and cold. The temperature is higher than normal, reaching from 102° to 104° F. The pulse in peritonitis is rather characteristic; it is quickened, beating from 70 to 90 beats a minute, and is hard and wiry. This peculiarity of the pulse occurs in inflammation of the serous membrane, and if accompanied with colicky symptoms, and, in particular, if following any injuries, accidental or surgical, of the peritoneum, there is reason to think that peritonitis is present. Peritonitis in the horse is mostly fatal when it is at all extensive. If death does not occur in a short time, the inflammation assumes a chronic form, in which there is an extensive effusion of water in the cavity of the belly, constituting what is known as ascites, and which, as a rule, results in death.

Treatment.—The treatment of peritonitis is somewhat like that of enteritis. Opium in powder, 1 to 2 drams, with calomel, one-half dram, is to be given every two, three, or four hours, and constitutes the main dependence in this disease. Extensive counterirritants over the belly, consisting of mustard plasters, applications of mercurial ointment, turpentine stupes, or even mild blisters, are recommended. Purgatives must never be given during this complaint. Should we desire to move the bowels, it can be done by gentle enemas, though it is seldom necessary to resort even to this.


This is seen as a result of subacute or chronic peritonitis, but may be due to diseases of the liver, kidneys, heart, or lungs. There will be found, on opening the cavity of the belly, a large collection of yellowish or reddish liquid; from a few quarts to several gallons may be present. It may be clear in color, though generally it is yellowish or of a red tint, and contains numerous loose flakes of coagulable lymph.

Symptoms.—There is slight tenderness on pressure; awkward gait of the hind legs; the horse is dull, and may have occasional very slight colicky pains, shown by looking back and striking at the belly with the hind feet. Oftener, however, these colicky symptoms are absent. Diarrhea often precedes death, but during the progress of[Pg 87] the disease the bowels are alternately constipated and loose. On percussing the abdominal walls we find that dullness exists to the same height on both sides of the belly; by suddenly pushing or striking the abdomen we can hear the rushing or flooding of water. If the case is an advanced one, the horse is potbellied in the extreme, and dropsical swellings are seen under the belly and upon the legs.

Treatment is, as a rule, unsatisfactory. Saline cathartics, as Epsom or Glauber's salt, and diuretics, ounce doses of saltpeter, may be given. If a veterinarian is at hand he will withdraw the accumulation of water by tapping and then endeavor to prevent its recurrence (though this is almost sure to follow) by giving three times a day saltpeter 1 ounce and iodid of potash 1 dram, and by the application of mustard or blisters over the abdominal walls. Tonics, mineral and vegetable, are also indicated. Probably the best tonic is one consisting of powdered sulphate of iron, gentian, and ginger in equal parts; a heaping tablespoonful of the mixture is given as a drench or mixed with the feed, twice a day. Good nutritious feeds and gentle exercise complete the treatment.


In the United States the liver of the horse is but rarely the seat of disease, and when we consider how frequently the liver of man is affected this can not but appear strange. The absence of the gall bladder may account to a certain extent for his freedom from liver diseases, as overdistention of this and the presence in it of calculi (stones) in man is a frequent source of trouble. In domestic animals, as in man, hot climates tend to produce diseases of the liver, just as in cold climates lung diseases prevail. Not only are diseases of the liver rare in horses in temperate climates, but they are also very obscure, and in many cases pass totally unobserved until after death. There are some symptoms, however, which, when present, should make us examine the liver as carefully as possible. These are jaundice (yellowness of the mucous membranes of the mouth, nose, and eyes) and the condition of the dung, it being light in color and pasty in appearance.


This disease may be general or local, and may assume an acute or chronic form.

Symptoms.—The symptoms of acute hepatitis are: Dullness; the horse is suffering from some internal pain, but not of a severe type; constipated and clay-colored dung balls; scanty and high-colored urine; and general febrile symptoms. If lying down, he is mostly[Pg 88] found on the left side; looks occasionally toward the right side, which, upon close inspection, may be found to be slightly enlarged over the posterior ribs, where pain upon pressure is also evinced. Obscure lameness in front, of the right leg mostly, may be a symptom of hepatitis. The horse, toward the last, reels or staggers in his gait and falls backward in a fainting fit, during one of which he finally succumbs. Death is sometimes due to rupture of the enveloping coat of the liver or of some of its blood vessels.

Causes.—Among the causes that lead to this disease we must mention first the stimulating effect of overfeeding, particularly during hot weather. Horses that are well fed and receive but little exercise are the best subjects for diseases of this organ. We must add to these causes the more mechanical ones, as injuries on the right side over the liver, worms in the liver, gallstones in the biliary ducts, foreign bodies—as needles or nails that have been swallowed and in their wanderings have entered the liver—and, lastly, in some instances, the extension of inflammation from neighboring parts, thus involving this organ. Acute hepatitis may terminate in chronic inflammation, abscesses, rupture of the liver, or may disappear, leaving behind no trace of disease whatever.

Treatment.—This should consist, at first, of the administration of 1 ounce of Barbados aloes or other physic. General blood-letting, if had recourse to early, must prove of much benefit in acute inflammation of the liver. The vein in the neck (jugular) must be opened, and from 4 to 6 quarts of blood may be drawn. Saline medicines, as Glauber's salt or the artificial Carlsbad salt, are indicated. These may be given with the feed in tablespoonful doses. The horse is to be fed sparingly on soft feed, bran mashes chiefly. If treatment proves successful and recovery takes place, see to it that the horse afterwards gets regular exercise and that his feed is not of a too highly nutritious character and not excessive.


This is a condition caused by the retention and absorption of bile into the blood. It was formerly considered to be a disease of itself, but is now regarded as a symptom of disorder of the liver. "The yellows" is observed by looking at the eyes, nose, and mouth, when it will be seen that these parts are yellowish instead of the pale-pink color of health. In white or light-colored horses the skin even may show this yellow tint. The urine is saffron colored, the dung is of a dirty-gray color, and constipation is usually present. Jaundice may be present as a symptom of almost any inflammatory disease. We know that when an animal has fever the secretions are checked, the bile may be retained and absorbed throughout the system, and[Pg 89] yellowness of the mucous membranes follows. Jaundice may also exist during the presence of simple constipation, hepatitis, biliary calculi, abscesses, hardening of the liver, etc.

Treatment.—When jaundice exists we must endeavor to rid the system of the excess of bile, and this is best accomplished by giving purgatives that act upon the liver. Calomel, 2 drams, with aloes, 7 drams, should be given. Glauber's salt in handful doses once or twice a day for a week is also effective. May apple, rhubarb, castor oil, and other cathartics that act upon the first or small bowels may be selected. We must be careful to see that the bowels are kept open by avoiding hard, dry, bulky feeds.


This is known to occur at times in the horse, most frequently in old, fat horses and those that get but little exercise. Horses that have suffered from chronic liver disease for years eventually present symptoms of colic and die quite suddenly. Upon post-mortem examination we discover that the liver has ruptured. The cicatrices, or scars, that are often found upon the liver indicate that this organ may suffer small rupture and yet the horse may recover from it. This can not be the result, however, if the rent or tear is extensive, since in such cases death must quickly follow from hemorrhage, or, later, from peritonitis. Enlarged liver is particularly liable to rupture.

The immediate causes of rupture appear to be excessive muscular exertion, as leaping a fence, a fall, a blow from a collision, a kick from a horse, or sudden distention of the abdomen with gas.

The symptoms of rupture of the liver will depend upon the extent of the laceration. If slight, there will be simply the symptoms of abdominal pain, looking back to the sides, lying down, etc.; if extensive, the horse is dull and dejected, has no appetite, breathing becomes short and catching, he sighs or sobs, visible mucous membranes are pale, extremities cold, pulse fast, small, and weak or running down. Countenance now shows much distress, he sweats profusely, totters in his gait, props his legs wide apart, reels, staggers, and falls. He may get up again, but soon falls dead. The rapid running-down pulse, paleness of the eyes, nose, and mouth, sighing, stertorous breathing, tottering gait, etc., are symptoms by which we know that the animal is dying from internal hemorrhage.

Treatment.—But little can be done in the way of treatment. Opium in powder, in doses of 2 drams every two or three hours, may be given, with the idea of preventing as much as possible all movements of internal organs. If there is reason to suspect internal bleeding,[Pg 90] we should give large and frequent doses of white-oak bark tea, dram doses of tannic or gallic acid, or the same quantity of sugar of lead, every half hour or hour. Fluid extract of ergot or tincture of the chlorid of iron, in ounce doses, may be selected. Cold water dashed upon the right side or injected into the rectum is highly spoken of as a means of checking the hemorrhage.


These are rarely found in the horse, but may occupy the hepatic ducts, giving rise to jaundice and to colicky pains. There are no absolutely diagnostic symptoms, but should one find a horse that suffers from repeated attacks of colic, accompanied with symptoms of violent pain, and that during or following these attacks the animal is jaundiced, it is possible that gallstones are present. There is little or nothing to be done except to give medicines to overcome pain, trusting that these concretions may pass on to the bowels, where, from their small size, they will not occasion any inconvenience.


Diseases of the pancreas and spleen are so rare, or their symptoms so little understood, that it is impossible to write anything concerning either of these organs and their simple diseases that will convey to the reader information of practical value.


[By Maurice C. Hall, Ph. D., D. V. M.]

Horses are subject to infestation by a number of species of worms, these worms being especially numerous at certain points in the alimentary canal.

The tapeworms of the horse are relatively unimportant and not very common. There are three species, the smallest about two inches long and the largest about eight inches long. These two occur in the small intestine; a form intermediate in size may also be found in the cecum and colon. These are flat, segmented worms with the head at the smaller end.

Flukes occur in horses elsewhere, but have apparently never been reported in the United States.

Roundworms, or nematodes, constitute the most important group of parasitic worms in the horse. The more important of these are as follows:

Roundworm (Ascaris equorum).—This is the common large, yellowish roundworm (Pl. V, fig. 5), about the size of a lead pencil or larger, which may be found in horses almost anywhere in the[Pg 91] United States. It occurs in the intestine and probably occasions little damage as a rule, except when present in large numbers, in which case it will probably be found in the droppings. The symptoms occasioned by it are rather obscure and are such as might arise from a number of other causes, namely, colicky pains, depraved appetite, diarrhea or constipation, and general unthriftiness. In a general way, the presence of parasites may be suspected when an animal shows no fever but is unthrifty, debilitated, and shows disordered bowel movements in cases where there is no evident explanation in the way of feed, care, and surroundings.

Treatment for the removal of this worm consists in the use of anthelmintics such as tartar emetic, turpentine, and carbon bisulphid, but as these remedies are essentially poisons intended to kill the worm, and as their use by persons unused to determining conditions unfavorable for their use is dangerous and likely to result in the death of the animal or in permanent injury to the kidneys or other organs, it is advisable to call in a veterinarian in such cases.

Pinworm (Oxyuris equi).—This is a rather large worm (Pl. V, fig. 1), somewhat smaller than the foregoing and readily distinguishable from it by the presence of a long, slender tail. It also occurs generally throughout the United States, and except when present in large numbers probably does very little damage. It inhabits the large intestine and hence is difficult to reach with medicines administered by the mouth. The use of a half ounce of gentian on the feed night and morning for a week has been recommended, but the use of rectal enemas will give more prompt and perhaps more certain results. These enemas may be made up with one or two tablespoonfuls of salt to the pint, or infusions of quassia chips, a half pound to the gallon of water, and injected into the rectum once or twice a day.

Stomach worms of the horse (Habronema spp.).—These worms (Pl. V, fig. 4) occur in nodules in the mucous lining of the horse's stomach and are credited with doing more or less damage. Their presence is not likely to be diagnosed in the present state of our knowledge, but in case their presence is determined or suspected in connection with the summer sores noted later, tartar emetic is recommended. At least one of these worms has an intermediate stage in the ordinary housefly, the fly becoming infested while it is a larva developing in horse manure. Obviously, therefore, any measures looking toward the eradication of the fly or the proper disposal of manure will aid in the control and eradication of this worm. The United States Bureau of Entomology has shown that fly maggots travel downward through a manure pile as it comes time for the maggot to enter the ground and pupate, and an excellent maggot[Pg 92] trap, consisting of an exposed manure platform raised on posts which are set in a concrete basin extending under the platform and filled with three or four inches of water, has been devised. As maggots work down they come to the platform and escape through the spaces between the boards, left open for the purpose, to the water in the concrete basin, where they are drowned. In this way the exposed manure pile serves to attract flies with a deceptive proffer of a breeding place.

Apparently it is the young forms of these stomach worms which develop at times on the skin, causing a cutaneous habronemiasis known as summer sores. This is discussed under diseases of the skin.

Strongyles (Strongylus spp. and Cylicostomum spp.).—These worms (Pl. V, figs. 2 and 3) live in the large intestines of the horse as adult worms and are often present in enormous numbers. Many of them are very small, and the largest are less than two inches long. The adult worms do considerable damage, but the immature or larval worms do even more.

The larva of Strongylus vulgaris enters the blood vessels of the intestinal wall and finally attaches in the great mesenteric artery, where it causes aneurisms; here it transforms to an adult without sexual organs, which passes to the walls of the cecum and encysts, giving rise to small cysts or abscesses; these cysts finally discharge to the interior of the cecum, setting the worms, now mature, at liberty in the lumen of the intestines.

The larvæ of Strongylus equinus are found principally in the liver, lungs, and pancreas.

The larvæ of Strongylus edentatus may be met with almost anywhere, especially under the serous membranes, the pleura and peritoneum.

The embryos and larvæ of species of Cylicostomum are found in the mucosa of the large intestine.

Aneurisms impede the circulation of the blood, and may give rise to intermittent lameness. The aneurism may rupture, since it constitutes a weak place in the wall of the blood vessel, and the horse die of the resulting hemorrhage. Particles of blood clots in the aneurisms may break off and plug a blood vessel at the point where they lodge, thereby causing the death of the part from which the blood is shut off and occasioning a type of colic which often terminates fatally. The larvæ of Cylicostomum form cysts in the walls of the large intestine, and when these open they give rise to small sores; when they are numerous they cause a thickening and hardening which impair the proper functioning of the intestine. Abscesses sometimes perforate, causing death. The adult worm attacks the intestinal wall, causing bleeding which results in anemia. The numerous small sores thus caused allow bacteria to get into the circulation, sometimes resulting in localized abscesses or in septic arthritis or joint disease.



1. Bots in the stomach.
2. Bots in the duodenum.

[Pg 93]The disease due to these worms is quite common. The worms enter the body as immature forms in the spring, when the animal is turned out on pasture. The first symptoms show in November or December, the disease being in a latent stage during the development of the worms. The first symptoms are diarrhea, loss of appetite, and emaciation. The animal becomes anemic. Secondary symptoms are edema and such complications as joint infection, colic due to embolism, and accidents from falls, hemorrhage from ruptured aneurisms, or perforation at the site of abscess. The animal may die, recover, or become a chronic sufferer, the internal injuries failing to make a satisfactory recovery even with the removal of the worms in chronic cases.

Treatment calls for the expulsion of the adult worms from the intestine, the development of the body resistance to repair the damage wrought by the developing worms, and the combating of complications. For the expulsion of the worms the use of carbon bisulphid in gelatin capsules, 2 to 5 grams, according to the size of the patient, for five days, followed by magnesium sulphate the sixth day, has been recommended. Owing to the difficulty and danger in the administration of carbon bisulphid in capsule, it is advisable to call in a veterinarian. Tonic treatment consists in the subcutaneous administration of artificial serum and caffein. The various complications of bacterial infection, colic, heart depression, etc., call for the attention of a veterinarian. Preventive measures consist in avoiding reinfection with worms so far as possible by using dry upland pasture in preference to low, wet land, and by rotating pastures or rotation of the stock on a given pasture. Horses may be alternated with cattle, sheep, or hogs to advantage, so far as parasites are concerned. Another feature, always of importance, is the provision of a pure, potable drinking water.

Bots (Gastrophilus spp.).—Bots (Pl. VI) are quite common in the stomach and upper part of the small intestine of the horse anywhere in the United States, one kind being occasionally found in the rectum. They attach to that portion of the mucous lining of the stomach nearest the esophagus or sometimes around the pyloric opening to the intestine or even in the upper intestine, and undoubtedly interfere with the proper functioning of the stomach and the health of the animal to a certain extent. The symptoms are rather vague as a rule, but the general result is a condition of unthriftiness.

A treatment which has been found effective consists in feeding lightly on the day preceding treatment, withholding food in the evening and giving an ounce of Barbados aloes or a pint of linseed[Pg 94] oil. The next day give 3 drams of carbon bisulphid in a gelatin capsule at 6 o'clock, repeat the dose at 7 o'clock, and again at 8 o'clock, making a total of 9 drams altogether for an adult horse; half that amount will be sufficient for a yearling colt. As previously noted, there is some little difficulty and danger of accident in the administration of treatments of this character and it is advisable to call in a veterinarian.

Unless destroyed by treatment, the bots in the stomach of the horse pass out in the manure in the spring and burrow down into the soil an inch or two. Here they undergo a certain amount of development and finally emerge as adult flies. These bot flies mate and during the summer the eggs are deposited by the female on the forelegs and shoulders or around the chin, mouth and nostrils of the horse, the location and appearance of the eggs varying somewhat with different species of bot flies. These eggs or the young maggots escaping from them are ingested by the horse in licking the portions irritated by the movement of the escaping maggots, and when swallowed develop to form bots in the stomach. Careful currying, especially around the forequarters, is an aid in keeping down bot infestation, but this is not commonly feasible with horses on pasture, the ones most liable to become infested.

[Pg 95]


By W. S. Harbaugh, V. S.

[Revised by Leonard Pearson, B. S., V. M. D.]

The organs pertaining to the respiratory function may be enumerated in natural order as follows: The nasal openings, or nostrils; the nasal chambers, through which the air passes in the head; the sinuses in the head, communicating with the nasal chambers; the pharynx, common to the functions of breathing and swallowing; the larynx, at the top of the windpipe; the trachea, or windpipe; the bronchi (into which the windpipe divides), two tubes leading from the windpipe to the right and left lungs, respectively; the bronchial tubes, which penetrate and convey air to all parts of the lungs; the lungs.

The pleura is a thin membrane that envelops the lung and lines the walls of the thoracic cavity. The diaphragm is a muscular structure, completely separating the contents of the thoracic cavity from those of the abdominal cavity. It is essentially a muscle of inspiration, and the principal one. Other muscles aid in the mechanism of respiration, but the diseases or injuries of them have nothing to do with the diseases under consideration.

Just within the nasal openings the skin becomes gradually but perceptibly finer, until it is succeeded by the mucous membrane. Near the junction of the skin and membrane is a small hole, presenting the appearance of having been made with a punch; this is the opening of the lachrymal duct, a canal that conveys the tears from the eyes. Within and above the nasal openings are the cavities, or fissures, called the false nostrils. The nasal chambers are completely separated, the right from the left, by a cartilaginous partition, the nasal septum. Each nasal chamber is divided into three continuous compartments by two thin, scroll-like turbinated bones.

The mucous membrane lining the nasal chambers, and, in fact, the entire respiratory tract, is much more delicate and more frequently diseased that the mucous membrane of any other part of the body. The sinuses of the head are compartments which communicate with the nasal chambers and are lined with a continuation of the same membrane that lines the nasal chambers; their presence increases the volume and modifies the form of the head without increasing its weight.

The horse, in a normal condition, breathes exclusively through the nostrils. The organs of respiration are quite liable to become diseased,[Pg 96] and, as many of the causes which lead to these attacks can be avoided, it is both important and profitable to know and study the causes.


The causes of many of the diseases of these organs may be given under a common head, because even a simple cold, if neglected or badly treated, may run into the most complicated lung disease and terminate fatally. In the spring and fall, when the animals are changing their coats, there is a marked predisposition to contract disease, and consequently at those periods care should be taken to prevent other exciting causes.

Badly ventilated stables are a frequent source of disease. It is a mistake to think that country stables necessarily have purer air than city stables. Stables on some farms are so faultily constructed that it is almost impossible for the foul air to gain an exit. All stables should have a sufficient supply of pure air, and be so arranged that strong drafts can not blow directly on the animals. In ventilating a stable, it is best to arrange to remove air from near the floor and admit it through numerous small openings near the ceiling. The reason for this is that the coldest and most impure air in the stable is near the floor, while that which is warmest and purest, and therefore can least be spared, is near the top of the room. In summer, top exits and cross currents should be provided to remove excessive heat. Hot stables are almost always poorly ventilated, and the hot stable is a cause of disease on account of the extreme change of temperature that a horse is liable to when taken out, and extreme changes of temperature are to be avoided as certain causes of disease.

A cold, close stable is invariably damp, and is to be avoided as much as the hot, close, and foul one. Horses changed from a cold to a warm stable are more liable to contract cold than when changed from a warm to a cold one. Pure air is more essential than warmth, and this fact should be especially remembered when the stable is made close and foul to gain the warmth. It is more economical to keep the horse warm with blankets than to prevent the ingress of pure air in order to make the stable warm.

Stables should be well drained and kept clean. Some farmers allow large quantities of manure to accumulate in the stable. This is a pernicious practice, as the decomposing organic matter evolves gases that are predisposing or exciting causes of disease. When a horse is overheated, it is not safe to allow him to dry by evaporation; rubbing him dry and gradually cooling him out is the wisest treatment. When a horse is hot—covered with sweat—it is dangerous to allow him to stand in a draft; it is the best plan to walk him until his[Pg 97] temperature moderates. In such cases a light blanket thrown over the animal may prevent a cold. Overwork or overexertion often causes the greater number of fatal cases of congestion of the lungs. Avoid prolonged or fast work when the horse is out of condition or unaccustomed to it. Animals that have been working in cold rains should be dried and cooled out and not left to dry by evaporation. When the temperature of the weather is at the extreme, either of heat or cold, diseases of the organs of respiration are most frequent.

It is not to be supposed that farmers can give their horses the particular attention given to valuable racing and pleasure horses, but they can most assuredly give them common-sense care, and this may often save the life of a valuable animal. If the owner properly considers his interests, he will study the welfare of his horses so that he may be able to instruct the servant in details of stable management.


Wounds in this neighborhood are common, and are generally caused by snagging on a nail or splinter or by the bite of another horse; or by getting "run into," or by running against something. Occasionally the nostril is so badly torn and lacerated that it is impossible to effect a cure without leaving the animal blemished for life, but in the majority of instances the blemish, or scar, is the result of want of conservative treatment. As soon as possible after the accident the parts should be brought together and held there by stitches. If too much time is allowed to elapse, the swelling of the parts will considerably interfere. Never cut away any skin that may be loose and hanging, or else a scar will certainly remain. Bring the parts in direct apposition and place the stitches from a quarter to a half-inch apart, as circumstances may demand. It is not necessary to have special surgeons' silk and needles for this operation; good linen thread or ordinary silk thread will answer. The wound afterwards only requires to be kept clean. For this purpose it should be cleansed and discharges washed away daily with a solution made of carbolic acid 1 part in 40 parts of water. If on account of the irritability the horse is inclined to rub the wound against some object, his head should be tied by means of two halter ropes attached to the opposite sides of the stall to prevent him from opening the wound. Except when at work or eating, the head should be so tied about 10 days.


A small, globular tumor is sometimes found within the false nostril, under that part of the skin that is seen to puff or rise and fall when a horse is exerted and breathing hard. These tumors contain matter of a cheesy consistency.[Pg 98]

Treatment.—If the tumor is well opened and the matter squeezed out, nature will perform a cure. If the opening is made from the outside through the skin, it should be at the most dependent part, but much the best way to open the tumor is from the inside. Quiet the animal, gently insert your finger up in the direction of the tumor, and you will soon discover that it is much larger inside than it appears to be on the outside. If necessary put a twitch on the ear of the horse to quiet him; run the index finger of your left hand against the tumor; now, with the right hand, carefully insert the knife by running the back of the blade along the index finger of the left hand until the tumor is reached; with the left index finger guide the point of the blade quickly and surely into the tumor; make the opening large. A little blood may flow for a while, but it is of no consequence. Squeeze out the matter and keep the part clean.


Catarrh is an inflammation of a mucous membrane. It is accompanied with excessive secretion. In nasal catarrh the inflammation may extend from the membrane lining the nose to the throat, the inside of the sinuses, and to the eyes. The causes are the general causes of respiratory disease enumerated above. It is especially common in young horses and in horses not acclimated.

Symptoms.—The membrane at the beginning of the attack is dry, congested, and irritable; it is of a deeper hue than natural, pinkish red or red. Soon a watery discharge from the nostrils makes its appearance; the eyes may also be more or less affected and tears flow over the cheeks. The animal has some fever, which may be easily detected by means of a clinical thermometer inserted in the rectum or, roughly, by placing the finger in the mouth, as the feeling of heat conveyed to the finger will be greater than natural.

To become somewhat expert in ascertaining the changes of temperature in the horse it is only necessary to place the finger often in the mouths of horses known to be healthy. After you have become accustomed to the warmth of the mouth of the healthy animal you will have no difficulty in detecting a marked increase of the temperature. The animal may be dull; he sneezes or snorts, but does not cough unless the throat is affected; he expels the air forcibly through his nostrils, very often in a manner that may be aptly called "blowing his nose." A few days after the attack begins the discharge from the nostrils changes from a watery to that of a thick, mucilaginous state, of a yellowish-white color, and may be more or less profuse. Often the appetite is lost and the animal becomes debilitated.

Treatment.—This disease is not serious, but inasmuch as neglect or bad treatment may cause it to lead to something worse or become chronic it should receive proper attention. The animal should not[Pg 99] be worked for a time. A few days of rest, with pure air and good feed, will be of greater benefit than most medication. The value of pure air can not be overestimated, but drafts must be avoided. The benefit derived from the inhalation of steam is considerable. This is effected by holding the horse's head over a bucketful of boiling water, so that the animal will be compelled to inhale steam with every inhalation of air. Stirring the hot water with a wisp of hay causes the steam to arise in greater abundance. One may cause the horse to put his nose in a bag containing cut hay upon which hot water has been poured, the bottom of the bag being stood in a bucket, but the bag must be of loose texture, as gunny sack, or, if of canvas, holes must be cut in the side to admit fresh air.

The horse may be made to inhale steam four or five times a day, about 15 or 20 minutes each time.

Particular attention should be paid to the diet. Give bran mashes, scalded oats, linseed gruel, and grass, if in season. If the horse evinces no desire for this soft diet, it is better to allow any kind of feed he will eat, such as hay, oats, corn, etc., than to keep him on short rations.

If the animal is constipated, relieve this symptom by injections (enemas) of warm water into the rectum three or four times a day, but do not administer purgative medicines, except of a mild character.

For simple cases the foregoing is all that is required, but if the appetite is lost and the animal appears debilitated and dull, give 3 ounces of the solution of acetate of ammonia and 2 drams of powdered chlorate of potassium diluted with a pint of water three times a day as a drench. Be careful when giving the drench; do not pound the horse on the gullet to make him swallow; be patient, and take time, and do it right.

If the weather is cold, blanket the animal and keep him in a comfortable stall. If the throat is sore, treat as advised for that ailment, to be described hereafter.

If, after 10 days or 2 weeks, the discharge from the nostrils continues, give one-half dram of reduced iron three times a day. This may be mixed with damp feed. Common cold should be thoroughly understood and intelligently treated in order to prevent more dangerous diseases.


This is a subacute or chronic inflammation of some part of the membrane affected in common cold, the disease just described. It is manifested by a persistent discharge of a thick white or yellowish-white matter from one or both nostrils. The commonest cause is a neglected or badly treated cold, and it usually follows those cases[Pg 100] where the horse has suffered exposure, been overworked, or has not received proper feed, and, as a consequence, has become debilitated. It may occur as a sequel to influenza.

Other but less frequent causes for this affection are: Fractures of the bones that involve the membrane of the sinuses, and even blows on the head over the sinuses. Diseased teeth often involve a sinus and cause a fetid discharge from the nostril. Violent coughing is said to have forced particles of feed into the sinus, which acted as a cause of the disease. Tumors growing in the sinuses are known to have caused it. It is also attributed to disease of the turbinated bones. Absorption of the bones forming the walls of the sinuses has been caused by the pressure of pus collecting in them and by tumors filling up the cavity.

Symptoms.—Great caution must be exercised when examining these cases, for the horse may have glanders, while, on the other hand, horses have been condemned as glandered when really there was nothing ailing them but nasal gleet. This is not contagious, but may stubbornly resist treatment and last for a long time. In most cases the discharge is from one nostril only, which may signify that the sinuses on that side of the head are affected. The discharge may be intermittent; that is, quantities may be discharged at times and again little or none for a day or so. Such an intermittent discharge usually signifies disease of the sinuses. The glands under and between the bones of the lower jaw may be enlarged. The peculiar ragged-edged ulcer of glanders is not to be found on the membrane within the nostrils, but occasionally sores are to be seen there. If there is any doubt about it, the symptoms of glanders should be well studied in order that one may be competent to form a safe opinion.

The eye on the side of the discharging nostril may have a peculiar appearance and look smaller than its fellow. There may be an enlargement, having the appearance of a bulging out of the bone over the part affected, between or below the eyes. The breath may be offensive, which indicates decomposition of the matter or bones or disease of the teeth. A diseased tooth is further indicated by the horse holding his head to one side when eating, or by dropping the feed from the mouth after partly chewing it. When the bones between the eyes, below the eyes, and above the back teeth of the upper jaw are tapped on, a hollow, drumlike sound is emitted, but if the sinus is filled with pus or contains a large tumor the sound emitted will be the same as if a solid substance were struck; by this means the sinus affected may be located in some instances. The hair may be rough over the affected part, or even the bone may be soft to the touch and the part give somewhat to pressure or leave an impression where it is pressed upon with the finger.[Pg 101]

Treatment.—The cause of the trouble must be ascertained before treatment is commenced. In the many cases in which the animal is in poor condition (in fact, in all cases) he should have the most nutritive feed and regular exercise. The feed, or box containing it, should be placed on the ground, as the dependent position of the head favors the discharge.

The cases that do not require a surgical operation must, as a rule, have persistent medical treatment. Mineral tonics and local medication are of the most value. For eight days give the following mixture: Reduced iron, 3 ounces; powdered nux vomica, 1 ounce. Mix and make into 16 powders; one powder should be mixed with the feed twice a day. Arsenious acid (white arsenic) in doses of from 3 to 6 grains three times daily is a good tonic for such cases. Sulphur burnt in the stable while the animal is there to inhale its fumes is also a valuable adjunct. Care should be taken that the fumes of the burning sulphur are sufficiently diluted with air so as not to suffocate the horse. Chlorid of lime sprinkled around the stall is good. Also keep a quantity of it under the hay in the manger so that the gases will be inhaled as the horse holds his head over the hay while eating. Keep the nostrils washed and the discharge cleaned away from the manger and stall. The horse may be caused to inhale the vapor of compound tincture of benzoin by pouring 2 ounces of this drug into hot water and fumigating in the usual way.

If the nasal gleet is the result of a diseased tooth, the latter must be removed. Trephining is the best possible way to remove it in such cases, as the operation immediately opens the cavity, which can be attended to direct. In all those cases of nasal gleet in which sinuses contain either tumors or collections of pus the only relief is by the trephine; and, no matter how thoroughly described, this is an operation that will be seldom attempted by the nonprofessional. It would therefore be a waste of time to give the modus operandi.

An abscess involving the turbinated bones is similar to the collection of pus in the sinuses and must be relieved by trephining.


This is sometimes denoted by a chronic discharge, a snuffling in the breathing, and a contraction of the nostril. It is a result of common cold and requires the same treatment as prescribed for nasal gleet, namely, the sulphate of iron, sulphate of copper, iodid of potassium, etc. The membranes of both sides may be affected, but one side only is the rule; the affected side may be easily detected by holding the hand tightly over one nostril at a time. When the healthy side is closed in this manner the breathing through the affected side will demonstrate a decreased caliber or an obstruction.[Pg 102]


Tumors with narrow bases (somewhat pear-shaped) are occasionally found attached to the membrane of the nasal chambers, and are obstructions to breathing through the side in which they are located. They vary much in size; some are so small that their presence is not manifested, while others almost completely fill the chamber, thereby causing a serious obstruction to the passage of air. The stem, or base, of the tumor is generally attached high in the chamber, and usually the tumor can not be seen, but occasionally it increases in size until it can be observed within the nostril. Sometimes, instead of hanging down toward the nasal opening, it falls back into the pharynx. It causes a discharge from the nostril, a more or less noisy snuffling sound in breathing, according to its size, a discharge of blood (if it is injured), and sneezing. The side that it occupies can be detected in the same way as described for the detection of the affected side when the breathing is obstructed by a thickened membrane.

The only relief is removal of the polypus, which, like all other operations, should be done by an expert when it is possible to obtain one. The operation is performed by grasping the base of the tumor with suitable forceps and twisting it round and round until it is torn from its attachment, or by cutting it off with a noose of wire. The resulting hemorrhage is checked by the use of an astringent lotion, such as a solution of the tincture of iron, or by packing the nostrils with surgeon's gauze.


This is exactly the same kind of tumor described as nasal polypus, the only difference being in the situation. Indeed, the stem of the tumor may be attached to the membrane of the nasal chamber, as before explained, or it may be attached in the fauces (opening of the back part of the mouth), and the body of the tumor then falls into the pharynx. In this situation it may seriously interfere with breathing. Sometimes it drops into the larynx, causing the most alarming symptoms. The animal coughs, or tries to cough, saliva flows from the mouth, the breathing is performed with the greatest difficulty and accompanied with a loud noise; the animal appears as if strangled and often falls exhausted. When the tumor is coughed out of the larynx the animal regains quickly and soon appears as if nothing were ailing. These sudden attacks and quick recoveries point to the nature of the trouble. The examination must be made by holding the animal's mouth open with a balling iron or speculum and running the hand back into the mouth. If the tumor is within reach, it must be removed in the same manner as though it were in the nose.[Pg 103]


This often occurs during the course of certain diseases, namely, influenza, bronchitis, purpura hemorrhagica, glanders, etc. But it also occurs independently of other affections and, as before mentioned, is a symptom of polypus, or tumor, in the nose.

Injuries to the head, exertion, violent sneezing—causing a rupture of a small blood vessel—also induce it. The bleeding is almost invariably from one nostril only, and is never very serious. The blood escapes in drops (seldom in a stream) and is not frothy, as when the hemorrhage is from the lungs. (See Bleeding from the lungs, p. 127.) In most cases bathing the head and washing out the nostril with cold water are all that is necessary. If the cause is known, you will be guided according to circumstances. If the bleeding continues, pour ice-cold water over the face, between the eyes and down over the nasal chambers. A bag containing ice in small pieces applied to the head is often efficient. If in spite of these measures the hemorrhage continues, plugging the nostrils with cotton, tow, or oakum, should be tried. A string should be tied around the plug before it is pushed up into the nostril, so that it can be safely withdrawn after 4 or 5 hours. If both nostrils are bleeding, only one nostril at a time should be plugged. If the hemorrhage is profuse and persistent, a drench composed of 1 dram of acetate of lead dissolved in 1 pint of water, or ergot, 1 ounce, should be given.


As already stated, the pharynx is common to the functions of both respiration and alimentation. From this organ the air passes into the larynx and thence onward to the lungs. In the posterior part of the pharynx is the superior extremity of the gullet, the canal through which the feed and water pass to the stomach. Inflammation of the pharynx is a complication of other diseases—namely, influenza, strangles, etc.—and is probably always more or less complicated with inflammation of the larynx. That it may exist as an independent affection there is no reason to doubt, and it is discussed as such with the diseases of the digestive tract.


The larynx is situated in the space between the lower jawbones just back of the root of the tongue. It may be considered as a box (somewhat depressed on each side), composed principally of cartilages and small muscles, and lined on the inside with a continuation of the respiratory mucous membrane. Posteriorly it opens into and is continuous with the windpipe. It is the organ of the voice, the vocal cords being situated within it; but in the horse this function is of[Pg 104] little consequence. It dilates and contracts to a certain extent, thus regulating the volume of air passing through it. The mucous membrane lining it internally is so highly sensitive that if the smallest particle of feed happens to drop into it from the pharynx violent coughing ensues instantly and is continued until the source of irritation is ejected. This is a provision of nature to prevent foreign substances gaining access to the lungs. That projection called Adam's apple in the neck of man is the prominent part of one of the cartilages forming the larynx.

Inflammation of the larynx is a serious and sometimes fatal disease, and, as before stated, is usually complicated with inflammation of the pharynx, constituting what is popularly known as "sore throat." The chief causes are chilling and exposure.

Symptoms.—About the first symptom noticed is cough, followed by difficulty in swallowing, which may be due to soreness of the membrane of the pharynx, over which the feed or water must pass, or from the pain caused by the contraction of the muscles necessary to impel the feed or water onward to the gullet; or this same contraction of the muscles may cause a pressure on the larynx and produce pain. In many instances the difficulty in swallowing is so great that water, and in some cases feed, is returned through the nose. This, however, does not occur in laryngitis alone, but only when the pharynx is involved in the inflammation. The glands between the lower jawbones and below the ears may be swollen. Pressure on the larynx induces coughing. The head is more or less "poked out," and has the appearance of being stiffly carried. The membrane in the nose becomes red. A discharge from the nostrils soon appears. As the disease advances, the breathing may assume a more or less noisy character; sometimes a harsh, rasping snore is emitted with every respiration, the breathing becomes hurried, and occasionally the animal seems threatened with suffocation.

Treatment.—In all cases steam the nostrils, as has been advised for cold in the head. In bad cases cause the steam to be inhaled continuously for hours—until relief is afforded. Have a bucketful of fresh boiling water every fifteen or twenty minutes. In each bucketful of water put a tablespoonful of oil of turpentine, or compound tincture of benzoin, the vapor of which will be carried along with the steam to the affected parts and have a beneficial effect. In mild cases steaming the nostrils five, six, or seven times a day will suffice.

The animal should be placed in a comfortable, dry stall (a box stall preferred), and should have pure air to breathe. The body should be blanketed, and bandages applied to the legs. The diet should consist of soft feed—bran mashes, scalded oats, linseed gruel, and, best of all, fresh grass, if in season. The manger, or trough, should neither be too high nor too low, but a temporary one should be constructed[Pg 105] at about the height he carries his head. Having to reach too high or too low may cause so much pain that the animal would rather forego satisfying what little appetite he may have than inflict pain by craning his head for feed or water. A supply of fresh water should be before him all the time; he will not drink too much, nor will the cold water hurt him. Constipation (if present) must be relieved by enemas of warm water, administered three or four times during the twenty-four hours.

A liniment composed of 2 ounces of olive oil and 1 each of solution of ammonia and tincture of cantharides, well shaken together, may be thoroughly rubbed in about the throat from ear to ear, and about 6 inches down over the windpipe, and in the space between the lower jaws. This liniment should be applied once a day for two or three days.

If the animal is breathing with great difficulty, persevere in steaming the nostrils, and dissolve 2 drams of chlorate of potassium in every gallon of water he will drink; even if he can not swallow much of it, and even if it is returned through the nostrils, it will be of some benefit to the pharynx as a gargle.

An electuary of acetate of potash, 2 drams, honey, and licorice powder may be spread on the teeth with a paddle every few hours. If the pain of coughing is great, 2 or 3 grains of morphin may be added to the electuary.

When the breathing begins to be loud, relief is afforded in some cases by giving a drench composed of 2 drams of fluid extract of jaborandi in half a pint of water. If benefit is derived, this drench may be repeated four or five hours after the first dose is given. It will cause a free flow of saliva from the mouth.

In urgent cases, when suffocation seems inevitable, the operation of tracheotomy must be performed. To describe this operation in words that would make it comprehensible to the general reader is a more difficult task than performing the operation, which, in the hands of the expert, is simple and attended with little danger.

The operator should be provided with a tracheotomy tube (to be purchased from any veterinary instrument maker) and a sharp knife, a sponge, and a bucket of clean cold water. The place to be selected for opening the windpipe is that part which is found, upon examination, to be least covered with muscles, about 5 or 6 inches below the throat. Right here, then, is the place to cut through. Have an assistant hold the animal's head still. Grasp your knife firmly in the right hand, select the spot and make the cut from above to below directly on the median line on the anterior surface of the windpipe. Make the cut about 2 inches long in the windpipe; this necessitates cutting three or four rings. One bold stroke is usually sufficient, but if it is necessary to make several other cuts to finish the operation, do[Pg 106] not hesitate. Your purpose is to make a hole in the windpipe sufficiently large to admit the tracheotomy tube. It is quickly manifested when the windpipe is severed; the hot air rushes out, and when air is taken in it is sucked in with a noise. A slight hemorrhage may result (it never amounts to much), which is easily controlled by washing the wound with a sponge and cold water, but use care not to get any water in the windpipe. Do not neglect to instruct your assistant to hold the head down immediately after the operation, so that the neck will be in a horizontal line. This will prevent the blood from getting into the windpipe and will allow it to drop directly on the ground. If you have the self-adjustable tube, it retains its place in the wound without further trouble after it is inserted. The other kind requires to be secured in position by means of two tapes or strings tied around the neck. After the hemorrhage is somewhat abated, sponge the blood away and see that the tube is thoroughly clean, then insert it, directing the tube downward toward the lungs.

The immediate relief this operation affords is gratifying to behold. The animal, a few minutes before on the verge of death from suffocation, emitting a loud wheezing sound with every breath, with haggard countenance, body swaying, pawing, gasping, fighting for breath, now breathes tranquilly, and may be in search of something to eat.

The tube should be removed once a day and cleaned with carbolic-acid solution (1 to 20), and the discharge washed away from the wound with a solution of carbolic acid, 1 part to 40 parts water. Several times a day the hand should be held over the opening in the tube to test the animal's ability to breathe through the nostrils, and as soon as it is demonstrated that breathing can be performed in the natural way the tube should be removed, the wound thoroughly cleansed with carbolic-acid solution (1 to 40), and closed by inserting four or five stitches through the skin and muscle. Do not include the cartilages of the windpipe in the stitches. Apply the solution to the wound three or four times a day until healed. When the tube is removed to clean it the lips of the wound may be pressed together to ascertain whether or not the horse can breathe through the larynx. The use of the tube should be discontinued as soon as possible.

It is true that tracheotomy tubes are seldom to be found on farms, and especially when most urgently required. In such instances there is nothing left to be done but, with a strong needle, pass a waxed end or other strong string through each side of the wound, including the cartilage of the windpipe, and keep the wound open by tying the strings over the neck.

During the time the tube is used the other treatment advised must not be neglected. After a few days the discharge from the nostrils[Pg 107] becomes thicker and more profuse. This is a good symptom and signifies that the acute stage has passed. At any time during the attack, if the horse becomes weak, give whisky or aromatic spirits of ammonia, 2 ounces in water. Do not be in a hurry to put the animal back to work, but give plenty of time for a complete recovery. Gentle and gradually increasing exercise may be given as soon as the horse is able to stand it. The feed should be carefully selected and of good quality. Tonics, as iron or arsenic, may be employed.

If abscesses form in connection with the disease they must be opened to allow the escape of pus, but do not rashly plunge a knife into swollen glands; wait until you are certain the swelling contains pus. The formation of pus may be encouraged by the constant application of poultices for hours at a time. The best poultice for the purpose is made of linseed meal, with sufficient hot water to make a thick paste. If the glands remain swollen for some time after the attack, rub well over them an application of the following: Biniodid of mercury, 1 dram; lard, 1 ounce; mix well. This may be applied once every day until the part is blistered.

Sore throat is also a symptom of other diseases, such as influenza, strangles, purpura hemorrhagica, etc., which diseases may be consulted under their proper headings.

After a severe attack of inflammation of the larynx the mucous membrane may be left in a thickened condition, or an ulceration of the part may ensue, either of which is liable to produce a chronic cough. For the ulceration it is useless to prescribe, because it can neither be diagnosed nor topically treated by the nonprofessional.

If a chronic cough remains after all the other symptoms have disappeared, it is advisable to give 1 dram of iodid of potassium dissolved in a bucketful of drinking water, one hour before feeding, three times a day for a month if necessary. Also rub in well the preparation of iodid of mercury (as advised for the swollen glands) about the throat, from ear to ear, and in the space between the lower jawbones. The application may be repeated every third day until the part is blistered.


The symptoms are as follows: Sudden seizure by a violent fit of coughing; the horse may reel and fall, and after a few minutes recover and be as well as ever. The treatment recommended is this: Three drams of bromid of potassium three times a day, dissolved in the drinking water, or give as a drench in about a half pint of water for a week. Then give 1 dram of powdered nux vomica (either on the food or shaken with water as a drench) once a day for a few weeks.[Pg 108]


Neither of these diseases affects the horse, but these names are sometimes wrongly applied to severe laryngitis or pharyngitis, or to forage poisoning, in which the throat is paralyzed and becomes excessively inflamed and gangrenous.


Horses that are affected with chronic disease that causes a loud, unnatural noise in breathing are said to have thick wind, or to be roarers. This class does not include those affected with severe sore throat, as in these cases the breathing is noisy only during the attack of the acute disease.

Thick wind is caused by an obstruction to the free passage of the air in some part of the respiratory tract. Nasal polypi, thickening of the membrane, pharyngeal polypi, deformed bones, paralysis of the wing of the nostril, etc., are occasional causes. The noisy breathing of horses after having been idle and put to sudden exertion is not due to any disease and is only temporary. Very often a nervous, excitable horse will make a noise for a short time when started off, generally caused by the cramped position in which the head and neck are forced in order to hold him back.

Many other causes may occasion temporary, intermittent, or permanent noisy respiration, but chronic roaring is caused by paralysis of the muscles of the larynx; and almost invariably it is the muscles of the left side of the larynx that are affected.

In chronic roaring the noise is made when the air is drawn into the lungs; only when the disease is far advanced is a sound produced when the air is expelled, and even then it is not nearly so loud as during inspiration.

In a normal condition the muscles dilate the aperture of the larynx by moving the cartilage and vocal cord outward, allowing a sufficient volume of air to rush through. But when the muscles are paralyzed the cartilage and vocal cord that are normally controlled by the affected muscles lean into the tube of the larynx, so that when the air rushes in it meets this obstruction and the noise is produced. When the air is expelled from the lungs its very force pushes the cartilage and vocal cords out, and consequently noise is not produced in the expiratory act.

The paralysis of the muscles is due to derangement of the nerve that supplies them with energy. The muscles of both sides are not supplied by the same nerve; there is a right and a left nerve, each supplying its respective side. The reason why the muscles on the left side are the ones usually paralyzed is owing to the difference in the anatomical arrangement of the nerves. The left nerve is much longer and more exposed to interference than the right nerve.[Pg 109]

In chronic roaring there is no evidence of any disease of the larynx other than the wasted condition of the muscles in question. The disease of the nerve is generally far from the larynx. Disease of parts contiguous to the nerve along any part of its course may interfere with its proper function. Enlargement of lymphatic glands within the chest through which the nerve passes on its way back to the larynx is the most frequent interruption of nervous supply, and consequently roaring. When roaring becomes confirmed, medical treatment is entirely useless, as it is impossible to restore the wasted muscle and at the same time remove the cause of the interruption of the nervous supply. Before roaring becomes permanent the condition may be benefited by a course of iodid of potassium, if caused by disease of the lymphatic glands. Electricity has been used with indifferent success. Blistering or firing over the larynx is, of course, not worthy of trial if the disease is due to interference of the nerve supply. The administration of strychnia (nux vomica) on the ground that it is a nerve tonic with the view of stimulating the affected muscles is treating only the result of the disease without considering the cause, and is therefore useless. The operation of extirpating the collapsed cartilage and vocal cord is believed to be the only relief, and, as this operation is critical and can be performed only by the skillful veterinarian, it will not be described here.

From the foregoing description of the disease it will be seen that the name "roaring," by which the disease is generally known, is only a symptom and not the disease. Chronic roaring is also in many cases accompanied with a cough. The best way to test whether a horse is a "roarer" is either to make him pull a load rapidly up a hill or over a sandy road or soft ground; or, if he is a saddle horse, gallop him up a hill or over soft ground. The object is to make him exert himself. Some horses require a great deal more exertion than others before the characteristic sound is emitted. The greater the distance he is forced, the more he will appear exhausted if he is a roarer; in bad cases the animal becomes utterly exhausted, the breathing is rapid and difficult, the nostrils dilate to the fullest extent, and the animal appears as if suffocation was imminent.

An animal that is a roarer should not be used for breeding purposes. The taint is transmissible in many instances.

Grunting.—A common test used by veterinarians when examining "the wind" of a horse is to see if he is a "grunter." This is a sound emitted during expiration when the animal is suddenly moved, or startled, or struck at. If he grunts he is further tested for roaring. Grunters are not always roarers, but, as it is a common thing for a roarer to grunt, such an animal must be looked upon with suspicion until he is thoroughly tried by pulling a load or galloped up a hill. The test should be a severe one. Horses suffering with pleurisy,[Pg 110] pleurodynia, or rheumatism, and other affections accompanied with much pain, will grunt when moved, or when the pain is aggravated, but grunting under these circumstances does not justify the term of "grunter" being applied to the horse, as the grunting ceases when the animal recovers from the disease that causes the pain.

High blowing.—This term is applied to a noisy breathing made by some horses. It is distinctly a nasal sound, and must not be confounded with "roaring." The sound is produced by the action of the nostrils. It is a habit and not an unsoundness. Contrary to roaring, when the animal is put to severe exertion the sound ceases. An animal that emits this sound is called a "high blower." Some horses have naturally very narrow nasal openings, and they may emit sounds louder than usual in their breathing when exercised.

Whistling is only one of the variations of the sound emitted by a horse called a "roarer," and therefore needs no further notice, except to remind the reader that a whistling sound may be produced during an attack of severe sore throat or inflammation of the larynx, which passes away with the disease that causes it.


This may be due to the same causes as acute bronchitis or it may follow the latter disease. An attack of the chronic form is liable to be converted into acute bronchitis by a very slight cause. This chronic affection in most instances is associated with thickening of the walls of the tubes. Its course is slower, it is less severe, and is not accompanied with so much fever as the acute form. If the animal is exerted, the breathing becomes quickened and he soon shows signs of exhaustion. In many instances the animal keeps up strength and appearances moderately well, but in other cases the appetite is lost, flesh gradually disappears, and he becomes emaciated and debilitated. It is accompanied with a persistent cough, which in some cases is husky, smothered, or muffled, while in others it is hard and clear. A whitish matter, which may be curdled, is discharged from the nose. If the ear is placed against the chest behind the shoulder blade, the rattle of the air passing through the mucus can be heard within.

Treatment.—Rest is necessary, as even under the most favorable circumstances a cure is difficult to effect. The animal can not stand exertion and should not be compelled to undergo it. It should have much the same general care and medical treatment prescribed for the acute form. Arsenious acid in tonic doses (3 to 7 grains) three times daily may be given. As arsenic is irritant, it must be mixed with a considerable bulk of moist feed and never given alone. Arsenic may be given in the form of Fowler's solution, 1 ounce three times daily in the drinking water. An application of mustard applied[Pg 111] to the breast is a beneficial adjunct. The diet should be the most nourishing. Bulky feed should not be given. Linseed mashes, scalded oats, and, if in season, grass and green-blade fodder are the best diet.


The lungs (see Pl. VII) are the essential organs of respiration. They consist of two (right and left) spongy masses, commonly called the "lights," situated entirely within the thoracic cavity. On account of the space taken up by the heart, the left lung is the smaller. Externally, they are completely covered by the pleura. The structure of the lung consists of a light, soft, but very strong and remarkably elastic tissue, which can be torn only with difficulty. Each lung is divided into a certain number of lobes, which are subdivided into numberless lobules (little lobes). A little bronchial tube terminates in every one of these lobules. The little tube then divides into minute branches which open into the air cells (pulmonary vesicles) of the lungs. The air cells are little sacs having a diameter varying from one-seventieth to one two-hundredth of an inch; they have but one opening, the communication with the branches of the little bronchial tubes. Small blood vessels ramify in the walls of the air cells. The air cells are the consummation of the intricate structures forming the respiratory apparatus. They are of prime importance, all the rest being complementary. It is here that the exchange of gases takes place. As before stated, the walls of the cells are very thin; so, also, are the walls of the blood vessels. Through these walls escapes from the blood the carbonic acid gas that has been absorbed by the blood in its circulation through the different parts of the body; through these walls also the oxygen gas, which is the life-giving element of the atmosphere, is absorbed by the blood from the air in the air cells.


Congestion is essentially an excess of blood in the vessels of the parts affected. Congestion of the lungs in the horse, when it exists as an independent affection, is generally caused by overexertion when the animal is not in a fit condition to undergo more than moderate exercise. Very often what is recognized as congestion of the lungs is but a symptom of exhaustion or dilatation of the heart.

The methods practiced by the trainers of running and trotting horses will give an idea of what is termed "putting a horse in condition" to stand severe exertion. The animal at first gets walking exercises, then after some time he is made to go faster and farther each day; the amount of work is daily increased until he is said to be "in condition." An animal so prepared runs no risk of being[Pg 112] affected with congestion of the lungs, if he is otherwise healthy. On the other hand, if the horse is kept in the stable for the purpose of laying on fat or for want of something to do, the muscular system becomes soft, and the horse is not in condition to stand the severe exertion of going fast or far, no matter how healthy he may be in other respects. If such a horse be given a hard ride or drive, he may start off in high spirits, but soon becomes exhausted, and if he is pushed he will slacken his pace, show a desire to stop, and may stagger or even fall. Examination will show the nostrils dilated, the flanks heaving, the countenance haggard, and the appearance of suffocation. The heart and muscles were not accustomed to the sudden and severe strain put upon them; the heart became unable to perform its work; the blood accumulated in the vessels of the lungs, which eventually became engorged with the stagnated blood, constituting congestion of the lungs.

The animal, after having undergone severe exertion, may not exhibit alarming symptoms until returned to the stable; then he will be noticed standing with his head down, legs spread out, the eyes wildly staring or dull and sunken. The breathing is very rapid and almost gasping; in most cases the body is covered with perspiration, which, however, may soon evaporate, leaving the surface of the body and the legs and ears cold; the breathing is both abdominal and thoracic; the chest rises and falls and the flanks are powerfully brought into action. If the pulse can be felt at all it will be found beating very frequently, one hundred or so to a minute. The heart may be felt tumultuously thumping if the hand is placed against the chest behind the left elbow, or it may be scarcely perceptible. The animal may tremble all over. If the ear is placed against the side of the chest a loud murmur will be heard and perhaps a fine, crackling sound.

One can scarcely fail to recognize a case of congestion of the lungs when brought on by overexertion, as the history of the case indicates the nature of the ailment. In all cases of suffocation the lungs are congested. It is also seen in connection with other diseases.

Treatment.—If the animal is attacked by the disease while on the road, stop him immediately. Do not attempt to return to the stables. If he is in the stable, make arrangements at once to insure an unlimited supply of pure air. If the weather is warm, out in the open air is the best place, but if too cold let him stand with head to the door. Let him stand still; he has all he can do, if he obtains sufficient pure air to sustain life. If he is encumbered with harness or saddle, remove it at once and rub the body with cloths or wisps of hay or straw. This stimulates the circulation in the skin, and thus aids in relieving the lungs of the extra quantity of blood that is stagnated there. If you have three or four assistants, let them rub the body and legs well until the skin feels natural; rub the legs until they are warm, if possible. When the circulation is reestablished, put bandages on the legs from the hoofs up as far as possible. Throw a blanket over the body and let the rubbing be done under the blanket. Diffusible stimulants are the medicines indicated—brandy, whisky (or even ale or beer if nothing else is at hand), ether, and aromatic spirits of ammonia. A drench of 2 ounces each of spirits of nitrous ether and alcohol, diluted with a pint of water, every hour until relief is afforded, is among the best remedies. Or, give a quarter of a pint of whisky in a pint of water every hour, or the same quantity of brandy as often, or a quart of ale every hour, or 1 ounce of tincture of arnica in a pint of water every hour until five or six doses have been given. If none of these remedies are at hand, 2 ounces of oil of turpentine, shaken with a half pint of milk, may be given once, but not repeated. The animal may be bled from the jugular vein. Do not take more than 5 or 6 quarts from the vein, and do not repeat the bleeding. The blood thus drawn will have a tarry appearance.


[Pg 113]When the alarming symptoms have subsided active measures may be stopped, but care must be used in the general treatment of the animal for several days, for it must be remembered that congestion may be followed by pneumonia. The animal should have a comfortable stall, where he will not be subjected to drafts or sudden changes of temperature; he should be blanketed and the legs kept bandaged. The air should be pure, a plentiful supply of fresh, cold water always in the stall; and a diet composed principally of bran mashes, scalded oats, and, if in season, grass. When ready for use again the horse should at first receive only moderate exercise, which may be daily increased until he may safely be put to regular work.


Pneumonia is inflammation of the lungs. The chief varieties of pneumonia are catarrhal—later discussed in connection with bronchitis, under the name of broncho-pneumonia—and the fibrinous or croupous variety. The latter form receives its names from the fact that the air spaces are choked with coagulated fibrin thrown out from the blood. This causes the diseased portions of the lungs to become as firm as liver, in which condition they are said to be hepatized. As air is excluded by the inflammatory product, the diseased lung will not float in water.

The inflammation usually begins in the lower part of the lung and extends upward. The first stage of the disease consists of congestion, or engorgement, of the blood vessels, followed by leakage of serum containing fibrin from the blood vessels into the air passages.[Pg 114] The fluids thus escaping into the air cells and in the minute branches of the little bronchial tubes become coagulated.

The pleura covering the affected parts may be more or less inflamed. A continuance of the foregoing phenomena is marked by a further escape of the constituents of the blood, and a change in the membrane of the cells, which becomes swollen. The exudate that fills the air cells and minute bronchial branches undergoes disintegration and softening when healing commences.

The favorable termination of pneumonia is in resolution that is, a restoration to health. This is gradually brought about by the exuded material contained in the air cells and lung tissues being broken down and softened and absorbed or expectorated through the nostrils. The blood vessels return to their natural state, and the blood circulates in them as before. In the cases that do not terminate so happily the lung may become gangrenous (or mortified), an abscess may form, or the disease may be merged into the chronic variety.

Pneumonia may be directly induced by any of the influences named as general causes for diseases of the organs of respiration, but in many instances it is from neglect. A common cold or sore throat may be followed by pneumonia if neglected or improperly treated. An animal may be debilitated by a cold, and when in this weakened state may be compelled to undergo exertion beyond his strength; or he may be kept in a badly ventilated stable, where the foul gases are shut in and the pure air is shut out; or the stable may be so open that parts of the body are exposed to drafts of cold air. An animal is predisposed to pneumonia when debilitated by any constitutional disease, and especially during convalescence if exposed to any of the exciting causes. Foreign bodies, such as feed accidentally getting into the lungs by way of the windpipe, as well as the inhalation of irritating gases and smoke, ofttimes produce fatal attacks of inflammation of the lung and bronchial tubes. Pneumonia is frequently seen in connection with other diseases, such as influenza, purpura hemorrhagica, strangles, glanders, etc. Pneumonia and pleurisy are most common during cold, damp weather, and especially during the prevalence of the cold north or northeasterly winds. Wounds puncturing the thoracic cavity may cause pneumonia.

Symptoms.—Pneumonia, when a primary disease, is ushered in by a chill, more or less prolonged, which in many cases is seen neither by the owner nor the attendant, but is overlooked. The breathing becomes accelerated, and the animal hangs its head and has a very dull appearance. The mouth is hot and has a sticky feeling to the touch; the heat conveyed to the finger in the mouth demonstrates a fever; if the thermometer is placed in the rectum the temperature will be found to have risen to 103° F. or higher. The pulse is frequent,[Pg 115] beating from fifty or sixty to eighty or more a minute. There is usually a dry cough from the beginning, which, however, changes in character as the disease advances; for instance, it may become moist, or if pleurisy sets in, the cough will be peculiar to the latter affection; that is, cut short in the endeavor to suppress it. In some cases the discharge from the nostrils is tinged with blood, while in other cases it has the appearance of muco-pus. The appetite is lost to a greater or less extent, but the desire for water is increased, particularly during the onset of the fever. The membrane within the nostrils is red and at first dry, but sooner or later becomes moist. The legs are cold. The bowels are more or less constipated, and what dung is passed is usually covered with a slimy mucus. The urine is passed in smaller quantities than usual and is of a darker color.

The animal prefers to have the head where the freshest air can be obtained. When affected with pneumonia a horse does not lie down, but persists in standing from the beginning of the attack. If pneumonia is complicated with pleurisy, however, the horse may appear restless and lie down for a few moments to gain relief from the pleuritic pains, but he soon rises. In pneumonia the breathing is rapid and difficult, but when the pneumonia is complicated with pleurisy the ribs are kept as still as possible and the breathing is abdominal; that is, the abdominal muscles are now made to do as much of the work as they can perform. If pleurisy is not present there is little pain. To the ordinary observer the animal may not appear dangerously ill, as he does not show the seriousness of the ailment by violence, as in colic, but a careful observer will discover at a glance that the trouble is something more serious than a cold. By percussion it will be shown that some portions of the chest are less resonant than in health, indicating exclusion of air. If the air is wholly excluded the percussion is quite dull, like that elicited by percussion over the thigh.

By auscultation important information may be gained. When the ear is placed against the chest of a healthy horse, the respiratory murmur is heard more or less distinctly, according to the part of the chest that is beneath the ear. In the very first stage of pneumonia this murmur is louder and hoarser; also, there is a fine, crackling sound something similar to that produced when salt is thrown in a fire. After the affected part becomes solid there is an absence of sound over that particular part. After absorption begins one may again hear sounds that are of a more or less moist character and resemble bubbling or gurgling, which gradually change until the natural sound is heard announcing return to health.

When a fatal termination is approaching all the symptoms become intensified. The breathing becomes still more rapid and difficult; the flanks heave; the animal stares wildly about as if seeking[Pg 116] aid to drive off the feeling of suffocation; the body is bathed with sweat; the horse staggers, but quickly recovers his balance; he may now, for the first time during the attack, lie down; he does so, however, in the hope of relief, which he fails to find, and with difficulty struggles to his feet; he pants; the nostrils flap; he staggers and sways from side to side and backward and forward, but still tries to retain the standing position, even by propping himself against the stall. It is no use, as after an exhausting fight for breath he goes down; the limbs stretch out and become rigid. In fatal cases death usually occurs in from 10 to 20 days after the beginning of the attack. On the other hand, when the disease is terminating favorably the signs are obvious. The fever abates and the animal gradually improves in appetite; he takes more notice of things around him; his spirits improve; he has a general appearance of returning health, and he lies down and rests. In the majority of cases pneumonia, if properly treated, terminates in recovery.

Treatment.—The comfort and surroundings of the patient must be attended to first. The quarters should be the best that can be provided. Pure air is essential. Avoid placing the animal in a stall where he may be exposed to drafts of cold air and sudden changes of temperature. It is much better for the animal if the air is cold and pure than if it is warm and foul. It is better to make the animal comfortable with warm clothing than to make the stable warm by shutting off the ventilation. From the start the animal should have an unlimited supply of fresh, cold drinking water. Blanket the body. Rub the legs until they are warm and then put bandages on them from the hoofs up to the knees and hocks. If warmth can not be reestablished in the legs by hand rubbing alone, apply dry, ground mustard and rub well in. The bandages should be removed once or twice every day, the legs well rubbed, and the bandages replaced. Much harm is often done by clipping off hair and rubbing in powerful blistering compounds. They do positive injury and retard recovery, and should not be allowed. Much benefit may be derived from hot application to the sides of the chest if the facilities are at hand to apply them. If the weather is not too cold, and if the animal is in a comfortable stable, the following method may be tried: Have a tub of hot water handy to the stable door; soak a woolen blanket in the water, then quickly wring as much water as possible out of it and wrap it around the chest. See that it fits closely to the skin; do not allow it to sag so that air may get between it and the skin. Now wrap a dry blanket over the wet hot one and hold in place with three girths. The hot blanket should be renewed every half hour, and while it is off being wetted and wrung the dry one should remain over the wet part of the chest to prevent reaction. The hot applications should be kept up for three or four hours, and when stopped the skin should be[Pg 117] quickly rubbed as dry as possible, an application of alcohol rubbed over the wet part, and a dry blanket snugly fitted over the animal. If the hot applications appear to benefit, they may be tried on three or four consecutive days. Unless every facility and circumstance favors the application of heat in the foregoing manner, it should not be attempted. If the weather is very cold or any of the details are omitted, more harm than good may result. Mustard may be applied by making a paste with a pound of freshly ground mustard mixed with warm water. This is to be spread evenly over the sides back of the shoulder blades and down to the median line below the chest. Care should be taken to avoid rubbing the mustard upon the thin skin immediately back of the elbow. The mustard-covered area should be covered with a paper and this with a blanket passed up from below and fastened over the back. The blanket and paper should be removed in from one to two hours. When pneumonia follows another disease, the system is always more of less debilitated and requires the careful use of stimulants from the beginning. To weaken the animal still further by bleeding him is one of the most effectual methods of retarding recovery, even if it does not hasten a fatal termination.

Another and oftentimes fatal mistake made by the nonprofessional is the indiscriminate and reckless use of aconite. This drug is one of the most active poisons, and should not be handled by anyone who does not thoroughly understand its action and uses. It is only less active than prussic acid in its poisonous effects. It is a common opinion, often expressed by nonprofessionals, that aconite is a stimulant. Nothing could be more erroneous; in fact, it is just the reverse. It is one of the most powerful sedatives used in the practice of medicine. In fatal doses it kills by paralyzing the very muscles used in breathing; it weakens the action of the heart, and should not be used. Do not give purgative medicines. If constipation exists, overcome it by an allowance of laxative diet, such as scalded oats, bran, and linseed mashes; also, grass, if in season. If the costiveness is not relieved by the laxative diet, give an enema of about a quart of warm water three or four times a day.

A diet consisting principally of bran mashes, scalded oats, and, when in season, grass or corn fodder is preferable if the animal retains an appetite; but if no desire is evinced for feed of this particular description, then the animal must be allowed to eat anything that will be taken spontaneously. Hay tea, made by pouring boiling water over good hay in a large bucket and allowing it to stand until cool, then straining off the liquid, will sometimes create a desire for feed. The animal may be allowed to drink as much of it as he desires. Corn on the cob is often eaten when everything else is refused. Bread may be tried; also apples or carrots. If the animal[Pg 118] can be persuaded to drink milk, it may be supported by it for days. Three or four gallons of sweet milk may be given during the day, in which may be stirred three or four fresh eggs to each gallon. Some horses will drink milk, while others will refuse to touch it. It should be borne in mind that all feed must be taken by the horse as he desires it; none should be forced down him. If he will not eat, you will only have to wait until a desire is shown for feed. All kinds may be offered, first one thing and then another, but feed should not be allowed to remain long in trough or manger; the very fact of its constantly being before him will cause him to loathe it. When the animal has no appetite for anything the stomach is not in a proper state to digest food, and if it is poured or drenched into him it will only cause indigestion and aggravate the case. It is a good practice to do nothing when there is nothing to be done that will benefit. This refers to medicine as well as feed. Nothing is well done that is overdone.

There are many valuable medicines used for the different stages and different types of pneumonia, but in the opinion of the writer it is useless to refer to them here, as this work is intended for the use of those who are not sufficiently acquainted with the disease to recognize its various types and stages; therefore they would only confuse. If you can administer a ball or capsule, or have anyone at hand who is capable of doing it, a dram of sulphate of quinin in a capsule, or made into a ball, with sufficient linseed meal and molasses, given every three hours during the height of the fever, will do good in many cases. The ball of carbonate of ammonia, as advised in the treatment of bronchitis, may be tried if the animal is hard to drench. The heart should be kept strong by administering digitalis in doses of 2 drams of the tincture every three hours, or strychnia 1 grain, made into a pill with licorice powder, three times daily.

If the horse becomes very much debilitated, stimulants of a more pronounced character are required. The following drench is useful: Rectified spirits, 3 ounces; spirits of nitrous ether, 2 ounces; water, 1 pint. This may be repeated every four or five hours if it seems to benefit; or 6 ounces of good whisky diluted with a pint of water may be given as often, instead of the foregoing.

During the period of convalescence good nutritive feed should be allowed in a moderate quantity. Tonic medicines should be substituted for those used during the fever. The same medicines advised for the convalescing period of bronchitis are equally efficient in this case, especially the iodid of potash; likewise, the same general instructions apply here.

The chief causes of death in pneumonia are heart failure from exhaustion, suffocation, or blood poisoning from death (gangrene) of lung tissue. The greater the area of lung tissue diseased the greater[Pg 119] the danger; hence double pneumonia is more fatal than pneumonia of one lung.


The windpipe, or trachea as it is technically called, is the flexible tube that extends from, the larynx, which it succeeds at the throat, to above the base of the heart in the chest, where it terminates by dividing into the right and left bronchi—the tubes going to the right and left lung, respectively. The windpipe is composed of about fifty incomplete rings of cartilage united by ligaments. A muscular layer is situated on the superior surface of the rings. Internally the tube is lined with a continuation of the mucous membrane that lines the entire respiratory tract, which here has very little sensibility in contrast to that lining the larynx, which is endowed with exquisite sensitiveness.

The windpipe is not subject to any special disease, but is more or less affected during laryngitis (sore throat), influenza, bronchitis, etc., and requires no special treatment. The membrane may be left in a thickened condition after these attacks. One or more of the rings may be accidentally fractured, or the tube may be distorted or malformed as the result of violent injury. After the operation of tracheotomy it is not uncommon to find a tumor or malformation as a result, or sequel, of the operation. In passing over this section attention is merely called to these defects, as they require no particular attention in the way of treatment. It may be stated, however, that any one of the before-mentioned conditions may constitute one of the causes of noisy respiration described as "thick wind."


These two sacs are situated above the throat, and communicate with the pharynx, as well as with the cavity of the tympanum of the ear. They are peculiar to solipeds. Normally, they contain air. Their function is unknown.

One or both guttural pouches may contain pus. The symptoms are as follows: Swelling on the side below the ear and an intermittent discharge of matter from one or both nostrils, especially when the head is depressed.

The swelling is soft, and, if pressed upon, matter will escape from the nose if the head is depressed. As before mentioned, these pouches communicate with the pharynx, and through this small opening matter may escape. A recovery is probable if the animal is turned out to graze, or if he is fed from the ground, as the dependent position of the head favors the escape of matter from the pouches. In addition to this, give the tonics recommended for nasal gleet. If this treatment fails, an operation must be performed, which should not be attempted by any one unacquainted with the anatomy of the part.[Pg 120]


Bronchitis is an inflammation of the bronchial tubes. When this inflammation extends to the air sacs at the termini of the smallest branches of the bronchial tubes, the disease is broncho-pneumonia. Bronchitis affecting the larger tubes is less serious than when the smaller are involved. The disease may be either acute or chronic. The causes are generally much the same as for other diseases of the respiratory organs, noticed in the beginning of this article. The special causes are these: The inhalation of irritating gases and smoke and fluids or solids gaining access to the parts. Bronchitis is occasionally associated with influenza and other specific fevers. It also supervenes on common cold or sore throat.

Symptoms.—The animal appears dull; the appetite is partially or wholly lost; the head hangs; the breathing is quickened; the cough, at first dry, and having somewhat the character of a "barking cough," is succeeded in a few days by a moist, rattling cough; the mouth is hot; the visible membranes in the nose are red; the pulse is frequent, and during the first stage is hard and quick, but as the disease advances becomes smaller and more frequent. There is a discharge from the nostrils that is at first whitish, but later becomes creamy or frothy, still later it is sometimes tinged with blood, and occasionally it may be of a brownish or rusty color. By auscultation, or placing the ear to the sides of the chest, unnatural sounds can now be heard. The air passing through the diseased tubes causes a wheezing sound when the small tubes are affected, and a hoarse, cooing, or snoring sound when the larger tubes are involved. After one or two days the dry stage of the disease is succeeded by a moist state of the membrane. The ear now detects a different sounds caused by the bursting of the bubbles as the air passes through the fluid, which is the exudate of inflammation and the augmented mucous secretions of the membrane. The mucus may be secreted in great abundance, which, by blocking up the tubes, may cause a collapse of a large extent of breathing surface. Usually the mucus is expectorated; that is, discharged through the nose. The matter is coughed up, and when it reaches the larynx much of it may be swallowed, and some is discharged from the nostrils. The horse can not spit, like the human being, nor does the matter coughed up gain access to the mouth. If in serious cases all the symptoms become aggravated, the breathing is labored, short, and quick, it usually indicates that the inflammation has reached the breathing cells and that catarrhal pneumonia is established. In this case the ribs rise and fall much more than natural. This fact alone is enough to exclude the idea that the animal may be affected with pleurisy, because in that disease the ribs are as nearly fixed as it is in the power of the[Pg 121] animal to do so, and the breathing is accomplished to a great extent by aid of the abdominal muscles. The horse persists in standing throughout the attack. He prefers to stand with head to a door or window to gain all the fresh air possible, but if not tied may occasionally wander listlessly about the stall. The bowels most likely are constipated; the dung is covered with slimy mucus. The urine is decreased in quantity and darker in color than usual. The animal shows more or less thirst; in some cases the mouth is full of saliva. The discharge from the nose increases in quantity as the disease advances and inflammation subsides. This is rather a good symptom, as it shows that one stage has passed. The discharge then gradually decreases, the cough becomes less rasping, but of more frequent occurrence, until it gradually disappears with the return of health.

Bronchitis, affecting the smaller tubes, is one of the most fatal diseases, while that of the larger tubes is never very serious. It must be stated, however, that it is an exceedingly difficult matter for a nonexpert to discriminate between the two forms, and, further, it may as well be said here that he will have difficulty in discriminating between bronchitis and pneumonia.

Treatment.—The matter of first importance is to insure pure air to breathe, and next to make the patient's quarters as comfortable as possible. A well-ventilated box stall serves best for all purposes. Cover the body with a blanket, light or heavy, as the season of the year demands. Hand-rub the legs until they are warm, then wrap them in cotton and apply flannel or Derby bandages from the hoofs to the knees and hocks. If the legs can not be made warm with hand rubbing alone, apply dry mustard. Rub in thoroughly and then put the bandages on; also rub mustard paste well over the side of the chest, covering the space beginning immediately behind the shoulder blade and running back about eighteen inches, and from the median line beneath the breast to within ten inches of the ridge of the backbone. Repeat the application to the side of the chest about three days after the first one is applied.

Compel the animal to inhale steam from a bucketful of boiling water containing a tablespoonful of oil of turpentine and spirits of camphor, as advised for cold in the head. In serious cases the steam should be inhaled every hour, and in any case the oftener it is done the greater will be the beneficial results. Three times a day administer an electuary containing acetate of potash (2 drams), with licorice and molasses or honey. It is well to keep a bucketful of cold water before the animal all the time. If the horse is prostrated and has no appetite, give the following drench: Spirits of nitrous ether,[Pg 122] 2 ounces; rectified spirits, 3 ounces; water, 1 pint. Repeat the dose every four or five hours if it appears to benefit. When the horse is hard to drench, give the following: Pulverized carbonate of ammonia, 3 drams; linseed meal and molasses sufficient to make the whole into a stiff mass; wrap it with a small piece of tissue paper and give as a ball. This ball may be repeated every four or five hours. When giving the ball care should be taken to prevent its breaking in the mouth, as in case of such accident it will make the mouth sore and prevent the animal from eating. If the bowels are constipated, give enemas of warm water. Do not give purgative medicines. Do not bleed the animal.

If the animal retains an appetite, a soft diet is preferable, such as scalded oats, bran mashes, and grass, if in season. If he refuses cooked feed, allow in small quantities anything he will eat. Hay, cob corn, oats, bread, apples, and carrots may be tried in turn. Some horses will drink sweet milk when they refuse all other kinds of feed, and especially is this the case if the drinking water is withheld for a while. One or 2 gallons at a time, four or five times a day, will support life. Bear in mind that when the disease is established recovery can not occur in less than two or three weeks, and more time may be necessary. Good nursing and patience are required.

When the symptoms have abated and nothing remains of the disease except the cough and a white discharge from the nostrils, all other medicines should be discontinued and a course of tonic treatment pursued. Give the following mixture: Reduced iron, 3 ounces; powdered gentian, 8 ounces; mix well together and divide into sixteen powders. Give a powder every night and morning mixed with bran and oats, if the animal will eat it, or shaken with about a pint of flaxseed tea and administered as a drench.

If the cough remains after the horse is apparently well, give 1 dram of iodid of potassium dissolved in a bucketful of drinking water one hour before each meal for two or three weeks if necessary. Do not put the animal to work too soon after recovery. Allow ample time to regain strength. This disease is prone to become chronic and may run into an incurable case of thick wind.


The thoracic cavity is divided into two lateral compartments, each containing one lung and a part of the heart. Each lung has its separate pleural membrane, or covering. The pleura is the thin, glistening membrane that covers the lung and also completely covers the internal walls of the chest. It is very thin, and to the ordinary observer appears to be part of the lung, which, in fact, it is for all[Pg 123] practical purposes. The smooth, shiny surface of the lung, as well as the smooth, shiny surface so familiar on the rib, is the pleura. In health this surface is always moist. A fluid is thrown off by the pleura, which causes the surface to be constantly moist. This is to prevent the effects of friction between the lungs and the walls of the chest and other contiguous parts which come in contact. It must be remembered that the lungs are dilating each time a breath is taken in, and contracting each time a breath of air is expelled. It may be readily seen that if it were not for the moistened state of the surface of the pleura the continual dilatation and contraction and the consequent rubbing of the parts against each other would cause serious friction.

Inflammation of this membrane is called pleurisy. Being so closely united with the lung, it can not always escape participation in the disease when the latter is inflamed. Pleurisy may be due to the same predisposing and exciting causes as mentioned in the beginning of this work as general causes for diseases of the organs of respiration, such as exposure to sudden changes of temperature, confinement in damp stables, etc. It may be caused also by wounds that penetrate the chest, for it must be remembered that such wounds must necessarily pierce the pleura. A fractured rib may involve the pleura. The inflammation following such wounds may be circumscribed; that is, confined to a small area surrounding the wound, or it may spread from the wound and involve a large portion of the pleura. The pleura may be involved secondarily when the heart or its membrane is the primary seat of the disease. It may occur in conjunction with bronchitis, influenza, and other diseases. Diseased growths that interfere with the pleura may induce pleurisy. The most frequent cause of pleurisy is an extension of inflammation from adjacent diseased lung. It is a common complication of pneumonia. Pleurisy will be described here as an independent affection, although it should be remembered that it is very often associated with the foregoing diseases.

The first lesion of pleurisy is overfilling of the blood vessels that ramify in this membrane and dryness of the surface. This is followed by the formation of a coating of coagulated fibrin on the diseased pleura and the transudation of serum which collects in the chest. This serum may contain flakes of fibrin and it may be straw colored or red from an admixture of blood. The quantity of this accumulation may amount to several gallons.

Symptoms.—When the disease exists as an independent affection it is ushered in by a chill, but this is usually overlooked. About the first thing noticed is the disinclination of the animal to move or turn around. When made to do so he grunts or groans with pain. He stands stiff; the ribs are fixed—that is, they move very little in the[Pg 124] act of breathing—but the abdomen works more than natural; both the fore feet and elbows may be turned out; during the onset of the attack the animal may be restless and act as if he had a slight colic; he may even lie down, but does not remain long down, for when he finds no relief he soon gets up. After effusion begins these signs of restlessness disappear. Every movement of the chest causes pain; therefore the cough is peculiar; it is short and suppressed and comes as near being no cough as the animal can make it in his desire to suppress it. The breathing is hurried, the mouth is hot, the temperature being elevated from 102° or 103° to 105° F. Symptoms that usually accompany fever are present, such as costiveness, scanty, dark-colored urine, etc. The pulse is frequent, perhaps 70 or more a minute, and is hard and wiry. The legs and ears are cold.

Percussion is of valuable service in this affection. After effusion occurs the sound produced by percussing over the lower part of the chest is dull. By striking different parts one may come to a spot of greater or less extent where the blows cause much pain to be evinced. The animal may grunt or groan every time it is struck. Another method of detecting the affected part is to press the fingers between the ribs, each space in succession, beginning behind the elbow, until a place where the pressure causes more flinching than at any other part is reached. Auscultation is also useful. In the first stage, when the surfaces are dry and rough, one may hear, immediately under the ear, a distinct sound very much like that produced by rubbing two pieces of coarse paper together. No such friction sound occurs when the membrane is healthy, as the natural moisture, heretofore mentioned, prevents the friction. In many cases this friction is so pronounced that it may be felt by placing the hand over the affected part. When the dry stage is succeeded by the exudation of fluid this friction sound disappears. After the effusion into the cavity takes place sometimes there is heard a tinkling or metallic sound, due to dropping of the exudate from above into the collected fluid in the bottom of the cavity, as the collected fluid more of less separates the lung from the chest walls.

Within two or three days the urgent symptoms may abate owing to the exudation of the fluid, and the subsidence of the pain. The fluid may now undergo absorption, and the case may terminate favorably within a week or 10 days.

If the quantity of the effusion is large its own volume retards the process of absorption to a great extent, and consequently convalescence is delayed. In severe cases the pulse becomes more frequent, the breathing more hurried and labored, the flanks work like bellows, the nostrils flap, the eyes stare wildly, the countenance expresses much anxiety, and general signs of dissolution are plain. After a[Pg 125] time swellings appear under the chest and abdomen and down the legs. The accumulation in the chest is called hydrothorax, or dropsy of the chest. When this fluid contains pus the case usually proves fatal. The condition of pus within the cavity is called empyema.

Pleurisy may affect only a small area of one side or it may affect both sides. It is oftener confined to the right side.

Treatment.—The instructions in regard to the general management of bronchitis and pneumonia must be adhered to in the treatment of pleurisy. Comfortable quarters, pure air, warm clothing to the body and bandages to the legs, a plentiful supply of pure cold water, the laxative feed, etc., in this case are equally necessary and efficacious. The hot applications applied to the chest, as directed in the treatment of pneumonia, are very beneficial in pleurisy, and should be kept up while the symptoms show the animal to be in pain.

During the first few days, when pain is manifested by restlessness, apply hot packs to the sides diligently. After four or five days, when the symptoms show that the acute stage has somewhat subsided, mustard may be applied as recommended for pneumonia. From the beginning the following drench may be given every six hours, if the horse takes it kindly: Solution of the acetate of ammonia, 3 ounces; spirits of nitrous ether, 1 ounce; bicarbonate of potassium, 3 drams; water, 1 pint.

If the patient becomes debilitated, the stimulants as prescribed for pneumonia should be used according to the same directions. The same attention should be given to the diet. If the animal will partake of the bran mashes, scalded oats, and grass, it is the best; but if he refuses the laxative diet, then he should be tried with different kinds of feed and allowed whichever kind he desires.

In the beginning of the attack, if the pain is severe, causing the animal to lie down or paw, morphin may be given by the mouth in 5-grain doses, or the fluid extract of Cannabis indica may be used in doses of 2 to 4 drams.

If the case is not progressing favorable in ten or twelve days after the beginning of the attack, convalescence is delayed by the fluid in the chest failing to be absorbed. The animal becomes dull and weak and evinces little or no desire for feed. The breathing becomes still more rapid and difficult. An effort must now be made to excite the absorption of the effusion. An application of liniment or mild blister should be rubbed over the lower part of both sides and the bottom of the chest. The following drench may be given three times a day, for seven or eight days, if it is necessary and appears to benefit: Tincture of the perchlorid of iron, 1 ounce; tincture of gentian, 2 ounces; water, 1 pint. Also give 1 dram of iodid of potassium, dissolved in the drinking water, an hour before feeding every night and morning for a week or two.[Pg 126]

Hydrothorax is sometimes difficult to overcome by means of the use of medicines alone, when the operation of tapping the chest is performed to allow an escape for the accumulated fluid. The operation is performed with a combined instrument called the trocar and cannula. The puncture is made in the lower part of the chest, in the space between the eighth and ninth ribs. Wounding of the intercostal artery is avoided by inserting the instrument as near as possible to the anterior edge of the rib. If the operation is of benefit, it is only so when performed before the strength is lowered beyond recovery. The operation merely receives a passing notice here, as it is not presumed that the nonprofessional will attempt it, although in the hands of the expert it is attended with little danger or difficulty.

We have described here bronchitis, pneumonia, and pleurisy mainly as they occur as independent diseases, but it should be remembered that they merge into each other and may occur together at one time. While it is true that much more might have been said in regard to the different stages and types of the affections, and also in regard to the treatment of each stage and each particular type, the plan adopted of advising plain, conservative treatment is considered the wisest on account of simplifying as much as possible a subject of which the reader is supposed to know very little.


This is the state in which an animal is affected with pleurisy and pneumonia combined, which is not infrequently the case. At the beginning of the attack only one of the affections may be present, but the other soon follows. It has already been stated that the pleura is closely adherent to the lung. The pleura on this account is frequently more or less affected by the spreading of the inflammation from the lung tissue. There is a combination of the symptoms of both diseases, but to the ordinary observer the symptoms of pleurisy are the most obvious. The course of treatment to be pursued differs in no manner from that given for the affections when they occur independently. The symptoms will be the guide as to the advisability of giving oil and laudanum for the pain if the pleurisy is very severe. It should not be resorted to unless it is necessary to allay the pain.


This is the term or terms applied when bronchitis, pleurisy, and pneumonia all exist at once. It is impossible for one who is not an expert to diagnose the state with certainty. The apparent symptoms are the same as when the animal is affected with pleuropneumonia.[Pg 127]


There are instances, and especially when the surroundings of the patient have been bad or the disease is of an especially severe type, when pneumonia terminates in an abscess in the lung. Sometimes, when the inflammation has been extreme, suppuration in a large portion of the lung takes place. Impure air, the result of improper ventilation, is among the most frequent causes of this termination. The symptoms of suppuration in the lung are chronic pneumonia, a solidified area of lung tissue, continued low fever, and, in some cases, offensive smell of the breath, and the discharge of the matter from the nostrils.


Gangrene, or mortification, means the death of the part affected. Occasionally, owing to the intensity of the inflammation or bad treatment, pneumonia and pleuropneumonia terminate in mortification, which is soon followed by the death of the animal. Perhaps the most common cause of this complication is the presence of a foreign body in the lung, as food particles or medicine. Rough drenching or drenching through the nostrils may cause this serious condition.


Bleeding from the lungs may occur during the course of congestion of the lungs, bronchitis, pneumonia, influenza, purpura hemorrhagica, or glanders. An accident or exertion may cause a rupture of a vessel. Plethora and hypertrophy of the heart predispose to it. Following the rupture of a vessel the blood may escape into the lung tissue and cause a serious attack of pneumonia, or it may fill up the bronchial tubes and prove fatal by suffocating the animal. When the hemorrhage is from the lung it is accompanied with coughing; the blood is frothy, of a bright red color, and comes from both nostrils; whereas when the bleeding is merely from a rupture of a vessel in some part of the head (heretofore described as bleeding from the nose) the blood is most likely to issue from one nostril only, and the discharge is not accompanied with coughing. The ear may be placed against the windpipe along its course, and if the blood is from the lungs a gurgling or rattling sound will be heard. When it occurs in connection with another disease it seldom requires special treatment. When caused by accident or overexertion the animal should be kept quiet. If the hemorrhage is profuse and continues for several hours, 1 dram of the acetate of lead dissolved in a pint of water may be given as a drench, or 1 ounce of the tincture of the perchlorid of iron, diluted with a pint of water, may be given instead of the lead. It is rare[Pg 128] that the hemorrhage is so profuse as to require internal remedies. But hemorrhage into the lung may occur and cause death by suffocation without the least manifestation of it by the discharge of blood from the nose.


Pulmonary consumption or tuberculosis has been recognized in the horse in a number of instances. The symptoms are as of chronic pneumonia or pleurisy. There is no treatment for the disease.


Much confusion exists in the popular mind in regard to the nature of heaves. Many horsemen loosely apply the term to all ailments where the breathing is difficult or noisy. Scientific veterinarians are well acquainted with the phenomena and locality of the affection, but there is a great diversity of opinion as regards the exact cause. Asthma is generally thought to be caused by spasm of the small circular muscles that surround the bronchial tubes. The continued existence of this affection of the muscles leads to a paralysis of them, and the forced breathing to emphysema, which always accompanies heaves.

Heaves is usually associated with disorder of the function of digestion or to an error in the choice of feed. Feeding on clover hay or damaged hay or straw, too bulky and innutritious feed, and keeping the horse in a dusty atmosphere or a badly ventilated stable produce or predispose to heaves. Horses brought from a high to a low level are predisposed.

In itself broken wind is not a fatal disease, but death is generally caused by an affection closely connected with it. After death, if the organs are examined, the lesions found depend much upon the length of time broken wind has affected the animal. In recent cases very few changes are noticeable, but in animals that have been broken-winded for a long time the changes are well-marked. The lungs are paler than natural, and of much less weight in proportion to the volume, as evidenced by floating them in water. The walls of the small bronchial tubes and the membrane of the larger tubes are thickened. The right side of the heart is enlarged and its cavities dilated. The stomach is enlarged and its walls stretched. The important change found in the lungs is a condition technically called pulmonary emphysema. This is of two varieties: First, what is termed "vesicular emphysema," which consists of an enlargement of the capacity of the air cells (air vesicles) by dilation of their walls. The second form is called interlobular, or interstitial, emphysema, and follows the[Pg 129] first. In this variety the air finds its way into the lung tissue between the air cells or the tissue between the small lobules.

Symptoms.—Almost every experienced horseman is able to detect heaves. The peculiar movement of the flanks and abdomen point out the ailment at once. In recent cases, however, the affected animal does not always exhibit the characteristic breathing unless exerted to a certain extent. The cough which accompanies this disease is peculiar to it. It is difficult to describe, but the sound is short and something like a grunt. When air is inspired—that is, taken in—it appears to be done in the same manner as in health; it may possibly be done a little quicker than natural, but not enough to attract any notice. It is when the act of expiration (or expelling the air from the lungs) is performed that the great change in the breathing is perceptible. It must be remembered that the lungs have lost much of their elasticity, and in consequence of their power of contracting on account of the degeneration of the walls of the air cells, and also on account of the paralysis of muscular tissue before mentioned. The air passes into them freely, but the power to expel it is lost to a great extent by the lungs; therefore the abdominal muscles are brought into play. These muscles, especially in the region of the flank, are seen to contract, then pause for a moment, then complete the act of contracting, thus making a double bellowslike movement at each expiration, a sort of jerky motion with every breath. The double expiratory movement may also be detected by allowing the that the expiratory current is not continuous, but is broken into two jets. When the animal is exerted a wheezing noise accompanies the breathing. This noise may be heard to a less extent when the animal is at rest if the ear is applied to the chest.

As before remarked, indigestion is often present in these cases. The animal may have a depraved appetite, as shown by a desire to eat dirt and soiled bedding, which he often devours in preference to the clean feed in the trough or manger. The stomach is liable to be overloaded with indigestible feed. The abdomen may assume that form called "potbellied." The animal frequently passes wind of a very offensive odor. When first put to work dung is passed frequently; the bowels are often loose. The animal can not stand much work, as the muscular system is soft. Round-chested horses are said to be predisposed to the disease, and it is certain that in cases of long standing the chest usually becomes rounder than natural.

Certain individuals become very expert in managing a horse affected with heaves in suppressing the symptoms for a short time. They take advantage of the fact that the breathing is much easier when the stomach and intestines are empty. They also resort to the[Pg 130] use of medicines that have a depressing effect. When the veterinarian is examining a horse for soundness, and he suspects that the animal has been "fixed," he usually gives the horse as much water as he will drink and then has him ridden or driven rapidly up a hill or on a heavy road. This will bring out the characteristic breathing of heaves if the horse is so afflicted, but will not cause the symptoms of heaves in a healthy horse. All broken-winded horses have the cough peculiar to the affection, but it is not regular. A considerable time may elapse before it is heard and then it may come on in paroxysms, especially when first brought out of the stable into the cold air, or when excited by work, or after a drink of cold water. The cough is usually the first symptom of the disease.

Treatment.—When the disease is established there is no cure for it. Proper attention paid to the diet will relieve the distressing symptoms to a certain extent, but they will undoubtedly reappear in their intensity the first time the animal overloads the stomach or is allowed food of bad quality. Clover hay or bulky feed which contains but little nutriment have much to do with the cause of the disease, and therefore should be entirely omitted when the animal is affected, as well as before. It has been asserted that the disease is unknown where clover hay is never used. The diet should be confined to feed of the best quality and in the smallest quantity. The bad effect of moldy or dusty hay, fodder, or feed of any kind can not be overestimated. A small quantity of the best hay once a day is sufficient. This should be cut and dampened. The animal should invariably be watered before feeding; never directly after a meal. The animal should not be worked immediately after a meal. Exertion, when the stomach is full, invariably aggravates the symptoms. Turning on pasture gives relief. Carrots, potatoes, or turnips chopped and mixed with oats or corn are a good diet. Half a pint to a pint of thick, dark molasses with each feed is useful.

Arsenic is efficacious in palliating the symptoms. It is best administered in the form of a solution of arsenic, as Fowler's solution or as the white powdered arsenious acid. Of the former the dose is 1 ounce to the drinking water three times daily; of the latter one may give 3 grains in each feed. These quantities may be cautiously increased as the animal becomes accustomed to the drug. If the bowels do not act regularly, a pint of raw linseed oil may be given once or twice a month, or a handful of Glauber's salt may be given in the feed twice daily, so long as necessary. It must, however, be borne in mind that all medicinal treatment is of secondary consideration; careful attention paid to the diet is of greatest importance. Broken-winded animals should not be used for breeding purposes. A predisposition to the disease may be inherited.[Pg 131]


A chronic cough may succeed the acute disease of the respiratory organs, such as pneumonia, bronchitis, laryngitis, etc. It accompanies chronic roaring, chronic bronchitis, broken wind; it may succeed influenza. As previously stated, cough is but a symptom and not a disease in itself. Chronic cough is occasionally associated with diseases other than those of the organs of respiration. It may be a symptom of chronic indigestion or of worms. In such cases it is caused by a reflex nervous irritation. The proper treatment in all cases of chronic cough is to ascertain the nature of the disease of which it is a symptom, and then cure the disease if possible and the cough will cease.

The treatment of the affections will be found under their appropriate heads, to which the reader is referred.


This is a form of rheumatism that affects the intercostal muscles; that is, the muscles between the ribs. The apparent symptoms are very similar to those of pleurisy. The animal is stiff and not inclined to turn round; the ribs are kept in a fixed state as much as possible. If the head is pulled round suddenly, or the affected side struck with the hand, or if the spaces between the ribs are pressed with the fingers, the animal will flinch and perhaps emit a grunt or groan expressive of much pain. It is distinguished from pleurisy by the absence of fever, cough, the friction sound, the effusion into the chest, and by the existence of rheumatism in other parts. The treatment for this affection is the same as for rheumatism affecting other parts.


A wound penetrating the wall of the chest admits air into the thoracic cavity outside the lung. This condition is known as pneumothorax and may result in collapse of the lung. The wound may be so made that when the walls of the chest are dilating a little air is sucked in, but during the contraction of the wall the contained air presses against the torn part in such manner as entirely to close the wound; thus a small quantity of air gains access with each inspiration, while none is allowed to escape until the lung is pressed into a very small compass and forced into the anterior part of the chest. The same thing may occur from a broken rib inflicting a wound in the lung. In this form the air gains access from the lung, and there may not be even an opening in the walls of the chest. In such cases the air may be absorbed, when a spontaneous cure is the result, but[Pg 132] when the symptoms are urgent it is recommended that the air be removed by a trocar and cannula or by an aspirator.

It is evident that the treatment of wounds that penetrate the thoracic cavity should be prompt. It should be quickly ascertained whether or not a foreign body remains in the wound; then it should be thoroughly cleaned with a solution of carbolic acid, 1 part in 40 parts of water. The wound should then be closed immediately. If it is an incised wound, it should be closed with sutures or with adhesive plasters; if torn or lacerated, adhesive plaster may be used or a bandage around the chest over the dressing. At all events, air must be prevented from getting into the chest as soon and as effectually as possible. The after treatment of the wound should consist principally in keeping the parts clean with a solution of carbolic acid, and applying fresh dressing as often as required to keep the wound in a healthy condition. Care should be taken that the discharges from the wound have an outlet in the most dependent part. (See Wounds and their treatment, p. 484.) If pleurisy supervenes, it should be treated as advised under that head.


"Thumps" is generally thought by the inexperienced to be a palpitation of the heart. While it is true that palpitation of the heart is sometimes called "thumps," it must not be confounded with the affection under consideration.

In the beginning of this article on the diseases of the organs of respiration, the diaphragm was briefly referred to as the principal and essential muscle of respiration. Spasmodic or irregular contractions of it in man are manifested by what is familiarly known as hiccoughs. Thumps in the horse is similar to hiccoughs in man although in all cases the peculiar noise is not made in the throat of the horse.

There should be no difficulty in distinguishing this affection from palpitation of the heart. The jerky motion affects the whole body, and is not confined to the region of the heart. If one hand is placed on the body at about the middle of the last rib, while the other hand is placed over the heart behind the left elbow, it will be easily demonstrated that there is no connection between the thumping or jerking of the diaphragm and the beating of the heart. In fact, when the animal is affected with spasms of the diaphragm the beating of the heart is usually much weaker and less perceptible than natural. Thumps is produced by causes similar to those that produce congestion of the lungs and dilatation or palpitation of the heart, and may occur in connection with these conditions. If not relieved, death usually results from congestion or edema of the lungs, as[Pg 133] the breathing is interfered with by the inordinate action of this important muscle of inspiration so much that proper aeration of the blood can not take place. The treatment should be as prescribed for congestion of the lungs, and, in addition, antispasmodics, such as 1 ounce of sulphuric ether in warm water or 3 drams of asafetida.


Post-mortem examinations after colic or severe accident sometimes reveal rupture of the diaphragm. This may take place after death, from the generation of gases in the decomposing carcass, which distend the intestines so that the diaphragm is ruptured by the great pressure against it. The symptoms are intensely difficult respiration and great depression. There is no treatment.

[Pg 134]


By James Law, F. R. C. V. S.,

Formerly Professor of Veterinary Science, etc., in Cornell University.


The urinary organs constitute the main channel through which are excreted the nitrogenous or albuminoid principles, whether derived directly from the feed or from the muscular and other nitrogenized tissues of the body. They constitute, besides, the channel through which are thrown out most of the poisons, whether taken in by the mouth or skin or developed in connection with faulty or natural digestion, blood-forming, nutrition, or tissue destruction; or, finally, poisons that are developed within the body, as the result of normal cell life or of the life of bacterial or other germs that have entered the body from without. Bacteria themselves largely escape from the body through the kidneys. To a large extent, therefore, these organs are the sanitary scavengers and purifiers of the system, and when their functions are impaired or arrested the retained poisons quickly show their presence in resulting disorders of the skin and connective tissue beneath it, of the nervous system, or other organs. Nor is this influence one-sided. Scarcely an important organ of the body can suffer derangement without entailing a corresponding disorder of the urinary system. Nothing can be more striking than the mutual balance maintained between the liquid secretions of the skin and kidneys during hot and cold weather. In summer, when so much liquid exhales through the skin as sweat, comparatively little urine is passed, whereas in winter, when the skin is inactive, the urine is correspondingly increased. This vicarious action of skin and kidneys is usually kept within the limits of health, but at times the draining off of the water by the skin leaves too little to keep the solids of the urine safely in solution, and these are liable to crystallize out and form stone and gravel. Similarly the passage, in the sweat, of some of the solids that normally leave the body, dissolved in the urine, serves to irritate the skin and produce troublesome eruptions.


A disordered liver contributes to the production under different circumstances of an excess of biliary coloring matter which stains the urine; of an excess of hippuric acid and allied products which, being less soluble than urea (the normal product of tissue change),[Pg 135] favor the formation of stone, of taurocholic acid, and other bodies that tend when in excess to destroy the blood globules and to cause irritation of the kidneys by the resulting hemoglobin excreted in the urine, and of glycogen too abundant to be burned up in the system, which induces saccharine urine (diabetes). Any disorder leading to impaired functional activity of the lungs is causative of an excess of hippuric acid and allied bodies, of oxalic acid, of sugar, etc., in the urine, which irritate the kidneys, even if they do not produce solid deposits in the urinary passages. Diseases of the nervous system, and notably of the base of the brain and of the spinal cord, induce various urinary disorders, prominent among which are diabetes, chylous urine, and albuminuria. Certain affections, with imperfect nutrition or destructive waste of the bony tissues, tend to charge the urine with phosphates of lime and magnesia and endanger the formation of stone and gravel. In all extensive inflammations and acute fevers the liquids of the urine are diminished, while the solids (waste products), which should form the urinary secretion, are increased, and the surcharged urine proves irritant to the urinary organs or the retained waste products poison the system at large.

Diseases of the heart and lungs, by interfering with the free, onward flow of the blood from the right side of the heart, tend to throw that liquid back on the veins, and this backward pressure of venous blood strongly tends to disorders of the kidneys. Certain poisons taken with the feed and water, notably that found in magnesian limestone and those found in irritant, diuretic plants, are especially injurious to the kidneys, as are also various cryptogams, whether in musty hay or oats. The kidneys may be irritated by feeding green vegetables covered with hoar frost or by furnishing an excess of feed rich in phosphates (wheat bran, beans, peas, vetches, lentils, rape cake, cottonseed cake) or by a privation of water, which entails a concentrated condition and high density of the urine. Exposure in cold rain or snow storms, cold drafts of air, and damp beds are liable to further disorder an already overworked or irritable kidney. Finally, sprains of the back and loins may cause bleeding from the kidneys or inflammation.

The right kidney, weighing 23-1/2 ounces, is shaped like a French bean, and extends from the loins forward to beneath the heads of the last two ribs. The left kidney (Pl. VIII) resembles a heart of cards, and extends from the loins forward beneath the head of the last rib only. Each consists of three distinct parts—(a) the external (cortical), or vascular part, in which the blood vessels form elaborate capillary networks within the dilated globular sacs which form the beginnings of the secreting (uriniferous) tubes and on the surface of the sinuous, secreting tubes leading from the sacs inward toward the second, or medullary, part of the organ; (b) the internal[Pg 136] (medullary) part, made up in the main of blood vessels, lymphatics, and nerves extending between the notch on the inner border of the kidney to and from the outer vascular portion, in which the secretion of urine is almost exclusively carried on; and (d) a large, saccular reservoir in the center of the kidney, into which all uriniferous tubes pour their secretions and from which the urine is carried away through a tube g (ureter), which passes out of the notch at the inner border of the kidney and which opens by a valve-closed orifice into the roof of the bladder just in front of its neck. The bladder is a dilatable reservoir for the retention of the urine until the discomfort of its presence causes its voluntary discharge. It is kept closed by circular, muscular fibers surrounding its neck or orifice, and is emptied by looped, muscular fibers extending in all directions forward from the neck around the blind anterior end of the sac. From the bladder the urine escapes through a dilatable tube (urethra) which extends from the neck of the bladder backward on the floor of the pelvis, and in the male through the penis to its free end, where it opens through a pink, conical papilla. In the mare the urethra is not more than an inch in length, and is surrounded by the circular, muscular fibers closing the neck of the bladder. Its opening may be found directly in the median line of the floor of the vulva, about 4-1/2 inches from its external opening.


These apply especially to acute inflammations and the irritation caused by stone. The animal moves stiffly on the hind limbs, straddles, and makes frequent attempts to pass urine, which may be in excess, deficient in amount, liable to sudden arrest in spite of the straining, passed in driblets, or entirely suppressed. Again, it may be modified in density or constituents. Difficulty in making a sharp turn, or in lying down and rising with or without groaning, dropping the back when mounted or when pinched on the loins is suggestive of kidney disease, and so to a less extent are swelled legs, dropsy, and diseases of the skin and nervous system. The oiled hand introduced through the rectum may feel the bladder beneath and detect any overdistention, swelling, tenderness, or stone. In ponies the kidneys even may be reached.


In some cases the changes in the urine are the sole sign of disease. In health the horse's urine is of a deep amber color and has a strong odor. On a feed of grain and hay it may show a uniform transparency, while on a green ration there in an abundant white deposit of carbonate of lime. Of its morbid changes the following are to be looked for: (1) Color: White from deposited salts of lime; brown or red from blood clots or coloring matter; yellow or orange from bile or blood pigment; pale from excess of water; or variously colored from vegetable ingredients (santonin makes it red; rhubarb or senna, brown; tar or carbolic acid, green). (2) Density: The horse's urine may be 1.030 or 1.050, but it may greatly exceed this in diabetes and may sink to 1.007 in diuresis. (3) Chemical reaction, as ascertained by blue litmus or red test papers. The horse on vegetable diet has alkaline urine turning red test papers blue, while in the sucking colt and the horse fed on flesh or on his own tissue (in starvation or abstinence during disease) it is acid, turning blue litmus red. (4) Organic constituents, as when glairy from albumen coagulable by strong nitric acid and boiling, when charged with microscopic casts of the uriniferous tubes, with the eggs or bodies of worms, with sugar, blood, or bile. (5) In its salts, which may crystallize out spontaneously, or on boiling, or on the addition of chemical reagents.




[Pg 137]Albuminous urine in the horse is usually glairy, so that it may be drawn out in threads, but its presence can always be tested as follows: If the liquid is opaque, it may be first passed through filter paper; if very dense and already precipitating its salts, it may be diluted with distilled water; add to the suspected liquid acetic acid drop by drop until it reddens the blue litmus paper; then boil gently in a test tube; if a precipitate is thrown down, set the tube aside to cool and then add strong nitric acid. If the precipitate is not dissolved, it is albumen; if dissolved it is probably urate or hippurate of ammonia. Albumen is normally present in advanced gestation; abnormally it is seen in diseases in which there occurs destruction of blood globules (anthrax, low fevers, watery states of the blood, dropsies), in diseases of the heart and liver which prevent the free escape of blood from the veins and throw back venous pressure on the kidneys, in inflammation of the lungs and pleuræ, and even tympany (bloating), doubtless from the same cause, and in all congestive or inflammatory diseases of the kidneys, acute or chronic.

Casts of the uriniferous tubes can be seen only by placing the suspected urine under the microscope. They are usually very elastic and mobile, waving about in the liquid when the cover glass is touched, and showing a uniform, clear transparency (waxy) or entangled circular epithelial cells or opaque granules or flattened, red-blood globules or clear, refrangent oil globules. They may be even densely opaque from crystals of earthy salts.

Pus cells may be found in the urine associated with albumen, and are recognized by clearing up, when treated with acetic acid, so that each cell shows two or three nuclei.[Pg 138]


This consists in an excessive secretion of a clear, watery urine of a low specific gravity (1.007) with a correspondingly ardent thirst, a rapidly advancing emaciation, and great loss of strength and spirit.

Causes.—Its causes may be any agent—medicinal, alimentary, or poisonous—which unduly stimulates the kidneys; the reckless administration of diuretics, which form such a common constituent of quack horse powders; acrid diuretic plants in grass or hay; new oats still imperfectly cured; an excess of roots or other very watery feed; a full allowance of salt to animals that have become inordinately fond of it; but, above all, feeding on hay, grain, or bran which has not been properly dried and has become musty and permeated by fungi. Thus hay, straw, or oats obtained in wet seasons and heating in the rick or stack is especially injurious. Hence this malady, like coma somnolentum (sleepy staggers), is widespread in wet seasons, and especially in rainy districts.

Symptoms.—The horse drinks deep at every opportunity and passes urine on every occasion when stopped, the discharge being pale, watery, of a low density, and inodorous; in short, it contains a great excess of water and a deficiency of the solid excretions. So great is the quantity passed, however, that the small amount of solids in any given specimen amounts in 24 hours to far more than the normal—a fact in keeping with the rapid wasting of the tissues and extreme emaciation. The flanks become tucked up, the fat disappears, the bones and muscles stand out prominently, the skin becomes tense and hidebound, and the hair erect, scurfy, and deficient in luster. The eye becomes dull and sunken, the spirits are depressed, the animal is weak and sluggish, sweats on the slightest exertion, and can endure little. The subject may survive for months, or may die early of exhaustion. In the slighter cases, or when the cause ceases to operate, a somewhat tardy recovery may be made.

Treatment consists in stopping the ingestion of the faulty drugs, poisons, or feed, and supplying sound hay and grain free from all taint of heating or mustiness. A liberal supply of boiled flaxseed in the drinking water at once serves to eliminate the poison and to sheathe and protect the irritated kidneys. Tonics like sulphate or phosphate of iron (2 drams morning and evening) and powdered gentian or Peruvian bark (4 drams) help greatly by bracing the system and hastening repair. To these may be added agents calculated to destroy the fungus and eliminate its poisonous products. In that form which depends on musty food nothing acts better than large doses of iodid of potassium (2 drams), while in other cases creosote, carbolic acid (1 dram), or oil of turpentine (4 drams), properly diluted, may be resorted to.[Pg 139]


This is primarily a disease of the nervous system or liver rather than of the kidneys, yet, as the most prominent symptom is the sweet urine, it may be treated here.

Causes.—Its causes are varied, but resolve themselves largely into disorder of the liver or disorder of the brain. One of the most prominent functions of the liver is the formation of glycogen, a principle allied to grape sugar, and passing into it by further oxidation in the blood. This is a constant function of the liver, but in health the resulting sugar is burned up in the circulation and does not appear in the urine. On the contrary, when the supply of oxygen is defective, as in certain diseases of the lungs, the whole of the sugar does not undergo combustion and the excess is excreted by the kidneys. Also in certain forms of enlarged liver the quantity of sugar produced is more than can be disposed of in the natural way, and it appears in the urine. A temporary sweetness of the urine often occurs after a hearty meal on starchy feed, but this is due altogether to the super-abundant supply of the sugar-forming feed, lasts for a few hours only, and has no pathological significance. In many cases of fatal glycosuria the liver is found to be enlarged, or at least congested, and it is found that the disorder can be produced experimentally by agencies which produce an increased circulation through the liver. Thus Bernard produced glycosuria by pricking the oblong medulla at the base of the brain close to the roots of the pneumogastric nerve, which happens to be also the nerve center (vasomotor) which presides over the contractions of the minute blood vessels. The pricking and irritation of this center leads to congestion of the liver and the excessive production of sugar. Irritation carried to this point through the pneumogastric nerve causes saccharine urine, and, in keeping with this, disease of the pancreas has been found in this malady. The complete removal of the pancreas, however, determines glycosuria, the organ having in health an inhibitive action on sugar production by the liver. The same result follows the reflection of irritation from other sources, as from different ganglia (corpora striata, optic thalami, pons, cerebellum, cerebrum) of the brain. Similarly it is induced by interruption of the nervous control along the vasomotor tracts, as in destruction of the upper or lower cervical sympathetic ganglion, by cutting the nervous branch connecting these two, in injury to the spinal marrow in the interval between the brain and the second or fourth dorsal vertebra, or in disease of the celiac plexus, which directly presides over the liver. Certain chemical poisons also cause saccharine urine, notably woorara, strychnia, morphia, phosphoric acid, alcohol, ether, quinia, chloroform, ammonia, arsenic, and phlorizin.[Pg 140]

Symptoms.—The symptoms are ardent thirst and profuse secretion of a pale urine of a high density (1.060 and upward), rapid loss of condition, scurfy, unthrifty skin, costiveness or irregularity of the bowels, indigestion, and the presence, in the urine, of a sweet principle—grape sugar or inosite, or both. This may be most promptly detected by touching the tip of the tongue with a drop. Sugar may be detected simply by adding a teaspoonful of liquid yeast to 4 ounces of the urine and keeping it lightly stopped at a temperature of 70° to 80° F. for 12 hours, when the sugar will be found to have been changed into alcohol and carbon dioxid. The loss of density will give indication of the quantity of sugar transformed; thus a density of 1.035 in a urine which was formerly 1.060 would indicate about 15 grains of sugar to the fluid ounce.

Inosite, or muscle sugar, frequently present in the horse's urine, and even replacing the glucose, is not fermentable. Its presence may be indicated by its sweetness and the absence of fermentation or by Gallois's test. Evaporate the suspected urine at a gentle heat almost to dryness, then add a drop of a solution of mercuric nitrate and evaporate carefully to dryness, when a yellowish residue is left that is changed on further cautious heating to a deep rose color, which disappears on cooling and reappears on heating.

In advanced diabetes, dropsies in the limbs and under the chest and belly, puffy, swollen eyelids, cataracts, catarrhal inflammation of the lungs, weak, uncertain gait, and drowsiness may be noted.

Treatment is most satisfactory in cases dependent on some curable disease of liver, pancreas, lungs, or brain. Thus, in liver diseases, a run at pasture in warm weather, or in winter a warm, sunny, well-aired stable, with sufficient clothing and laxatives (sulphate of soda, 1 ounce daily) and alkalies (carbonate of potassium, one-fourth ounce) may benefit. To this may be added mild blistering, cupping, or even leeching over the last ribs. Diseases of the brain or pancreas may be treated according to their indications. The diet should be mainly albuminous, such as wheat bran or middlings, peas, beans, vetches, and milk. Indeed, an exclusive milk diet is one of the very best remedial agencies. It may be given as skimmed milk or butter-milk, and in the last case combines an antidiabetic remedy in the lactic acid. Under such an exclusive diet recent and mild cases are often entirely restored, though at the expense of an attack of rheumatism. Codeia, one of the alkaloids of opium, is strongly recommended by Tyson. The dose for the horse would be 10 to 15 grains thrice daily. In cases in which there is manifest irritation of the brain, bromid of potassium, 4 drams, or ergot one-half ounce, may be resorted to. Salicylic acid and salicylate of sodium have proved useful in certain cases; also phosphate of sodium. Bitter tonics (especially nux vomica one-half dram) are useful in improving the digestion and general health.[Pg 141]


Cause.—As seen in the horse, bloody urine is usually the direct result of mechanical injuries, as sprains and fractures of the loins, lacerations of the sublumbar muscles (psoas), irritation caused by stone in the kidney, ureter, bladder, or urethra. It may, however, occur with acute congestion of the kidney, with tumors in its substance, or with papilloma or other diseased growth in the bladder. Acrid diuretic plants present in the feed may also lead to the escape of blood from the kidney. The predisposition to this affection is, however, incomparably less than in the case of the ox or the sheep, the difference being attributed to the greater plasticity of the horse's blood in connection with the larger quantity of fibrin.

The blood may be present in small clots or in more or less intimate admixture with the urine. Its condition may furnish some indication as to its source; thus, if from the kidneys it is more liable to be uniformly diffused through the urine, while as furnished by the bladder or passages clots are more liable to be present. Again, in bleeding from the kidney, minute, cylindrical clots inclosing blood globules and formed in the uriniferous tubes can be detected under the microscope. Precision also may be approximated by observing whether there is coexisting fracture, sprain of the loins, or stone or tumor in the bladder or urethra.

Treatment.—The disease being mainly due to direct injury, treatment will consist, first, in removing such cause whenever possible, and then in applying general and local styptics. Irritants in feed must be avoided, sprains appropriately treated, and stone in bladder or urethra removed. Then give mucilaginous drinks (slippery elm, linseed tea) freely, and styptics (tincture of chlorid of iron 3 drams, acetate of lead one-half dram, tannic acid one-half dram, or oil of turpentine 1 ounce). If the discharge is abundant, apply cold water to the loins and keep the animal perfectly still.


Like diabetes, this is rather a disease of the liver and blood-forming functions than of the kidney, but as prominent symptoms are loss of control over the hind limbs and the passage of ropy and dark-colored urine, the vulgar idea is that it is a disorder of the urinary organs. It is a complex affection directly connected with a plethora in the blood of nitrogenized constituents, with extreme nervous and muscular disorder and the excretion of a dense reddish or brownish urine. It is directly connected with high feeding, especially on highly nitrogenized feed (oats, beans, peas, vetches, cottonseed meal), and with a period of idleness in the stall under full rations. The disease is never seen at pasture, rarely under constant daily work,[Pg 142] even though the feeding is high, and the attack is usually precipitated by taking the horse from the stable and subjecting it to exercise or work. The poisoning is not present when taken from the stable, as the horse is likely to be noticeably lively and spirited, but he will usually succumb under the first hundred yards or half mile of exercise. It seems as if the aspiratory power of the chest under the sudden exertion and accelerated breathing speedily drew from the gorged liver and abdominal veins (portal) the accumulated store of nitrogenous matter in an imperfectly oxidized or elaborated condition, and as if the blood, surcharged with these materials, were unable to maintain the healthy functions of the nerve centers and muscles. It has been noticed rather more frequently in mares than horses, attributable, perhaps, to the nervous excitement attendant on heat, and to the fact that the unmutilated mare is naturally more excitable than the docile gelding.

Lignières has found in hemoglobinuria a streptococcus which produced nephritis, bloody urine, and paraplegia in experimental animals, including horses.

Symptoms.—In the milder forms this affection may appear as a lameness in one limb, from indefinite cause, succeeding to some sudden exertion and attended by a dusky-brown color of the membranes of the eye and nose and some wincing when the last ribs are struck. The severe forms come on after one or two days of rest on a full ration, when the animal has been taken out and driven one hundred paces or more: The fire and life with which he had left the stable suddenly give place to dullness and oppression, as shown in heaving flanks, dilated nostrils, pinched face, perspiring skin, and trembling body. The muscles of the loins or haunch become swelled and rigid, the subject moves stiffly or unsteadily, crouches behind, the limbs being carried semiflexed, and he soon drops, unable to support himself. When down, the body and limbs are moved convulsively, but there is no power of coordination of movement in the muscles. The pulse and breathing are accelerated, the eyes red with a tinge of brown, and the urine, if passed, is seen to be highly colored, dark brown, red, or black, but it contains neither blood clots nor globules. The color is mainly due to hemoglobin and other imperfectly elaborated constituents of the blood.

It may end fatally in a few hours or days, or a recovery may ensue, which is usually more speedy and perfect if it has set in at an early stage. In the late and tardy recoveries a partial paralysis of the hind limbs may last for months. A frequent sequel of these tardy cases is an extensive wasting of the muscles leading up from the front of the stifle (those supplied by the crural nerve) and a complete inability to stand.[Pg 143]

Prevention.—The prevention of this serious affection lies in restricting the diet and giving daily exercise when the animal is not at work. A horse that has had one attack should never be left idle for a single day in the stall or barnyard. When a horse has been condemned to absolute repose on good feeding he may have a laxative (one-half to 1 pound Glauber's salt), and have graduated exercise, beginning with a short walk and increasing day by day.

Treatment.—The treatment of the mild cases may consist in a laxative, graduated daily exercise, and a daily dose of saltpeter (1 ounce). Sudden attacks will sometimes promptly subside if taken on the instant and the subject kept still and calmed by a dose of bromid of potassium (4 drams) and sweet spirits of niter (1 ounce). The latter has the advantage of increasing the secretion of the kidneys. Iodid of potassium in one-half ounce doses every four hours has succeeded well in some hands. In severe cases, as a rule, it is desirable to begin treatment by a dose of aloes (4 to 6 drams) with the above-named dose of bromid of potassium, and this latter may be continued at intervals of four or six hours, as may be requisite to calm the nervous excitement. Fomentations with warm water over the loins are always useful in calming the excitable conditions of the spinal cord, muscles, liver, and kidneys, and also in favoring secretion from the two latter. On the second day diuretics may be resorted to, such as saltpeter one-half ounce, and powdered colchicum, one-half dram, to be repeated twice daily. A laxative may be repeated in three or four days should the bowels seem to demand it, and as the nervous excitement disappears any remaining muscular weakness or paralysis may be treated by one-half dram doses of nux vomica twice a day and a stimulating liniment (aqua ammonia and sweet oil in equal proportions) rubbed on the torpid muscles.

During the course of the disease friction to the limbs is useful, and in the advanced paralytic stage the application of electricity along the line of the affected muscles. When the patient can not stand he must have a thick, soft bed, and should be turned from side to side at least every twelve hours. As soon as he can be made to stand he may be helped up and even supported in a sling.


Inflammations of the kidneys have been differentiated widely, according as they were acute or chronic, parenchymatous or tubal, suppurative or not, with increased or shrunken kidney, etc. In a work like the present, however, utility will be consulted by classing all under acute or chronic inflammation.

Causes.—The causes of inflammation of the kidneys are extremely varied. Congestion occurs from the altered and irritant products passed through these organs during recovery from inflammations of[Pg 144] other organs and during fevers. This may last only during the existence of its cause, or may persist and become aggravated. Heart disease, throwing the blood pressure back on the veins and kidneys, is another cause. Disease of the ureter or bladder, preventing the escape of urine from the kidney and causing increased fullness and tension in its pelvis and tubes, will determine inflammation. Decomposition of the detained urine in such cases and the production of ammonia and other irritants must also be named. In elimination of bacteria through the kidney, the latter is liable to infection with consequent inflammation. The advance of bacteria upward from the bladder to the kidneys is another cause. The consumption in hay or other fodder of acrid or irritant plants, including fungi, the absorption of cantharidine from a surface blistered by Spanish flies, the reckless administration of diuretics, the presence of stones in the kidney, exposure of the surface to cold and wet, and the infliction of blows or sprains on the loins, may contribute to its production. Liver disorders which throw on the kidneys the work of excreting irritant products, diseases of the lungs and heart from which clots are carried, to be arrested in the small blood vessels of the kidney, and injuries and paralysis of the spinal cord, are additional causes.

Symptoms.—The symptoms are more or less fever, manifest stiffness of the back and straddling gait with the hind limbs, difficulty in lying down and rising, or in walking in a circle, the animal sometimes groaning under the effort, arching of the loins and tucking up of the flank, looking back at the abdomen as if from colicky pain, and tenderness of the loins to pinching, especially just beneath the bony processes 6 inches to one side of the median line. Urine is passed frequently, a small quantity at a time, of a high color, and sometimes mixed with blood or even pus. Under the microscope it shows the microscopic casts referred to under general symptoms. If treated by acetic acid, boiling and subsequent addition of strong nitric acid, the resulting and persistent precipitate indicates the amount of albumen. The legs tend to swell from the foot up, also the dependent parts beneath the belly and chest, and effusions of liquid may occur within the chest or abdomen. In the male the alternate drawing up and relaxation of the testicles in the scrotum are suggestive, and in small horses the oiled hand introduced into the rectum may reach the kidney and ascertain its sensitiveness.

Treatment demands, first, the removal of any recognized cause. Then, if the suffering and fever are high, 2 to 4 quarts of blood may be abstracted from the jugular vein; in weak subjects or unless in high fever this should be omitted. Next relieve the kidneys so far as possible by throwing their work on the bowels and skin. A pint of castor oil is less likely than either aloes or salts to act on the kidneys. To affect the skin a warm stall and heavy clothing may be[Pg 145] supplemented by dram doses of Dover's powder. Pain may be soothed by dram doses of bromid of potassium. Boiled flaxseed may be added to the drinking water, also thrown into the rectum as an injection, and blankets saturated with hot water should be persistently applied to the loins. This may be followed by a very thin pulp of the best ground mustard made with tepid water, rubbed in against the direction of the hair and covered with paper and a blanket. This may be kept on for an hour, or until the skin thickens and the hair stands erect. It may then be rubbed or sponged off and the blanket reapplied. When the action of the bowels has been started it may be kept up by a daily dose of 2 or 3 ounces of Glauber's salt.

During recovery a course of bitter tonics (nux vomica 1 scruple, ground gentian root 4 drams) should be given. The patient should also be guarded against cold, wet, and any active exertion for some time after all active symptoms have subsided.


Causes.—Chronic inflammation of the kidneys is more commonly associated with albumen and casts in the urine than the acute form, find in some instances these conditions of the urine may be the only prominent symptoms of the disease. Though it may supervene on blow, injuries, and exposures, it is much more commonly connected with faulty conditions of the system—as indigestion, heart disease, lung or liver disease, imperfect blood formation, or assimilation; in short, it is rather the attendant on a constitutional infirmity than on a simple local injury.

It may be associated with various forms of diseased kidneys, as shrinkage (atrophy), increase (hypertrophy), softening, red congestion, white enlargement, etc., so that it forms a group of diseases rather than a disease by itself.

Symptoms.—The symptoms may include stiffness, weakness, and increased sensibility of the loins, and modified secretion of urine (increase or suppression), or the flow may be natural. Usually it contains albumen, the quantity furnishing a fair criterion of the gravity of the affection, and microscopic casts, also most abundant in bad cases. Dropsy, manifested in swelled legs, is a significant symptom, and if the effusion takes place along the lower line of the body or in chest or abdomen, the significance is increased. A scurfy, unthrifty skin, lack-luster hair, inability to sustain severe or continued exertion, poor or irregular appetite, loss of fat and flesh, softness of the muscles, and pallor of the eyes and nose are equally suggestive. So are skin eruptions of various kinds. Any one or more of these symptoms would warrant an examination of the urine for albumen and casts, the finding of which signifies renal inflammation.[Pg 146]

Treatment of these cases is not always satisfactory, as the cause is liable to be maintained in the disorders of important organs elsewhere. If any such coincident disease of another organ or function can be detected, that should be treated first or simultaneously with this affection of the kidneys. In all cases the building up of the general health is important. Hence a course of tonics may be given (phosphate of iron 2 drams, nux vomica 20 grains, powdered gentian root 4 drams, daily) or 60 drops of sulphuric acid or nitrohydrochloric acid may be given daily in the drinking water. If there is any elevated temperature of the body and tenderness of the loins, fomentations may be applied, followed by a mustard pulp, as for acute inflammation, and even in the absence of these indications the mustard may be resorted to with advantage at intervals of a few days. In suppression of urine, fomentations with warm water or with infusion of digitalis leaves is a safer resort than diuretics, and cupping over the loins may also benefit. To apply a cup, shave the skin and oil it; then take a narrow-mouthed glass, rarify the air within it by introducing a taper in full flame for a second, withdraw the taper and instantly apply the mouth of the glass to the skin and hold it closely applied till the cooling tends to form a vacuum in the glass and to draw up the skin, like a sucker.

As in the acute inflammation, every attention must be given to secure warm clothing, a warm stall, and pure air.


Tumors, whether malignant or simple, would give rise to symptoms resembling some form of inflammation, and are not liable to be recognized during life.


To parasites of the kidney belong the echinococcus, the larval, or bladder worm, stage of the small echinococcus tapeworm of the dog. Dioctophyme renale, the largest of roundworms, has been found in the kidney of the horse. Its presence can be certified only by the passage of its microscopic eggs or of the entire worm. Immature stages of roundworms, either Strongylus equinus or a related species, may be found in the renal artery or in the kidney itself.


This affection consists in spasmodic closure of the outlet from the bladder by tonic contraction of the circular muscular fibers. It may be accompanied with a painful contraction of the muscles on the body of the bladder; or, if the organ is already unduly distended, these will be affected with temporary paralysis. It is most frequent in the horse, but by no means unknown in the mare.[Pg 147]

Causes.—The causes are usually hard and continuous driving without opportunity for passing urine, cold rainstorms, drafts of cold air when perspiring and fatigued, the administration of Spanish fly or the application of extensive blisters of the same, abuse of diuretics, the presence of acrid, diuretic plants in the fodder, and the presence of stone in the bladder. As most mares refuse to urinate while in harness, they should be unhitched at suitable times for urination. Spasms of the bowels are always attended by spasm of the bladder, hence the free passage of water is usually a symptom of relief.

Symptoms.—The symptoms are frequent stretching and straining to urinate, with no result or a slight dribbling only. These vain efforts are attended by pain and groaning. On resuming his natural position the animal is not freed from the pain, but moves uneasily, paws, shakes the tail, kicks at the abdomen with his hind feet, looks back to the flank, lies down and rises, arches the back, and attempts to urinate as before. If the oiled hand is introduced into the rectum the greatly distended bladder may be felt beneath, and the patient will often shrink when it is handled.

It is important to notice that irritation of the urinary organs is often present in impaction of the colon with solid matters, because the impacted intestine under the straining of the patient is forced backward into the pelvis and presses upon and irritates the bladder. In such cases the horse stands with his fore limbs advanced and the hind ones stretched back beyond the natural posture and makes frequent efforts to urinate, with varying success. Unpracticed observers naturally conclude that the secondary urinary trouble is the main and only one, and the intestinal impaction and obstruction is too often neglected until it is irremediable. In cases in which the irritation has caused spasm of the neck of the bladder and overdistention of that organ, the mistake is still more easily made; hence it is important in all cases to examine for the impacted bowel, forming a bend or loop at the entrance of the pelvis and usually toward the left side. The impacted intestine feels soft and doughy and is easily indented with the knuckles, forming a marked contrast with the tense, elastic, resilient, overdistended bladder.

It remains to be noted that similar symptoms may be determined by a stone or sebaceous mass, or stricture obstructing the urethra, or in the newborn by thickened mucus in that duct and by the pressure of hardened, impacted feces in the rectum. In obstruction, the hard, impacted body can usually be felt by tracing the urethra along the lower and posterior surface of the penis and forward to the median line of the floor of the pelvis to the neck of the bladder. That part of the urethra between the seat of obstruction and the[Pg 148] bladder is usually distended with urine and feels enlarged, elastic, and fluctuating.

Treatment.—Treatment may be begun by taking the animal out of harness. This failing, spread clean litter beneath the belly or turn the patient out on the dung heap. Some seek to establish sympathetic action by pouring water from one vessel into another with dribbling noise. Others soothe and distract the attention by slow whistling. Friction of the abdomen with wisps of straw may succeed, or it may be rubbed with ammonia and oil. These failing, an injection of 2 ounces of laudanum or of an infusion of 1 ounce of tobacco in water may be tried. In the mare the neck of the bladder is easily dilated by inserting two oiled fingers and slightly parting them. In the horse the oiled hand introduced into the rectum may press from before backward on the anterior or blind end of the bladder. Finally, a well-oiled gum-elastic catheter may be entered into the urethra through the papilla at the end of the penis and pushed on carefully until it has entered the bladder. To effect this the penis must first be withdrawn from its sheath, and when the advancing end of the catheter has reached the bend of the urethra beneath the anus it must be guided forward by pressure with the hand, which guidance must be continued onward into the bladder, the oiled hand being introduced into the rectum for this purpose. The horse catheter, 3-1/2 feet long and one-third inch in diameter, may be bought of a surgical-instrument maker.


Paralysis of the body of the bladder with spasm of the neck has been described under the last heading, and may occur in the same way from overdistention in tetanus, acute rheumatism, paraplegia, and hemiplegia, in which the animal can not stretch himself to urinate, and in cystitis, affecting the body of the bladder but not the neck. In all these cases the urine is suppressed. It also occurs as a result of disease of the posterior end of the spinal marrow and with broken back, and is then associated with palsy of the tail, and, it may be, of the hind limbs.

Symptoms.—The symptoms are a constant dribbling of urine when the neck is involved, the liquid running down the inside of the thighs and irritating the skin. When the neck is unaffected the urine is retained until the bladder is greatly overdistended, when it may be expelled in a gush by the active contraction of the muscular walls of the abdomen; this never empties the bladder, however, and the oiled hand introduced through the rectum may feel the soft, flabby organ still half full of urine. This retained urine is liable to decompose and give off ammonia, which dissolves the epithelial cells, exposing the raw, mucous membrane and causing the worst type of cystitis.[Pg 149] Suppression and incontinence of urine are common also to obstruction of the urethra by stone or otherwise; hence this source of fallacy should be excluded by manual examination along the whole course of that duct.

Treatment.—Treatment is only applicable in cases in which the determining cause can be abated. In remedial sprains of the back or disease of the spinal cord these must have appropriate treatment, and the urine must be drawn off frequently with a catheter to prevent overdistention and injury to the bladder. If the paralysis persists after recovery of the spinal cord, or if it continues after relief of spasm of the neck of the bladder, apply a pulp of mustard and water over the back part of the belly in front of the udder, and cover with a rug until the hair stands erect. In the male the mustard may be applied between the thighs from near the anus downward. Daily doses of 2 drams extract of belladonna or of 2 grains powdered Spanish fly may serve to rouse the lost tone. These failing, a mild current of electricity daily may succeed.


Cystitis may be slight or severe, acute or chronic, partial or general. It may be caused by abuse of diuretics, especially such as are irritating (cantharides, turpentine, copaiba, resin, etc.), by the presence of a stone or gravel in the bladder, the irritation of a catheter or other foreign body introduced from without, the septic ferment (bacterium) introduced on a filthy catheter, the overdistention of the bladder by retained urine, the extrication of ammonia from retained decomposing urine, resulting in destruction of the epithelial cells and irritation of the raw surface, and a too concentrated and irritating urine. The application of Spanish flies or turpentine over a too extensive surface, sudden exposure of a perspiring and tired horse to cold or wet, and the presence of acrid plants in the fodder may cause cystitis, as they may nephritis. Finally, inflammation may extend from a diseased vagina or urethra to the bladder.

Symptoms.—The symptoms are slight or severe colicky pains; the animal moves his hind feet uneasily or even kicks at the abdomen, looks around at his flank, and may even lie down and rise frequently. More characteristic are frequently repeated efforts to urinate, resulting in the discharge of a little clear, or red, or more commonly flocculent urine, always in jets, and accompanied with signs of pain, which persist after the discharge, as shown in continued straining, groaning, and perhaps in movements of the feet and tail. The penis hangs from the sheath, or in the mare the vulva is frequently opened and closed, as after urination. The animal winces when the abdomen[Pg 150] is pressed in the region of the sheath or udder, and the bladder is found to be sensitive and tender when pressed with the oiled hand introduced through the rectum or vagina. In the mare the thickening of the walls of the bladder may be felt by introducing one finger through the urethra. The discharged urine, which may be turbid or even oily, contains an excess of mucus, with flat shreds of membrane, with scaly epithelial cells, and pus corpuscles, each showing two or more nuclei when treated with acetic acid, but there are no microscopic tubular casts, as in nephritis. If due to stone in the bladder, that will be found on examination through rectum or vagina.

Treatment implies, first, the removal of the cause, whether poisons in feed or as medicine, the removal of Spanish flies or other blistering agents from the skin, or the extraction of stone or gravel. If the urine has been retained and decomposed it must be completely evacuated through a clean catheter, and the bladder thoroughly washed out with a solution of 1 dram of borax in a quart of water. This must be repeated twice daily until the urine no longer decomposes, because so long as ammonia is developed in the bladder the protecting layer of epithelial cells will be dissolved and the surface kept raw and irritable. The diet must be light (bran mashes, roots, fresh grass), and the drink impregnated with linseed tea, or solution of slippery elm or marsh mallow. The same agents may be used to inject into the rectum, or they may even be used along with borax and opium to inject into bladder (gum arabic 1 dram, opium 1 dram, tepid water 1 pint). Fomentations over the loins are often of great advantage, and these may be followed or alternated with the application of mustard, as in paralysis; or the mustard may be applied on the back part of the abdomen below or between the thighs from the anus downward. Finally, when the acute symptoms have subsided, a daily dose of buchu 1 dram and nux vomica one-half dram will serve to restore lost tone.


Some horses, and especially mares, show an irritability of the bladder and nerve centers presiding over it by frequent urination in small quantities, though the urine is not manifestly changed in character and no more than the natural quantity is passed in the twenty-four hours. The disorder appears to have its source quite as frequently in the generative or nervous system as in the urinary. A troublesome and dangerous form is seen in mares, which dash off and refuse all control by the rein if driven with a full bladder, but usually prove docile if the bladder has been emptied before hitching. In other cases the excitement connected with getting the tail over the reins is[Pg 151] a powerful determining cause. The condition is marked in many mares during the period of heat.

An oleaginous laxative (castor oil 1 pint) will serve to remove any cause of irritation in the digestive organs, and a careful dieting will avoid continued irritation by acrid vegetable agents. The bladder should be examined to see that there is no stone or other cause of irritation, and the sheath and penis should be washed with soapsuds, any sebaceous matter removed from the bilocular cavity at the end of the penis, and the whole lubricated with sweet oil. Irritable mares should be induced to urinate before they are harnessed, and those that clutch the lines under the tail may have the tail set high by cutting the cords on its lower surface, or it may be prevented from getting over the reins by having a strap carried from its free end to the breeching. Those proving troublesome when "in heat" may have 4-dram doses of bromid of potassium, or they may be served by the male or castrated. Sometimes irritability may be lessened by daily doses of belladonna extract (1 dram), or a better tone may be given to the parts by balsam copaiba (1 dram).


These may be of various kinds, malignant or simple. In the horse I have found villous growths from the mucous membrane especially troublesome. They may be attached to the mucous membrane by a narrow neck or by a broad base covering a great part of the organ.

Symptoms.—The symptoms are frequent straining, passing of urine and blood with occasionally gravel. An examination of the bladder with the hand in the rectum will detect the new growth, which may be distinguished from a hard, resistant stone. In mares, in which the finger can be inserted into the bladder, the recognition is still more satisfactory. The polypi attached by narrow necks may be removed by surgical operation, but for those with broad attachments treatment is eminently unsatisfactory.


This occurs only in the newborn, and consists in the nonclosure of the natural channel (urachus), through which the urine is discharged into the outer water bag (allantois) in fetal life. At that early stage of the animal existence the bladder resembles a long tube, which is prolonged through the navel string and opens into the outermost of the two water bags in which the fetus floats. In this way the urine is prevented from entering the inner water bag (amnion), where it would mingle with the liquids, bathing the skin of the fetus and cause irritation. At birth this channel closes up, and the urine takes[Pg 152] the course normal to extra-uterine life. Imperfect closure is more frequent in males than in females, because of the great length and small caliber of the male urethra and its consequent tendency to obstruction. In the female there may be a discharge of a few drops only at a time, while in the male the urine will be expelled in strong jets coincidently with the contractions of the bladder and walls of the abdomen.

The first care is to ascertain whether the urethra is pervious by passing a human catheter. This determined, the open urachus may be firmly closed by a stout, waxed thread, carried with a needle through the tissues back of the opening and tied in front of it so as to inclose as little skin as possible. If a portion of the naval string remains, the tying of that may be all sufficient. It is important to tie as early as possible so as to avoid inflammation of the navel from contact with the urine. In summer a little carbolic-acid water or tar water may be applied to keep the flies off.


This can occur only in the female. It consists in the turning of the organ outside in through the channel of the urethra, so that it appears as a red, pear-shaped mass hanging from the floor of the vulva and protruding externally between its lips. It may be a mass like the fist, or it may swell up to the size of an infant's head. On examining its upper surface the orifices of the urethra maybe seen, one on each side, a short distance behind the neck, with the urine oozing from them drop by drop.

This displacement usually supervenes on a flaccid condition of the bladder, the result of paralysis, overdistention, or severe compression during a difficult parturition.

The protruding organ may be washed with a solution of 1 ounce of laudanum and a teaspoonful of carbolic acid in a quart of water, and returned by pressing a smooth, rounded object into the fundus and directing it into the urethra, while careful pressure is made on the surrounding parts with the other hand. If too large and resistant it may be wound tightly in a strip of bandage about 2 inches broad to express the great mass of blood and exudate and diminish the bulk of the protruded organ so that it can be easily pushed back. This method has the additional advantage of protecting the organ against bruises and lacerations in the effort made to return it. After the return, straining may be kept in check by giving laudanum (1 to 2 ounces) and by applying a truss to press upon the lips of the vulva. (See Eversion of the womb.) The patient should be kept in a stall a few inches lower in front than behind, so that the action of gravity will favor retention.


[Pg 153]


This affection belongs quite as much to the generative organs, yet it can not be entirely overlooked in a treatise on urinary disorders. It may be induced by the same causes as cystitis (which see); by the passage and temporary arrest of small stones, or gravel; by the irritation caused by foreign bodies introduced from without; by blows on the penis by sticks, stones, or by the feet of a mare that kicks while being served; by an infecting inflammation contracted from a mare served in the first few days after parturition or one suffering from leucorrhea; by infecting matter introduced on a dirty catheter, or by the extension of inflammation from an irritated, bilocular cavity filled with hardened sebaceous matter, or from an uncleansed sheath.

Symptoms.—The symptoms are swelling, heat, and tenderness of the sheath and penis; difficulty, pain, and groaning in passing urine, which is liable to sudden temporary arrests in the course of micturition, and later a whitish, mucopurulent oozing from the papilla on the end of the penis. There is a tendency to erection of the penis, and in cases contracted from a mare the outer surface of that organ will show more or less extensive sores and ulcers. Stallions suffering in this way will refuse to mount or, having mounted, will fail to complete the act of coition. If an entrance is effected, infection of the mare is liable to follow.

Treatment in the early stages consists in a dose of physic (aloes 6 drams) and fomentations of warm water to the sheath and penis. If there is reason to suspect the presence of infection, inject the urethra twice daily with borax 1 dram, tepid water 1 quart. When the mucopurulent discharge indicates the supervention of the second stage a more astringent injection may be used (nitrate of silver 20 grains, water 1 quart), and the same may be applied to the surface of the penis and inside the sheath. Balsam of copaiba (1 dram daily) may also be given with advantage after the purulent discharge has appeared.

Every stallion suffering from urethritis should be withheld from service, as should mares with leucorrhea.


This is a permanent narrowing of the urethra at a given point, the result of previous inflammation, caused by the passage or arrest of a stone, or gravel, by strong astringent injections in the early nonsecreting stage of urethritis, or by contraction of the lining membrane occurring during the healing of ulcers in neglected inflammations of that canal. The trouble is shown by the passage of urine in a fine stream, with straining, pain, and groaning, and by frequent painful[Pg 154] erections. It must be remedied by mechanical dilatation, with catheters just large enough to pass with gentle force, to be inserted once a day, and to be used of larger size as the passage will admit them. The catheter should be kept perfectly clean and washed in a borax solution and well oiled before it is introduced.


These consist in some of the solids of the urine that have been precipitated from the urine in the form of crystals, which remain apart as a fine, powdery mass, or magma, or aggregate into calculi, or stones, of varying size. (See Pl. XI.) Their composition is therefore determined in different animals by the salts or other constituents found dissolved in the healthy urine, and by the additional constituents which may be thrown off in solution in the urine in disease. In this connection it is important to observe the following analysis of the horse's urine in health:

Uric acid and urates.1
Hippuric acid26.4
Lactic acid and lactates1.2
Mucus and organic matter22.0
Sulphates (alkaline)1.2
Phosphates (lime and soda).2
Chlorids (sodium)1.0
Carbonates (potash, magnesia, lime)16.0

The carbonate of lime, which is present in large quantity in the urine of horses fed on green fodder, is practically insoluble, and therefore forms in the passages after secretion, and its microscopic rounded crystals give the urine of such horses a milky whiteness. It is this material which constitutes the soft, white, pultaceous mass that sometimes fills the bladder to repletion and requires to be washed out. In hay-fed horses carbonates are still abundant, while in those mainly grain-fed they are replaced by hippurates and phosphates—the products of the wear of tissues—the carbonates being the result of oxidation of the vegetable acids in the feed. Carbonate of lime, therefore, is a very common constituent of urinary calculi in herbivora, and in many cases is the most abundant constituent.

Oxalate of lime, like carbonate of lime, is derived from the burning up of the carbonaceous matter of the feed in the system, one important factor being the less perfect oxidation of the carbon. Indeed, Füstenberg and Schmidt have demonstrated on man, horse, ox, and rabbit that under the full play of the breathing (oxidizing) forces oxalic acid, like other organic acids, is resolved into carbonic acid.[Pg 155] In keeping with this is the observation of Lehmann, that in all cases in which man suffered from interference with the breathing oxalate of lime appeared in the urine. An excess of oxalate of lime in the urine may, however, claim a different origin. Uric and hippuric acids are found in the urine of carnivora and herbivora, respectively, as the result of the healthy wear (disassimilation) of nitrogenous tissues. If these products are fully oxidized, however, they are thrown out in the form of the more soluble urea rather than as these acids. When uric acid out of the body is treated with peroxid of lead it is resolved into urea, allantoin, and oxalic acid, and Wœhler and Frerrichs found that the administration of uric acid not only increased the excretion of urea but also of oxalic acid. It may therefore be inferred that oxalic acid is not produced from the carbonaceous feed alone but also from the disintegration of the nitrogenous tissues of the body. An important element of its production is, however, the imperfect performance of the breathing functions, and hence it is liable to result from diseases of the chest (heaves, chronic bronchitis, etc.). This is, above all, liable to prove the case if the subject is fed to excess on highly carbonaceous feeds (grass and green feed generally, potatoes, etc.).

Carbonate of magnesia, another almost constant ingredient of the urinary calculi of the horse, is formed the same way as the carbonate of lime—from the excess of carbonaceous feed (organic acids) becoming oxidized into carbon dioxid, which unites with the magnesia derived from the feed.

The phosphates of lime and magnesia are not abundant in urinary calculi of the horse, the phosphates being present to excess in the urine in only two conditions—(a) when the ration is excessive and especially rich in phosphorus (wheat, bran, beans, peas, vetches, rape cake, oil cake, cottonseed cake); and (b) when, through the morbid, destructive changes in the living tissues, and especially of the bones, a great quantity of phosphorus is given off as a waste product. Under these conditions, however, the phosphates may contribute to the formation of calculi, and this, above all, is liable if the urine is retained in the bladder until it has undergone decomposition and given off ammonia. The ammonia at once unites with the phosphate of magnesia to form a double salt—phosphate of ammonia and magnesia—which, being insoluble, is at once precipitated. The precipitation of this salt is, however, rare in the urine of the horse, though much more frequent in that of man and sheep.

These are the chief mineral constituents of the urine which form ingredients in the horse's calculi, for though iron and manganese are usually present it is only in minute quantities.[Pg 156]

The excess of mineral matter in a specimen of urine unquestionably contributes to the formation of calculi, just as a solution of such matters out of the body is increasingly disposed to throw them down in the form of crystals as it becomes more concentrated and approaches nearer to the condition of saturation. Hence, in considering the causes of calculi we can not ignore the factor of an excessive ration, rich in mineral matters and in carbonaceous matters (the source of carbonates and much of the oxalates), nor can we overlook the concentration of the urine that comes from dry feed and privation of water, or from the existence of fever which causes suspension of the secretion of water. In these cases, at least the usual quantity of solids is thrown off by the kidneys, and as the water is diminished there is danger of its approaching the point of supersaturation, when the dissolved solids must necessarily be thrown down. Hence, calculi are more common in stable horses fed on dry grain and hay, in those denied a sufficiency of water or that have water supplied irregularly, in those subjected to profuse perspiration (as in summer), and in those suffering from a watery diarrhea. On the whole, calculi are most commonly found in winter, because the horses are then on dry feeding, but such dry feeding is even more conducive to them in summer when the condition is aggravated by the abundant loss of water by the skin.

In the same way the extreme hardness of the water in certain districts must be looked upon as contributing to the concentration of the urine and correspondingly to the production of stone. The carbonates, sulphates, etc., of lime and magnesia taken in the water must be again thrown out, and just in proportion as these add to the solids of the urine they dispose it to precipitate its least soluble constituents. Thus the horse is very subject to calculi on certain limestone soils, as over the calcareous formations of central and western New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, in America; of Norfolk, Suffolk, Derbyshire, Shropshire, and Gloucestershire, in England; of Poitou and Landes, in France; and Munich, in Bavaria.

The saturation of the urine from any or all of these conditions can only be looked on as an auxiliary cause, however, and not as in itself an efficient one, except on the rarest occasions. For a more direct and immediate cause we must look to the organic matter which forms a large proportion of all urinary calculi. This consists of mucus, albumen, pus, hyaline casts of the uriniferous tubes, epithelial cells, blood, etc., mainly agents that belong to the class of colloid or noncrystalline bodies. A horse may live for months and years with the urine habitually of a high density and having the mineral constituents in excess without the formation of stone or gravel; again, one with dilute urine of low specific gravity will have a calculus.[Pg 157]

Rainey, Ord, and others furnish the explanation. They not only show that a colloid body, like mucus, albumen, pus, or blood, determined the precipitation or the crystalline salts in the solution, but they determined the precipitation in the form of globules, or spheres, capable of developing by further deposits into calculi. Heat intensifies this action of the colloids, and a colloid in a state of decomposition is specially active. The presence, therefore, of developing fungi and bacteria must be looked upon as active factors in causing calculi.

In looking, therefore, for the immediate causes of calculi we must consider especially all those conditions which determine the presence of albumen, blood, and excess of mucus, pus, etc., in the urine. Thus diseases of distant organs leading to albuminuria, diseases of the kidneys and urinary passages causing the escape of blood or the formation of mucus or pus, become direct causes of calculi. Foreign bodies of all kinds in the bladder or kidney have long been known as determining causes of calculi and as forming the central nucleus. This is now explained by the fact that these bodies are liable to carry bacteria into the passages and thus determine decomposition, and they are further liable to irritate the mucous membrane and become enveloped in a coating of mucus, pus, and perhaps blood.

The fact that horses, especially on the magnesian limestones, the same districts in which they suffer from goiter, appear to suffer from calculi may be similarly explained. The unknown poison which produces goiter presumably leads to such changes in the blood and urine as will furnish the colloid necessary for precipitation of the urinary salts in the form of calculi.


These have been named according to the place where they are found, renal (kidney), ureteric (ureter), vesical (bladder), urethral (urethra), and preputial (sheath, or prepuce). They have been otherwise named according to their most abundant chemical constituent, carbonate of lime, oxalate of lime, and phosphate of lime calculi. The stones formed of carbonates or phosphates are usually smooth on the surface, though they may be molded into the shape of the cavity in which they have been formed; thus those in the pelvis of the kidney may have two or three short branchlike prolongations, while those in the bladder are round, oval, or slightly flattened upon each other. Calculi containing oxalate of lime, on the other hand, have a rough, open, crystalline surface, which has gained for them the name of mulberry calculi, from a supposed resemblance to that fruit. These are usually covered with more or less mucus or blood, produced by the irritation of the mucous membrane by their rough[Pg 158] surfaces. The color of calculi varies from white to yellow and deep brown, the shades depending mainly on the amount of the coloring matter of blood, bile, or urine which they may contain.

Renal calculi.—These may consist of minute, almost microscopic, deposits in the uriniferous tubes in the substance of the kidney, but more commonly they are large masses and lodged in the pelvis. The larger calculi, sometimes weighing 12 to 24 ounces, are molded in the pelvis of the kidney into a cylindroid mass, with irregular rounded swellings at intervals. Some have a deep brown, rough, crystalline surface of oxalate of lime, while others have a smooth, pearly white aspect from carbonate of lime. A smaller calculus, which has been called coralline, is also cylindroid, with a number of brown, rough, crystalline oxalate of lime branches and whitish depressions of carbonate. These vary in size from 15 grains to nearly 2 ounces. Less frequently are found masses of very hard, brownish white, rounded, pealike calculi. These are smoother, but on the surface crystals of oxalate of lime may be detected with a lens. Some renal calculi are formed of more distinct layers, more loosely adherent to one another, and contain an excess of mucus, but no oxalate of lime. Finally, a loose aggregation of small masses, forming a very friable calculus, is found of all sizes within the limits of the pelvis of the kidney. These, too, are in the main carbonate of lime (84 to 88 per cent) and without oxalate.

Symptoms of renal calculi are violent, colicky, pains, appearing suddenly, very often in connection with exhausting work or the drawing of specially heavy loads, and in certain cases disappearing with equal suddenness. The nature of the colic becomes more manifest if it is associated with stiffness of the back and hind limbs, frequent passage of urine, and, above all, the passage of gravel with the urine, especially at the time of the access of relief. The passage of blood and pus in the urine is equally significant. If the irritation of the kidney goes on to active inflammation, then the symptoms of nephritis are added.

Ureteric calculi.—These are so called because they are found in the passage leading from the kidney to the bladder. They are simply small, renal calculi which have escaped from the pelvis of the kidney and have become arrested in the ureter. They give rise to symptoms almost identical with those of renal calculi, with this difference, that the colicky pains, caused by the obstruction of the ureter by the impacted calculus, are more violent, and if the calculus passes on into the bladder the relief is instantaneous and complete. If the ureter is completely blocked for a length of time, the retained urine may give rise to destructive inflammation in the kidney, which may end in the entire absorption of that organ, leaving only a fibrous[Pg 159] capsule containing an urinous fluid. If both the ureters are similarly blocked, the animal will die of uremic poisoning.

Treatment of renal and ureteric calculi.—Treatment is unsatisfactory, as it is only the small calculi that can pass through the ureters and escape into the bladder. This may be favored by agents which will relax the walls of the ureters by counteracting their spasm and even lessening their tone, and by a liberal use of water and watery fluids to increase the urine and the pressure upon the calculus from behind. One or two ounces of laudanum, or 2 drams of extract of belladonna, may be given and repeated as it may be necessary, the relief of the pain being a fair criterion of the abating of the spasm. To the same end use warm fomentations across the loins, and these should be kept up persistently until relief is obtained. These act not only by soothing and relieving the spasm and inflammation, but they also favor the freer secretion of a more watery urine, and thus tend to carry off the smaller calculi. To accomplish this object further give cool water freely, and let the feed be only such as contains a large proportion of liquid, gruels, mashes, turnips, beets, apples, pumpkins, ensilage, succulent grasses, etc. If the acute stage has passed and the presence of the calculus is manifested only by the frequent passage of urine with gritty particles, by stiffness of the loins and hind limbs, and by tenderness to pressure, the most promising resort is a long run at pasture where the grasses are fresh and succulent. The long-continued secretion of a watery urine will sometimes cause the breaking down of a calculus, as the imbibition of the less dense fluid by the organic, spongelike framework of the calculus causes it to swell and thus lessens its cohesion. The same end is sought by the long-continued use of alkalies (carbonate of potassium), and of acids (muriatic), each acting in a different way to alter the density and cohesion of the stone. It is only exceptionally, however, that any one of these methods is entirely satisfactory. If inflammation of the kidneys develops, treat as advised under that head.

Stone in the bladder (vesical calculus, or cystic calculus).—These may be of any size up to over a pound in weight. One variety is rough and crystalline and has a yellowish-white or deep-brown color. These contain about 87 per cent carbonate of lime, the remainder being carbonate of magnesia, oxalate of lime, and organic matter. The phosphatic calculi are smooth, white and formed of thin, concentric layers of great hardness extending from the nucleus outward. Besides the phosphate of lime they contain the carbonates of lime and magnesia and organic matter. In some cases the bladder contains and may be even distended by a soft, pultaceous mass made up of minute, round granules of carbonates of lime and magnesia. This, when removed and dried, makes a firm, white, and stony mass.[Pg 160] Sometimes this magma is condensed into a solid mass in the bladder by reason of the binding action of the mucus and other organic matter, and then forms a conglomerate stone of nearly uniform consistency and without stratification.

Symptoms of stone in the bladder.—The symptoms of stone in the bladder are more obvious than those of renal calculus. The rough, mulberry calculi especially lead to irritation of the mucous membrane and frequent passing of urine in small quantities and often mingled with mucus or blood or containing minute, gritty particles. At times the flow is suddenly arrested, though the animal continues to strain and the bladder is not quite emptied. In the smooth, phosphatic variety the irritation is much less marked and may even be altogether absent. With the pultaceous deposit in the bladder there is incontinence of urine, which dribbles away continually and keeps the hair on the inner side of the thighs matted with soft magma. In all cases alike the calculus may be felt by the examination of the bladder with the oiled hand in the rectum. The pear-shaped outline of the bladder can be felt beneath, and within it the solid, oval body. It is most easily recognized if the organ is half full of liquid, as then it is not grasped by the contracting walls of the bladder, but may be made to move from place to place in the liquid. If a pultaceous mass is present it has a soft, doughy feeling, and when pressed an indentation is left.

In the mare the hard stone may be touched by the finger introduced through the short urethra.

Treatment of stone in the bladder.—The treatment of stone in the bladder consists in the removal of the offending body; in the mare this is easily effected with the lithotomy forceps. These are slightly warmed and oiled, and carried forward along the floor of the passage of the vulva for 4 inches, when the orifice of the urethra will be felt exactly in the median line. Through this the forceps are gradually pushed with gentle, oscillating movement until they enter the bladder and strike against the hard surface of the stone. The stone is now grasped between the blades, care being taken to include no loose fold of the mucous membrane, and it is gradually withdrawn with the same careful, oscillating motions as before. Facility and safety in seizing the stone will be greatly favored by having the bladder half full of liquid, and if necessary one oiled hand may be introduced into the rectum or vagina to assist. The resulting irritation may be treated by an injection of laudanum, 1 ounce in a pint of tepid water.

The removal of the stone in the horse is a much more difficult proceeding. It consists in cutting into the urethra just beneath the anus and introducing the lithotomy forceps from this forward into the bladder, as in the mare. It is needful to distend the urethra with[Pg 161] tepid water or to insert a sound or catheter to furnish a guide upon which the incision may be made, and in case of a large stone it may be needful to enlarge the passage by cutting in a direction upward and outward with a probe-pointed knife, the back of which is slid along in the groove of a director until it enters the bladder.

The horse may be operated upon in the standing position, being simply pressed against the wall by a pole passed from before backward along the other side of the body. The tepid water is injected into the end of the penis until it is felt to fluctuate under the pressure of the finger, in the median line over the bone just beneath the anus. The incision is then made into the center of the fluctuating canal, and from above downward. When a sound or catheter is used as a guide it is inserted through the penis until it can be felt through the skin at the point where the incision is to be made beneath the anus. The skin is then rendered tense by the thumb and fingers of the left hand pressing on the two sides of the sound, while the right hand, armed with a scalpel, cuts downward onto the catheter. This vertical incision into the canal should escape wounding any important blood vessel. It is in making the obliquely lateral incision in the subsequent dilatation of the urethra and neck of the bladder that such danger is to be apprehended.

If the stone is too large to be extracted through the urethra, it may be broken down with the lithotrite and extracted piecemeal with the forceps. The lithotrite is an instrument composed of a straight stem bent for an inch or more to one side at its free end so as to form an obtuse angle, and having on the same side a sliding bar moving in a groove in the stem and operated by a screw so that the stone may be seized between the two blades at its free extremity and crushed again and again into pieces small enough to extract. Extra care is required to avoid injury to the urethra in the extraction of the angular fragments, and the gravel or powder that can not be removed in this way must be washed out, as advised below.

When a pultaceous magma of carbonate of lime accumulates in the bladder it must be washed out by injecting water through a catheter by means of a force pump or a funnel, shaking it up with the hand introduced through the rectum and allowing the muddy liquid to flow out through the tube. This is to be repeated until the bladder is empty and the water come away, clear. A catheter with a double tube is sometimes used, the injection passing in through the one tube and escaping through the other. The advantage is more apparent than real, however, as the retention of the water until the magma has been shaken up and mixed with it hastens greatly its complete evacuation.[Pg 162]

To prevent the formation of a new deposit any fault in feeding (dry grain and hay with privation of water, excess of beans, peas, wheat bran, etc.) and disorders of stomach, liver, and lungs must be corrected. Give abundance of soft drinking water, encouraging the animal to drink by a handful of salt daily. Let the feed be laxative, consisting largely of roots, apples, pumpkins, ensilage, and give daily in the drinking water a dram of either carbonate of potash or soda. Powdered gentian root (3 drams daily) will also serve to restore the tone of the stomach and system at large.

Urethral calculus (stone in the urethra).—This is less frequent in horses than in cattle and sheep, owing to the larger size of the urethra in the horse and the absence of the S-shaped curve and vermiform appendix. The calculi arrested in the urethra are never formed there, but consist of cystic calculi which have been small enough to pass through the neck of the bladder, but are too large to pass through the whole length of the urethra and escape. Such calculi therefore are primarily formed either in the bladder or kidney, and have the chemical composition of the other calculi found in those organs. They may be arrested at any point of the urethra, from the neck of the bladder back to the bend of the tube beneath the anus, and from that point down to the extremity of the penis. I have found them most frequently in the papilla on the extreme end of the penis, and immediately behind this.

Symptoms of urethral calculus.—The symptoms are violent straining to urinate, but without any discharge, or with the escape of water in drops only. Examination of the end of the penis will detect the swelling of the papilla or the urethra behind it, and the presence of a hard mass in the center. A probe inserted into the urethra will strike against the gritty calculus. If the stone has been arrested higher up, its position may be detected as a small, hard, sensitive knot on the line of the urethra, in the median line of the lower surface of the penis, or on the floor of pelvis in the median line from the neck of the bladder back to the bend of the urethra beneath the anus. In any case the urethra between the neck of the bladder and the point of obstruction is liable to be filled with fluid, and to feel like a distended tube, fluctuating on pressure.

Treatment of urethral calculus may be begun by an attempt to extract the calculi by manipulation of the papilla on the end of the penis. This failing, the calculus may be seized with a pair of fine-pointed forceps and withdrawn from the urethra; or, if necessary, a probe-pointed knife may be inserted and the urethra slightly dilated, or even laid open, and the stone removed. If the stone has been arrested higher up it must be extracted by a direct incision through the walls of the urethra and down upon the nodule. If in the free[Pg 163] (protractile) portion of the penis, that organ is to be withdrawn from its sheath until the nodule is exposed and can be incised. If behind the scrotum, the incision must be made in the median line between the thighs and directly over the nodule, the skin having been rendered tense by the fingers and thumb of the left hand. If the stone has been arrested in the intrapelvic portion of the urethra, the incision must be made beneath the anus and the calculus extracted with forceps, as in stone in the bladder. The wound in the urethra may be stitched up, and usually heals slowly but satisfactorily. Healing will be favored by washing two or three times daily with a solution of a teaspoonful of carbolic acid in a pint of water.

Preputial calculus (calculus in the sheath, or bilocular cavity).—These are concretions in the sheath, though the term has been also applied to the nodule of sebaceous matter which accumulates in the blind pouches (bilocular cavity) by the sides of the papilla on the end of the penis. Within the sheath the concretion may be a soft, cheesy-like sebaceous matter, or a genuine calculus of carbonate, oxalate, phosphate and sulphate of lime, carbonate of magnesia, and organic matter. These are easily removed with the fingers, after which the sheath should be washed out with castile soap and warm water and smeared with sweet oil.

[Pg 164]


By James Law, F. R. C. V. S.,

Formerly Professor of Veterinary Science, etc., in Cornell University.


In the prime of life, in vigorous health, and on stimulating feed, stallions are subject to congestion of the testicles, which become swollen, hot, and tender, but without any active inflammation. A reduction of the grain in the feed, the administration of 1 or 2 ounces of Glauber's salt daily in the feed, and the bathing of the affected organs daily with tepid water or alum water will usually restore them to a healthy condition.

When the factors producing congestion are extraordinarily potent, when there has been frequent copulation and heavy grain feeding, when the weather is warm and the animal has had little exercise, and when the proximity of other horses or mares excites the generative instinct without gratification, this congestion may grow to actual inflammation. Among the other causes of orchitis are blows and penetrating wounds implicating the testicles, abrasions of the scrotum by a chain or rope passing inside the thigh, contusions and frictions on the gland under rapid paces or heavy draft, compression of the blood vessels of the spermatic cord by the inguinal ring under the same circumstances, and, finally, sympathetic disturbance in cases of disease of the kidneys, bladder, or urethra. Stimulants of the generative functions, like rue, savin, tansy, cantharides, and damiana, may also be accessory causes of congestion and inflammation. Finally, certain specific diseases, like dourine, glanders, and tuberculosis, localized in the testicles, will cause inflammation.

Symptoms.—Apart from actual wounds of the parts, the symptoms of orchitis are swelling, heat, and tenderness of the testicles, straddling with the hind legs alike in standing and walking, stiffness and dragging of the hind limbs or of the limb on the affected side, arching of the loins, abdominal pain, manifested by glancing back at the flank, more or less fever, elevated body temperature, accelerated pulse and breathing, lack of appetite, and dullness. In bad[Pg 165] cases the scanty urine may be reddish and the swelling may extend to the skin and envelopes of the testicle, which may become thickened and doughy, pitting on pressure. The swelling may be so much greater in the convoluted excretory duct along the upper border of the testicle as to suggest the presence of a second stone. Even in the more violent attacks the intense suffering abates somewhat on the second or third day. If it lasts longer, it is liable to give rise to the formation of matter (abscess). In exceptional cases the testicle is struck with gangrene, or death. Improvement may go on slowly to complete recovery, or the malady may subside into a subacute and chronic form with induration. Matter (abscess) may be recognized by the presence of a soft spot, where pressure with two fingers will detect fluctuation from one to the other. When there is liquid exudation into the scrotum, or sac, fluctuation may also be felt, but the liquid can be made out to be around the testicle and can be pressed up into the abdomen through the inguinal canal. When abscess occurs in the cord the matter may escape into the scrotal sac and cavity of the abdomen and pyemia may follow.

Treatment consists in perfect rest and quietude, the administration of a purgative (1 to 1-1/2 pounds Glauber's salt), and the local application of an astringent lotion (acetate of lead 2 drams, extract of belladonna 2 drams, and water 1 quart) upon soft rags or cotton wool, kept in contact with the part by a suspensory bandage. This bandage, of great value for support, may be made nearly triangular and tied to a girth around the loins and to the upper part of the same surcingle by two bands carried backward and upward between the thighs. In severe cases scarifications one-fourth inch deep serve to relieve vascular tension. When abscess is threatened its formation may be favored by warm fomentations or poultices, and on the occurrence of fluctuation the knife may be used to give free escape to the pus. The resulting cavity may be injected daily with a weak carbolic-acid lotion, or salol may be introduced. The same agents may be used on a gland threatened with gangrene, but its prompt removal by castration is to be preferred, antiseptics being applied freely to the resulting cavity.


This is an enlarged and indurated condition of the gland, resulting from chronic inflammation, though it is often associated with a specific deposit, like glanders. In this condition the natural structure of the gland has given place to embryonal tissue (small, round cells, with a few fibrous bundles), and its restoration to health is very improbable. Apart from active inflammation, it may increase very slowly. The diseased testicle is enlarged, firm, nonelastic, and comparatively[Pg 166] insensible. The skin of the scrotum is tense, and it may be edematous (pitting on pressure), as are the deeper envelopes and spermatic cord. If liquid is present in the sac, the symptoms are masked somewhat. As it increases it causes awkward, straddling, dragging movement of the hind limbs, or lameness on the affected side. The spermatic cord often increases at the same time with the testicle, and the inguinal ring being thereby stretched and enlarged, a portion of intestine may escape into the sac, complicating the disease with hernia.

The only rational and effective treatment is castration, and when the disease is specific (glanders, tuberculosis), even this may not succeed.


This may be merely an accompaniment of dropsy of the abdomen, the cavity of which is continuous with that of the scrotum in horses. It may be the result, however, of local disease in the testicle, spermatic cord, or walls of the sac.

Symptoms.—The symptoms are enlargement of the scrotum, and fluctuation under the fingers, the testicle being recognized as floating in water. By pressure the liquid is forced, in a slow stream and with a perceptible thrill, into the abdomen. Sometimes the cord or the scrotum is thickened and pits on pressure.

Treatment may be the same as for ascites, yet when the effusion has resulted from inflammation of the testicle or cord, astringent applications (chalk and vinegar) may be applied to these. Then, if the liquid is not reabsorbed under diuretics and tonics, it may be drawn off through the nozzle of a hypodermic syringe which has been first passed through carbolic acid. In geldings it is best to dissect out the sacs.


This is an enlargement of the venous network of the spermatic cord, and gives rise to general thickening of the cord from the testicle up to the ring. The same astringent dressings may be tried as in hydrocele, and, this failing, castration may be resorted to.


Sometimes one or both testicles are wanting; in most such cases, however, they are merely partially developed, and retained in the inguinal canal or abdomen (cryptorchid). In rare cases there may be a third testicle, the animal becoming to this extent a double monster. Teeth, hair, and other indications of a second fetus have likewise been found in the testicle or scrotum.[Pg 167]


The testicles may become the seat of fibrous, calcareous, fatty, cartilaginous, or cystic degeneration, for all which the appropriate treatment is castration. They also become the seat of cancer, glanders, or tuberculosis, and castration is requisite, though with less hope of arresting the disease. Finally, they may become infested with cystic tapeworms or the agamic stage of a strongyle (Strongylus edentatus).


These are best removed by twisting them off, using the thumb and forefinger. They may also be cut off with scissors and the roots cauterized with nitrate of silver.


The penis of the horse is subject to great cauliflower-like growths on its free end, which extend back into the substance of the organ, obstruct the passage of urine, and cause very fetid discharges. The only resort is to cut them off, together with whatever portion of the penis has become diseased and indurated. The operation, which should be performed by a veterinary surgeon, consists in cutting through the organ from its upper to its lower aspect, twisting or tying the two dorsal arteries, and leaving the urethra longer by half an inch to 1 inch than the adjacent structures.


As the result of kicks, blows, or of forcible striking of the penis on the thighs of the mare which it has failed to enter, the penis may become the seat of effusion of blood from one or more ruptured blood vessels. This gives rise to a more or less extensive swelling on one or more sides, followed by some heat and inflammation, and on recovery a serious curving of the organ. The treatment in the early stages may be the application of lotions, of alum, or other astringents, to limit the effusion and favor absorption. The penis should be suspended in a sling.


This results from blows and other injuries, and also in some cases from too frequent and exhausting service. The penis hangs from the sheath, flaccid, pendulous, and often cold. The passage of urine occurs with lessened force, and especially without the final jets. In cases of local injury the inflammation should first be subdued by astringent and emollient lotions, and in all cases the system should[Pg 168] be invigorated by nourishing diet, while 30-grain doses of nux vomica are given twice a day. Finally, a weak current of electricity sent through the penis from just beneath the anus to the free portion of the penis, continued for 10 or 15 minutes and repeated daily, may prove successful.


Some stallions acquire this vicious habit, stimulating the sexual instinct to the discharge of semen by rubbing the penis against the belly or between the fore limbs. The only remedy is a mechanical one, the fixing of a net under the penis in such fashion as to prevent the extension of the penis or so prick the organ as to compel the animal to desist through pain.


This disease is discussed in the chapter on "Infectious Diseases."



This is usually done at 1 year old, but may be accomplished at a few weeks old at the expense of an imperfect development of the fore parts. The simplicity and safety of the operation are greatest in the young. The delay till 2, 3, or 4 years old will secure a better development and carriage of the fore parts. The essential part of castration is the safe removal or destruction of the testicle and the arrest or prevention of bleeding from the spermatic artery round in the anterior part of the cord. Into the many methods of accomplishing this limited space forbids us to enter here, so that only the method most commonly adopted, castration by clamps, will be noticed. The animal having been thrown on his left side, and the right hind foot drawn up on the shoulder, the exposed scrotum, penis, and sheath are washed with soap and water, any concretion of sebum being carefully removed from the bilocular cavity in the end of the penis. The left spermatic cord, just above the testicle, is now seized in the left hand, so as to render the skin tense over the stone, and the right hand, armed with the knife, makes an incision from before backward, about three-fourths of an inch from and parallel to the median line between the thighs, deep enough to expose the testicle and long enough to allow that organ to start out through the skin. At the moment of making this incision the left hand must grasp the cord very firmly, otherwise the sudden retraction of the testicle by the cremaster muscle may draw it out of the hand and upward through the canal and even into the abdomen. In a few seconds,[Pg 169] when the struggle and retraction have ceased, the knife is inserted through the cord, between its anterior and posterior portions, and the latter, the one which the muscle retracts, is cut completely through. The testicle will now hang limp, and there is no longer any tendency to retraction. It should be pulled down until it will no longer hang loose below the wound and the clamps applied around the still attached portion of the cord, close up to the skin. The clamps, which may be made of any tough wood, are grooved along the center of the surfaces opposed to each other, thereby fulfilling two important indications—(a) enabling the clamps to hold more securely and (b) providing for the application of an antiseptic to the cord. For this purpose a dram of sulphate of copper may be mixed with an ounce of vaseline and pressed into the groove in the face of each clamp. In applying the clamp over the cord it should be drawn so close with pincers as to press out all blood from the compressed cord and destroy its vitality, and the cord applied upon the compressing clamps should be so hard-twined that it will not stretch later and slacken the hold. When the clamp has been fixed the testicle is cut off one-half to 1 inch below it, and the clamp may be left thus for 24 hours; then, by cutting the cord around one end of the clamp, the latter may be opened and the stump liberated without any danger of bleeding. Should the stump hang out of the wound it should be pushed inside with the finger and left there. The wound should begin to discharge white matter on the second day in hot weather or the third in cold, and from that time a good recovery may be expected.

The young horse suffers less from castration than the old, and very rarely perishes. Good health in the subject is all important. Castration should never be attempted during the prevalence of strangles, influenza, catarrhal fever, contagious pleurisy, bronchitis, pneumonia, purpura hemorrhagica, or other specific disease, nor on subjects that have been kept in close, ill-ventilated, filthy buildings, where the system is liable to have been charged with putrid bacteria or other products. Warm weather is to be preferred to cold, but the fly time should be avoided or the flies kept at a distance by the application of a watery solution of tar, carbolic acid, or camphor to the wound.


This is the removal of a testicle or testicles that have failed to descend into the scrotum, but have been detained in the inguinal canal or inside the abdomen. The manipulation requires an accurate anatomical knowledge of the parts, and special skill, experience, and manual dexterity, and can not be made clear to the unprofessional mind in a short description. It consists, however, in the discovery and removal of the missing gland by exploring through the natural channel (the inguinal canal), or, in case it is absent, through the inguinal[Pg 170] ring or through an artificial opening made in front and above that channel between the abdominal muscles and the strong fascia on the inner side of the thigh (Poupart's ligament). Whatever method is used, the skin, hands, and instruments should be rendered aseptic with a solution of mercuric chlorid 1 part, water 2,000 parts (a carbolic-acid lotion for the instruments), and the spermatic cord is best torn through by the écraseur. In many such cases, too, it is desirable to sew up the external wound and keep the animal still, to favor healing of the wound by adhesion.


Pain after castration.—Some horses are pained and very restless for several hours after castration, and this may extend to cramps of the bowels and violent colic. This is best kept in check by carefully rubbing the patient dry when he rises from the operation, and then leading him in hand for some time. If the pain still persists a dose of laudanum (1 ounce for an adult) may be given.

Bleeding after castration.—Bleeding from the wound in the scrotum and from the little artery in the posterior portion of the spermatic cord always occurs, and in warm weather may appear to be quite free. It scarcely ever lasts, however, more than 15 minutes, and is easily checked by dashing cold water against the part.

Bleeding from the spermatic artery in the anterior part of the cord may be dangerous when due precaution has not been taken to prevent it. In such case the stump of the cord should be sought for and the artery twisted with artery forceps or tied with a silk thread. If the stump can not be found, pledgets of tow wet with tincture of muriate of iron may be stuffed into the canal to favor the formation of clot and the closure of the artery.

Strangulated spermatic cord.—If in castration the cord is left too long, so as to hang out of the wound, the skin wound in contracting grasps and strangles it, preventing the free return of blood and causing a steadily advancing swelling. In addition the cord becomes adherent to the lips of the wound in the skin, whence it derives an increased supply of blood, and is thereby stimulated to more rapid swelling. The subject walks stiffly, with a straddling gait, loses appetite, and has a rapid pulse and high fever. Examination of the wound discloses the partial closure of the skin wound and the protrusion, from its lips, of the end of the cord, red, tense, and varying in size from a hazelnut upward. If there is no material swell and little protrusion, the wound may be enlarged with the knife and the end of the cord broken loose from any connection with the skin and pushed up inside. If the swelling is larger, the mass constitutes a tumor and must be removed. (See below.)[Pg 171]

Swelling of the sheath, penis, and abdomen.—This occurs in certain unhealthy states of the system, in unhealthful seasons, as the result of operating without cleansing the sheath and penis, or of keeping the subject in a filthy, impure building, as the result of infecting the wound by hands or instruments bearing septic bacteria, or as the result of premature closure of the wound, and imprisonment of matter.

Pure air and cleanliness of groin and wound are to be obtained. Antiseptics, like the mercuric-chlorid lotion (1 part to 2,000) are to be applied to the parts; the wound, if closed, is to be opened anew, any accumulated matter or blood washed out, and the antiseptic liquid freely applied. The most tense or dependent parts of the swelling in sheath or penis, or beneath the belly, should be pricked at intervals of 3 or 4 inches to a depth of half an inch, and antiseptics freely applied to the surface. Fomentations with warm water may also be used to favor oozing from the incisions and to encourage the formation of white matter in the original wounds, which must not be allowed to close again at once. A free, creamlike discharge implies a healthy action in the sore, and is the precursor of recovery.

Phymosis and paraphymosis.—In cases of swelling, as above, the penis may be imprisoned within the sheath (phymosis) or protruded and swollen so that it can not be retracted into it (paraphymosis). In these cases the treatment indicated above, and especially the scarifications, will prove a useful preliminary resort. The use of astringent lotions is always desirable, and in case of the protruded penis the application of an elastic or simple linen bandage, so as to press the blood and accumulated fluid out, will enable the operator to return it.

Tumors on the spermatic cord.—These are due to rough handling or dragging upon the cord in castration, to strangulation of unduly long cords in the external wound, to adhesion of the end of the cord to the skin, to inflammation of the cord succeeding exposure to cold or wet, or to the presence of infection (Staphylococcus botriomyces). These tumors give rise to a stiff, straddling gait, and may be felt as hard masses in the groin connected above with the cord. They may continue to grow slowly for many years until they reach a weight of 15 or 20 pounds, and contract adhesions to all surrounding parts. If disconnected from the skin and inguinal canal they may be removed in the same manner as the testicle, while if larger and firmly adherent to the skin and surrounding parts generally, they must be carefully dissected from the parts, the arteries being tied as they are reached and the cord finally torn through with an écraseur. When the cord has become swollen and indurated up into the abdomen such removal is impossible, though a partial destruction of the mass may still be attempted by passing white-hot, pointed irons upward toward the inguinal ring in the center of the thickened and indurated cord.[Pg 172]


This is only required in case of hernia or protrusion of bowels or omentum into the sac of the scrotum, and consists in the return of the hernia and the application of the caustic clamps over the cord and inner walls of the inguinal canal, so that the walls of the latter become adherent above the clamps, the canal is obliterated, and further protrusion is hindered. For the full description of this and of the operation for hernia for geldings, see remarks on hernia.


Castration is a much more dangerous operation in the mare than in the females of other domesticated quadrupeds and should never be resorted to except in animals that become unmanageable on the recurrence of heat and that will not breed or that are utterly unsuited to breeding. Formerly the operation was extensively practiced in Europe, the incision being made through the flank, and a large proportion of the subjects perished. By operating through the vagina the risk can be largely obviated, as the danger of unhealthy inflammation in the wound is greatly lessened. The animal should be fixed in a trevis, with each foot fixed to a post and a sling placed under the body, or it may be thrown and put under chloroform. The manual operation demands special professional knowledge and skill, but it consists essentially in making an opening through the roof of the vagina just above the neck of the womb, then following with the hand each horn of the womb until the ovary on that side is reached and grasped between the lips of forceps and twisted off. It might be torn off by an écraseur especially constructed for the purpose. The straining that follows the operation may be checked by ounce doses of laudanum, and any risk of protrusion of the bowels may be obviated by applying the truss advised to prevent eversion of the womb. To further prevent the pressure of the abdominal contents against the vaginal wound the mare should be tied short and high for twenty-four or forty-eight hours, after which I have found it best to remove the truss and allow the privilege of lying down. Another important point is to give bran mashes and other laxative diet only, and in moderate quantity, for a fortnight, and to unload the rectum by copious injections of warm water in case impaction is imminent.


Sterility may be in the male or in the female. If due to the stallion, then all the mares put to him remain barren; if the fault is in the mare, she alone fails to conceive, while other mares served by the same stallion get in foal.

In the stallion sterility may be due to the following causes: (a) Imperfect development of the testicles, as in cases in which they are[Pg 173] retained within the abdomen; (b) inflammation of the testicles, resulting in induration; (c) fatty degeneration of the testicles, in stallions liberally fed on starchy feed and not sufficiently exercised; (d) fatty degeneration of the excretory ducts of the testicles (vasa deferentia); (e) inflammation or ulceration of these ducts; (f) inflammation or ulceration of the mucous membrane covering the penis; (g) injuries to the penis from blows (often causing paralysis); (h) warty growths on the end of the penis; (i) tumors of other kinds (largely pigmentary), affecting the testicles or penis; (j) nervous diseases which abolish the sexual appetite or that control the muscles which are essential to the act of coition; (k) azoturia with resulting weakness or paralysis of the muscles of the loins or the front of the thigh (above the stifle); (l) ossification (anchylosis) of the joints of the back or loins, which render the animal unable to rear or mount; (m) spavins, ringbones, or other painful affections of the hind limbs, the pain of which in mounting causes the animal to suddenly stop short in the act. In the first three of these only (a, b, and c) is there real sterility in the sense of the nondevelopment or imperfect development of the male vivifying element (spermatozoa). In the other examples the secretion may be imperfect in kind and amount, but as copulation is prevented it can not reach and impregnate the ovum.

In the mare barrenness is equally due to a variety of causes. In a number of breeding studs the proportion of sterile mares has varied from 20 to 40 per cent. It may be due to: (a) Imperfect development of the ovary and nonmaturation of ova; (b) cystic or other tumors of the ovary; (c) fatty degeneration of the ovary in very obese, pampered mares; (d) fatty degeneration of the excretory tubes of the ovaries (Fallopian tubes); (e) catarrh of the womb, with mucopurulent discharge; (f) irritable condition of the womb, with profuse secretion, straining, and ejection of the semen; (g) nervous irritability, leading to the same expulsion of the male element; (h) high condition (plethora), with profuse secretion and excitement; (i) low condition, with imperfect maturation of the ova and lack of sexual desire; (j) poor feeding, overwork, and chronic debilitating diseases, as leading to the condition just named; (k) closure of the neck of the womb, temporarily by spasm or permanently by inflammation and induration; (l) closure of the entrance to the vagina through imperforate hymen, a rare, though not unknown, condition in the mare; (m) acquired indisposition to breed, seen in old, hard-worked mares which are first put to the stallion when aged; (n) change of climate has repeatedly been followed by barrenness; (o) hybridity, which in male and female alike usually entails sterility.[Pg 174]

Treatment.—The treatment of the majority of these conditions will be found dealt with in other parts of this work, so that it is only necessary here to name them as causes. Some, however, must be specially referred to in this place. Stallions with undescended testicles are beyond the reach of medicine, and should be castrated and devoted to other uses. Indurated testicles may sometimes be remedied in the early stages by smearing with a weak iodin ointment daily for a length of time, and at the same time invigorating the system by liberal feeding and judicious work. Fatty degeneration is best met by an albuminoid diet (wheat bran, cottonseed meal, rape cake) and constant, well-regulated work. Saccharine, starchy, and fatty food (potatoes, wheat, corn, etc.) are to be specially avoided. In the mare one diseased and irritable ovary should be removed, to do away with the resulting excitability of the remainder of the generative organs. An irritable womb, with frequent straining and the ejection of a profuse secretion, may sometimes be corrected by a restricted diet and full but well-regulated work. Even fatigue will act beneficially in some such cases, hence the practice of the Arab riding his mare to exhaustion just before service. The perspiration in such case, like the action of a purgative or the abstraction of blood just before service, benefits, by rendering the blood vessels less full, by lessening secretion in the womb and elsewhere, and thus counteracting the tendency to the ejection and loss of semen. If these means are ineffectual, a full dose of camphor (2 drams) or of salicin may at times assist. Low condition and anemia demand just the opposite kind of treatment—rich, nourishing, albuminoid feed, bitter tonics (gentian), sunshine, gentle exercise, liberal grooming, and supporting treatment generally are here in order.

Spasmodic closure of the neck of the womb is common and is easily remedied in the mare by dilatation with the fingers. The hand, smeared with belladonna ointment and with the fingers drawn into the form of a cone, is introduced through the vagina until the projecting, rounded neck of the womb is felt at its anterior end. This is opened by the careful insertion of one finger at a time, until the fingers have been passed through the constricted neck into the open cavity of the womb. The introduction is made with a gentle, rotary motion, and all precipitate violence is avoided, as abrasion, laceration, or other cause of irritation is likely to interfere with the retention of the semen and consequently with impregnation. If the neck of the womb is rigid and unyielding from the induration which follows inflammation—a rare condition in the mare, though common in the cow—more force will be requisite, and it may even be needful to incise the neck to the depth of one-sixth of an inch[Pg 175] in four or more opposite directions prior to forcible dilatation. The incision may be made with a probe-pointed knife, and should be done by a professional man if possible. The subsequent dilatation may be best effected by the slow expansion of sponge or seaweed tents inserted into the narrow canal. In such cases it is best to let the wounds of the neck heal before putting to horse. An imperforate hymen may be freely incised in a crucial manner until the passage will admit the human hand. An ordinary knife may be used for this purpose, and after the operation the stallion may be admitted at once or only after the wounds have healed.



As the mere fact of service by the stallion does not insure pregnancy, it is important that the result should be determined to save the mare from unnecessary and dangerous work or medication when actually in foal and to obviate wasteful and needless precautions when she is not.

The cessation and nonrecurrence of the symptoms of heat (horsing) are most significant, though not an infallible, sign of conception. If the sexual excitement speedily subsides and the mare persistently refuses the stallion for a month, she is probably pregnant. In very exceptional cases a mare, though pregnant, will accept a second or third service after weeks or months, and some mares will refuse the horse persistently, though conception has not taken place, and this in spite of warm weather, good condition of the mare, and liberal feeding. The recurrence of heat in the pregnant mare is most liable to take place in hot weather. If heat merely persists an undue length of time after service, or if it reappears shortly after, in warm weather and in a comparatively idle mare, on good feeding, it is less significant, while the persistent absence of heat under such conditions may be usually accepted as proof of conception.

An unwonted gentleness and docility on the part of a previously irritable or vicious mare, and supervening on service, is an excellent indication of pregnancy, the generative instinct which caused the excitement having been satisfied.

An increase of fat, with softness and flabbiness of muscle, a loss of energy, indisposition for active work, a manifestation of laziness, indeed, and of fatigue early and easily induced, when preceded by service, will usually imply conception.

Enlargement of the abdomen, especially in its lower third, with slight falling in beneath the loins and hollowness of the back are significant symptoms, though they may be entirely absent. Swelling[Pg 176] and firmness of the udder, with the smoothing out of its wrinkles, is a suggestive sign, even though it appears only at intervals during gestation.

A steady increase in weight (1-1/2 pounds daily) about the fourth or fifth month is a useful indication of pregnancy. So is a swollen and red or bluish-red appearance of the vaginal mucous membrane.

From the seventh or eighth month onward the foal may be felt by the hand (palm or knuckles) pressed into the abdomen in front of the left stifle. The sudden push displaces the foal toward the opposite side of the womb, and as it floats back its hard body is felt to strike against the hand. If the pressure is maintained the movements of the live foal are felt, and especially in the morning and after a drink of cold water or during feeding. A drink of cold water will often stimulate the fetus to movements that may be seen by the eye, but an excess of iced water may prove injurious, even to the causing of abortion. Cold water dashed on the belly has a similar effect on the fetus and is equally provocative of abortion.

Examination of the uterus with the oiled hand introduced into the rectum is still more satisfactory, and, if cautiously conducted, no more dangerous. The rectum must be first emptied and then the hand carried forward until it reaches the front edge of the pelvic bones below, and pressed downward to ascertain the size and outline of the womb. In the unimpregnated state the vagina and womb can be felt as a single rounded tube, dividing in front to two smaller tubes (the horns of the womb). In the pregnant mare not only the body of the womb is enlarged, but still more so one of the horns (right or left), and on compression the latter is found to contain a hard, nodular body, floating in a liquid, which in the latter half of gestation may be stimulated by gentle pressure to manifest spontaneous movements. By this method the presence of the fetus may be determined as early as the third month. If the complete, natural outline of the virgin womb can not be made out, careful examination should always be made on the right and left side for the enlarged horn and its living contents. Should there still be difficulty the mare should be placed on an inclined plane, with her hind parts lowest, and two assistants, standing on opposite sides of the body, should raise the lower part of the abdomen by a sheet passed beneath it. Finally the ear or stethoscope applied on the wall of the abdomen in front of the stifle may detect the beating of the fetal heart (one hundred and twenty-five a minute) and a blowing sound (the uterine sough), much less rapid and corresponding to the number of the pulse of the dam. It is heard most satisfactorily after the sixth or eighth month and in the absence of active rumbling of the bowels of the dam.[Pg 177]


Mares usually go about eleven months with young, though first pregnancies often last a year. Foals have lived when born at the three hundredth day, so with others carried till the four hundredth day. With the longer pregnancies there is a greater probability of male offspring.


The pregnant mare should not be exposed to teasing by a young and ardent stallion, nor should she be overworked or fatigued, particularly under the saddle or on uneven ground. Yet exercise is beneficial to both mother and offspring, and in the absence of moderate work the breeding mare should be kept in a lot where she can take exercise at will.

The feed should be liberal, but not fattening—oats, bran, sound hay, and other feeds rich in the principles which form flesh and bone being especially indicated. All aliments that tend to indigestion are to be especially avoided. Thus rank, aqueous, rapidly growing grasses and other green feed, partially ripe rye grass, millet, Hungarian grass, vetches, peas, beans, or maize are objectionable, as is overripe, fibrous, innutritious hay, or that which has been injured and rendered musty by wet, or that which is infested with smut or ergot. Feed that tends to costiveness should be avoided. Water given often, and at a temperature considerable above freezing, will avoid the dangers of indigestion and abortion which result from taking too much ice-cold water at one time. Very cold or frozen feed is objectionable in the same sense. Severe surgical operations and medicines that act violently on the womb, bowels, or kidneys are to be avoided as being liable to cause abortion. Constipation should be corrected, if possible, by bran mashes, carrots, or beets, seconded by exercise, and if a medicinal laxative is required it should be olive oil or other equally bland agent.

The stall of the pregnant mare should not be too narrow, so as to cramp her when lying down or to entail violent effort in getting up, and it should not slope too much from the front backward, as this throws the weight of the uterus back on the pelvis and endangers protrusions and even abortion. Violent mental impressions are to be avoided, for though most mares are not affected thereby, yet a certain number are so profoundly impressed that peculiarities and distortions are entailed on the offspring; hence, there is wisdom shown in banishing particolored or objectionably tinted animals, and those that show deformities or faulty conformation. Hence, too, the importance of preventing prolonged, acute suffering by the pregnant mare, as certain troubles of the eyes, feet, and joints in the foals have[Pg 178] been clearly traced to the concentration of the mother's mind on corresponding injured organs in herself. Sire and dam alike tend to reproduce their individual defects which predispose to disease, but the dam is far more liable to perpetuate the evil in her progeny which was carried while she was individually enduring severe suffering caused by such defects. Hence, an active bone spavin or ringbone, causing lameness, is more objectionable than that in which the inflammation and lameness have both passed, and an active ophthalmia is more to be feared than even an old cataract. For this reason all active diseases in the breeding mare should be soothed and abated as early as possible.


It is rare in the domestic animals to find the fetus developed elsewhere than in the womb. The exceptional forms are those in which the sperm of the male, making its way through the womb and Fallopian tubes, impregnates the ovum prior to its escape, and in which the now vitalized and growing ovum, by reason of its gradually increasing size, becomes imprisoned and fails to escape into the womb. The arrest of the ovum may be in the substance of the ovary itself (ovarian pregnancy), in the Fallopian tube (tubal pregnancy), or when by its continuous enlargement it has ruptured its envelopes so that it escapes into the cavity of the abdomen, it may become attached to any part of the serous membrane and draw its nourishment directly from that (abdominal pregnancy). In all such cases there is an increase and enlargement of the capillary blood vessels at the point to which the embryo has attached itself so as to furnish the needful nutriment for the growing offspring.

All appreciable symptoms are absent, unless from the death of the fetus, or its interference with normal functions, general disorder and indications of parturition supervene. If these occur later than the natural time for parturition, they are the more significant. There may be general malaise, loss of appetite, elevated temperature, accelerated pulse, with or without distinct labor pains. Examination with the oiled hand in the rectum will reveal the womb of the natural, unimpregnated size and shape and with both horns of one size. Further exploration may detect an elastic mass apart from the womb, in the interior of which may be felt the characteristic solid body of the fetus. If the latter is still alive and can be stimulated to move, the evidence is even more perfect. The fetus may die and be carried for years, its soft structures becoming absorbed so as to leave only the bones, or by pressure it may form a fistulous opening through the abdominal walls, or less frequently through the vagina or rectum. In the latter cases the best course is to favor the expulsion of the foal and to wash out the resulting cavity with a solution of carbolic acid 1 part[Pg 179] to water 50 parts. This may be repeated daily. When there is no spontaneous opening it is injudicious to interfere, as the danger from the retention of the fetus is less than that from septic fermentation in the enormous fetal sac when that has been opened to the air.


These are evidently products of conception, in which the impregnated ovum has failed to develop naturally, and presents only a chaotic mass of skin, hair, bones, muscles, etc., attached to the inner surface of the womb by an umbilical cord, which is itself often shriveled and wasted. They are usually accompanied with a well-developed fetus, so that the mole may be looked upon as a twin which has undergone arrest and vitiation of development. They are expelled by the ordinary process of parturition, and usually at the same time with the normally developed offspring.


This condition appears to be attributable to hypertrophy (enlargement) of the villi on the inner surface of the womb, which become greatly increased in number and hollowed out internally into a series of cysts, or pouches, containing liquid. Unlike the true mole, therefore, they appear to be disease of the maternal structure of the womb rather than of the product of conception. Rodet, in a case of this kind, which had produced active labor pains, quieted the disorder with anodynes and effected a recovery. When this can not be done, attempts may be made to remove the mass with the écraseur or otherwise, following it up with antiseptic injections, as advised under the last heading.


This appears as a result of some disease of the walls of the womb, but has been frequently observed as the result of infection after sexual congress, and has, therefore, been confounded with pregnancy. The symptoms are those of pregnancy, but without any movements of the fetus and without the detection of any solid body in the womb when examined with the oiled hand in the rectum. At the end of four or eight months there are signs of parturition or of frequent straining to pass urine, and after a time the liquid is discharged clear and watery, or muddy, thick, and fetid. The hand introduced into the womb can detect neither fetus nor fetal membrane. If the neck of the womb closes, the liquid may accumulate a second time, or even a third, if no means are taken to disinfect it or to correct the tendency. The best resort is to remove any diseased product that may be found attached to the walls of the womb and to inject it daily with a warm solution of carbolic acid 2 drams, chlorid of zinc one-half[Pg 180] dram, water 1 quart. A course of bitter tonics (gentian 2 drams, sulphate of iron 2 drams, daily) should be given, and a nutritious, easily digested, and slightly laxative diet allowed.


This differs from simple dropsy of the womb in that the fluid collects in the inner of the two water bags (that in which the foal floats) and not in the otherwise void cavity of the womb. This affection can occur only in the pregnant animal, while dropsy of the womb occurs in the unimpregnated. The blood of the pregnant mare contains an excess of water and a smaller proportion of albumen and red globules, and when this condition is still further aggravated by poor feeding and other unhygienic conditions there is developed the tendency to liquid transudation from the vessels and dropsy. As the watery condition of the blood increases with advancing pregnancy, so dropsy of the amnion is a disease of the last four or five months of gestation. The abdomen is large and pendulous, and the swelling fluctuates under pressure, though the solid body of the fetus can still be felt to strike against the hand pressed into the swelling. If the hand is introduced into the vagina, the womb is found to be tense and round, with the projecting rounded neck effaced, while the hand in the rectum will detect the rounded, swollen mass of the womb so firm and tense that the body of the fetus can not be felt within it. The mare moves weakly and unsteadily on her limbs, having difficulty in supporting the great weight, and in bad cases there may be loss of appetite, stocking (dropsy) of the hind limbs, difficult breathing, and colicky pains. The tension may lead to abortion, or a slow, laborious parturition may occur at the usual time.

Treatment consists in relieving the tension and accumulation by puncturing the fetal membrane with a cannula and trocar introduced through the neck of the womb and the withdrawal of the trocar so as to leave the cannula in situ, or the membranes may be punctured with the finger and the excess of liquid allowed to escape. This may bring on abortion, or the womb may close and gestation continue to the full term. A course of tonics (gentian root 2 drams, sulphate of iron 2 drams, daily) will do much to fortify the system and counteract further excessive effusion.


The disposition to dropsy often shows itself in the hind and even in the fore limbs, around and beneath the vulva (perineum), and beneath the abdomen and chest. The affected parts are swollen and pit on pressure, but are not especially tender, and subside more or less perfectly under exercise, hand rubbing, and bandages. In obstinate cases rubbing with the following liniment may be resorted to:[Pg 181] Compound tincture of iodin, 2 ounces; tannic acid, one-half dram; water, 10 ounces. It does not last more than a day or two after parturition.


The pressure of the distended womb on the nerves and blood vessels of the pelvis, besides conducing to dropsy, occasionally causes cramps of the hind limbs. The limb is raised without flexing the joints, the front of the hoof being directed toward the ground, or, the spasms occurring intermittently, the foot is kicked violently against the ground several times in rapid succession. The muscles are felt to be firm and rigid. The cramp may be promptly relieved by active rubbing or by walking the animal about, and it does not reappear after parturition.


This may result from compression by gravid womb, and is best corrected by a graduated allowance of boiled flaxseed.


The pressure on the nerves of the pelvis is liable to cause paralysis of the hind limbs or of the nerve of sight. These are obstinate until after parturition, when they recover spontaneously, or under a course of nux vomica and (local) stimulating liniments.


Though far less frequently than in the case of the cow, parturition may not be completed at term, and the mare, to her serious and even fatal injury, may carry the foal in the womb for a number of months. Hamon records one case in which the mare died after carrying the fetus for 17 months, and Caillier a similar result after it had been carried 22 months. In these cases the fetus retained its natural form, but in one reported by Gohier the bones only were left in the womb amid a mass of apparently purulent matter.

Cause.—The cause may be any effective obstruction to the act of parturition, such as lack of contractile power in the womb, unduly strong (inflammatory) adhesions between the womb and the fetal membranes, wrong presentation of the fetus, contracted pelvis (from fracture or disease of the bones), or disease and induration of the neck of the womb.

The mere prolongation of gestation does not necessarily entail the death of the foal; hence the latter has been born alive at the four hundredth day. Even when the foal has perished putrefaction does not set in unless the membranes (water bags) have been ruptured and septic bacteria have been admitted to the interior of the womb. In the latter case a fetid decomposition advances rapidly, and the mare usually perishes from poisoning with the putrid matters absorbed.[Pg 182]

At the natural period of parturition preparations are apparently made for that act. The vulva swells and discharges much mucus, the udder enlarges, the belly becomes more pendent, and the animal strains more or less. No progress is made, however; there is not even opening of the neck of the womb, and after a time the symptoms subside. The mare usually refuses the male, yet there are exceptions to this rule. If the neck of the womb has been opened and putrefying changes in its contents have set in, the mare loses appetite and condition, pines, discharges an offensive matter from the generative passages, and dies of inflammation of the womb and putrid infection. In other cases there is a slow wearing out of the strength, and she finally dies of exhaustion.

The treatment is such as will facilitate the expulsion of the fetus and its membranes and the subsequent washing out of the womb with disinfectants. So long as the mouth of the womb is closed time should be allowed for its natural dilatation, but if this does not come about after a day or two of straining, the opening may be smeared with extract of belladonna, and the oiled hand, with the fingers and thumb drawn into the form of a cone, may be inserted by slow oscillating movements into the interior of the womb. The water bags may now be ruptured, any malpresentation rectified (see "Difficult parturition"), and delivery effected. After removal of the membranes wash out the womb first with tepid water and then with a solution of 2 ounces of borax in half a gallon of water.

This injection may have to be repeated if a discharge sets in. The same course may be pursued even after prolonged retention. If the soft parts of the fetus have been absorbed and the bones only left, these must be carefully sought for and removed, and subsequent daily injections will be required for some time. In such cases, too, a course of iron tonics (sulphate of iron, 2 drams daily) will be highly beneficial in restoring health and vigor.


Abortion is, strictly speaking, the expulsion of the impregnated ovum at any period from the date of impregnation until the foal can survive out of the womb. If the foal is advanced enough to live, it is premature parturition, and in the mare this may occur as early as the tenth month (three hundredth day).

The mare may abort by reason of almost any cause that very profoundly disturbs the system; hence, very violent inflammations of important internal organs (bowels, kidneys, bladder, lungs) may induce abortion. Profuse diarrhea, whether occurring from the reckless use of purgatives, the consumption of irritants in the feed, or a simple indigestion, is an effective cause. No less so is acute indigestion with evolution of gas in the intestines (bloating). The presence[Pg 183] of stone in the kidneys, uterus, bladder, or urethra may induce so much sympathetic disorder in the womb as to induce abortion. In exceptional cases wherein mares come in heat during gestation, service by the stallion may cause abortion. Blows or pressure on the abdomen, rapid driving or riding of the pregnant mare, especially if she is soft and out of condition from idleness, the brutal use of the spur or whip, and the jolting and straining of travel by rail or boat are prolific causes. Bleeding the pregnant mare, a painful surgical operation, and the throwing and constraint resorted to for an operation are other causes. Traveling on heavy, muddy roads, slips and falls on ice, and jumping must be added. The stimulation of the abdominal organs by a full drink of iced water may precipitate a miscarriage, as may exposure to a cold rainstorm or a very cold night after a warm day. Irritant poisons that act on the urinary or generative organs, such as Spanish flies, rue, savin, tansy, cotton-root bark, ergot of rye or other grasses, the smut of maize and other grain, and various fungi in musty fodder are additional causes. Frosted or indigestible feed, and, above all, green succulent vegetables in a frozen state, have proved effective factors, and filthy, stagnant water is dangerous. Low condition in the dam and plethora have in opposite ways caused abortion, and hot, relaxing stables and lack of exercise strongly conduce to it. The exhaustion of the sire by too frequent service, entailing debility of the offspring and disease of the fetus or of its envelopes, must be recognized as a further cause.

The symptoms vary mainly according as the abortion is early or late in pregnancy. In the first month or two of pregnancy the mare may miscarry without observable symptoms, and the fact appears only by her coming in heat. If more closely observed a small clot of blood may be found behind her, in which a careful search reveals the rudiments of the foal. If the occurrence is somewhat later in gestation, there will be some general disturbance, loss of appetite, neighing, and straining, and the small body of the fetus is expelled, enveloped in its membranes. Abortions during the later stages of pregnancy are attended with greater constitutional disturbance, and the process resembles normal parturition, with the aggravation that more effort and straining is requisite to force the fetus through the comparatively undilatable mouth of the womb. There is the swelling of the vulva, with mucus or even bloody discharge; the abdomen droops, the flanks fall in, the udder fills, the mare looks at her flanks, paws with the fore feet and kicks with the hind, switches the tail, moves around uneasily, lies down and rises, strains, and, as in natural foaling, expels first mucus and blood, then the waters, and finally the fetus. This may occupy an hour or two, or it may be prolonged for a day or more, the symptoms subsiding for a time, only to reappear with renewed energy. If there is malpresentation of the fetus it will[Pg 184] hinder progress until rectified, as in difficult parturition. Abortion may also be followed by the same accidents, as flooding, retention of the placenta, and leucorrhea.

The most important object in an impending abortion is to recognize it at as early a stage as possible, so that it may, if possible, be cut short and prevented. Any general, indefinable illness in a pregnant mare should lead to a close examination of the vulva as regards swelling, vascularity of its mucous membrane, and profuse mucus secretion, and, above all, any streak or staining of blood; also the condition of the udder, if that is congested and swollen. Any such indication, with colicky pains, straining, however little, and active movement of the fetus or entire absence of movement, are suggestive symptoms and should be duly counteracted.

The changes in the vulva and udder, with a soiled and bloody condition of the tail, may suggest an abortion already accomplished, and the examination with the hand in the vagina may detect the mouth of the womb soft and dilatable and the interior of the organ slightly filled with a bloody liquid.

Treatment should be preventive if possible, and would embrace the avoidance of all causes mentioned, and particularly of such as may seem to be particularly operative in the particular case. If abortions have already occurred in a stud, the especial cause in the matter of feed, water, exposure to injuries, overwork, lack of exercise, etc., may often be identified and removed. A most important point is to avoid all causes of constipation, diarrhea, indigestion, bloating, violent purgatives, diuretics or other potent medicines, painful operations, and slippery roads, unless well frosted.

When abortion is imminent, the mare should be placed alone in a roomy, dark, quiet stall, and have the straining checked by some sedative. Laudanum is usually at hand and may be given in doses of 1 or 2 ounces, according to size, and repeated after two or three hours, and even daily if necessary. Chloroform or chloral hydrate, 3 drams, may be substituted if more convenient. These should be given in a pint or quart of water, to avoid burning the mouth and throat. Or Viburnum prunifolium (black haw), 1 ounce, may be given and repeated if necessary to prevent straining.

When all measures fail and miscarriage proceeds, all that can be done is to assist in the removal of the fetus and its membranes, as in ordinary parturition. As in the case of retention of the fetus, it may be necessary after delivery to employ antiseptic injections into the womb to counteract putrid fermentation. This, however, is less necessary in the mare than in the cow, in which the prevalent contagious abortion must be counteracted by the persistent local use of antiseptics. After abortion a careful hygiene is demanded, especially in the matter of pure air and easily digestible feed. The mare should not[Pg 185] be served again for a month or longer, and in no case until after all discharge from the vulva has ceased.


This disease is discussed in the chapter on "Infectious Diseases."



As the period of parturition approaches, the swelling of the udder bespeaks the coming event, the engorgement in exceptional cases extending forward on the lower surface of the abdomen and even into the hind limbs. For about a week a serous fluid oozes from the teat and concretes as a yellow, waxlike mass around its orifice. About 24 hours before the birth this gives place to a whitish, milky liquid, which falls upon and mats the hairs on the inner sides of the legs. Another symptom is enlargement of the vulva, with redness of its lining membrane, and the escape of glairy mucus. The belly droops, the flanks fall in, and the loins may even become depressed. Finally the mare becomes uneasy, stops feeding, looks anxious, whisks her tail, and may lie down and rise again. In many mares this is not repeated, but they remain down; violent contractions of the abdominal muscles ensue; after two or three pains the water bags appear and burst, followed by the fore feet of the foal, with the nose between the knees, and by a few more throes the fetus is expelled. In other cases the act is accomplished standing. The whole act may not occupy more than 5 or 10 minutes. This, together with the disposition of the mare to avoid observation, renders the act one that is rarely seen by the attendants.

The navel string, which connects the foal to the membranes, is ruptured when the fetus falls to the ground, or when the mare rises, if she has been down, and the membranes are expelled a few minutes later.


When there is a single foal, the common and desirable presentation is with the fore feet first, the nose between the knees, and with the front of the hoofs and knees and the forehead directed upward toward the anus, tail, and croup. (Plate XII, fig. 1.) In this way the natural curvature of the body of the fetus corresponds to the curve of the womb and genital passages, and particularly of the bony pelvis, and the foal passes with much greater ease than if placed with its back downward toward the udder. When there is a twin birth the second foal usually comes with its hind feet first, and the backs of the legs, the points of the hocks, and the tail and croup are turned upward toward the anus and tail of the mare. (Plate XII,[Pg 186] fig. 2.) In this way, even with a posterior presentation, the curvature of the body of the foal still corresponds to that of the passages, and its expulsion may be quite as easy as in anterior presentation. Any presentation aside from these two may be said to be abnormal and will be considered under "Difficult parturition."


These may be brought on by, any violent exertion, use under the saddle, or in heavy draft, or in rapid paces, or in travel by rail or sea, blows, kicks, crushing by other animals in a doorway or gate. Excessive action of purgative or diuretic agents, or of agents that irritate the bowels or kidneys, like arsenic, paris green, all caustic salts and acids, and acrid and narcotico-acrid vegetables, is equally injurious. Finally, the ingestion of agents that stimulate the action of the gravid womb (ergot of rye or of other grasses, smut, various fungi of fodders, rue, savin, cotton root, etc.) may bring on labor pains prematurely.

Besides the knowledge that parturition is not yet due, there will be less enlargement, redness, and swelling of the vulva, less mucous discharge, less filling of the udder, and fewer appearances of wax and probably none of milk from the ends of the teats. The oiled hand introduced into the vulva will not enter with the ease usual at full term, and the neck of the womb will be felt not only closed, but with its projecting papillæ, through which it is perforated, not yet flattened down and effaced, as at full term. The symptoms are, indeed, those of threatened abortion, but at such an advanced stage of gestation as is compatible with the survival of the offspring.

Treatment.—The treatment consists in the separation of the mare, in a quiet, dark, secluded place, from all other animals, and the free use of antispasmodics and anodynes. Opium in dram doses every two hours, or laudanum in ounce doses at similar intervals, will often suffice. When the more urgent symptoms have subsided these doses may be repeated thrice a day till all excitement passes off or until the passages have become relaxed and prepared for parturition. Viburnum prunifolium (black haw), in ounce doses, may be added if necessary. Should parturition become inevitable, it may be favored and any necessary assistance furnished.


With natural presentation this is a rare occurrence. The great length of the fore limbs and face entail, in the anterior presentation, the formation of a long cone, which dilates and glides through the passages with comparative ease. Even with the hind feet first a similar conical form is presented, and the process is rendered easy and[Pg 187] quick. Difficulty and danger arise mainly from the act being brought on prematurely before the passages are sufficiently dilated, from narrowing of the pelvic bones or other mechanical obstruction in the passages, from monstrous distortions or duplications in the fetus, or from the turning back of one of the members so that the elongated conical or wedge-shaped outline is done away with. Prompt as is the normal parturition in the mare, however, difficult and delayed parturitions are surrounded by special dangers and require unusual precautions and skill. From the proclivity of the mare to unhealthy inflammations of the peritoneum and other abdominal organs, penetrating wounds of the womb or vagina are liable to prove fatal. The contractions of the womb and abdominal walls are so powerful as to exhaust and benumb the arm of the assistant and to endanger penetrating wounds of the genital organs. By reason of the looser connection of the fetal membranes with the womb, as compared with those of ruminants, the violent throes early detach these membranes throughout their whole extent, and the foal, being thus separated from the mother and thrown on its own resources, dies at an early stage of any protracted parturition. The foal rarely survives four hours after the onset of parturient throes. From the great length of the limbs and neck of the foal it is extremely difficult to secure and bring up limb or head which has been turned back when it should have been presented. When assistance must be rendered, the operator should don a thick woolen undershirt with the sleeves cut out at the shoulders. This protects the body and leaves the whole arm free for manipulation. Before inserting the arm it should be smeared with lard. This protects the skin against septic infection and favors the introduction of the hand and arm. The hand should be inserted with the thumb and fingers drawn together like a cone. Whether standing or lying, the mare should be turned with head downhill and hind parts raised as much as possible. The contents of the abdomen gravitating forward leave much more room for manipulation. Whatever part of the foal is presented (head, foot) should be secured with a cord and running noose before it is pushed back to search for the other missing parts. Even if a missing part is reached, no attempt should be made to bring it up during a labor pain. Pinching the back will sometimes check the pains and allow the operator to secure and bring up the missing member. In intractable cases a large dose of chloral hydrate (1 ounce in a quart of water) or the inhalation of chloroform and air (equal proportions) to insensibility may secure a respite, during which the missing members may be replaced. If the waters have been discharged and the mucus dried up, the genital passages and body of the fetus should be lubricated with lard or oil before any attempt at extraction is made. When the missing member has been brought up into[Pg 188] position and presentation has been rendered natural, traction on the fetus must be made only during a labor pain. If a mare is inclined to kick, it may be necessary to apply hobbles to protect the operator.

Difficult parturition from narrow pelvis.—A disproportion between the fetus got by a large stallion and the pelvis of a small dam is a serious obstacle to parturition, sometimes seen in the mare. This is not the rule, however, as the foal up to birth usually accommodates itself to the size of the dam, as illustrated in the successful crossing of Percheron stallions on mustang mares. If the disproportion is too great the only resort is embryotomy.

Fractured hip bones.—More commonly the obstruction comes from distortion and narrowing of the pelvis as the result of fractures. (Plate XIII, fig. 2.) Fractures at any point of the lateral wall or floor of the pelvis are repaired with the formation of an extensive bony deposit bulging into the passage of the pelvis. The displacement of the ends of the broken bone is another cause of constriction, and between the two conditions the passage of the fetus may be rendered impossible without embryotomy. Fracture of the sacrum (the continuation of the backbone forming the croup) leads to the depression of the posterior part of that bone in the roof of the pelvis and the narrowing of the passage from above downward by a bony ridge presenting its sharp edge forward.

In all cases in which there has been injury to the bones of the pelvis the obvious precaution is to withhold the mare from breeding and to use her for work only.

If a mare with a pelvis thus narrowed has got in foal inadvertently, abortion may be induced in the early months of gestation by slowly introducing the oiled finger through the neck of the womb and following this by the other fingers until the whole hand has been introduced. Then the water bags may be broken, and with the escape of the liquid the womb will contract on the solid fetus and labor pains will ensue. The fetus being small will pass easily.

Tumors in the vagina and pelvis.—Tumors of various kinds may form in the vagina or elsewhere within the pelvis, and when large enough will obstruct or prevent the passage of the fetus. Gray mares, which are so subject to black pigment tumors (melanosis) on the tail, anus, and vulva, are the most liable to suffer from this. Still more rarely the wall of the vagina becomes relaxed, and being pressed by a mass of intestines will protrude through the lips of the vulva as a hernial sac, containing a part of the bowels. If a tumor is small it may only retard and not absolutely prevent parturition. A hernial protrusion of the wall of the vagina may be pressed back and emptied, so that the body of the fetus engaging in the passage may[Pg 189] find no further obstacle. When a tumor is too large to allow delivery the only resort is to remove it, but before proceeding it must be clearly made out that the obstruction is a mass of diseased tissue, and not a sac containing intestines. If the tumor hangs by a neck it can usually be most safely removed by the écraseur, the chain being passed around the pedicel and gradually tightened until that is torn through.

Hernia of the womb.—The rupture of the musculo-fibrous floor of the belly and the escape of the gravid womb into a sac formed by the peritoneum and skin hanging toward the ground is described by all veterinary obstetricians, yet it is very rarely seen in the mare. The form of the fetus can be felt through the walls of the sac, so that it is easy to recognize the condition. Its cause is usually external violence, though it may start from an umbilical hernia. When the period of parturition arrives, the first effort should be to return the fetus within the proper abdominal cavity, and this can sometimes be accomplished with the aid of a stout blanket gradually tightened around the belly. This failing, the mare may be placed on her side or back and gravitation brought to the aid of manipulation in effecting the return. Even after the hernia has been reduced the relaxed state of the womb and abdominal walls may serve to hinder parturition, in which case the oiled hand must be introduced through the vagina, the fetus brought into position, and traction coincident with the labor pains employed to produce delivery.

Twisting of the neck of the womb.—This condition is very uncommon in the mare, though occasionally seen in the cow, owing to the greater laxity of the broad ligaments of the womb in that animal. It consists in a revolution of the womb on its own axis, so that its right or left side will be turned upward (quarter revolution), or the lower surface may be turned upward and the upper surface downward (half revolution). The effect is to throw the narrow neck of the womb into a series of spiral folds, turning in the direction in which the womb has revolved, closing the neck and rendering distention and dilatation impossible.

The period and pains of parturition arrive, but in spite of continued efforts no progress is made, neither water bags nor liquids appearing. The oiled hand introduced into the closed neck of the womb will readily detect the spiral direction of the folds on its inner surface.

The method of relief which I have successfully adopted in the cow may be equally effective in the mare. The dam is placed (with her head uphill) on her right side if the upper folds of the spiral turn toward the right, and on her left side if they turn toward the left, and the oiled hand is introduced through the neck of the womb and a limb or other part of the body of the fetus is seized and[Pg 190] pressed against the wall of the womb, while two or three assistants turn the animal over on her back toward the other side. The object is to keep the womb stationary while the animal is rolling. If success attends the effort, the constriction around the arm is suddenly relaxed, the spiral folds are effaced, and the water bags and fetus press forward into the passage. If the first attempt does not succeed, it may be repeated again and again until success crowns the effort. Among my occasional causes of failure have been the prior death and decomposition of the fetus, with the extrication of gas and overdistention of the womb, and the supervention of inflammation and inflammatory exudation around the neck of the womb, which hinders untwisting. The first of these conditions occurs early in the horse from the detachment of the fetal membranes from the wall of the womb; and as the mare is more subject to fatal peritonitis than the cow, it may be concluded that both these sources of failure are more probable in the former subject.

When the case is intractable, though the hand may be easily introduced, the instrument shown in Plate XIV, figure 7, may be used. Each hole at the small end of the instrument has passed through it a stout cord with a running noose, to be passed around two feet or other portion of the fetus which it may be possible to reach. The cords are then drawn tight and fixed around the handle of the instrument; then, by using the cross handle as a lever, the fetus and womb may be rotated in a direction opposite to that causing the obstruction. During this process the hand must be introduced to feel when the twist has been undone. This method may be supplemented, if necessary, by rolling the mare as described above.

Effusion of blood in the vaginal walls.—This is common as a result of difficult parturition, but it may occur from local injury before that act, and may seriously interfere with it. This condition is easily recognized by the soft, doughy swelling so characteristic of blood clots, and by the dark-red color of the mucous membrane. I have laid open such swellings with the knife as late as 10 days before parturition, evacuated the clots, and dressed the wound daily with an astringent lotion (sulphate of zinc 1 dram, carbolic acid 1 dram, water 1 quart). A similar resort might be had, if necessary, during parturition.

Calculus (stone) and tumor in the bladder.—The pressure upon the bladder containing a stone or a tumor may prove so painful that the mare will voluntarily suppress the labor pains. Examination of the bladder with the finger introduced through the urethra will detect the offending agent. A stone should be extracted with forceps. (See "Lithotomy.") The large papillary tumors which I have met with in the mare's bladder have been invariably delicate in texture[Pg 191] and could be removed piecemeal by forceps. Fortunately, mares affected in this way rarely breed.

Fecal impaction of the rectum.—In some animals, with more or less paralysis or weakness of the tail and rectum, the rectum may become so impacted with solid feces that the mare is unable to discharge them, and the accumulation both by reason of the mechanical obstruction and the pain caused by pressure upon it will impel the animal to cut short all labor pains. The rounded swelling surrounding the anus will at once suggest the condition, when the obstruction may be removed by the well-oiled or well-soaped hand.

Spasm of the neck of the womb.—This occurs in the mare of specially excitable temperament, or under particular causes of irritation, local or general. Labor pains, though continuing for some time, produce no dilatation of the neck of the womb, which will be found firmly closed so as to admit but one or two fingers; this, although the projection at the mouth of the womb may have been entirely effaced, so that a simple round opening is left, with rigid margins.

The simplest treatment consists in smearing this part with solid extract of belladonna, and after an interval inserting the hand with fingers and thumb drawn into the form of a cone, rupturing the membranes and bringing the fetus into position for extraction, as advised under "Prolonged retention of the fetus." Another mode is to insert through the neck of the womb an ovoid rubber bag, empty, and furnished with an elastic tube 12 feet long. Carry the free end of this tube upward to a height of 8, 10, or 12 feet, insert a filler into it, and proceed to distend the bag with tepid or warm water.

Fibrous bands constricting or crossing the neck of the womb.—These, occurring as the result of disease, have been several times observed in the mare. They may exist in the cavity of the abdomen and compress and obstruct the neck of the womb, or they may extend from side to side of the vagina across and just behind the neck of the womb. In the latter position they may be felt and quickly remedied by cutting them across. In the abdomen they can be reached only by incision, and two alternatives are presented: (1) To perform embryotomy and extract the fetus piecemeal, and (2) to make an incision into the abdomen and extract by the Cæsarean operation, or simply to cut the constricting band and attempt delivery by the usual channel.

Fibrous constriction of vagina or vulva.—This is probably always the result of direct mechanical injury and the formation of rigid cicatrices which fail to dilate with the remainder of the passages at the approach of parturition. The presentation of the fetus in the natural way and the occurrence of successive and active labor pains without any favorable result will direct attention to the rigid and unyielding cicatrices which may be incised at one, two, or more[Pg 192] points to a depth of half an inch or more, after which the natural expulsive efforts will usually prove effective. The resulting wounds may be washed frequently with a solution of 1 part of carbolic acid to 50 parts of water, or of 1 part of mercuric chlorid to 1,000 parts of water.

Fetus adherent to the walls of the womb.—In inflammation of the mucous membrane lining the cavity of the womb and implicating the fetal membranes the resulting embryonic tissue sometimes establishes a medium of direct continuity between the womb and fetal membranes; the blood vessels of the one communicate freely with those of the other and the fibers of the one are prolonged into the other. This causes retention of the membranes after birth, and a special risk of bleeding from the womb, and of septic poisoning. In exceptional cases the adhesion is more extensive and binds a portion of the body of the foal firmly to the womb. In such cases it has repeatedly been found impossible to extract the foal until such adhesions were broken down. If they can be reached with the hand and recognized, they may be torn through with the fingers or with a blunt hook, after which delivery may be attempted with hope of success.

Excessive size of fetus.—It would seem that a small mare may usually be safely bred to a large stallion, yet this is not always the case; and when the small size is an individual rather than a racial characteristic or the result of being very young, the rule can not be expected to hold. There is always great danger in breeding the young, small, and undeveloped female, and the dwarfed representative of a larger breed, as the offspring tend to partake of the large race characteristics and to show them even prior to birth. When impregnation has occurred in the very young or in the dwarfed female there are two alternatives—to induce abortion or to wait until there are attempts at parturition and to extract by embryotomy if impracticable otherwise.

Constriction of a member by the navel string.—In man and animals alike the winding of the umbilical cord around a member of the fetus sometimes leads to the amputation of the latter. It is also known to get wound around the neck or a limb at birth, but in the mare this does not seriously impede parturition, as the loosely attached membranes are easily separated from the womb and no strangulation or retarding occurs. The foal may, however, die from the cessation of the placental circulation unless it is speedily delivered.

Water in the head (hydrocephalus) of the foal.—This consists in the excessive accumulation of liquid in the ventricles of the brain so that the cranial cavity is enlarged and constitutes a great, projecting, rounded mass occupying the space from the eyes upward. (See Plate XIII, fig. 3.) With an anterior presentation (fore feet and nose) this presents an insuperable obstacle to progress, as the diseased cranium is too large to enter the pelvis at the same time with the fore arms. With a posterior presentation (hind feet) all goes well until the body and shoulders have passed out, when progress is suddenly arrested by the great bulk of the head. In the first case, the oiled hand introduced along the face detects the enormous size of the head, which may be diminished by puncturing it with a knife or trocar and cannula in the median line, evacuating the water and pressing in the thin, bony walls. With a posterior presentation, the same course must be followed; the hand passed along the neck will detect the cranial swelling, which may be punctured with a knife or trocar. Oftentimes with an anterior presentation the great size of the head leads to its displacement backward, and thus the fore limbs alone engage in the passages. Here the first object is to seek and bring up the missing head, and then puncture it as above suggested.




[Pg 193]Ascites, or dropsy of the abdomen in the foal.—The accumulation of liquid in the abdominal cavity of the fetus is less frequent, but when present it may arrest parturition as completely as will hydrocephalus. With an anterior presentation the foal may pass as far as the shoulders, but behind this all efforts fail to effect a further advance. With a posterior presentation the hind legs as far as the thighs may be expelled, but at this point all progress ceases. In either case the oiled hand, passed inward by the side of the foal, will detect the enormous distension of the abdomen and its soft, fluctuating contents. The only course is to puncture the cavity and evacuate the liquid. With the anterior presentation this may be done with a long trocar and cannula, introduced through the chest and diaphragm, or with a knife an incision may be made between the first two ribs and the lungs and heart cut or torn out, when the diaphragm will be felt projecting strongly forward, and may be easily punctured. Should there not be room to introduce the hand through the chest, the oiled hand may be passed along beneath the breast bone and the abdomen punctured. With a posterior presentation the abdomen must be punctured in the same way, the hand, armed with a knife protected in its palm, being passed along the side of the flank or between the hind limbs. It should be added that moderate dropsy of the abdomen is not incompatible with natural delivery, the liquid being at first crowded back into the portion of the belly still engaged in the womb, and passing slowly from that into the advanced portion as soon as that has cleared the narrow passage of the pelvis and passed out where it can expand.

General dropsy of the fetus.—In this case the tissues generally are distended with liquid, and the skin is found at all points tense[Pg 194] and rounded, and pitting on pressure with the fingers. In some such cases delivery may be effected after the skin has been punctured at narrow intervals to allow the escape of the fluid and then liberally smeared with fresh lard. More commonly, however, it can not be reached at all points to be so punctured nor sufficiently reduced to be extracted whole, and resort must be had to embryotomy.

Emphysema, or swelling of the fetus with gas.—This has been described as occurring in a living fetus, but I have met with it only in the dead and decomposing foal after futile efforts had been made for several days to effect delivery. These cases are very difficult, as the foal is inflated to such extent that it is impossible to advance it into the passages, and the skin of the fetus and the walls of the womb and vagina have become so dry that it is impracticable to cause the one to glide on the other. The hair comes off any part that may be seized, and the case is rendered the more offensive and dangerous by the very fetid liquids and gases. The only resort is embryotomy, by which I have succeeded in saving a valuable mare that had carried a colt in this condition for four days.

Contractions of muscles.—The foal is not always developed symmetrically, but certain groups of muscles are liable to remain short, or to shorten because of persistent spasmodic contraction, so that even the bones become distorted and twisted. This is most common in the neck. The bones of this part and even of the face are drawn to one side and shortened, the head being held firmly to the flank and the jaws being twisted to the right or left. In other cases the flexor muscles of the fore limbs are contracted so that the latter are strongly bent at the knee. In neither of these cases can the distorted part be extended and straightened, so that body or limbs must necessarily present double, and natural delivery is rendered impossible. The bent neck may sometimes be straightened after the muscles have been cut on the side to which it is turned, and the bent limbs after the tendons on the back of the shank bone have been cut across. Failing to accomplish this, the next resort is embryotomy.

Inclosed ovum, or tumors of the fetus.—Tumors or diseased growths may form on any part of the foal, internal or external, and by their size impede or hinder parturition. In some cases what appears as a tumor is an imprisoned and undeveloped ovum which has grafted itself on the fetus. These are usually sacculated, and may contain skin, hair, muscle, bone, and other natural tissues. The only course to be pursued in such cases is to excise the tumor, or, if this is not feasible, to perform embryotomy.

Monstrosities.—Monstrosity in the foal is an occasional cause of difficult parturition, especially such monsters as show excessive development of some part of the body, a displacement or distortion of[Pg 195] parts, or a redundancy of parts, as in double monsters. Monsters may be divided into—

(1) Monsters with absence of parts—absence of head, limb, or other organ.

(2) Monsters with some part abnormally small—dwarfed head, limb, trunk, etc.

(3) Monsters through unnatural division of parts—cleft head, trunk, limbs, etc.

(4) Monsters through absence of natural divisions—absence of mouth, nose, eyes, anus, confluent digits, etc.

(5) Monsters through fusion of parts—one central eye, one nasal opening, etc.

(6) Monsters through abnormal position or form of parts—curved spine, face, limb, etc.

(7) Monsters through excess of formation—enormous head, supernumerary digits, etc.

(8) Monsters through imperfect differentiation of sexual organs—hermaphrodites.

(9) Double monsters—double-headed, double-bodied, extra limbs, etc.

Causes.—The causes of monstrosities appear to be very varied. Some monstrosities, like extra digits, absence of horns or tail, etc., run in families and are produced almost as certainly as color or form. Others are associated with too close breeding, the powers of symmetrical development being interfered with, just as in other cases a sexual incompatibility is developed, near relatives failing to breed with each other. Mere arrest of development of a part may arise from accidental disease of the embryo; hence vital organs are left out, or portions of organs, like the dividing walls of the heart, are omitted. Sometimes an older fetus is inclosed in the body of another, each having started independently from a separate ovum, but the one having become embedded in the semifluid mass of the other and having developed there simultaneously with it, but not so largely nor perfectly. In many cases of redundance of parts the extra part or member has manifestly developed from the same ovum and nutrient center with the normal member to which it remains adherent, just as a new tail will grow out in a newt when the former has been cut off. In the early embryo, with its great powers of development, this factor can operate to far greater purpose than in the adult animal. Its influence is seen in the fact pointed out by St. Hilaire that such redundant parts are nearly always connected with the corresponding portions in the normal fetus. Thus superfluous legs or digits are attached to the normal ones, double heads or tails are connected to a common neck or rump, and double bodies are attached to each other by corresponding points, navel to navel, breast to breast, back to[Pg 196] back. All this suggests the development of extra parts from the same primary layer of the impregnated and developing ovum. The effect of disturbing conditions in giving such wrong directions to the developmental forces is well shown in the experiments of St. Hilaire and Valentine in varnishing, shaking, and otherwise breaking up the natural connections in eggs, and thereby determining the formation of monstrosities at will. So, in the mammal, blows and other injuries that detach the fetal membranes from the walls of the womb or that modify their circulation by inducing inflammation are at times followed by the development of a monster. The excitement, mental and physical, attendant on fright occasionally acts in a similar way, acting probably through the same channels.

The monstrous forms liable to interfere with parturition are such as, from contracted or twisted limbs or spine, must be presented double; where supernumerary limbs, head, or body must approach the passages with the natural ones; where a head or other member has attained to an unnatural size; where the body of one fetus has become inclosed in or attached to another, etc.

Extraction is sometimes possible by straightening the members and obtaining such a presentation as will reduce the presenting mass to its smallest and most wedgelike dimensions. To effect this it may be needful to cut the flexor tendons of bent limbs or the muscles on the side of a twisted neck or body; one or more of the manipulations necessary to secure and bring up a missing member may be required. In most cases of monstrosity by excess, however, it is needful to remove the superfluous parts, in which case the general principles employed for embryotomy must be followed. The Cæsarean section, by which the fetus is extracted through an incision in the walls of the abdomen and womb, is inadmissible, as it practically entails the sacrifice of the mare, which should never be done for the sake of a monster. (See "Embryotomy," p. 202.)

Entrance of twins into the passage at once.—Twins are rare in the mare, and still more rare is the impaction of both at once into the pelvis. The condition would be easily recognized by the fact that two fore limbs and two hind would occupy the passage at once, the front of the hoofs of the fore feet being turned upward and those of the hind feet downward. If both belonged to one foal, they would be turned in the same direction. Once recognized, the condition is easily remedied by passing a rope with a running noose round each foot of the foal that is furthest advanced or that promises to be most easily extracted, and to push the members of the other fetus back into the depth of the womb. As soon as the one fetus is fully engaged into the passage it will hold its place and its delivery will proceed in the natural way.[Pg 197]


(Pls. XV-XVIII.)

Abnormal presentations may be tabulated as follows:

Anterior presentations:Fore limbsIncompletely extended. Flexor tendons shortened.
Crossed over the neck.
Bent back at the knee.
Bent back from the shoulder.
HeadBent downward on the neck.
Head and neck turned back beneath the breast.
Turned to one side.
Turned upward and backward on the back.
Hind limbsHind feet engaged in the pelvis.
TransverseBack of foal to side of pelvis.
InvertedBack of foal to floor of pelvis.
Posterior presentationsHind limbsBent on itself at the hock.
Bent at the hip.
TransverseBack of foal to side of pelvis.
InvertedBack of foal to floor of pelvis.
Transverse presentation of body With back and loins presented.
With breast and belly presented.

Fore limbs incompletely extended.—In cases of this kind, not only are the back tendons behind the knee and shank bone unduly short, but the sinew extending from the front of the shoulder blade over the front of the elbow and down to the head of the shank bone is also shortened. The result is that the fore limb is bent at the knee and the elbow is also rigidly bent. The condition obstructs parturition by the feet becoming pressed against the floor of the pelvis or by the elbow pressing on its anterior brim. Relief is to be obtained by forcible extension. A rope with a running noose is passed around each fetlock and a repeller (see Plate XIV) planted in the breast is pressed in a direction upward and backward while active traction is made on the ropes. If the feet are not thereby raised from the floor of the pelvis the palm of the hand may be placed beneath them to protect the mucous membrane until they have advanced sufficiently to obviate this danger. In the absence of a repeller, a smooth rounded fork handle may be employed. If the shortening is too great to allow of the extension of the limbs in this way, the tense tendons may be cut across behind the shank bone and in front of the elbow, and the limb will be easily straightened out. This is most easily done with an embryotomy knife furnished with a ring for the middle finger, so that the blade may be protected in the palm of the hand. (See Plate XIII, fig. 4.)

Fore limb crossed over back of neck.—With the long fore limbs of the foal this readily occurs, and the resulting increase in thickness, both at the head and shoulder, offers a serious obstacle to progress. (See Plate XV, fig. 2.) The hand introduced into the passage detects the head and one fore foot, and farther back on the same side of the head the second foot, from which the limb may be traced obliquely across the back of the neck.[Pg 198]

If parturition continues to make progress the displaced foot may bruise and lacerate the vagina. By seizing the limb above the fetlock it may be easily pushed over the head to the proper side, when parturition will proceed normally.

Fore limb bent at knee.—The nose and one fore foot present, and on examination the knee of the missing fore limb is found farther back. (Plate XV, fig. 1.) First place a noose each on the presenting pastern and lower jaw, and push back the body of the fetus with a repeller, while the operator seizing the shank of the bent limb extends it so as to press back the knee and bring forward the fetlock and foot. As progress is made little by little the hand is slid down from the region of the knee to the fetlock, and finally that is secured and brought up into the passage, when parturition will proceed without hindrance. If both fore limbs are bent back the head must be noosed and the limbs brought up as above, one after the other. It is usually best to employ the left hand for the right fore limb, and the right hand for the left fore limb.

Fore limb turned back from shoulders.—In this case, on exploration by the side of the head and presenting limb, the shoulder only can be reached at first. (Plate XV, fig 4.) By noosing the head and presenting fore limb, they may be drawn forward into the pelvis, and the oiled hand being carried along the shoulder in the direction of the missing limb is enabled to reach and seize the forearm just below the elbow. The body is now pushed back by the assistants pressing on the head and presenting limb or on a repeller planted in the breast until the knee can be brought up into the pelvis, after which the procedure is the same as described in the last paragraph.

Head bent down between fore limbs.—This may be so that the poll or nape of the neck, with the ears, can be felt far back between the fore limbs, or so that only the upper border of the neck can be reached, head and neck being bent back beneath the body. With the head only bent on the neck, noose the two presenting limbs, then introduce the hand between them until the nose can be seized in the palm of the hand. Next have the assistants push back the presenting limbs, while the nose is strongly lifted upward over the brim of the pelvis. This accomplished, it assumes the natural position and parturition is easy.

When both head and neck are bent downward it may be impossible to reach the nose. If, however, the labor has only commenced, the limbs may be drawn upon until the operator can reach the ear, by dragging on which the head may be so far advanced that the fingers may reach the orbit; traction upon this while the limbs are being pushed back may bring the head up so that it bends on the neck only, and the further procedure will be as described in the last paragraph.[Pg 199]

If the labor has been long in progress and the fetus is jammed into the pelvis, the womb emptied of the waters, and firmly contracted on its solid contents, the case is incomparably more difficult. The mare may be chloroformed and turned on her back with hind parts elevated, and the womb may be injected with sweet oil. Then, if the ear can be reached, the correction of the malpresentation may be attempted as above described. Should this fail, one or more sharp hooks may be inserted in the neck as near the head as can be reached, and ropes attached to these may be dragged on, while the body of the foal is pushed back by the fore limbs or by a repeller. Such repulsion should be made in a direction obliquely upward toward the loins of the mother, so as to rotate the fetus in such a way as to bring the head up. As this is accomplished a hold should be secured nearer and nearer to the nose, with hand or hook, until the head can be straightened out on the neck.

All means failing; it becomes necessary to remove the fore limbs (embryotomy) so as to make more space for bringing up the head. If, even then, this can not be accomplished, it may be possible to push the body backward and upward with the repeller until the hind limbs are brought to the passage, when they may be noosed and delivery effected with the posterior presentation.

Head turned on shoulders.—In this case the fore feet present, and the oiled hand passed along the fore arms in search of the missing head finds the side of the neck turned to one side, the head being perhaps entirely out of reach. (Plate XVIII, fig. 1.) To bring the head forward it may be desirable to lay the mare on the side opposite to that to which the head is turned, and even to give chloroform or ether. Then the feet being noosed, the body of the fetus is pushed by the hand or repeller forward and to the side opposite to that occupied by the head until the head comes within reach, near the entrance of the pelvis. If such displacement of the fetus is difficult, it may be facilitated by a free use of oil or lard. When the nose can be seized it can be brought into the passage, as when the head is turned down. If it can not be reached, the orbit may be availed of to draw the head forward until the nose can be seized or the lower jaw noosed. In very difficult cases a rope may be passed around the neck by the hand or with the aid of a curved carrier (Plate XIV), and traction may be made upon this while the body is being rotated to the other side. In the same way in bad cases a hook may be fixed in the orbit or even between the bones of the lower jaw to assist in bringing the head up into position. Should all fail, the amputation of the fore limbs may be resorted to, as advised under the last heading.

Head turned upward on back.—This differs from the last malpresentation only in the direction of the head, which has to be sought[Pg 200] above rather than at one side, and is to be secured and brought forward in a similar manner. (Plate XVIII, fig. 2.) If a rope can be passed around the neck it will prove most effectual, as it naturally slides nearer to the head as the neck is straightened and ends by bringing the head within easy reach.

Hind feet engaged in pelvis.—In this case fore limbs and head present naturally, but the hind limbs bent forward from the hip and the loins arched allow the hind feet also to enter the passages, and the further labor advances the more firmly does the body of the foal become wedged into the pelvis (Plate XVII, fig. 2.) The condition is to be recognized by introducing the oiled hand along the belly of the fetus, when the hind feet will be felt advancing. An attempt should at once be made to push them back, one after the other, over the brim of the pelvis. Failing in this, the mare may be turned on her back, head downhill, and the attempt renewed. If it is possible to introduce a straight rope carrier, a noose passed through this may be put on the fetlock and the repulsion thereby made more effective. In case of continued failure the anterior presenting part of the body may be skinned and cut off as far back toward the pelvis as possible (see "Embryotomy"); then nooses are placed on the hind fetlocks and traction is made upon these while the quarters are pushed back into the womb. Then the remaining portion is brought away by the posterior presentation.

Anterior presentation with back turned to one side.—The diameter of the axis of the foal, like that of the pelvic passages, is from above downward, and when the fetus enters the pelvis with this greatest diameter engaged transversely or in the narrow diameter of the pelvis, parturition is rendered difficult or impossible. In such a case the pasterns and head may be noosed, and the passages and engaged portion of the foal freely lubricated with lard, the limbs may be crossed over each other and the head, and a movement of rotation effected in the fetus until its face and back are turned up toward the croup of the mother; then parturition becomes natural.

Back of foal turned to floor of pelvis.—In a roomy mare this is not an insuperable obstacle to parturition, yet it may seriously impede it, by reason of the curvature of the body of the foal being opposite to that of the passages, and the head and withers being liable to arrest against the border of the pelvis. Lubrication of the passage with lard and traction of the limbs and head will usually suffice with or without the turning of the mare on her back.

In obstinate cases two other resorts are open: First, to turn the foal, pushing back the fore parts and bringing up the hind so as to make a posterior presentation, and, second, the amputation of the fore limbs, after which extraction will usually be easy.





[Pg 201]Hind presentation with leg bent at hock.—In this form the quarters of the foal with the hind legs bent up beneath them present, but can not advance through the pelvis by reason of their bulk. (Plate XV, fig. 3.) The oiled hand introduced can recognize the outline of the buttocks, with the tail and anus in the center and the sharp points of the hocks beneath. First pass a rope around each limb at the hock, then with hand or repeller push the buttocks backward and upward, until the feet can be brought up into the passages. To this the great length of the shank and pastern in the foal is a serious obstacle, and in all cases the foot should be protected in the palm of the hand while being brought up over the brim of the pelvis; otherwise the womb may be torn. When the pains are too violent and constant to allow effective manipulation, some respite may be obtained by the use of chloroform or morphin and by turning the mare on her back, but too often the operator fails and the foal must be sacrificed. Two courses are still open: First, to cut through the cords behind and above the hock and extend the upper part of the limb, leaving the hock bent, and extract in this way, and, second, to amputate the hind limbs at the hip joint and remove them separately, after which the body may be extracted.

Hind presentation with legs bent forward from hip.—This is merely an aggravated form of the presentation last described. (Plate XVII, fig. 1.) If the mare is roomy, a rope may be passed around each thigh and the body pushed upward and forward, so as to bring the hocks and heels upward. If this can be accomplished, nooses are placed on the limb further and further down until the fetlock is reached and brought into position. If failure is met with, then amputation at the hips is the last resort.

Hind presentations with back turned sideways or downward.—These are the counterparts of similar anterior presentations and are to be managed in the same way.

Presentation of the back.—This is rare, yet not unknown, the foal being bent upon itself with the back, recognizable by its sharp row of spines, presented at the entrance of the pelvis and the head and all four feet turned back into the womb. (Plate XVI, fig. 1.) The body of the fetus may be extended across the opening transversely, so that the head corresponds to one side (right or left), or it may be vertical, with the head above or below.

In any such position the object should be to push the body of the fetus forward and upward or to one side, as may best promise to bring up the fore or hind extremities, and bring the latter into the passage so as to constitute a normal anterior or posterior presentation. This turning of the fetus may be favored by a given position of the mother, by the free use of oil or lard on the surface of the fetus, and by the use of a propeller.[Pg 202]

Presentation of breast and abdomen.—This is the reverse of the back presentation, the foal being extended across in front of the pelvic opening, but with the belly turned toward the passages and with all four feet engaged in the passage. (Plate XVI, fig. 2.) The most promising course is to secure the hind feet with nooses and then push the fore feet forward into the womb. As soon as the fore feet are pushed forward clear of the brim of the pelvis, traction is made on the hind feet so as to bring the thighs into the passage and prevent the reentrance of the fore limbs. If it proves difficult to push the fore limbs back, a noose may be passed around the fetlock of each and the cord drawn through the eye of a rope carrier, by means of which the members may be easily pushed back.


Embryotomy consists in the dissection of the fetus, so as to reduce its bulk and allow of its exit through the pelvis. The indications for its adoption have been furnished in the foregoing pages. The operation will vary in different cases according to the necessity for the removal of one or more parts in order to secure the requisite reduction in size. Thus it may be needful to remove head and neck, one fore limb or both, one hind limb or both, to remove different parts of the trunk, or to remove superfluous (monstrous) parts. Some of the simplest operations in embryotomy (incision of the head in hydrocephalus, incision of the belly in dropsy) have already been described. It remains to notice the more difficult procedures which can be best undertaken by the skilled anatomist.

Amputation of the head.—This is easy when both fore limbs are turned back and the head alone has made its exit in part. It is more difficult when the head is still retained in the passages or womb, as in double-headed monsters. The head is secured by a hook in the lower jaw, or in the orbit, or by a halter, and the skin is divided circularly around the lower part of the face or at the front of the ears, according to the amount of head protruding. Then an incision is made backward along the line of the throat, and the skin dissected from the neck as far back as possible. Then the muscles and other soft parts of the neck are cut across, and the bodies of two vertebra (neck bones) are severed by cutting completely across the cartilage of the joint. The bulging of the ends of the bones will serve to indicate the seat of the joint. The head and detached portion of the neck may now be removed by steady pulling. If there is still an obstacle, the knife may be again used to sever any obstinate connections. In the case of a double-headed monster, the whole of the second neck must be removed with the head. When the head has been detached, a rope should be passed through the eyeholes, or[Pg 203] through an artificial opening in the skin, and tied firmly around the skin, to be employed as a means of traction when the missing limbs or the second head have been brought up into position.

Amputation of the hind limb.—This may be required when there are extra hind limbs or when the hind limbs are bent forward at hock or hip joint. In the former condition the procedure resembles that for removal of a fore limb, but requires more anatomical knowledge. Having noosed the pastern, a circular incision is made through the skin around the fetlock, and a longitudinal one from that up to the groin, and the skin is dissected from the limb as high up as can be reached, over the croup, if possible. Then cut through the muscles around the hip joint, and, if possible, the two interarticular ligaments of the joint (pubofemoral and round), and extract the limb by strong dragging.

Amputation of the fore limbs.—This may usually be begun on the fetlock of the limb projecting from the vulva. An embryotomy knife is desirable. This knife consists of a blade with a sharp, slightly hooked point, and one or two rings in the back of the blade large enough to fit on the middle finger, while the blade is protected in the palm of the hand. (See Plate XIII, fig. 4.) Another form has the blade inserted in a mortise in the handle, from which it is pushed out by a movable button when wanted. First place a noose around the fetlock of the limb to be amputated, cut the skin circularly entirely around the fetlock, then make an incision on the inner side of the limb from the fetlock up to the breastbone. Next dissect the skin from the limb, from the fetlock up to the breastbone on the inner side, and as far up on the shoulder blade as possible on the outer side. Finally, cut through the muscles attaching the limb to the breastbone, and employ strong traction on the limb, so as to drag out the whole limb, shoulder blade included. The muscles around the upper part of the shoulder blade are easily torn through and need not be cut, even if that were possible. In no case should the fore limb be removed unless the shoulder blade is taken with it, as that furnishes the greatest obstruction to delivery, above all when it is no longer advanced by the extension of the fore limb, but is pressed back so as to increase the already thickest posterior portion of the chest. The preservation of the skin from the whole limb is advantageous in various ways; it is easier to cut it circularly at the fetlock than at the shoulder; it covers the hand and knife in making the needful incisions, thus acting as a protection to the womb; and it affords a means of traction on the body after the limb has been removed. In dissecting the skin from the limb the knife is not needful at all points; much of it may be stripped off with the fingers or knuckles, or by a blunt, iron spud, pushed up inside the hide, which is meanwhile held tense to render the spud effective.[Pg 204]

In case the limb is bent forward at the hock, a rope is passed round that and pulled so as to bring the point of the hock between the lips of the vulva. The hamstring and the lateral ligaments of the hock are now cut through, and the limbs extended by a rope tied round the lower end of the long bone above (tibia). In case it is still needful to remove the upper part of the limb, the further procedure is the same as described in the last paragraph.

In case the limb is turned forward from the hip, and the fetus so wedged into the passage that turning is impossible, the case is very difficult. I have repeatedly succeeded by cutting in on the hip joint and disarticulating it, then dissecting the muscles back from the upper end of the thigh bone. A noose was placed around the neck of the bone and pulled on forcibly, while any unduly resisting structures were cut with the knife.

Cartwright recommends to make free incisions round the hip joints and tear through the muscles when they can not be cut; then with cords round the pelvic bones, and hooks inserted in the openings in the floor of the pelvis to drag out the pelvic bones; then put cords around the heads of the thigh bones and extract them; then remove the intestines; finally, by means of the loose, detached skin, draw out the body with the remainder of the hind limbs bent forward beneath it.

Reuff cuts his way into the pelvis of the foal, and with a knife separates the pelvic bones from the loins, then skinning the quarter draws out these pelvic bones by means of ropes and hooks, and along with them the hind limbs.

The hind limbs having been removed by one or the other of these procedures, the loose skin detached from the pelvis is used as a means of traction and delivery is effected. In case of a monstrosity with extra hind limbs, it may be possible to bring these up into the passage and utilize them for traction.

Removal of the abdominal viscera.—In case the belly is unduly large, from decomposition, tumors, or otherwise, it may be needful to lay it open with the knife and cut or tear out the contents.

Removal of the thoracic viscera.—To diminish the bulk of the chest it has been found advisable to cut out the breastbone, remove the heart and lungs, and allow the ribs to collapse with the lower free ends overlapping each other.

Dissection of the trunk.—In case it becomes necessary to remove other portions of the trunk, we should follow the general rule of preserving the skin so that all manipulations can be made inside this as a protector, that it may remain available as a means of exercising traction on the remaining part of the body, and as a covering to protect the vaginal walls against injuries from bones while such part is passing.[Pg 205]


This is rare in the mare, but not unknown, in connection with a failure of the womb to contract on itself after parturition, or with eversion of the womb (casting the withers), and congestion or laceration. If the blood accumulates in the flaccid womb, the condition may be suspected only by reason of the rapidly advancing weakness, swaying, unsteady gait, hanging head, paleness of the eyes and other mucous membranes, and weak, small, failing pulse. The hand introduced into the womb detects the presence of the blood partly clotted. If the blood escapes by the vulva, the condition is evident.

Treatment consists in evacuating the womb of its blood clots, giving a large dose of powdered ergot of rye, and in the application of cold water or ice to the loins and external generative organs. Besides this, a sponge impregnated with a strong solution of alum, or, still better, with tincture of muriate of iron, may be introduced into the womb and squeezed so as to bring the liquid in contact with the walls generally.


If the womb fails to contract after difficult parturition, the after-pains will sometimes lead to the fundus passing into the body of the organ and passing through that and the vagina until the whole inverted organ appears externally and hangs down on the thighs. The result is rapid engorgement and swelling of the organ, impaction of the rectum with feces, and distention of the bladder with urine, all of which conditions seriously interfere with the return of the mass. In returning the womb the standing is preferable to the recumbent position, as the abdomen is more pendent and there is less obstruction to the return. It may, however, be necessary to put hobbles on the hind limbs to prevent the mare from kicking. A clean sheet should be held beneath the womb, and all filth, straw, and foreign bodies washed from its surface. Then with a broad, elastic (india-rubber) band, or in default of that a long strip of calico 4 or 5 inches wide, wind the womb as tightly as possible, beginning at its most dependent part (the extremity of the horn). This serves two good ends. It squeezes out into the general circulation the enormous mass of blood which engorged and enlarged the organ, and it furnishes a strong protective covering for the now delicate, friable organ, through which it may be safely manipulated without danger of laceration. The next step may be the pressure on the general mass while those portions next the vulva are gradually pushed in with the hands; or the extreme lowest point (the end of the horn) may be turned within itself and pushed forward into the vagina by the closed fist, the return being assisted by manipulations by the other hand, and even by those of assistants. By either mode the manipulations may be[Pg 206] made with almost perfect safety so long as the organ is closely wrapped in the bandage. Once a portion has been introduced into the vagina the rest will usually follow with increasing ease, and the operation should be completed with the hand and arm extended the full length within the womb and moved from point to point so as to straighten out all parts of the organ and insure that no portion still remain inverted within another portion. Should any such partial inversion be left it will give rise to straining, under the force of which it will gradually increase until the whole mass will be protruded as before. The next step is to apply a truss as an effectual mechanical barrier to further escape of the womb through the vulva. The simplest is made with two 1-inch ropes, each about 18 feet long, each doubled and interwoven at the bend, as seen in Plate XIV, figure 4. The ring formed by the interlacing of the two ropes is adjusted around the vulva, the two ends of the one rope are carried up on the right and left of the tail and along the spine, being wound around each other in their course, and are finally tied to the upper part of the collar encircling the neck. The remaining two ends, belonging to the other rope, are carried downward and forward between the thighs and thence forward and upward on the sides of the belly and chest to be attached to the right and left sides of the collar. These ropes are drawn tightly enough to keep closely applied to the opening without chafing, and will fit still more securely when the mare raises her back to strain. It is desirable to tie the mare short so that she may be unable to lie down for a day or two, and she should be kept in a stall with the hind parts higher than the fore. Violent straining may be checked by full doses of opium (one-half dram), and any costiveness or diarrhea should be obviated by a suitable laxative or binding diet.

In some mares the contractions are too violent to allow of the return of the womb, and full doses of opium one-half dram, laudanum 2 ounces, or chloral hydrate 1 ounce, may be demanded, or the mare must be rendered insensible by ether or chloroform.


This may occur from the feet of the foal during parturition, or from ill-directed efforts to assist, but it is especially liable to take place in the everted, congested, and friable organ. The resultant dangers are bleeding from the wound, escape of the bowels through the opening and their fatal injury by the mare's feet or otherwise, and peritonitis from the extension of inflammation from the wound and from the poisonous action of the septic liquids of the womb escaping into the abdominal cavity. The first object is to close the wound, but unless in eversion of the womb this is practically impossible. In the last-named condition the wound must be carefully and accurately[Pg 207] sewed up before the womb is returned. After its return, the womb must be injected daily with an antiseptic solution (borax, one-half ounce, or carbolic acid, 3 drams to a quart of tepid water). If inflammation threatens, the abdomen may be bathed continuously with hot water by means of a heavy woolen rag, and large doses of opium (one-half dram) may be given twice or thrice daily.


These are attended with dangers similar to those belonging to rupture of the womb, and in addition by the risk of protrusion of the bladder, which appears through the lips of the vulva as a red, pyriform mass. Sometimes such lacerations extend downward into the bladder, and in others upward into the terminal gut (rectum). In still other cases the anus is torn so that it forms one common orifice with the vulva.

Too often such cases prove fatal, or at least a recovery is not attained, and urine or feces or both escape freely into the vagina. The simple laceration of the anus is easily sewed up, but the ends of the muscular fibers do not reunite and the control over the lower bowel is never fully reacquired. The successful stitching up of the wound communicating with the bladder or the rectum requires unusual skill and care, and though I have succeeded in a case of the latter kind, I can not advise the attempt by unprofessional persons.


(See "Effusion of blood in the vaginal walls," p. 190.)


This sometimes follows on inflammation of the womb, as it frequently does on disorder of the stomach. Its symptoms agree with those of the common form of founder, and treatment need not differ.


These may result from injuries sustained by the womb during or after parturition, from exposure to cold or wet, or from the irritant infective action of putrid products within the womb. Under the inflammation the womb remains dilated and flaccid, and decomposition of its secretions almost always occurs, so that the inflammation tends to assume a putrid character and general septic infection is likely to occur.

Symptoms.—The symptoms are ushered in by shivering, staring coat, small, rapid pulse, elevated temperature, accelerated breathing, loss of appetite, with arched back, stiff movement of the body, looking back at the flanks, and uneasy motions of the hind limbs, discharge from the vulva of a liquid at first watery, reddish, or yellowish, and later it may be whitish or glairy, and fetid or not in different cases. Tenderness of the abdomen shown on pressure is[Pg 208] especially characteristic of cases affecting the peritoneum or lining of the belly, and is more marked lower down. If the animal survives, the inflammation tends to become chronic and attended by a whitish mucopurulent discharge. If, on the contrary, it proves fatal, death is preceded by extreme prostration and weakness from the general septic poisoning.

Treatment.—In treatment the first thing to be sought is the removal of all offensive and irritant matters from the womb through a caoutchouc tube introduced into the womb, and into which a funnel is fitted. Warm water should be passed until it comes away clear. To insure that all the womb has been washed out, the oiled hand may be introduced to carry the end of the tube into the two horns successively. When the offensive contents have been thus removed, the womb should be injected with a quart of water holding in solution 1 dram permanganate of potash, or, in the absence of the latter, 2 teaspoonfuls of carbolic acid, twice daily. Fomentation of the abdomen, or the application of a warm flaxseed poultice, may greatly relieve. Acetanilid, in doses of half an ounce, twice or thrice a day, or sulphate of quinia in doses of one-third ounce, may be employed to reduce the fever. If the great prostration indicates septic poisoning, large doses (one-half ounce) bisulphite of soda, or salicylate of soda, or sulphate of quinin may be resorted to.


This is a white, glutinous, chronic discharge, the result of a continued, subacute inflammation of the mucous membrane of the womb. Like the discharge of acute inflammation, it contains many forms of bacteria, by some of which it is manifestly inoculable on the penis of the stallion, producing ulcers and a specific, gonorrheal discharge.

Treatment may consist in the internal use of tonics (sulphate of iron, 3 drams, daily) and the washing out of the womb, as described under the last heading, followed by an astringent antiseptic injection (carbolic acid, 2 teaspoonfuls; tannic acid, 1/2 dram; water, 1 quart). This may be given two or three times a day.



This is comparatively rare in the mare, though in some cases the udder becomes painfully engorged before parturition, and a doughy swelling, pitting on pressure, extends forward on the lower surface of the abdomen. When this goes on to active inflammation, one or both of the glands becomes enlarged, hot, tense, and painful; the milk is dried up or replaced by a watery or reddish, serous fluid, which at times becomes fetid; the animal walks lame, loses appetite, and shows general disorder and fever. The condition may end in recovery, in[Pg 209] abscess, induration, or gangrene, and, in some cases, may lay the foundation for a tumor of the gland.

Treatment.—The treatment is simple so long as there is only congestion. Active rubbing with lard or oil, or, better, camphorated oil, and the frequent drawing off of the milk, by the foal or with the hand, will usually bring about a rapid improvement. When active inflammation is present, fomentation with warm water may be kept up for an hour and followed by the application of the camphorated oil, to which has been added some carbonate of soda and extract of belladonna. A dose of laxative medicine (4 drams Barbados aloes) will be of service in reducing fever, and one-half ounce saltpeter daily will serve a similar end. In case the milk coagulates in the udder and can not be withdrawn, or when the liquid becomes fetid, a solution of 20 grains carbonate of soda and 10 drops carbolic acid dissolved in an ounce of water should be injected into the teat. In doing this it must be noted that the mare has three separate ducts opening on the summit of each teat and each must be carefully injected. To draw off the fetid product it may be needful to use a small milking tube, or spring teat dilator designed by the writer. (Plate XIV, figs. 2 and 3.) When pus forms and points externally and can not find a free escape by the teat, the spot where it fluctuates must be opened freely with the knife and the cavity injected daily with the carbolic-acid lotion. When the gland becomes hard and indolent, it may be rubbed daily with iodin ointment 1 part, vaseline 6 parts.


As the result of inflammation of the udder it may become the seat of an indurated diseased growth, which may go on growing and seriously interfere with the movement of the hind limbs. If such swellings do not give way in their early stages to treatment by iodin, the only resort is to cut them out with a knife. As the gland is often implicated and has to be removed, such mares can not in the future suckle their colts and therefore should not be bred.


By the act of sucking, especially in cold weather, the teats are subject to abrasions, cracks, and scabs, and as the result of such irritation, or independently, warts sometimes grow and prove troublesome. The warts should be clipped off with sharp scissors and their roots burned with a solid pencil of lunar caustic. This is best done before parturition to secure healing before suckling begins. For sore teats use an ointment of vaseline 1 ounce, balsam of tolu 5 grains, and sulphate of zinc 5 grains.

[Pg 210]


By M. R. Trumbower, V. S.

[Revised by John R. Mohler, A. M., V. M. D.]


(Pl. XIX.)

The nervous system may be regarded as consisting of two sets of organs, peripheral and central, the function of one being to establish a communication between the centers and the different parts of the body, and that of the other to generate nervous force. The whole may be arranged under two divisions: First, the cerebrospinal system; second, the sympathetic or ganglionic system. Each is possessed of its own central and peripheral organs.

In the first, the center is made up of two portions—one large and expanded (the brain) placed in the cranial cavity; the other elongated (spinal cord), continuous with the brain, and lodged in the canal of the vertebral column. The peripheral portion of this system consists of the cerebrospinal nerves, which leave the axis in symmetrical pairs and are distributed to the skin, the voluntary muscles, and the organs.

In the second, the central organ consists of a chain of ganglia, connected by nerve cords, which extends on each side of the spine from the head to the rump. The nerves of this system are distributed to the involuntary muscles, mucous membrane, viscera, and blood vessels.

The two systems have free intercommunication, ganglia being at the junctions.

Two substances, distinguishable by their color, namely, the white or medullary and the gray or cortical substance, enter into the formation of nervous matter. Both are soft, fragile, and easily injured, in consequence of which the principal nervous centers are well protected by bony coverings. The nervous substances present two distinct forms—nerve fibers and nerve cells. An aggregation of nerve cells constitutes a nerve ganglion.

The nerve fibers represent a conducting apparatus and serve to place the central nervous organs in connection with peripheral end organs. The nerve cells, however, besides transmitting impulses, act as physiological centers for automatic, or reflex, movements, and also for the sensory, perceptive, trophic, and secretory functions. A nerve consists of a bundle of tubular fibers, held together by a[Pg 211] dense areolar tissue, and inclosed in a membranous sheath—the neurilemma. Nerve fibers possess no elasticity, but are very strong. Divided nerves do not retract.

Nerves are thrown into a state of excitement when stimulated, and are, therefore, said to possess excitable or irritable properties. The stimuli may be applied to, or may act upon, any part of the nerve. Nerves may be paralyzed by continuous pressure being applied. When the nerves divide into branches, there is never any splitting up of their ultimate fibers, nor yet is there ever any coalescing of them; they retain their individuality from their source to their termination.

Nerves which convey impressions to the centers are termed sensory, or centripetal, and those which transmit stimulus from the centers to organs of motion are termed motor, or centrifugal. The function of the nervous system may, therefore, be defined in the simplest terms, as follows: It is intended to associate the different parts of the body in such a manner that stimulus applied to one organ may excite or depress the activity of another.

The brain is that portion of the cerebrospinal axis within the cranium, which may be divided into four parts—the medulla oblongata, the cerebellum, the pons Varolii, and the cerebrum—and it is covered by three membranes, called the meninges. The outer of these membranes, the dura mater, is a thick, white, fibrous membrane which lines the cavity of the cranium, forming the internal periosteum of the bones; it is continuous with the spinal cord to the extremity of the canal. The second, the arachnoid, is a delicate serous membrane, and loosely envelops the brain and spinal cord; it forms two layers, having between them the arachnoid space which contains the cerebrospinal fluid, the use of which is to protect the spinal cord and brain from pressure. The third, or inner, the pia mater, is closely adherent to the entire surface of the brain, but is much thinner and more vascular than when it reaches the spinal cord, which it also envelops, and is continued to form the sheaths of the spinal nerves.

The medulla oblongata is the prolongation of the spinal cord, extending to the pons Varolii. This portion of the brain is very large in the horse: it is pyramidal in shape, the narrowest part joining the cord.

The pons Varolii is the transverse projection on the base of the brain, between the medulla oblongata and the peduncles of the cerebrum.

The cerebellum is lodged in the posterior part of the cranial cavity, immediately above the medulla oblongata; it is globular or elliptical in shape, the transverse diameter being greatest. The body of the cerebellum is composed of gray matter externally and of white matter in the center. The cerebellum has the function of co-ordinating[Pg 212] movements; that is, of so associating them as to cause them to accomplish a definite purpose. Injuries to the cerebellum cause disturbances of the equilibrium but do not interfere with the will power or intelligence.

The cerebrum, or brain proper, occupies the anterior portion of the cranial cavity. It is ovoid in shape, with an irregular, flattened base, and consists of lateral halves or hemispheres. The greater part of the cerebrum is composed of white matter. The hemispheres of the cerebrum are usually said to be the seat of all psychical activities. Only when they are intact are the process of feeling, thinking, and willing possible. After they are destroyed the organism comes to be like a complicated machine, and its activity is only the expression of the internal and external stimuli which act upon it.

The spinal cord, or spinal marrow, is that part of the cerebrospinal system which is contained in the spinal canal of the backbone, and extends from the medulla oblongata to a short distance behind the loins. It is an irregularly cylindrical structure, divided into two lateral, symmetrical halves by fissures. The spinal cord terminates posteriorly in a pointed extremity, which is continued by a mass of nerve trunks—cauda equinæ. A transverse section of the cord reveals that it is composed of white matter externally and of gray matter internally. The spinal cord does not fill the whole spinal canal. The latter contains, besides, a large venous sinus, fatty matter, the membranes of the cord, and the cerebrospinal fluid.

The spinal nerves, forty-two or forty-three in number, arise each by two roots, a superior or sensory, and an inferior or motor. The nerves originating from the brain are twenty-four in number, and arranged in pairs, which are named first, second, third, etc., counting from before backward. They also receive special names, according to their functions or the parts to which they are distributed, viz:

1. Olfactory.
2. Optic.
3. Oculo-motor.
4. Pathetic.
5. Trifacial.
6. Abducens.
7. Facial.
8. Auditory.
9. Glossopharyngeal.
10. Pneumogastric.
11. Spinal accessory.
12. Hypoglossal.

Inflammation of the Brain and its Membranes (Encephalitis, Meningitis, Cerebritis).

Inflammation may attack these membranes singly, or any one of the anatomical divisions of the nerve matter, or it may invade the whole at once. Practical experience, however, teaches us that primary inflammation of the dura mater is of rare occurrence, except in direct mechanical injuries to the head or diseases of the bones of the cranium. Neither is the arachnoid often affected with acute inflammation, except as a secondary result. The pia mater is most commonly[Pg 213] the seat of inflammation, acute and subacute, but from its intimate relation with the surface of the brain the latter very soon becomes involved in the morbid changes. Practically, we can not separate inflammation of the pia mater from that of the brain proper. Inflammation may, however, exist in the center of the great nerve masses—the cerebrum, cerebellum, pons Varolii, or medulla at the base of the brain—without involving the surface. When, therefore, inflammation invades the brain and its enveloping membranes it is properly called encephalitis; when the membranes alone are affected it is called meningitis, or the brain substance alone cerebritis. Since all the conditions merge into one another and can scarcely be recognized separately during the life of the animal, they may here be considered together.

Causes.—Exposure to extreme heat or cold, sudden and extreme changes of temperature, excessive continued cerebral excitement, too much nitrogenous feed, direct injuries to the brain, such as concussion, or from fracture of the cranium, overexertion, sometimes as sequelæ to influenza, pyemia, poisons having a direct influence upon the encephalic mass, extension of inflammation from neighboring structures, food poisoning, tumors, parasites, metastatic abscesses, etc.

Symptoms.—The diseases here grouped together are accompanied with a variety of symptoms, almost none of which, however, are associated so definitely with a special pathological process as to point unmistakably to a given lesion. Usually the first symptoms indicate mental excitement, and are followed by symptoms indicating depression. Acute encephalitis may be ushered in by an increased sensibility to noises, with more or less nervous excitability, contraction of the pupils of the eyes, and a quick, hard pulse. In very acute attacks these symptoms, however, are not always noted. This condition will soon be followed by muscular twitchings, convulsive or spasmodic movements, eyes wide open with shortness of sight. The animal becomes afraid to have his head handled. Convulsions and delirium will develop, with inability of muscular control, or stupor and coma may supervene. When the membranes are greatly implicated, convulsions and delirium with violence may be expected, but if the brain substances are principally affected stupor and coma will be the prominent symptoms. In the former condition the pulse will be quick and hard; in the latter, soft and depressed, with often a dilatation of the pupils, and deep, slow, stertorous breathing. The symptoms may follow one another in rapid succession, and the disease approach a fatal termination within 12 hours. In subacute attacks the symptoms are better defined, and the animal seldom dies before the third day. Within three or four days gradual improvement may become manifest, or cerebral softening with partial paralysis[Pg 214] may occur. In all cases of encephalitis there is a marked rise in temperature from the very onset of the disease, with a tendency to increase until the most alarming symptoms develop, succeeded by a decrease when coma becomes manifest. The violence and character of the symptoms greatly depend upon the extent and location of the structures involved. Thus, in some cases there may be marked paralysis of certain muscles, while in others there may be spasmodic rigidity of muscles in a certain region. Very rarely the animal becomes extremely violent early in the attack, and by rearing up, striking with the fore feet, or falling over, may do himself great injury. Usually, however, the animal maintains the standing position, propping himself against the manger or wall, until he falls from inability of muscular control, or from unconsciousness. Occasionally, in his delirium, he may go through a series of automatic movements, such as trotting or walking, and, if loose in a stall, will move around persistently in a circle. Early and persistent constipation of the bowels is a marked symptom in nearly all acute affections of the brain; retention of the urine, also, is frequently observed.

Following these symptoms there are depression, loss of power and consciousness, lack of ability or desire to move, and usually fall of temperature. At this stage the horse stands with legs propped, the head hanging or resting on the manger, the eyes partly closed, and does not respond when spoken to or when struck with a whip.

Chronic encephalitis or meningitis may succeed the acute stage, or may be due to stable miasma, blood poison, narcotism, lead poisoning, etc. This form may not be characterized in its initial stages by excitability, quick and hard pulse, and high fever. The animal usually appears at first stupid; eats slowly; the pupil of the eye does not respond to light quickly; the animal often throws his head up or shakes it as if suffering sudden twinges of pain. He is slow and sluggish in his movements, or there may be partial paralysis of one limb, one side of the face, neck, or body. These symptoms, with some variations, may be present for several days and then subside, or the disease may pass into the acute stage and terminate fatally. Chronic encephalitis may effect an animal for ten days or two weeks without much variation in the symptoms before the crisis is reached. If improvement commences, the symptoms usually disappear in the reverse order to that in which they developed, with the exception of the paralytic effects, which remain intractable or permanent. Paralysis of certain sets of muscles is a very common result of chronic, subacute, and acute encephalitis, and is due to softening of the brain or to exudation into the cavities of the brain or arachnoid space.

Softening and abscess of the brain are terminations of cerebritis. It may also be due to an insufficient supply of blood as a result[Pg 215] of diseased cerebral arteries and of apoplexy. The symptoms are drowsiness, vertigo, or attacks of giddiness, increased timidity, or fear of familiar objects, paralysis of one limb, hemiplegia, imperfect control of the limbs, and usually a weak, intermittent pulse. In some cases the symptoms are analogous to those of apoplexy. The character of the symptoms depends upon the seat of the softening or abscess within the brain.

Cerebral sclerosis sometimes follows inflammation in the structure of the brain affecting the connective tissues, which eventually become hypertrophied and press upon nerve cells and fibers, causing their ultimate disappearance, leaving the parts hard and indurated. This condition gives rise to a progressive paralysis and may extend along a certain bundle of fibers into the spinal cord. Complete paralysis almost invariably supervenes and causes death.

Lesions.—On making post-mortem examinations of horses which have died in the first stages of either of these diseases we find an excessive engorgement of the capillaries and small blood vessels, with correspondingly increased redness and changes in both the contents and the walls of the vessels. If death has occurred at a later period of the disease, it will be found that, in addition to the redness and engorgement, an exudation of the contents of the blood vessels into the tissues and upon the surfaces of the inflamed parts has supervened. If the case has been one of encephalitis, there will usually be found more or less watery fluid in the ventricles (natural cavities in the brain), in the subarachnoid space, and a serous exudation between the convolutions and interstitial spaces of the gray matter under the membranes of the brain. The quantity of fluid varies in different cases. Exudations of a membranous character may be present, and are found attached to the surfaces of the pia mater.

In meningitis, especially in chronic cases, in addition to the serous effusion, there are changes which may be regarded as characteristic in the formation of a delicate and highly vascular layer or layers of membrane or organized structure on the surface of the dura mater, and also indications of hemorrhages in connection with the membranous formations. Hematoma, or blood tumors, may be found embedded in this membrane. In some cases the hemorrhages are copious, causing paralysis or apoplexy, followed by speedy death. The meningitis may be suppurative. In this case a puslike exudate is found between the membranes covering the brain.

In cerebritis, or inflammation of the interior of the brain, there is a tendency to softening and suppuration and the formation of abscesses. In some cases the abscesses are small and numerous, surrounded with a softened condition of the brain matter, and sometimes we may find one large abscess. In cases of recent development[Pg 216] the walls of the abscesses are fringed and ragged and have no lining membrane. In older or chronic cases the walls of the abscesses are generally lined with a strong membrane, often having the appearance of a sac or cyst, and the contents have a very offensive odor.

Treatment.—In all acute attacks of inflammation involving the membranes or cerebral masses, it is the pressure from the distended and engorged blood vessels and the rapid accumulation of inflammatory products that endangers the life of the animal in even the very early stage of the disease. The earlier the treatment is commenced to lessen the danger of fatal pressure from the engorged blood vessels, the less effusion and smaller number of inflammatory products we have to contend with later. The leading object, then, to be accomplished in the treatment of the first stage of encephalitis, meningitis, or cerebritis, and before a dangerous degree of effusion or exudation has taken place, is to relieve the engorgement of the blood vessels and thereby lessen the irritation or excitability of the affected structures. If the attempt to relieve the engorgement in the first stage has been only partially successful, and the second stage, with its inflammatory products and exudations, whether serous or plastic, has set in, then the main objects in further treatment are to keep up the strength of the animal and hasten the absorption of the exudative products as much as possible. To obtain these results, when the animal is found in the initial stage of the disease, if there is unnatural excitability or stupor with increase of temperature and quickened pulse, we should apply cold to the head in the form of cold water or ice. For this purpose cloths or bags may be used, and they should be renewed as often as necessary. If the disease is still in its early stages and the animal is strong, bleeding from the jugular vein may be beneficial. Good results are to be expected only during the stage of excitement, while there is a strong, full pulse and the mucous membranes of the head are red from a plentiful supply of blood. The finger should be kept on the pulse and the blood allowed to flow until there is distinct softening of the pulse. As soon as the animal recovers somewhat from the shock of the bleeding the following medicine should be made into a ball or dissolved in a pint of warm water and be given at one dose: Barbados aloes, 7 drams; calomel, 2 drams; powdered ginger, 1 dram; tincture of aconite, 20 drops.

The animal should be placed in a cool, dark place, as free from noise as possible. When the animal becomes thirsty half an ounce of bromid of potash may be dissolved in the drinking water every six hours. Injections of warm water into the rectum may facilitate the action of the purgative. Norwood's tincture of veratrum viride, in 20-drop doses, should be given every hour and 1 dram of solid extract of belladonna every four hours until the symptoms become modified and the pulse regular and full.


[Pg 217]If this treatment fails to give relief, the disease will pass into the advanced stages, or, if the animal has been neglected in the early stages, the treatment must be supplanted with the hypodermic injection of ergotin, in 5-grain doses, dissolved in 1 dram of water, every six hours. The limbs may be poulticed above the fetlocks with mustard. Warm blanketing, to promote perspiration, is to be observed always when there is no excessive perspiration.

If the disease becomes chronic (encephalitis or meningitis), we must place our reliance upon alteratives and tonics, with such incidental treatment as special symptoms may demand. Iodid of potassium in 2-dram doses should be given three times a day and 1 dram of calomel once a day to induce absorption of effusions or thickened membranes. Tonics, in the form of iodid of iron in 1-dram doses, to which is added 2 drams of powdered hydrastis, may also be given every six or eight hours, as soon as the active fever has abated. After the disappearance of the acute symptoms, blisters (cantharides ointment) may be applied behind the poll. When paralytic effects remain after the disappearance of all other symptoms, sulphate of strychnia in 2-grain doses, in combination with the other tonics, may be given twice a day and be continued until it produces muscular twitching. In some cases of paralysis, as of the lips or throat, benefit may be derived from the moderate use of the electric battery. Many of the recoveries will, however, under the most active and early treatment, be but partial, and in all cases the animals become predisposed to subsequent attacks. A long time should be allowed to pass before the animal is exposed to severe work or great heat. When the disease depends upon mechanical injuries, they have to be treated and all causes of irritation to the brain removed. If it is due to stable miasma, uremic poisoning, pyemia, influenza, rheumatism, toxic agents, etc., they should receive prompt attention for their removal or mitigation.

Cerebral softening, abscess, and sclerosis are practically inaccessible to treatment, otherwise than such relief as may be afforded by the administration of opiates and general tonics, and, in fact, the diagnosis is largely presumptive.


Congestion of the brain consists in an accumulation of blood in the vessels, also called hyperemia, or engorgement. It may be active or passive—active when there is an undue accumulation of blood or diminished arterial resistance, and passive when it accumulates in the vessels of the brain, owing to some obstacle to its return by the veins.

Causes.—Active cerebral congestion may be from hypertrophy of the left ventricle of the heart, excessive exertion, the influence of[Pg 218] extreme heat, sudden and great excitement, artificial stimulants, etc. Passive congestion may be produced by any mechanical obstruction which prevents the proper return of blood through the veins to the heart, such as a small or ill-fitting collar, which often impedes the blood current, tumors or abscesses pressing on the vein in its course, and organic lesions of the heart with regurgitation.

Extremely fat animals with short, thick necks are peculiarly subject to attacks of cerebral congestion. Simple congestion, however, is merely a functional affection, and in a slight or moderate degree involves no immediate danger. Extreme engorgement, on the contrary, may be followed by rupture of previously weakened arteries and capillaries and cause immediate death, designated then as a stroke of apoplexy.

Symptoms.—Congestion of the brain is usually sudden in its manifestation and of short duration. The animal may stop very suddenly and shake its head or stand quietly braced, then stagger, make a plunge, and fall. The eyes are staring, breathing hurried and stertorous, and the nostrils widely dilated. This may be followed by coma, violent convulsive movements, and death. Generally, however, the animal gains relief in a short time, but may remain weak and giddy for several days. If it is due to organic change of the heart or the disease of the blood vessels in the brain, then the symptoms may be of slow development, manifested by drowsiness, dimness or imperfect vision, difficulty in voluntary movements, diminished sensibility of the skin, loss of consciousness, delirium, and death. In milder cases effusion may take place in the arachnoid spaces and ventricles of the brain, followed by paralysis and other complications.

Pathology.—In congestion of the brain the cerebral vessels are loaded with blood, the venous sinuses distended to an extreme degree, and the pressure exerted upon the brain constitutes actual compression, giving rise to the symptoms just mentioned. On post-mortem examinations this engorgement is found universal throughout the brain and its membranes, which serves to distinguish it from inflammations of these structures, in which the engorgements are confined more or less to circumscribed portions. A prolonged congestion may, however, lead to active inflammation, and in that case we find serous and plastic exudations in the cavities of the brain. In addition to the intensely engorged condition of the vessels we find the gray matter of the brain redder than natural. In cases in which several attacks have occurred the blood vessels are often found permanently dilated.

Treatment.—The animal should be taken out of harness at once, with prompt removal of all mechanical obstructions to the circulation. If it is caused by venous obstruction by too tight a collar, the[Pg 219] loosening of the collar will give immediate relief. The horse should be bled freely from the jugular vein. If due to tumors or abscesses, a surgical operation becomes necessary to afford relief. To revive the animal if it becomes partially or totally unconscious, cold water should be dashed on the head. Give a purge of Glauber's salt. If the limbs are cold, tincture of capsicum or strong mustard water should be applied to them. If symptoms of paralysis remain after two or three days, an active cathartic and iodid of potassium will be indicated, to be given as prescribed for inflammation of the brain. In confirmed cases, treatment is not advisable, as there is considerable danger to the owner should an attack occur in a crowded street.

Prevention.—Well-adjusted collar, with strap running from the collar to the girth, to hold down the collar when pulling upgrade; regular feed and exercise, without allowing the animal to become excessively plethoric; moderate checking, allowing a free-and-easy movement of the head; well-ventilated stabling, proper cleanliness, pure water, etc.


The term sunstroke is applied to affections occasioned not exclusively by exposure to the sun's rays, as the word signifies, but by the action of great heat combined generally with humid atmosphere. Exhaustion produced by long-continued heat is often the essential factor, and is called heat exhaustion. Horses on the race track undergoing protracted and severe work in hot weather often succumb to heat exhaustion. Draft horses which do not receive proper care in watering, feeding, and rest in shady places and are exposed for many hours to the direct rays of the sun suffer very frequently from sunstroke.

Symptoms.—Sunstroke is manifested suddenly. The animal stops, drops his head, begins to stagger, and soon falls to the ground unconscious. The breathing is marked with great stertor, the pulse is very slow and irregular, cold sweats break out in patches on the surface of the body, and the animal often dies without having recovered consciousness.

The temperature becomes very high, reaching 105° to 109° F.

In heat exhaustion the animal usually requires urging for some time prior to the appearance of any other symptoms, generally perspiration is checked, and then the horse becomes weak in its gait, the breathing hurried or panting, eyes watery or bloodshot, nostrils dilated and highly reddened, assuming a dark, purple color; the pulse is rapid and weak, the heart bounding, followed by unconsciousness and death. If recovery takes place, convalescence extends over a long period of time, during which incoordination of movement may persist.[Pg 220]

Pathology.—Sunstroke, virtually active congestion of the brain, often accompanied with effusion and blood extravasation, characterizes this condition, with often rapid and fatal lowering of all the vital functions. In many instances the death may be due to the complete stagnation in the circulation of the brain, inducing anemia, or want of nourishment of that organ. In other cases it may be directly due to the excessive compression of the nerve matter controlling the heart's action, and cause paralysis of that organ. There are also changes in the composition of the blood.

Treatment.—The animal should be placed in shaded surroundings. Under no circumstances is blood-letting permissible in sunstroke. Ice or very cold water should be applied to the head and along the spine, and half an ounce of carbonate of ammonia or 6 ounces of whisky should be given in 1 pint of water. Cold water may be used as an enema and should also be showered upon the body of the horse from the hose or otherwise. This should be continued until the temperature is down to 103° F. Brisk friction of the limbs and the application of spirits of camphor often yields good results. The administration of the stimulants should be repeated in one hour if the pulse has not become stronger and slower. In either case, when reaction has occurred, preparations of iron and general tonics may be given during convalescence: Sulphate of iron, 1 dram; gentian, 3 drams; red cinchona bark, 2 drams; mix and give in feed morning and evening.

Prevention.—In very hot weather horses should have wet sponges or light sunshades on the head when at work, or the head may be sponged with cold water as many times a day as possible. Proper attention should be given to feeding and watering, never in excess. During the warm months all stables should be cool and well ventilated, and if an animal is debilitated from exhaustive work or disease it should receive such treatment as will tend to build up the system. Horses should be permitted to drink as much water as they want while they are at work during hot weather.

An animal which has been affected with sunstroke is very liable to have subsequent attacks when exposed to the necessary exciting causes.


Apoplexy is often confounded with cerebral congestion, but true apoplexy always consists in rupture of cerebral blood vessels, with blood extravasation and formation of blood clot.

Causes.—Two causes are involved in the production of apoplexy, the predisposing and the exciting. The predisposing cause is degeneration, or disease which weakens the blood vessel; the exciting cause is any one which tends to induce cerebral congestion.[Pg 221]

Symptoms.—Apoplexy is characterized by a sudden loss of sensation and motion, profound coma, and stertorous, difficult breathing. The action of the heart is little disturbed at first, but soon becomes slower, then quicker and feebler, and after a little time ceases. If the rupture is one of a small artery and the extravasation limited, sudden paralysis of some part of the body is the result. The extent and location of the paralysis depend upon the location within the brain which is functionally deranged by the pressure of the extravasated blood; hence these conditions are very variable.

In the absence of any premonitory symptoms or an increase of temperature in the early stage of the attack, we may be reasonably certain in making the distinction between this disease and congestion of the brain, or sunstroke.

Pathology.—In apoplexy there is generally found an atheromatous condition of the cerebral vessels, with weakening and degeneration of their walls. When a large artery has been ruptured it is usually followed by immediate death, and large rents may be found in the cerebrum, with great destruction of brain tissue, induced by the forcible pressure of the liberated blood. In small extravasations producing local paralysis without marked general disturbance the animal may recover after a time; in such cases gradual absorption of the clot takes place. In large clots atrophy of the brain substances may follow, or softening and abscess from want of nutrition may result, and render the animal worthless, ultimately resulting in death.

Treatment.—Place the animal in a quiet, cool place and avoid all stimulating feed. Administer, in the drinking water or feed, 2 drams of the iodid of potassium twice a day for several weeks if necessary. Medical interference with sedatives or stimulants is more liable to be harmful than of benefit, and blood-letting in an apoplectic fit is extremely hazardous. From the fact that cerebral apoplexy is due to diseased or weakened blood vessels, the animal remains subject to subsequent attacks. For this reason treatment is very unsatisfactory.


Causes.—In injuries from direct violence a piece of broken bone may press upon the brain, and, according to its size, the brain is robbed of its normal space within the cranium. It may also be due to an extravasation of blood or to exudation in the subdural or arachnoid spaces. Death from active cerebral congestion results through compression. The occurrence may sometimes be traced to the direct cause, which will give assurance for the correct diagnosis.

Symptoms.—Impairment of all the special senses and localized paralysis. All the symptoms of lessened functional activity of the brain are manifested to some degree. The paralysis remains to be[Pg 222] our guide for the location of the cause, for it will be found that the paralysis occurs on the opposite side of the body from the location of the injury, and the parts suffering paralysis will denote, to an expert veterinarian or physician, the part of the brain which is suffering compression.

Treatment.—Trephining, by a skillful operator, for the removal of the cause when due to depressed bone or the presence of foreign bodies. When the symptoms of compression follow other acute diseases of the brain, apoplectic fits, etc., the treatment must be such as the exigencies of the case demands.


This is generally caused by falling over backward and striking the poll, or perhaps falling forward on the nose, by a blow on the head, etc. Train accidents during shipping often cause concussion of the brain.

Symptoms.—Concussion of the brain is characterized by giddiness, stupor, insensibility, or loss of muscular power, succeeding immediately upon a blow or severe injury involving the cranium. The animal may rally quickly or not for hours; death may occur on the spot or after a few days. When there is only slight concussion or stunning, the animal soon recovers from the shock. When more severe, insensibility may be complete and continue for a considerable time; the animal lies as if in a deep sleep; the pupils are insensible to light; the pulse fluttering or feeble; the surface of the body cold, muscles relaxed, and the breathing scarcely perceptible. After a variable interval partial recovery may take place, which is marked by paralysis of some parts of the body, often of a limb, the lips, ear, etc. Convalescence is usually tedious, and frequently permanent impairment of some organs remains.

Pathology.—Concussion produces laceration of the brain, or at least a jarring of the nervous elements, which, if not sufficiently severe to produce sudden death, may lead to softening or inflammation, with their respective symptoms of functional derangement.

Treatment.—The first object in treatment will be to establish reaction or to arouse the feeble and weakening heart. This can often be accomplished by dashing cold water on the head and body of the animal; frequent injections of weak ammonia water, ginger tea, or oil and turpentine should be given per rectum. In the majority of cases this will soon bring the horse to a state of consciousness. In more severe cases mustard poultices should be applied along the spine and above the fetlocks. As soon as the animal gains partial consciousness stimulants, in the form of whisky or capsicum tea, should be given. Owing to severity of the structural injury to the brain or the possible rupture of blood vessels and blood extravasation, the reaction[Pg 223] may often be followed by encephalitis or cerebritis, and will then have to be treated accordingly. For this reason the stimulants should not be administered too freely, and they must be abandoned as soon as reaction is established. There is no need for further treatment unless complications develop as a secondary result. Bleeding, which is so often practiced, proves almost invariably fatal in this form of brain affection. We should also remember that it is never safe to drench a horse with large quantities of medicine when he is unconscious, for he is very liable to draw the medicine into the lungs in inspiration.

Prevention.—Young horses, when harnessed or bitted for the first few times, should not have their heads checked high, for it frequently causes them to rear up, and, being unable to control their balance, they are liable to fall over sideways or backwards, thus causing brain concussion when they strike the ground.


This is a physiological condition in sleep. It is considered a disease or may give rise to disease when the circulation and blood supply of the brain are interfered with. In some diseases of the heart the brain becomes anemic, and fainting fits occur, with temporary loss of consciousness. Tumors growing within the cranium may press upon one or more arteries and stop the supply of blood to certain parts of the brain, thus inducing anemia, ultimately atrophy, softening, or suppuration. Probably the most frequent cause is found in plugging, or occlusion, of the arteries by a blood clot.

Symptoms.—Imperfect vision, constantly dilated pupils, frequently a feeble and staggering gait, and occasionally cramps, convulsions, or epileptic fits occur.

Pathology.—The exact opposite of cerebral hyperemia. The blood vessels are found empty, the membranes blanched, and the brain substance softened.

Treatment.—Removal of the remote cause when possible. General tonics, nutritious feed, rest, and removal from all causes of nervous excitement.


This condition consists in an unnatural collection of fluid about or in the brain. Depending upon the location of the fluid, we speak of external and internal hydrocephalus.

External hydrocephalus is seen chiefly in young animals. It consists in a collection of fluid under the meninges, but outside the brain proper. This defect is usually congenital. It is accompanied with[Pg 224] an enlargement of the skull, especially in the region of the forehead. The pressure of the fluid may cause the bones to soften. The disease is incurable and usually fatal.

Internal hydrocephalus is a disease of mature horses, and consists in the accumulation of an excessive quantity of fluid in the cavities or ventricles of the cerebrum. The cause of this accumulation may be a previous inflammation, a defect in the circulation of blood through the brain, heat stroke, overwork, excessive nutrition, or long-continued indigestion. Common, heavy-headed draft horses are predisposed to this condition.

Symptoms.—The symptoms are an expression of dullness and stupidity, and from their nature this disease is sometimes known as "dumminess" or "immobility." A horse so afflicted is called a "dummy." Among the symptoms are loss of intelligence, stupid expression, poor memory, etc. The appetite is irregular; the horse may stop chewing with a wisp of hay protruding from his lips; he seems to forget that it is there. Unnatural positions are sometimes assumed, the legs being placed in clumsy and unusual attitudes. Such horses are difficult to drive, as they do not respond readily to the word, to pressure of the bit, or to the whip. Gradually the pulse becomes weaker, respiration becomes faster, and the subject loses weight. Occasionally there are periods of great excitement due to temporary congestion of the brain. At such times the horse becomes quite uncontrollable. A horse so afflicted is said to have "staggers." The outlook for recovery is not good.

Treatment is merely palliative. Regular work or exercise and nutritious feed easy of digestion, with plenty of fresh water, are strongly indicated. Intensive feeding should not be practiced. The bowels should be kept open by the use of appropriate diet or by the use of small regular doses of Glauber's salt.


Tumors within the cranial cavity and the brain occur not infrequently, and give rise to a variety of symptoms, imperfect control of voluntary movement, local paralysis, epilepsy, etc. Among the more common tumors are the following:

Osseous tumors, growing from the walls of the cranium, are not very uncommon.

Dentigerous cysts, containing a formation identical to that of a tooth, growing from the temporal bone, sometimes are found lying loose within the cranium.

Tumors of the choroid plexus, known as brain sand, are frequently met with on post-mortem examinations, but seldom give rise to any[Pg 225] appreciable symptoms during life. They are found in horses at all ages, and are slow of development. They are found in one or both of the lateral ventricles, enveloped in the folds of the choroid plexus.

Melanotic tumors have been found in the brain and meninges in the form of small, black nodules in gray horses, and in one instance are believed to have induced the condition known as stringhalt.

Fibrous tumors may develop within or from the meningeal structures of the brain.

Gliomatous tumor is a variety of sarcoma very rarely found in the structure of the cerebellum.

Treatment for tumors of the brain is impossible.


Spasm is a marked symptom in many diseases of the brain and of the spinal cord. Spasms may result from irritation of the motor nerves as conductors, or may result from irritation of any part of the sympathetic nervous system, and they usually indicate an excessive action of the reflex motor centers. Spasms may be induced by various medicinal agents given in poisonous doses, or by effete materials in the circulation, such as nux vomica or its alkaloid strychnia, lead preparations, or an excess of the urea products in the circulation, etc. Spasms may be divided into two classes: Tonic spasm, when the cramp is continuous or results in persistent rigidity, as in tetanus; clonic spasm, when the cramping is of short duration, or is alternated with relaxations. Spasms may affect involuntary as well as the voluntary muscles, the muscles of the glottis, intestines, and even the heart. They are always sudden in their development.

Spasm of the glottis.—This is manifested by a strangling respiration; a wheezing noise is produced in the act of inspiration; extreme anxiety and suffering for want of air. The head is extended, the body profusely perspiring; pulse very rapid; soon great exhaustion becomes manifest; the mucous membranes become turgid and very dark colored, and the animal thus may suffocate in a short time.

Spasm of the intestines.—(See "Cramp colic," p. 74.)

Spasm of the neck of the bladder.—This may be due to spinal irritation or a reflex from intestinal irritation, and is manifested by frequent but ineffectual attempts to urinate.

Spasm of the diaphragm, or thumps.—Spasmodic contraction of the diaphragm, the principal muscle used in respiration, is generally occasioned by extreme and prolonged speeding on the race track or road. The severe strain thus put upon this muscle finally induces irritation of the nerves controlling it, and the contractions become very forcible and violent, giving the jerking character known among[Pg 226] horsemen as "thumps." This condition may be distinguished from violent beating of the heart by feeling the pulse beat at the angle of the jaw, and at the same time watching the jerking movement of the body, when it will be discovered that the two bear no relation to each other. (See "Palpitation of the heart," p. 259.)

Spasm of the thigh, or cramp of a hind limb.—This is frequently witnessed in horses that stand on sloping plank floors—generally in cold weather—or it may come on soon after severe exercise. It is probably due to an irritation of the nerves of the thigh. In cramps of the hind leg the limb becomes perfectly rigid, and attempts to flex are unsuccessful; the animal stands on the affected limb, but is unable to move it; it is unnaturally cold; it does not, however, appear to cause much suffering unless attempts are made to change position. This cramp may be of short duration—a few minutes—or it may persist for several days. This condition is often taken for a dislocation of the stifle joint. In the latter the foot is extended backward, and the horse is unable to advance it, but drags the limb. An examination of the joint also reveals a change in form. Spasms may affect the eyelids, by closure or by retraction. Spasm of the sterno-maxillaris muscle has been witnessed, and the animal was unable to close the jaws until the muscle became relaxed.

Treatment of spasms.—An anodyne liniment, composed of chloroform 1 part and soap liniment 4 parts, applied to cramped muscles will usually cause relaxation. This may be used when single external muscles are affected. In spasms of the glottis, inhalation of sulphuric ether will give quick relief. In spasm of the diaphragm, rest and the administration of half an ounce of chloroform in 3 ounces of whisky, with a pint of water added, will generally suffice to bring relief, or if this fails give 5 grains of sulphate of morphia by hypodermic injection. If spasms result from organic disease of the nervous system, the latter should receive such treatment as its character demands. In cramp of the leg, compulsory movement usually causes relaxation very quickly; therefore the animal should be led out of the stable and be forced to run or trot. Sudden, nervous excitement caused by a crack of the whip or smart blow will often bring about immediate relief. Should this fail, the anodyne liniment may be used along the inside of the thigh, and chloroform, ether, or laudanum given internally. An ounce of the chloral hydrate will certainly relieve the spasm when given internally, but the cramp may return soon after the effect has passed off, which in many cases it does very quickly.

Convulsions.—Although there is no disease of the nervous system which can be properly termed convulsive, or justify the use of the word convulsion to indicate any particular disease, yet it is often such a prominent symptom that a few words may not be out of place.[Pg 227] General, irregular muscular contractions of various parts of the body, with unconsciousness, characterize what we regard as convulsions, and like ordinary spasms are dependent upon some disease or irritation of the nervous structures, chiefly of the brain. No treatment is required; in fact, a general convulsion must necessarily be self-limited in its duration. Suspending, as it does, respiratory movements, checking the oxygenation and decarbonization of the blood, the rapid accumulation of carbonic-acid gas in the blood and the exclusion of oxygen quickly puts the blood in a condition to produce the most reliable and speedy sedative effect upon the nerve excitability that could be found, and consequently furnishes its own remedy so far as the continuance of the convulsive paroxysm is concerned. Whatever treatment is instituted must be directed toward a removal of the cause of the convulsive paroxysm.


Chorea is characterized by involuntary contractions of voluntary muscles. This disease is an obscure disorder, which may be from pressure upon a nerve, cerebral or spinal sclerosis, small aneurisms in the brain, etc. Choreic symptoms have been produced by injecting granules of starch into the arteries entering the brain. Epilepsy and other forms of convulsions simulate chorea in appearance.

Stringhalt is by some termed "chorea." This is manifested by a sudden jerking up of one or both hind legs when the animal is walking. This symptom may be very slight in some horses, but has a tendency to increase with age. In some the catching up of the affected leg is very violent, and when it is lowered to the ground the motion is equally sudden and forcible, striking the foot to the ground like a pile driver. Very rarely chorea may be found to affect one of the fore legs, or the muscles of one side of the neck or the upper part of the neck. Involuntary jerking of the muscles of the hip or thigh is seen occasionally, and is termed "shivering" by horsemen.

Chorea is often associated with a nervous disposition, and is not so frequent in animals with a sluggish temperament. The involuntary muscular contractions cause no pain, and do not appear to produce much exhaustion of the affected muscles, although the jerking may be regular and persistent whenever the animal is in motion.

Treatment.—In a few cases, early in the appearance of this affection, general nerve tonics may be of benefit, viz, iodid of iron, 1 dram; pulverized nux vomica, 1 dram; pulverized scutellaria (skull-cap), 1 ounce. Mix and give in the feed once a day for two weeks. Arsenic in the form of Fowler's solution is often beneficial. If the cause is connected with organic brain lesions, treatment is usually unsuccessful.[Pg 228]


The cause of epilepsy is seldom traceable to any special brain lesions. In a few cases it accompanies disease of the pituitary body, which is located in the under surface of the brain. Softening of the brain may give rise to this affection. Attacks may occur only once or twice a year or they may be of frequent recurrence.

Symptoms.—No premonitory symptoms precede an epileptic fit. The animal suddenly staggers; the muscles become cramped; the jaws may be spasmodically opened and closed, and the tongue become lacerated between the teeth; the animal foams at the mouth and falls in a spasm. The urine flows involuntarily, and the breathing may be temporarily arrested. The paroxysm soon passes off, and the animal gets on its feet in a few minutes after the return of consciousness.

Treatment.—Dashing cold water on the head during the paroxysm. After the recovery 1 dram of oxid of zinc may be given in the feed twice a day for several weeks, or benefit may be derived from the tonic prescribed for chorea.


Paralysis is a weakness or cessation of the muscular contraction by diminution of loss of the conducting power or stimulation of the motor nerves. Paralytic affections are of two kinds, the complete and the incomplete. The former includes those in which both motion and sensibility are affected; the latter those in which only one or the other is lost or diminished. Paralysis may be general or partial. The latter is divided into hemiplegia and paraplegia. When only a small portion of the body is affected, as the face, a limb, the tail, it is designated by the term local paralysis. When the irritation extends from the periphery of the center it is termed reflex paralysis.

Causes are much varied. Most of the acute affections of the brain and spinal cord may lead to paralysis. Injuries, tumors, disease of the blood vessels of the brain, etc., all have a tendency to produce suspension of the conducting motive power to the muscular structures. Pressure upon, or the severing of, a nerve causes a paralysis of the parts to which such a nerve is distributed. Apoplexy may be termed a general paralysis, and in nonfatal attacks is a frequent cause of the various forms of palsy.

General paralysis.—This can not take place without producing immediate death. The term is, however, usually applied to paralysis of the four extremities, whether any other portions of the body are involved or not. This form of palsy is due to compression of the brain by congestion of its vessels, large clot formation in apoplexy,[Pg 229] concussion, or shock, or any disease in which the whole brain structure is involved in functional disturbance.

Hemiplegia (paralysis of one side or half of the body).—Hemiplegia is frequently the result of a tumor in the lateral ventricles of the brain, softening of one hemisphere of the cerebrum, pressure from extravasated blood, fracture of the cranium, or it may be due to poisons in the blood or to reflex origin. When hemiplegia is due to or the result of a prior disease of the brain, especially of an inflammatory character, it is seldom complete; it may affect only one limb and one side of the head, neck, or muscles along the back, and may pass off in a few days after the disappearance of all the other evidences of the primary affection. In most cases, however, hemiplegia arises from emboli obstructing one or more blood vessels of the brain, or the rupture of some vessel the wall of which had become weakened by degeneration and the extravasation of blood. Sensibility in most cases is not impaired, but in some there is a loss of sensibility as well as of motion. In some cases the bladder and rectum are involved in the paralysis.

Symptoms.—In hemiplegia the attack may be very sudden, and the animal fall, powerless to move one side of the body; one side of the lips will be relaxed; the tongue may hang out on one side of the mouth; the tail curved around sideways; an inability to swallow feed or water may be present, and often the urine dribbles away as fast as it collects in the bladder. Sensibility of the affected side may be entirely lost or only partial; the limbs may be cold and sometimes unnaturally warm. In cases wherein the attack is not so severe the animal may be able to maintain the standing position, but will have great difficulty in moving the affected side. In such cases the animal may recover from the disability. In the more severe, in which there is complete loss of power of movement, recoveries are rare.

Paraplegia (transverse paralysis of the hind extremities).—Paralysis of the hind extremities is usually due to some injury or inflammation affecting the spinal cord. (See "Spinal meningitis," p. 232, and "Myelitis," p. 233.) It may also be due to a reflex irritation from disease of peripheral nerves, to spinal irritation or congestion caused by blood poisons, etc.

Symptoms.—When due to mechanical injury of the spinal cord, from a broken back or spinal hemorrhage, it is generally progressive in its character, although it may be sudden. When it is caused by agents in the blood, it may be intermittent or recurrent.

Paraplegia is not difficult to recognize, for it is characterized by a weakness and imperfect control of the hind legs and powerless tail. The urine usually dribbles away as it is formed and the manure is pushed out, ball by ball, without any voluntary effort, or the passages may cease entirety. When paraplegia is complete, large and ill-conditioned[Pg 230] sores soon form on the hips and thighs from chafing and bruising, which have a tendency quickly to weaken the animal and necessitate his destruction.

Locomotor ataxia, or incoordination of movement.—This is characterized by an inability to control properly the movement of the limbs. The animal appears usually perfectly healthy, but when he is led out of his stall his legs have a wobbly movement and he will stumble or stagger, especially in turning. When this is confined to the hind parts it may be termed a modified form of paraplegia, but often it may be seen to affect nearly all the voluntary muscles when they are called into play, and must be attributed to some pressure exerted on the base of the brain.

Local paralysis.—This is frequently met with in horses. It may affect many parts of the body, even vital organs, and it is very frequently overlooked in diagnosis.

Facial paralysis.—This is a frequent type of local paralysis, and is due to impairment of function of the motor nerve of the facial muscles, the portio dura. The cause may exist at the base of the brain, compression along its course after it leaves the medulla oblongata, or to a bruise after it spreads out on the great masseter muscle.

Symptoms.—A flaccid condition of the cheek muscles, pendulous lips, inability to grasp the feed, often a slow and weak movement in chewing, and difficulty and slowness in drinking.

Laryngismus paralyticus, or roaring.—This condition is characterized by roaring, and is usually caused by an inflamed or hypertrophied bronchial gland pressing against the left recurrent laryngeal nerve, which interferes with its conducting power. A similar condition is occasionally induced in acute pleurisy, when the recurrent nerve becomes involved in the diseased process or compressed by plastic exudation.

Paralysis of the rectum and tail.—This is generally the result of a blow or fall on the rump, which causes a fracture of the sacrum bone and injury to the nerves supplying the tail and part of the rectum and muscles belonging thereto. This fracture would not be suspected were it not for the loss of motion of the tail.

Intestinal paralysis.—Characterized by persistent constipation; frequently the strongest purgatives have no effect whatever on the movement of the bowels. In the absence of symptoms of indigestion, or special diseases implicating the intestinal canal, torpor of the bowels must be attributed to deficient innervation. This condition may depend upon brain affections or be due to reflex paralysis. Sudden checks of perspiration may induce excessive action of the bowels or paralysis.

Paralysis of the bladder.—This usually affects the neck of the bladder, and is characterized by incontinence of urine; the urine dribbles away as fast as it is secreted. The cause may be of reflex[Pg 231] origin, disease of the rectum, tumors growing within the pelvic cavity, injury to the spinal cord, etc.

Paralysis of the optic nerve (amaurosis).—A paralysis of eyesight may occur very suddenly from rupture of a blood vessel in the brain, acute local congestion of the brain, the administration of excessive doses of belladonna or its alkaloid atropia, etc. In amaurosis the pupil is dilated to its full extent; the eye looks clear, but does not respond to light.

Paralysis of hearing, of the external ear, of the eyelid, partial paralysis of the heart and organs of respiration, of the blood vessels from injury to the vasomotor nerves of the esophagus, or loss of deglutition, palsy of the stomach, all may be manifested when the supply of nervous influence is impaired or suspended.

Treatment for paralysis.—In all paralytic affections there may be anesthesia, or impairment of sensibility, in addition to the loss of motion, or there may be hyperesthesia, or increased sensibility, in connection with the loss of motion. These conditions may call for special treatment in addition to that for loss of motion. If hyperesthesia is well marked local anodynes may be needed to relieve suffering. Chloroform liniment or hypodermic injections of from 3 to 5 grains of sulphate of morphia will allay local pain. If there is marked anesthesia, or loss of sensibility, it may become necessary to secure the animal in such way that he can not suffer serious injury from accidents which he can not avoid or feel. In the treatment of any form of paralysis we must always refer to the cause, and attempt its removal if it can be discovered. In cases in which the cause can not be determined we have to rely solely upon a general external and internal treatment. Externally, fly blisters or strong, irritant liniments may be applied to the paralyzed parts. In hemiplegia they should be applied along the bony part of the side of the neck; in paraplegia, across the loins. In, some cases hot-water cloths will be beneficial. Internally, it is well to administer 1 dram of powdered nux vomica or 2 grains of sulphate of strychnia twice a day until twitching of some of the voluntary muscles occurs; then discontinue it for several days, and then commence again with a smaller dose, gradually increasing it until twitching recurs. Iodid of potassium in 1 to 2 dram doses two or three times daily may be used with the hope that it will favor the absorption of the clot or obstruction to the nervous current. In some cases Fowler's solution of arsenic in teaspoonful doses twice a day in the drinking water proves beneficial. Occasionally benefit may be derived from the application of the electric current, especially in cases of roaring, facial paralysis, paralysis of the eyelid, etc. Nutritious but not too bulky feed, good ventilation, clean stabling, moderate exercise if the animal is capable of taking it, good grooming, etc., should be observed in all cases.[Pg 232]


This may be induced by the irritant properties of blood poisons, exhaustion and exposure, spinal concussion, all forms of injury to the spine, tumors, caries of the vertebræ, rheumatism, etc.

Symptoms.—A chill may be the precursor, a rise in temperature, or a general weakness and shifting of the legs. Soon a painful, convulsive twitching of the muscles sets in, followed by muscular rigidity along the spine, in which condition the animal will move very stiffly and evince great pain in turning. Evidences of paralysis or paraplegia develop, retention or incontinence of urine, and oftentimes sexual excitement is present. The presence of marked fever at the beginning of the attack, associated with spinal symptoms, should lead us to suspect spinal meningitis or myelitis. These two conditions usually appear together, or myelitis follows inflammation of the meninges so closely that it is almost impossible to separate the two; practically it does not matter much, for the treatment will be about the same in both cases. Spinal meningitis generally becomes chronic, and is then marked principally by paralysis of that portion, or parts of it, posterior to the seat of the disease.

Pathology.—In spinal meningitis we find essentially the same condition as in cerebral meningitis; there is an effusion of serum between the membranes, and often a plastic exudation firmly adherent to the pia mater serves to maintain a state of paralysis for a long time after the acute symptoms have disappeared by compressing the cord. Finally, atrophy, softening, and even abscess may develop within the cord. Unlike in man, it is usually found localized in horses.

Treatment.—Bags filled with ice should be applied along the spine, to be followed later by strong blisters. The fever should be controlled as early as possible by giving 20 drops of Norwood's tincture of veratrum viride every hour until the desired result is obtained. One dram of the fluid extract of belladonna, to control pain and vascular excitement of the spinal cord, may be given every five or six hours until the pupils of the eyes become pretty well dilated. If the pain is very intense 5 grains of sulphate of morphia should be injected hypodermically. The animal must be kept as free from excitement as possible. If the urine is retained in the bladder it must be drawn off every four or six hours. In very acute attacks the disease generally proves fatal in a few days. If, however, the animal grows better, some form of paralysis is liable to remain for a long time, and the treatment will have to be directed then toward a removal of the exudative products and a strengthening of the system and stimulation of the nervous functions. To induce absorption, iodid of potassium in 2-dram doses, dissolved in the drinking water, may be given[Pg 233] twice a day. To strengthen the system, iodid of iron 1 dram twice a day and 1 dram of nux vomica once a day may be given in the feed. Electricity to the paralyzed and weakened muscles is advisable; the current should be weak, but be continued for half an hour two or three times daily. If the disease is due to a broken back, caries of the vertebræ, or some other irremediable cause, the animal should be destroyed at once.


This is a rare disease, except as a secondary result of spinal meningitis or injuries to the spine. Poisoning by lead, arsenic, mercury, phosphorus, carbonic-acid gas, etc., has been known to produce it. Myelitis may be confined to a small spot in the cord or may involve the whole for a variable distance. It may lead to softening abscess or degeneration.

Symptoms.—The attack may begin with a chill or convulsion; the muscles twitch or become cramped very early in the disease, and the bladder usually is affected at the outset, in which there may be either retention or incontinence of urine. These conditions are followed by complete or partial paralysis of the muscles posterior to the locality of the inflamed cord, and the muscles begin to waste away rapidly. The paralyzed limb becomes cold and dry, due to the suspension of proper circulation; the joints may swell and become edematous; vesicular eruptions appear on the skin; and frequently gangrenous sloughs form on the paralyzed parts. It is exceedingly seldom that recovery takes place. In a few instances it may assume a chronic type, when all the symptoms become mitigated, and thus continue for some time, until septicemia, pyemia, or exhaustion causes death.

Pathology.—The inflammation may involve nearly the whole length of the cord, but generally it is more intense in some places than others; when due to mechanical injury, the inflammation may remain confined to a small section. The cord is swollen and congested, reddened, often softened and infiltrated with pus cells, and the nerve elements are degenerated.

Treatment.—Similar to that of spinal meningitis.


This condition consists in an excess of blood. As the blood vessels of the pia mater are the principal source of supply to the spinal cord, hyperemia of the cord and of the meninges usually go together. The symptoms are, therefore, closely allied to those of spinal meningitis and congestion. When the pia mater is diseased, the spinal cord is almost invariably affected also.[Pg 234]

Cause.—Sudden checking of the perspiration, violent exercise, blows, and falls.

Symptoms.—The symptoms may vary somewhat with each case, and closely resemble the first symptoms of spinal meningitis, spinal tumors, and myelitis. First, some disturbance in movement, lowering the temperature, and partial loss of sensibility posterior to the seat of the congestion. If in the cervical region, it may cause interference in breathing and the action of the heart. When in the region of the loins, there may be loss of control of the bladder. When the congestion is sufficient to produce compression of the cord, paraplegia may be complete. Usually fever, spasms, muscular twitching, or muscular rigidity are absent, which will serve to distinguish spinal congestion from spinal meningitis.

Treatment.—Hot-water applications to the spine, 1-dram doses fluid extract of belladonna repeated every four hours, and tincture of aconite root 20 drops every hour until the symptoms become ameliorated. If no inflammatory products occur, the animal is likely to recover.


This may be caused by extreme cold, exhausting diseases, spinal embolism or plugging of a spinal blood vessel, an interference with the circulation through the abdominal aorta, from compression, thrombosis, or aneurism of that vessel; the spinal vessels may be caused to contract through vasomotor influence, a result of peripheral irritation of some nerve.

Spinal anemia causes paralysis of the muscles used in extending the limbs. When the bladder is affected, it precedes the weakness of motion, while in spinal congestion it follows, and increased sensibility, in place of diminished sensibility, as in spinal congestion, is observed. Pressure along the spine causes excessive pain.

If the exciting cause can be removed, the animal recovers; if this fails, the spinal cord may undergo softening.


When caused by tumors or otherwise, when pressure is slight, it produces a paralysis of the muscles used in extending a limb and contraction of those which flex it. When compression is great it causes complete loss of sensibility and motion posterior to the compressed part of the cord.

Compression of a lateral half of the cord produces motor paralysis, disturbance of the circulation, and difficulty of movement, an increased sensibility on the side corresponding to the compressed section, and a diminished sensibility and some paralysis on the opposite side.[Pg 235]

Treatment.—When it occurs as a sequence of a preceding inflammatory disease, iodid of potassium and general tonics are indicated. When due to tumors growing within the spinal canal, or to pressure from displaced bone, no form of treatment will result in any benefit.


This may occur from changes in the wall of the blood vessels, in connection with tumors, acute myelitis, traumatic injuries, etc. The blood may escape through the pia mater into the subarachnoid cavity, and large clots be formed.

Symptoms.—The symptoms are largely dependent upon the seat and extent of the hemorrhage, as they are principally owing to the compression of the cord. A large clot may produce sudden paraplegia, accompanied with severe pain along the spine; usually, however, the paralysis of both motion and sensation is not very marked at first; on the second or third day fever is liable to appear, and increased or diminished sensibility along the spine posterior to the seat of the clot. When the bladder and rectum are involved in the symptoms it indicates that the spinal cord is compressed.

Treatment.—In the occurrence of injuries to the back of a horse, whenever there is any evidence of paralysis, it is always advisable to apply bags of ice along the spine to check or prevent hemorrhage or congestion, and 2 drams of the fluid extract of ergot and 20 drops of tincture of digitalis may be given every hour until three doses have been taken. Subsequently tincture of belladonna in half-ounce doses may be given three times a day. If there is much pain, 5 grains of sulphate of morphia, injected under the skin, will afford relief and lessen the excitability of the animal. In all cases the animal should be kept perfectly quiet.


This is rarely observed in the horse, and unless it is sufficiently severe to produce well-marked symptoms it would not be suspected. It may occur in saddle horses from jumping, or it may be produced by falling over an embankment, or a violent fall upon the haunches may produce it. Concussion may be followed by partial paralysis or spinal hemorrhage; generally, however, it is confined to a jarring and some disturbance of the nerve elements of the cord, and the paralytic effect which ensues soon passes off. Treatment consists in rest until the animal has completely recovered from the shock. If secondary effects follow from hemorrhage or compression, they have to be treated as heretofore directed.[Pg 236]


Within the substance of the cord glioma or the mixed gliosarcomata are found to be the most frequent, tumors may form from the meninges and the vertebræ, being of a fibrous or bony nature, and affect the spinal cord indirectly by compression. In the meninges we may find glioma, cancers, and psammoma, fibromata; aneurisms of the spinal arteries have been discovered in the spinal canal.

Symptoms.—Tumors of the spinal canal cause symptoms of spinal irritation or compression of the cord. The gradual and slow development of symptoms of paralysis of one or both hind limbs or certain muscles may lead to a suspicion of spinal tumors. The paralysis induced is progressive, but not usually marked with atrophy of the muscles or increased sensibility along the spine. When the tumor is within the spinal cord itself all the symptoms of myelitis may be present.

Treatment.—General tonics and 1-dram doses of nux vomica may be given; iodid of iron or iodid of potassium in 1-dram doses, three times a day in feed, may, in a very few cases, give some temporary benefit. Usually the disease progresses steadily until it proves fatal.


This is caused by a bruise or wound of a nerve or by strangulation in a ligature when the nerve is included in the ligation of an artery. The changes in an inflamed nerve are an enlargement, reddening of the nerve sheath, spots of extravasated blood, and sometimes an infiltration of serum mixed with pus.

Symptoms.—Acute pain of the parts supplied by the nerve and absence of swelling or increased heat of the part.

Treatment.—Hypodermic injections of from 3 to 5 grains of morphia to relieve pain, hot fomentations, and rest. If it is due to an inclusion of a ligature, the nerve should be divided above and below the ligature.


Neuroma may be from enlargement of the end of a divided nerve or due to fibrous degeneration of a nerve which has been bruised or wounded. Its most frequent occurrence is found after the operation of neurotomy for foot lameness, and it may appear after the lapse of months or even years. Neuroma usually develops within the sheath of the nerve with or without implicating the nerve fibers. It is oval, running lengthwise with the direction of the nerve.

Symptoms.—Pain of the affected limb or part is manifested, more especially after resting a while, and when pressure is made upon the tumor it causes extreme suffering.[Pg 237]

Treatment.—Excision of the tumor, including part of the nerve above and below, and then treat it like any other simple wound.


These may consist in wounding, bruising, laceration, stretching, compression, etc. The symptoms which are produced will depend upon the extent, seat, and character of the injury. Recovery may quickly take place, or it may lead to neuritis, neuroma, or spinal or cerebral irritation, which may result in tetanus, paralysis, and other serious derangements. In all diseases, whether produced by some form of external violence or intrinsic causes, the nerves are necessarily involved, and sometimes it is to a primary injury of them that the principal fault in movement or change of nutrition of a part is due. It is often difficult or impossible to discover that an injury to a nerve has been inflicted, but whenever this is possible it may enable us to remedy that which otherwise would result in permanent evil. Treatment should consist in relieving compression, in hot fomentations, the application of anodyne liniments, excision of the injured part, and rest.


This disease prevails among horses in nearly all parts of the United States. Its appearance in America is by no means of recent occurrence, for the malady was reported by Large in 1847, by Michener in 1850, and by Liautard in 1869 as appearing in both sporadic and enzootic form in several of the Eastern States. Since then the disease has occurred periodically in many States in all sections of the country, and has been the subject of numerous investigations and publications by a number of the leading men of the veterinary profession. It is prevalent with more or less severity every year in certain parts of the United States, and during the year 1912 the Bureau of Animal Industry received urgent requests for help from Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Virginia, and West Virginia. While in 1912 the brunt of the disease seemed to fall on Kansas and Nebraska, other States were also seriously afflicted. In previous years, for instance in 1882, as well as in 1897, the horses of southeastern Texas were reported to have died by the thousand, and in the following year the horses of Iowa were said to have "died like rats." However, Kansas seems to have had more than her share of this trouble, as a severe outbreak that extended over almost the entire State occurred in 1891, while in 1902 and again in 1906 the disease recurred with equal severity in various portions of the State.[Pg 238]

This condition consists in a poisoning and depression of the nervous system from eating or drinking feed or water containing poison generated by mold or bacteria. It has been shown to be owing to eating damaged ensilage, corn, brewers' grains, oats, etc., or to drinking stagnant pond water or water from a well contaminated by surface drainage. Horses at pasture may contract the disease when the growth of grass is so profuse that it mats together and the lower part dies and ferments or becomes moldy.

In England a similar disease has been called "grass staggers," due to eating rye grass when it is ripening or when it is cut and eaten while it is heating and undergoing fermentation. In eastern Pennsylvania it was formerly known by the name of "putrid sore throat" and "choking distemper." A disease similar in many respects which is very prevalent in Virgina, especially along the eastern border, is commonly known by the name of "blind staggers," and in many of the Southern States this has been attributed to the consumption of worm-eaten, corn. Horses of all ages and mules are subject to this disease.

Symptoms and lesions.—The symptoms which typify sporadic or epidemic cerebrospinal meningitis in man are not witnessed among horses, namely, excessive pain, high fever, and early muscular rigidity. In the recognition of the severity of the attack we may divide the symptoms into three grades. In the most rapidly fatal attacks the animal may first indicate it by weak, staggering gait, partial or total inability to swallow solids or liquids, impairment of eyesight; twitching of the muscles and slight cramps may be observed. As a rule, the temperature is not elevated—indeed, it is sometimes below normal. This is soon followed by a paralysis of the whole body, inability to stand, delirium in which the animal sometimes goes through a series of automatic movements as if trotting or running; the delirium may become very violent and the unconscious animal may bruise his head very seriously in his struggles; but usually a deep coma renders him quiet until he expires. Death in these cases usually takes place in from 4 to 24 hours from the time the first symptoms become manifest. The pulse is variable during the progress of the disease; it may be almost imperceptible at times, and then again very rapid and irregular; the respirations generally are quick and catching. In the next form in which this disease may develop it first becomes manifest by a difficulty in swallowing and slowness in mastication, and a weakness which may be first noticed in the strength of the tail; the animal will be unable to switch it or to offer resistance when we bend it up over the croup. The pulse is often a little slower than normal. There is no evidence of pain; the respirations are unchanged, and the temperature little less than normal; the bowels may be somewhat constipated. These symptoms[Pg 239] may remain unchanged for two or three days and then gradual improvement may take place, or the power to swallow may become entirely lost and the weakness and uncertainty in gait more and more perceptible; then sleepiness or coma may appear; the pulse becomes depressed, slow, and weak, the breathing stertorous, and paroxysms of delirium develop, with inability to stand, and some rigidity of the spinal muscles or partial cramp of the neck and jaws. In such cases death may occur in from 6 to 10 days from the commencement of the attack. In many cases there is no evidence of pain, spasm, or fever at any time during the progress of the disease, and finally profound coma develops and death follows, painless and without a struggle.

In the last or mildest form the inability of voluntary control of the limbs becomes but slightly marked, the power of swallowing never entirely lost, and the animal has no fever, pain, or unconscious movements. Generally the animal will begin to improve about the fourth day and recovers.

In a few cases the spinal symptoms, manifested by paraplegia, may be the most prominent symptoms; in others they may be altogether absent and the main symptoms may be difficulty in mastication and swallowing; rarely it may affect one limb only. In all cases in which coma remains absent for six or seven days the animal is likely to recover. When changes toward recovery take place, the symptoms usually leave in the reverse order to that in which they developed, but local paralysis may remain for some time, rarely persistent.

On post-mortem the number of lesions observable to the naked eye is in marked contrast to the severity of the symptoms noted. The pharynx and larynx are inflamed in many cases, and sometimes coated with a yellowish-white glutinous deposit, extending at times over the tongue and occasionally a little way down the trachea. The lungs are normal, except from complications following drenching or recumbence for a long period. The heart is usually normal in appearance, except an occasional cluster of hemorrhagic points on the outer surface, while the blood is dark and firmly coagulated. The lining of the stomach indicates a subacute gastritis, while occasionally an erosion is noted. An edema is observed in the submucosa of such cases. The first few inches of the small intestines likewise may show slight inflammation in certain cases, while in others it is quite severe; otherwise the digestive tract appears normal, excluding the presence of varying numbers of bots, Strongylus vulgatus, and a few other nematodes. The liver is congested and swollen in some cases, while it appears normal in others. The spleen is, as a rule, normal, and at times the kidneys are slightly congested. The bladder is often distended with dark-colored urine, and occasionally a marked[Pg 240] cystitis has been observed. The adipose tissue throughout the carcass may show a pronounced icteric appearance in certain cases. On removing the bones of the skull the brain appears to be normal macroscopically in a few instances, but in most cases the veins and capillaries of the meninges of the cerebrum, cerebellum, and occasionally the medulla is distinctly dilated and engorged, and in a few cases there are pronounced lesions of a leptomeningitis. An excessive quantity of cerebrospinal fluid is present in most of the cases. On the floor of the lateral ventricles of several brains there was noted a slight softening caused by hemorrhages into the brain substance. There is always an abundance of fluid in the subarachnoid spaces, ventricles, and at the base of the brain, usually of the color of diabetic urine, and containing a limited number of flocculi, but in a few cases it was slightly blood tinged. The spinal cord was not found involved in the few cases examined.

Treatment.—One attack of the disease does not confer immunity. Horses have been observed which have recovered from two attacks, and still others that recovered from the first but died as a result of the second attack.

Inasmuch as a natural immunity does not appear after an attack of cerebrospinal meningitis, it might be anticipated that serum of recovered cases would possess neither curative nor prophylactic qualities. Nevertheless, experiments have been made along these lines with serum from recovered cases, but without any positive results. Similar investigations have been conducted by others in Europe with precisely the same results. With the tendency of the disease to produce pathological lesions in the central nervous system, it seems scarcely imaginable that a medicinal remedy will be found to heal these foci, and even when recovery takes place considerable disturbance in the functions, as blindness, partial paralysis, dumbness, etc., is liable to remain. Indeed, when the disease once becomes established in an animal, drugs seem to lose their physiological action. Therefore, with all the previously mentioned facts before us, it is evident that the first principle in the treatment of this disease is prevention, which consists in the exercise of proper care in feeding only clean, well-cured forage and grain and pure water. These measures when faithfully carried out check the development of additional cases of the disease upon the affected premises.

While medicinal treatment has proved unsatisfactory in most cases, nevertheless the first indication is to clean out the digestive tract thoroughly, and to accomplish this prompt measures must be used early in the disease. Active and concentrated remedies should be given, preferably subcutaneously or intravenously, owing to the great difficulty in swallowing, even in the early stage. Arecolin in[Pg 241] one-half grain doses, subcutaneously, has given as much satisfaction as any other drug. After purging the animal the treatment is mostly symptomatic. Intestinal disinfectants, particularly calomel, salol, and salicylic acid, have been recommended, and mild, antiseptic mouth washes are advisable. Antipyretics are of doubtful value, as better results are obtained, if the temperature is high, by copious cold-water injections. An ice pack applied to the head is beneficial in case of marked psychic disturbance. One-ounce doses of chloral hydrate per rectum should be given if the patient is violent or if muscular spasms are severe. If the temperature becomes subnormal, the animal should be warmly blanketed, and if much weakness is shown this should be combated with stimulants, such as strychnin, camphor, alcohol, atropin, or aromatic spirits of ammonia. Early in the disease urotropin (hexamethylenamin) in doses of 25 grains, dissolved in water and given by the mouth every two hours, appeared to have been responsible for the recovery of some cases of the malady. During convalescence tonic treatment is indicated.

Hygienic measures needful.—Whenever this disease appears in a stable all the animals should be removed as soon as possible. They should be provided with clean, well-ventilated, and well-drained stables, and each animal should receive a laxative and be fed feed and given water from a new, clean source. The abandoned stable should be thoroughly cleansed from all waste matters, receive a coat of whitewash containing 4 ounces of carbolic acid to the gallon of water and should have time to dry thoroughly before the horses are replaced. A complete change of feed is of the very greatest importance on account of the belief that the cause resides in diseased grain, hay, and grass.


This disease is characterized by spasms affecting the muscles of the face, neck, body, and limbs and of all muscles supplied by the cerebrospinal nerves. The spasms or muscular contractions are rigid and persistent, yet mixed with occasional more intense contractions of convulsive violence.

Causes.—This disease is caused by a bacillus that is often found in the soil, in manure, and in dust. This germ forms spores at the end of the organism and grows only in the absence of oxygen. It produces a powerful nerve poison, which causes the symptoms of tetanus. The germ itself multiplies at the point where it is introduced, but its poison is absorbed and is carried by the blood to all parts of the body, and thus the nervous system is poisoned. Deep wounds infected by this germ are more dangerous than superficial wounds, because in them the germ is more remote from the oxygen of the air. Hence,[Pg 242] nail pricks, etc., are especially dangerous. In the majority of instances the cause of tetanus can be traced to wounds, especially pricks and wounds of the feet or of tendinous structures. It sometimes follows castration, docking, the introduction of setons, inclusion of a nerve in a ligature, etc. It may come on a long time after the wound is healed—three or four months. Horses with a nervous, excitable disposition are more predisposed than those of a more sluggish nature. Stallions are more subject to develop tetanus as the result of wounds than geldings, and geldings more than mares.

Symptoms.—The attacks may be acute or subacute. In an acute attack the animal usually dies within four days. The first symptoms which attract the attention of the owner is difficulty in chewing and swallowing, an extension of the head and protrusion over the inner part of the eye of the membrana nictitans, or haw. An examination of the mouth will reveal an inability to open the jaws to their full extent, and the endeavor to do so will produce great nervous excitability and increased spasm of the muscles of the jaw and neck. The muscles of the neck and along the spine become rigid and the legs are moved in a stiff manner. The slightest noise or disturbance throws the animal into increased spasm of all the affected muscles. The tail is usually elevated and held immovable; the bowels become constipated early in the attack. The temperature and pulse are not much changed. These symptoms in the acute type become rapidly aggravated until all the muscles are rigid—in a state of tonic spasm—with a continuous tremor running through them; a cold perspiration breaks out on the body; the breathing becomes painful from the spasm of the muscles used in respiration; the jaws are completely set, eyeballs retracted, lips drawn tightly over the teeth, nostrils dilated, and the animal presents a picture of the most extreme agony until death relieves him. The pulse, which at first was not much affected, will become quick and hard, or small and thready when the spasm affects the muscles of the heart. In the subacute cases the jaws may never become entirely locked; the nervous excitability and rigidity of the muscles are not so great. There is, however, always some stiffness of the neck or spine manifest in turning; the haw is turned over the eyeball when the nose is elevated. It is not uncommon for owners to continue such animals at their work for several days after the first symptoms have been observed. All the symptoms may gradually increase in severity for a period of ten days, and then gradually diminish under judicious treatment, or they may reach the stage wherein all the characteristics of acute tetanus become developed. In some cases, however, we find the muscular cramps almost solely confined to the head or face, perhaps involving those of the neck. In such cases we have complete trismus (lockjaw), and all the head symptoms are acutely developed. On the contrary, we may find the[Pg 243] head almost exempt in some cases, and have the body and limbs perfectly rigid and incapable of movement without falling.

Tetanus may possibly be confounded with spinal meningitis, but the character of the spasm-locked jaw, retraction of the eyeballs, the difficulty in swallowing due to spasms of the muscles of the pharynx, and above all, the absence of paralysis, should serve to make the distinction.

Prevention.—When a valuable horse has sustained a wound that it is feared may be followed by tetanus, it is well to administer a dose of tetanus antitoxin. This is injected beneath the skin with a hypodermic syringe. A very high degree of protection may in this way be afforded. This antitoxin should be administered only by a competent veterinarian.

Treatment.—The animal should be placed in a box stall without bedding, as far as possible from other horses. If in a country district, the animal should be put into an outbuilding or shed, where the noise of other animals will not reach it; if the place is moderately dark, it is all the better; in fly time it should be covered with a light sheet. The attendant must be very careful and quiet to prevent all unnecessary excitement and increase of spasm. Tetanus antitoxin appears to be useful as a remedy in some cases, if given in very large quantities early in the disease; otherwise it is useless. Subcutaneous injections of carbolic acid in glycerin and water (carbolic acid 30 grains, glycerin and water each 1 ounce) appear to be useful in some cases. Injections should be given twice daily.

A cathartic, composed of Barbados aloes 6 to 8 drams, with which may be mixed 2 drams of the solid extract of belladonna, should be given at once. This is best given in a ball form; if, however, the animal is greatly excited by the attempt or can not swallow, the ball may be dissolved in 2 ounces of olive oil and thrown on the back of the tongue with a syringe. If the jaws are set, or nearly so, an attempt to administer medicine by the mouth should not be made. In such cases one-quarter of a grain of atropia, with 5 grains of sulphate of morphia, should be dissolved in 1 dram of pure water and injected under the skin. This should be repeated sufficiently often to keep the animal continually under its effect. This will usually mitigate the severity of the spasmodic contraction of the affected muscles and lessen sensibility to pain. Good results may be obtained sometimes by the rectal injection of the fluid extract of belladonna and of cannabis indica, of each 1 dram, every four or six hours. This may be diluted with a quart of milk. When the animal is unable to swallow liquids, oatmeal gruel and milk should be given by injection per rectum to sustain the strength of the animal. A pailful of cool water should be constantly before him, placed high enough for him to reach it without special effort; even if drinking is impossible, the laving of[Pg 244] the mouth is refreshing. Excellent success frequently may be obtained by clothing the upper part of the head, the neck, and greater part of the body in woolen blankets kept saturated with very warm water. This treatment should be continued for six or eight hours at a time. It often relaxes the cramped muscles and gives them rest and the animal almost entire freedom from pain; but it should be used every day until the acute spasms have permanently subsided in order to be of any lasting benefit.

Recently subcutaneous injections of brain emulsion have been recommended. It is thought that the tetanus toxin will attach itself to the brain cells so injected and thus free the system of this poison. When it is due to a wound, the wound should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected with carbolic acid. If from a wound which has healed, an excision of the cicatrix may be beneficial. In all cases it is not uncommon to have a partial recovery followed by relapse when the animal becomes excited from any cause.


This disease does not arise spontaneously among horses, but is the result of a bite from a rabid animal—generally a dog or cat. The development of the disease follows the bite in from three weeks to three months—very rarely in two weeks. (See also p. 559.)

Symptoms.—The first manifestation of the development of this disease may be an increased excitability and viciousness; very slight noises or the approach of a person incites the animal to kick, strike, or bite at any near object. Very often the horse will bite his own limbs or sides, lacerating the flesh and tearing the skin. The eyes appear staring, bloodshot; the ears are on the alert to catch all sounds; the head is held erect. In some cases the animal will continually rub and bite the locality of the wound inflicted by the rabid animal. This symptom may precede all others. Generally the bowels become constipated and the animal makes frequent attempts at urination, which is painful, and the urine very dark colored. The furious symptoms appear in paroxysms; at other times the animal may eat and drink, although swallowing appears to become painful toward the latter stage of the disease, and may cause renewed paroxysms. The muscles of the limbs or back may be subject to intermittent spasms, or spasmodic tremors; finally, the hind limbs become paralyzed, breathing very difficult, and convulsions supervene, followed by death. The pulse and respirations are increased in frequency from the outset of the attack. Rabies may possibly be mistaken for tetanus. In the latter disease we find tonic spasms of the muscles of the jaws, or stiffness of the neck or back very early in the attack, and evidence of viciousness is absent.[Pg 245]

Treatment.—As soon as the true nature of the disease is ascertained the animal should be killed.

Prevention.—When a horse is known to have been bitten by a rabid animal, immediate cauterization of the wound with a red-hot iron may possibly destroy the virus before absorption of it takes place.


This disease is not of frequent occurrence. It may be due to the habitual drinking of water which has been standing in leaden conductors or in old paint barrels, etc. It has been met with in enzootic form near smelting works, where, by the fumes arising from the works, lead in the form of oxid, carbonate, or sulphate was deposited on the grass and herbage which the horses ate.

Symptoms.—Lead poisoning produces derangement of the functions of digestion and locomotion, or it may affect the lungs principally. In whatever system of organs the lead is mostly deposited there we have the symptoms of nervous debility most manifest. If in the lungs, the breathing becomes difficult and the animal gets out of breath very quickly when compelled to run. Roaring, also, is very frequently a symptom of lead poisoning. When it affects the stomach, the animal gradually falls away in flesh, the hair becomes rough, the skin tight, and colicky symptoms develop. When the deposit is principally in the muscles, partial or complete paralysis gradually develops. When large quantities of lead have been taken in and absorbed, symptoms resembling epilepsy may result, or coma and delirium develop and prove fatal. In lead poisoning there is seldom any increase in temperature. A blue line forms along the gums of the front teeth, and the breath assumes a peculiarly offensive odor. Lead can always be detected in the urine by chemical tests.

Treatment.—The administration of 2-dram doses of iodid of potassium three times a day is indicated. This will form iodid of lead in the system, which is rapidly excreted by the kidneys. If much muscular weakness or paralysis is present, sulphate of iron in 1-dram doses and strychnia in 2-grain doses may be given twice a day. In all cases of suspected lead poisoning all utensils which have entered into the supply of feed or water should be examined for the presence of soluble lead. If it occurs near lead works, great care must be given to the supply of uncontaminated fodder, etc.


Uremic poisoning may affect the brain in nephritis, acute albuminuria, or when, from any cause, the functions of the kidneys become impaired or suppressed and urea (a natural product) is no longer eliminated from these organs, causing it to accumulate in the system and give rise to uremic poisoning.[Pg 246]

Uremic poisoning is usually preceded by dropsy of the limbs or abdomen; a peculiar, fetid breath is often noticed; then drowsiness, attacks of diarrhea, and general debility ensue. Suddenly extreme stupor or coma develops; the surface of the body becomes cold; the pupils are insensible to light; the pulse slow and intermitting; the breathing labored, and death supervenes. The temperature throughout the disease is seldom increased, unless the disease becomes complicated with acute, inflammatory disease of the brain or respiratory organs, which often occur as a result of the urea in the circulation. Albumen and tube casts may frequently be found in the urine. The disease almost invariably proves fatal.

Treatment must be directed to a removal of the cause.


Electric shock, from coming in contact with electric wires, is becoming a matter of rather frequent occurrence, and has a similar effect upon the animal system as a shock from lightning. Two degrees of electric or lightning shock may be observed, one producing temporary contraction of muscles and insensibility, from which recovery is possible, the other killing directly, by producing a condition of nervous and general insensibility. In shocks which are not immediately fatal the animal is usually insensible, the respiration slow, labored, or gasping, the pulse slow, feeble, and irregular, and the pupils dilated and not sensitive, or they may be contracted and sensitive. The temperature is lowered. There may be a tendency to convulsions or spasms. The predominating symptoms are extreme cardiac and respiratory depression.

Treatment.—Sulphate of atropia should be given hypodermically in one-quarter grain doses every hour or two hours until the heart beats are invigorated, the number and fullness of the respirations increased, and consciousness returns. Stimulating injections per rectum may also be useful in arousing the circulation; for this purpose whisky or ammonia water may be used.

[Pg 247]


By M. R. Trumbower, V. S.

[Revised by Leonard Pearson, B. S., V. M. D.]


(Pls. XX and XXI.)

The heart is a hollow, muscular organ, situated a little to the left of the center of the chest. Its impulse is felt on the left side on account of its location and from the rotary movement of the organ in action. It is cone-shaped, with the base upward; the apex points downward, backward, and to the left side. It extends from about the third to the sixth ribs, inclusive. The average weight is about 7 to 8 pounds. In horses used for speed the heart is relatively larger, according to the weight of the animal, than in horses used for slow work. It is suspended from the spine by the large blood vessels and held in position below by the attachment of the pericardium to the sternum. It is inclosed in a sac, the pericardium, which is composed of a dense fibrous membrane lined by a delicate serous membrane, which is reflected over the heart; the inner layer is firmly adherent to the heart, the outer to the fibrous sac, and there is an intervening space, known as the pericardial space, in which a small amount of serum—a thin translucent liquid—is present constantly.

The heart is divided by a shallow fissure into a right and left side; each of these is again subdivided by a transverse partition into two compartments which communicate. Thus there are four cardiac cavities—the superior, or upper, ones called the auricles; the inferior, or lower, ones the ventricles. These divisions are marked on the outside by grooves, which contain the cardiac blood vessels, and are generally filled with fat.

The right side of the heart may be called the venous side, the left the arterial side, named from the kind of blood which passes through them. The auricles are thin-walled cavities placed at the base, and are connected with the great veins—the venæ cavæ and pulmonary veins—through which they receive blood from all parts of the body. The auricles communicate with the ventricles each by a large aperture,[Pg 248] the auriculo-ventricular orifice, which is furnished with a remarkable mechanism of valves, allowing the transmission of blood from the auricles into the ventricles, but preventing a reverse course. The ventricles are thick-walled cavities, forming the more massive portion of the heart toward the apex. They are separated by a partition, and are connected with the great arteries—the pulmonary artery and the aorta—by which they send blood to all parts of the body. At the mouth of the aorta and at the mouth of the pulmonary artery is an arrangement of valves in each case which prevents the reflux of blood into the ventricles. The auriculo-ventricular valve in the left side is composed of two flaps, hence it is called the bicuspid valve; in the right side this valve has three flaps and is called the tricuspid valve. The flaps which form these valves are connected with a tendinous ring between the auricles and ventricles; and each flap of the auriculo-ventricular valves is supplied with tendinous cords, which are attached to the free margin and under-surface, so as to keep the valves tense when closed—a condition which is produced by the shortening of muscular pillars with which the cords are connected. The arterial openings, both on the right and on the left side, are provided with three-flapped semilunar-shaped valves, to prevent the regurgitation of blood when the ventricles contract. The veins emptying into the auricles are not capable of closure, but the posterior vena cava has an imperfect valve at its aperture.

The inner surface of the heart is lined by a serous membrane, the endocardium, which is smooth and firmly adherent to the muscular structure of the heart. This membrane is continuous with the lining membrane of the blood vessels, and it enters into the formation of the valves.

The circulation through the heart is as follows: The venous blood is carried into the right auricle by the anterior and posterior venæ cavæ. It then passes through the right auriculo-ventricular opening into the right ventricle, thence through the pulmonary artery to the lungs. It returns by the pulmonary veins to the left auricle, then is forced through the auriculo-ventricular opening into the left ventricle, which propels it through the aorta and its branches into the system, the veins returning it again to the heart. The circulation, therefore, is double, the pulmonary, or lesser, being performed by the right side, and the systemic, or greater, by the left side.

As the blood is forced through the heart by forcible contractions of its muscular walls, it has the action of a force pump, and gives the impulse at each beat, which we call the pulse—the dilatation of the arteries throughout the system. The contraction of the auricles is quickly followed by that of the ventricles, and then a slight pause occurs; this takes place in regular rhythmical order during health.



[Pg 249]The action of the heart is governed and maintained by the pneumogastric nerve (tenth pair of cranial nerves); it is the inhibitory nerve of the heart, and regulates, slows, and governs its action. When the nerve is cut, the heartbeats increase rapidly, and, in fact, the organ works without control. When the nerve is unduly irritated the holdback, or inhibitory force, is increased, and the heart slows up in the same measure. The left cavities of the heart, the pulmonary veins, and the aorta, or systemic artery, contain red or florid blood, fit to circulate through the body. The right cavities of the heart, with the venæ cavæ, or systemic veins, the pulmonary artery, contain dark blood, which must be transmitted through the lungs for renovation.

The arteries, commencing in two great trunks, the aorta and the pulmonary artery, undergo division, as in the branching of a tree. Their branches mostly come off at acute angles, and are commonly of uniform diameter in each case, but successively diminish after and in consequence of division, and in this manner gradually merge into the capillary system of blood vessels. As a general rule, the combined area of the branches is greater than that of the vessels from which they emanate, and hence the collective capacity of the arterial system is greatest at the capillary vessels. The same rule applies to the veins. The effect of the division of the arteries is to make the blood move more slowly along their branches to the capillary vessels, and the effect of the union of the branches of the veins is to accelerate the speed of the blood as it returns from the capillary vessels to the venous trunks.

In the smaller vessels a frequent running together, or anastomosis, occurs. This admits of a free communication between the currents of blood, and must tend to promote equability of distribution and of pressure, and to obviate the effects of local interruption. The arteries are highly elastic, being extensile and retractile both in length and breadth. During life they are also contractile, being provided with muscular tissue. When cut across they present, although empty, an open orifice; the veins, on the other hand, collapse.

In most parts of the body the arteries are inclosed in a sheath formed of connective tissue, but are connected so loosely that, when the vessel is cut across, its ends readily retract some distance within the sheath. Independently of this sheath, arteries are usually described as being formed of three coats, named, from the relative positions, external, middle, and internal. This applies to their structure so far as it is discernible by the naked eye. The internal, serous, or tunica intima, is the thinnest, and is continuous with the lining membrane of the heart. It is made up of two layers—an inner, consisting of a layer of epithelial scales, and an outer, transparent, whitish, highly elastic, and perforated. The middle coat, tunica[Pg 250] media, is elastic, dense, and of a yellow color, consisting of nonstriated muscular and elastic fibers, thickest in the largest arteries and becoming thinner in the smaller. In the smallest vessels it is almost entirely muscular. The external coat, tunica adventitia, is composed mainly of fine and closely woven bundles of white connective tissue, which chiefly run diagonally or obliquely around the vessel. In this coat the nutrient vessels, the vasa vasorum, form a capillary network, from which a few penetrate as far as the muscular coat.

The veins differ from arteries in possessing thinner walls, less elastic and muscular tissue, and for the most part a stronger tunica adventitia. They collapse when cut across or when they are empty. The majority of veins are provided with valves; these are folds of the lining membrane, strengthened by fibrous tissue. They favor the course of the blood and prevent its reflux. The nerves which supply both the arteries and the veins come from the sympathetic system. The smaller arteries terminate in the system of minute vessels known as the capillaries, which are interposed between the termination of the arteries and the commencement of the veins. Their average diameter is about one three-thousandth of an inch.


In considering diseases of the heart we meet with many difficulties, depending much upon the position which this organ occupies in the animal. The shoulders cover so much of the anterior portion of the chest, and often in very heavy-muscled horses the chest walls are so thick that a satisfactory examination of the heart is attended with difficulty. Diseases of the heart are not uncommon among horses; the heart and its membranes are frequently involved in diseases of the respiratory organs, diseases of the kidneys, rheumatism, influenza, etc. Some of the diseases of this organ are never suspected by the ordinary observer during life, and are so difficult to diagnose with any degree of certainty that we will have to confine ourselves to a general outline, giving attention to such symptoms as may serve to lead to a knowledge of their existence, with directions for treatment, care, etc.

Nervous affections often produce prominent heart symptoms by causing functional disturbance of that organ, which, if removed, will leave the heart restored to perfect vigor and normal action. Organic changes involving the heart or valves, however, usually grow worse and eventually prove fatal. Therefore it is necessary that we arrive at an appreciation of the true nature and causes so that we may be able to form a true estimate of the possibilities for recovery or encouragement for medical treatment.[Pg 251]

Disease of the heart may occur at any age, but it is witnessed most frequently in young horses, which, when being trained for fast work, are often subjected to excessive hardship and fatigue. Nervous or timid animals also suffer from such diseases more frequently than those of a sluggish disposition. Any cause which induces a violent or sudden change in the circulation may result in injury to the heart. Symptoms which may frequently denote disease of the heart are difficult breathing or short-windedness, dropsies of the limbs, habitual coldness of the extremities, giddiness or fainting attacks, inability to stand work, although the general appearance would indicate strength and ability, etc.


The heart muscle sometimes becomes inflamed as a complication or result of the existence of general or febrile and of infectious diseases. Severe influenza or infectious pneumonia is not infrequently followed by myocarditis. By extension of inflammation of the endocardium or pericardium the muscle of the heart may become involved. Overexertion or especially hard work continued for a long time may cause this muscle to become inflamed.

Symptoms.—Inflammation of the heart muscle is shown by inability to contract forcibly. This results in a rapid but weak, soft pulse and irregular heart sounds. The pulse may be quite irregular as a result of the irregular, tumultuous action of the heart. There is great general weakness, shortness of breath, and rapid respiratory movements. In some cases, where the muscle is very much softened and weakened, or, perhaps when an abscess forms in the wall of the heart, the course of the disease is very rapid and terminates suddenly from paralysis or rupture of the heart.

Alterations.—The heart muscle has a brownish or yellowish, boiled appearance, and is so brittle that it tears easily. There may be a spotted appearance of the muscle from the intense changes in structure in small areas. These small areas may be due to suppuration, in which case they have the characteristics of small abscesses. This last condition is seen in pyemia (blood poisoning). If the disease is of long duration, the fibrous tissue in the wall of the heart may increase to such an extent as to produce an unnatural hardness of the wall.

Treatment.—In this disease the nutrition and strength of the heart should be kept up as much as possible with good food, good care, and heart tonics and stimulants. The horse should be tempted to eat such foods as he will take; he should be kept in an airy box stall; his legs should be well rubbed as often as necessary to keep them warm and bandaged loosely with flannel bandages. Internally the horse may have strychnia, in 2-grain doses twice daily, whisky in 4-ounce[Pg 252] doses every two to four hours, digitalis in the form of the tincture in doses of 1 dram every three to six hours. Artificial Carlsbad salts in heaping tablespoonful doses in the feed may be given three times daily for a couple of weeks. Rest is of the greatest importance and should be allowed for a few weeks after recovery seems to be complete.


Endocarditis frequently occurs as a complication of rheumatism, some of the specific or zymotic fevers, specific poisoning, etc. This is a more frequent disease among horses than is generally known, and often gives rise to symptoms which at first are obscure and unnoticed.

In influenza we may find the heart becoming involved in the disease, in consequence of the morbid material conveyed through the heart in the blood stream. In view of the fact that many affections in even remote portions of the body may be traced directly to a primary endocardial disease, we shall feel justified in inviting special attention to this disease.

Endocarditis may be acute, subacute, or chronic. In acute inflammation we find a thickening and a roughened appearance of the endocardium throughout the cavities of the heart. This condition may be followed by a coagulation of fibrin upon the inflamed surface, which adheres to it, and by attrition soon becomes worked up into shreddy-like granular elevations. This may lead to a formation of fibrinous clots in the heart and sudden death early in the disease the second or third day.

Subacute endocarditis, which is the most common form, may not become appreciable for several days after its commencement. It is characterized by being confined to one or more anatomical divisions of the heart, and all the successive morbid changes follow each other in a comparatively slow process. Often we would not be led to suspect heart affection were it not for the distress in breathing, which it generally occasions when the animal is exercised, especially if the valves are much involved. When coagula or vegetations form upon the inflamed membrane, either in minute shreds or patches, or when formation of fibrinous clots occurs in the cavity affected, some of these materials may be carried from the cavity of the heart by the blood current into remote organs, constituting emboli that are liable to suddenly plug vessels and thereby interrupt important functions. In the great majority of either acute or subacute grades of endocarditis, whatever the exciting cause, the most alarming symptoms disappear in a week or 10 days, often leaving, however, such changes in the interior lining or valvular structures as to cause impairment in the circulation for a much longer period of time. These changes usually consist of thickening or induration of the inflamed structures. But[Pg 253] while the effects of the inflammation in the membrane lining the walls of the ventricles may subside to such a degree as to cause little or no inconvenience, or even wholly disappear, yet after the valvular structures have been involved, causing them to be thicker, less flexible than normal, they usually remain, obstructing the free passage of the blood through the openings of the heart, thereby inducing secondary changes, which take place slowly at first, but ultimately seriously impair the animal's usefulness. What was but a slight obstruction to the circulation during the first few weeks after the subsidence of the cardiac inflammatory attack becomes in process of time so much increased as to induce increased growth in the muscular structure of the heart, constituting hypertrophy of the walls of the ventricles, more particularly of the left, with corresponding fullness of the left auricle and pulmonary veins, thereby producing fullness of the capillaries in the lungs, pressure upon the air cells, difficult or asthmatic breathing—greatly increased in attempts to work—until in a few months many of these cases become entirely disabled for work. Sometimes, too, dropsical effusions in the limbs or into the cavities of the body result from the irregular and deficient circulation. Derangement of the urinary secretion, with passive congestion of the kidneys, may also appear.

Endocardial inflammation is seldom fatal in its early stages, but in many cases the recovery is incomplete, for a large proportion is left with some permanent thickening of the valves, which constitutes the beginning of valvular disease.

Symptoms.—Endocarditis may be ushered in by a chill, with sudden and marked rise in temperature. The pulse rapidly decreases in strength or may become irregular, while the heart beats more or less tumultuously. In the early stages soft-blowing sounds may be heard by placing the ear over the heart on the left side, which correspond in number and rhythm to the heart's action. Excessive pain, though not so great as in acute pleuritis, is manifested when the animal is compelled to trot; very often difficulty in breathing, or shortness of breath, on the slightest exertion develops early in the attack. When the valves are involved in the inflammatory process the visible mucous membranes become either very pale or very dark colored, and fainting may occur when the head is suddenly elevated. When the valves of the right side are affected we may find a regurgitant pulsation in the jugular vein. Occasionally it happens that the heart contracts more frequently than the pulse beats—that is, there may be twice as many contractions of the heart in a minute as there are pulse waves in the arteries. The pulse is always very fast. In some cases we find marked lameness of the left shoulder, and when the animal is turned short to the left side he may groan with pain, and the heart's action become violently excited, although pressure[Pg 254] against the chest wall will not produce pain unless roughly applied. The animal is not disposed to eat or drink much; the surface of the body and legs are cold—rarely excessively hot—and frequently the body of the animal is in a subdued tremor. In nearly all cases there is partial suppression of the urinary secretion. The symptoms may continue with very little modification for three or four days, sometimes seven days, without any marked changes. If large fibrinous clots form in the heart the change will be sudden and quickly prove fatal unless they become loosened and are carried away in the circulation; then apoplexy may result from the plugging of arteries too small to give further transmission. If the animal manifests symptoms of improvement, the changes usually are slow and steady until he feels apparently as well as ever, eats well, and moves freely in his stall or yard. When he is taken out, however, the seeming strength often proves deceptive, as he may quickly weaken if urged into a fast gait, the breathing becomes quickened with a double flank movement as in heaves, and all the former symptoms reappear in a modified degree. An examination at this stage may reveal valvular insufficiency, cardiac hypertrophy, or pulmonary engorgement.

In fatal cases of endocarditis death often occurs about the fourth day, from the formation of heart clot or too great embarrassment of the circulation. Endocarditis may be suspected in all cases where plain symptoms of cardiac affection are manifested in animals affected with influenza, rheumatism, or any disease in which the blood may convey septic matter.

Acute endocardial inflammation may be distinguished from pleuritis by the absence of any friction murmur, absence of pain when the chest wall is percussed, and the absence of effusion in the cavity of the chest. It may be distinguished from pericarditis by the absence of the friction sounds and want of an enlarged area of dullness on percussion.

Treatment.—The objects to be attained by treatment will be to remove or mitigate as much as possible the cause inducing the disease; to find a medicine which will lessen the irritability of the heart without weakening it; and, last, to maintain a free urinary secretion and prevent exudation and hypertrophy. So long as there is an increase of temperature, with some degree of scantiness of the urine, it may be safe to believe that there is some degree of inflammatory action existing in the cardiac structures, and as long as any evidence of inflammatory action remains, however moderate in degree, there is a tendency to increase or hypertrophy of the connective tissue of the heart or valves, thereby rendering it almost certain that the structural changes will become permanent unless counteracted by persistent treatment and complete rest.[Pg 255]

The tincture of digitalis, in 20-drop doses, repeated every hour, is perhaps the most reliable agent we know to control the irritability of the heart, and this also has a decided influence upon the urinary secretion. After the desired impression upon the heart is obtained the dose may be repeated every two or three hours, or as the case may demand. Tincture of strophanthus, in 2-dram doses, will quiet the tumultuous action of the heart in some cases where the digitalis fails. Bleeding, blistering, and stimulating applications to the chest should be avoided. They serve to irritate the animal and can do no possible good. Chlorate of potassium in 2-dram doses may be given in the drinking water every four hours for the first five or six days, and then be superseded by the nitrate of potassium in half-ounce doses for the following week or until the urinary secretion becomes abnormally profuse. Where the disease is associated with rheumatism, 2-dram doses of salicylate of soda may be substituted for the chlorate of potassium. To guard against chronic induration of the valves, the iodid of potassium, in 1 to 2 dram doses, should be given early in the disease and may be repeated two or three times a day for several weeks. When chronic effects remain after the acute stage has passed this drug becomes indispensable.

When dropsy of the limbs develops, it is due to weakened circulation or functional impairment of the kidneys. When there is much weakness in the action of the heart, or general debility is marked, the iodid of iron, in 1-dram doses, combined with hydrastis, 3 drams, may be given three times a day. Arsenic, in 5-grain doses twice a day, will give excellent results in some cases of weak heart associated with difficult breathing. In all cases absolute rest and warm stabling, with comfortable clothing, become necessary, and freedom from work should be allowed for a long time after all symptoms have disappeared.


Causes.—Pericarditis may be induced by cold and damp stabling, exposure and fatigue, from wounds caused by broken ribs, etc. Generally, however, it is associated with an attack of influenza, rheumatism, pleuritis, etc.

Symptoms.—Usually the disease manifests itself abruptly by a brief stage of chills coincident with pain in moving, a short painful cough, rapid and short breathing, and high temperature, with a rapid and hard pulse. In the early stages of the disease the pulse is regular in beat; later, when there is much exudation present in the pericardial sac, the heartbeat becomes muffled, and may be of a double or rebounding character. By placing the ear against the left side of the chest behind the elbow a rasping sound may be heard, corresponding[Pg 256] to the frequency of the heartbeat. This is known as a friction sound. Between the second and fourth days this sound may disappear, due to a distension of the pericardium by an exudate or serous effusion. As soon as this effusion partly fills the pericardium, percussion will reveal an abnormally increased area of dullness over the region of the heart, the heartbeats become less perceptible than in health, and in some cases a splashing or flapping sound may become audible.

If the effusion becomes absorbed, the friction sound usually recurs for a short time; this friction may often be felt by applying the hand to the side of the chest. In a few cases clonic spasms of the muscles of the neck may be present. In acute pericarditis, when the effusion is rapid and excessive, the animal may die in a few days or recovery may begin equally as early. In subacute or in chronic cases the effusion may slowly become augmented until the pressure upon the lungs and interference with the circulation become so great that death will result. Whether the attack is acute, subacute, or chronic, the characteristic symptoms which will guide us to a correct diagnosis are the friction sound, which is always synchronous with the heart's action, the high temperature with hard, irritable pulse, and, in cases of pericardial effusion, the increased area of dullness over the cardiac region. When the disease is associated with influenza or rheumatism, some of the symptoms may be obscure, but a careful examination will reveal sufficient evidence upon which to base a diagnosis. When pericarditis develops as a result of or in connection with pleuritis, the distinction may not be very clearly definable, neither will many recover. When it results from a wound or broken rib, it almost invariably proves fatal.

Pathology.—Pericarditis may at all times be regarded as a very serious affection. At first we will find an intense injection or accumulation of blood in the vessels of the pericardium, giving it a red and swollen appearance, during which we have the friction sound. In 24 to 48 hours this engorgement is followed by an exudation of sero-fibrinous fluid, the fibrinous portion of which may soon form a coating over the internal surface of the pericardial sac, and may ultimately form a union of the opposing surfaces. Generally this adhesion will only be found to occupy a portion of the surfaces. As the serous or watery portion of this effusion is absorbed, the distinctness of the friction sound recurs, and may remain perceptible in a varied degree for a long time. When the serous effusion is very great, the pressure exerted upon the heart weakens its action, and may produce death soon; when it is not so great, it may cause dropsies of other portions of the body. When the adhesions of the pericardial sac to the body of the heart are extensive, they generally lead to increased growth, or hypertrophy, of the heart, with or without[Pg 257] dilatation of its cavities; when they are but slight, they may not cause any inconvenience.

Treatment.—In acute or subacute pericarditis the tincture of digitalis may be given in 20 to 30 drop doses every hour until the pulse and temperature become reduced. Whisky or carbonate of ammonia may be given regularly as stimulants. Bandages should be applied to the legs; if the legs are very cold, tincture of capsicum should be first applied; the body should be warmly clothed in blankets, to promote perspiration. When the suffering from pain is very severe, 10 grains of morphin may be given by the mouth once or twice a day; nitrate of potassium, half an ounce, in drinking water, every six hours; after the third day, iodid of potassium, in 2-dram doses, may be substituted. Cold packs to the chest in the early stages of the disease may give marked relief, or, late in the disease, smart blisters may be applied to the sides of the chest with benefit. If the disease becomes chronic, iodid of iron and gentian to support the strength will be indicated, but the iodid of potassium, in 1 or 2 dram doses, two or three times a day, must not be abandoned so long as there is an evidence of effusion or plastic exudate accumulating in the pericardial sac. Where the effusion is great and threatens the life of the patient, tapping by an expert veterinarian may save the animal.


Acute valvular disease can not be distinguished from endocarditis, and chronic valvular affections are generally the result of endocardial inflammation. The valves of the left side are the most subject—the bicuspid or mitral and the aortic or semilunar. The derangement may consist of mere inflammation and swelling, or the edges of the valves may become covered by the organization of the exudation, thus narrowing the passage. Valvular obstruction and adhesions may occur or the tendinous cords may be lengthened or shortened, thus obstructing the orifices and permitting the regurgitation of blood. In protected cases the fibrous tissue of the valves may be transformed into fibro-cartilage or bone, or there may be deposits of salts of lime beneath the serous membrance, which may terminate in ulceration, rupture, or fissures. Sometimes the valves become covered by fibrinous, fleshy, or hard vegetations, or excrescences. In cases of considerable dilatation of the heart there may be atrophy and shrinking of the valves.

Symptoms.—Valvular disease may be indicated by a venous pulse, jerking pulse, intermittent pulse, irregular pulse; palpitation; constant abnormal fullness of the jugular veins; difficulty of breathing when the animal becomes excited or is urged out of a walk or into a[Pg 258] fast trot; attacks of vertigo; congestion of the brain; dropsical swelling of the limbs. A blowing, cooing, or bubbling murmur may sometimes be heard by placing the ear over the heart on the left side of the chest.

Hypertrophy, or dilatation, or both, usually follow valvular disease.

Treatment.—When the pulse is irregular or irritable, tonics, such as preparations of iron, gentian, and ginger, may be given. When the action of the heart is jerking or violent, 20 to 30 drop doses of tincture of digitalis or of veratrum viride may be given until these symptoms abate. As the disease nearly always is the result of endocarditis, the iodid of potassium and general tonics, sometimes stimulants, when general debility supervenes, may be of temporary benefit. Very few animals recover or remain useful for any length of time after once marked organic changes have taken place in the valvular structure of the heart.


Fibrous, cartilaginous, and bony formations have been observed in some rare instances in the muscular tissue. Isolated calcareous masses have sometimes been embedded in the cardiac walls. Fibrinous coagula and polypous concretions may be found in the cavities of the heart. The former consist of coagulated fibrin, separated from the mass of blood, of a whitish or yellowish white color, translucent, of a jellylike consistence, and having a nucleus in the center. They may slightly adhere to the surface of the cavity, from which they can easily be separated without altering the structure of the endocardium. They probably result from an excess of coagulability of fibrin, which is produced by an organization of the lymph during exudation. They are usually found in the right auricle and ventricle.

Polypous concretions are firmer than in the preceding, more opaque, of a fibrous texture, and may be composed of successive layers. In some instances they are exceedingly minute, while in others they almost fill one or more of the cavities. Their color is usually white, but occasionally red from the presence of blood. They firmly adhere to the endocardium, and when detached from it give it a torn appearance. Occasionally, a vascular communication seems to exist between them and the substance of the heart. They may be the result of fibrinous exudation from inflammation of the inner surface of the heart or the coagulation of a portion of the blood which afterwards contracts adhesion with the heart. These concretions prove a source of great inconvenience and often danger, no matter how formed. They cause a diminution in the cavity in which they are found, thus narrowing the orifice through which the[Pg 259] blood passes, or preventing a proper coaptation of the valves, which may produce most serious valvular disease.

Symptoms.—These are frequently uncertain; they may, however, be suspected when the action of the heart suddenly becomes embarrassed with irregular and confused pulsations, great difficulty of breathing, and the usual signs dependent upon the imperfect arterialization of the blood.

Treatment.—Stimulants, whisky, or carbonate of ammonia may be of service.


This is a tumultuous and usually irregular beating of the heart. It may be due to a variety of causes, both functional and organic. It may occur as a result of indigestion, fright, increased nervousness, sudden excitement, excessive speeding, etc. (See "Thumps," p. 225.)

Symptoms.—The heart may act with such violence that each beat may jar the whole body of the animal; very commonly it may be heard at a short distance away from the animal. It can usually be traced very readily to the exciting cause, which we may be able to avoid or overcome in the future and thereby obviate subsequent attacks. Rest, a mild stimulant, or a dose or two of tincture of digitalis or opium will generally give prompt relief. When it is due to organic impairment of the heart it must be regarded as a symptom, not as a matter of primary specific treatment.


Actual fainting rarely occurs among horses. It may, however, be induced by a rapid and great loss of blood, pain of great intensity, a mechanical interference with the circulation of the brain, etc.

Symptoms.—Syncope is characterized by a decrease or temporary suspension of the action of the heart and respiration, with partial or total loss of consciousness. It generally occurs suddenly, though there may be premonitory symptoms, as giddiness, or vertigo, dilated pupil, staggering, blanching of the visible mucous membranes, a rapidly sinking pulse, and dropping to the ground. The pulse is feeble or ceases to beat; the surface of the body turns cold; breathing is scarcely to be perceived, and the animal may be entirely unconscious. This state is uncertain in duration—generally it lasts only a few minutes; the circulation becomes restored, breathing becomes more distinct, and consciousness and muscular strength return. In cases attended with much hemorrhage or organic disease of the heart, the fainting fit may be fatal; otherwise it will prove but a transient occurrence. In paralysis of the heart the symptoms may be exactly similar to syncope. Syncope may be distinguished from apoplexy by[Pg 260] the absence of stertorous breathing and lividity of the visible mucous membranes.

Treatment.—Dash cold water on the head; administer a stimulant—4 ounces of whisky or half an ounce of carbonate of ammonia. Prevent the animal from getting up too soon, or the attack may immediately recur. Afterwards, if the attack was due to weakness from loss of blood, impoverished blood, or associated with debility, general tonics, rest, and nourishing food are indicated.


Hypertrophy of the heart implies augmentation of bulk in its muscular substance, with or without dilatation or contraction of its cavities. It may exist with or without other cardiac affections. In valvular disease or valvular insufficiency hypertrophy frequently results as a consequence of increased demand for propelling power. The difficulties with which it is most frequently connected are dilatation and ossification of the valves. It may also occur in connection with atrophied kidneys, weak heart, etc. It may be caused by an increased determination of blood to the organ or from a latent form of myocarditis, and it may arise from a long-continued increase of action dependent upon nervous disease. All the cavities of the heart may have their walls hypertrophied or the thickening may involve one or more. While the wall of a ventricle is thickened, its cavity may retain its normal size (simple hypertrophy) or be dilated (eccentric hypertrophy), or it may be contracted (concentric hypertrophy). Hypertrophy of both ventricles increases the length and breadth of the heart. Hypertrophy of the left ventricle alone increases its length; of the right ventricle alone increases its breadth toward the right side. Hypertrophy with dilatation may affect the chambers of the heart conjointly or separately. This form is by far the most frequent variety of cardiac enlargement. When the entire heart is affected, it assumes a globular appearance, the apex being almost obliterated and situated transversely in the chest. The bulk may become three or four times greater than the average heart.

Symptoms.—In hypertrophy of the heart, in addition to the usual symptoms manifested in organic diseases of the heart, there is a powerful and heaving impulse at each beat, which may be felt on the left side, often also on the right. These pulsations are regular, and when full and strong at the jaw there is a tendency to active congestion of the capillary vessels, which frequently give rise to local inflammation, active hemorrhage, etc. If the pulse is small and feeble at the jaw, we may conclude that there is some obstacle to the escape of the blood from the left ventricle into the aorta, which has given rise to the hypertrophy. In case of hypertrophy with dilatation, the impulse is not only powerful and heaving, but it is diffused over the[Pg 261] whole region of the heart, and the normal sounds of the heart are greatly increased in intensity. Percussion reveals an enlarged area of dullness, while the impulse is usually much stronger than normal.

Dropsy of the pericardium will give the same wide space of dullness, but the impulse and sound are lessened. An animal with a moderate degree of enlargement may possibly live a number of years and be capable of ordinary work; it depends largely upon concomitant disease. As a rule, an animal affected with hypertrophy of the heart will soon be incapacitated for work, and becomes useless and incurable.

Treatment.—If the cause can be discovered and is removable, it should be done. The iodid of potassium, in cases of valvular thickening, may be of some benefit if continued for a sufficient length of time; it may be given in 2-dram doses, twice a day, for a month or more. The tincture of digitalis may be given, in cases where the pulse is weak, in doses of 2 teaspoonfuls three times daily. This remedy should not be continued if the pulse becomes irregular. General tonics, freedom from excitement or fatigue, avoidance of bulky food, good ventilation, etc., are indicated.


This is an enlargement, or stretching, of the cavities of the heart, and may be confined to one or extend to all. Two forms of dilatation may be mentioned—simple dilatation, where there is normal thickness of the walls, and passive, or attenuated, dilatation, where the walls are simply distended or stretched out without any addition of substance.

Causes.—Any cause producing constant and excessive exertion of the heart may lead to dilatation. Valvular disease is the most frequent cause. General anemia predisposes to it by producing relaxation of muscular fiber. Changes in the muscular tissue of the heart walls, serous infiltration from pericarditis, myocarditis, fatty degeneration and infiltration, and atrophy of the muscular fibers may all lead to dilatation.

Symptoms.—The movements of the heart are feeble and prolonged, a disposition to staggering or vertigo, dropsy of the limbs, very pale or very dark-colored membranes, and difficult breathing on the slightest excitement.

Treatment.—General tonics, rich feed, and rest.


Fatty degeneration may involve the whole organ, or may be limited to its walls, or even to circumscribed patches. The latter is situated at the exterior, and gives it a mottled appearance. When[Pg 262] generally involved it is flabby or flaccid, and in extreme cases collapses when emptied or cut. Upon dissection the interior of the ventricles is observed to be covered with buff-colored spots of a singular zigzag form. This appearance may be noticed beneath the pericardium, and pervading the whole thickness of the ventricular walls, and in extreme cases those of the fleshy columns in the interior of the heart. These spots are found to be degenerated muscular fibers and colonies of oil globules. Fatty degeneration is often associated with other morbid conditions of the heart, such as obesity, dilatation, rupture, aneurism, etc. It may be connected with fatty diseases of other organs, such as the liver, kidneys, etc. When it exists alone its presence is seldom suspected previous to death. It may be secondary to hypertrophy of the heart, to myocarditis, or to pericarditis. It may be due to deteriorated conditions of the blood in wasting diseases, excessive hemorrhages, etc., or to poisoning with arsenic and phosphorus.

Symptoms.—The most prominent symptoms of fatty degeneration are a feeble action of the heart, a remarkably slow pulse, general debility, and attacks of vertigo. It may exist for a long time, but is apt to terminate suddenly in death upon the occurrence of other diseases, surgical operations, etc. It may involve a liability to sudden death from rupture of the ventricular walls.

Treatment.—Confinement in feed to oats, wheat or rye bran, and timothy hay. Twenty drops of sulphuric acid may be given in drinking water three times a day, and hypophosphite of iron in 2-dram doses, mixed with the feed, twice a day. Other tonics and stimulants as they may be indicated.


This may occur as the result of some previous disease, such as fatty degeneration, dilatation with weakness of the muscular walls, etc. It may be caused by external violence, a crushing fall, pressure of some great weight, etc. Usually death follows a rupture very quickly, though an animal may live for some time when the rent is not very large.


This may arise from general debility, the result of exhausting disease, overwork, or heart strain, or loss of blood. It is indicated by a small, feeble, but generally regular pulse, coldness of the body, etc.

Treatment should be directed to support and increase the strength of the animal by tonics, rest, and nutritious feed. Carbonate of ammonia may be given to stimulate the heart's action and to prevent the formation of heart clot.[Pg 263]


Congestion, or an accumulation of the blood in the cavities of the heart, may occur in consequence of fibrinous deposits interfering with the free movements of the valves, usually the product of endocarditis or as a result of excessive muscular exertion.

Symptoms are great difficulty of breathing, paleness of the visible mucous membranes, great anxiety, frequently accompanied by a general tremor and cold perspiration, followed by death. It usually results in death very quickly.


This is a condition sometimes found in foals immediately after birth, and is due to nonclosure of the foramen ovale, which allows a mixture of the venous with the arterial blood in the left cavities of the heart. It is characterized by a dark purple or bluish color of the visible mucous membranes, shortness of breath, and a general feebleness. Foals thus affected generally live only a few hours after birth.


Inflammation of arteries is rarely observed in the horse as a primary affection. Direct injuries, such as blows, may produce a contusion and subsequent inflammation of the wall of an artery; severe muscular strain may involve an arterial trunk; hypertrophy of the heart, by increasing arterial tension, may result in the production of a general endarteritis. Septic infection may affect the inner coat and ultimately involve all three, or it may be the result of an inflammation in the vicinity of the vessels, etc. Inflammation of arteries, whatever the cause may be, often leads to very serious results in the development of secondary changes in their walls. Arteritis may be acute, subacute, or chronic; when the inner coat alone is affected it is known as endarteritis.

Symptoms.—Arteritis is characterized by a painful swelling along the inflamed vessel, throbbing pulse, coldness of the parts supplied by the inflamed vessel, sometimes the formation of gangrenous sloughs, suppuration, abscess, etc. In an inflammation of the iliac arteries we find coldness and excessive lameness or paralysis of one or both hind limbs.

Pathology.—In acute arteritis we find swelling along the vessel, loss of elasticity, friability, and thickening of the walls; a roughness and loss of gloss of the inner coat, with the formation of coagula or pus in the vessel. Subacute or chronic arteritis may affect only the outer coat (periarteritis), both the outer and middle coat, or the inner coat alone (endarteritis); and by weakening the respective coats leads to rupture, aneurism, or to degenerations, such as bony, calcareous, fatty, atheromatous, etc. It may also lead to sclerosis or[Pg 264] increase of fibrous tissue, especially in the kidneys, when it may result in the condition known as arterio-capillary fibrosis. Chronic endarteritis is fruitful in the production of thrombus and atheroma. Arteritis may be limited to single trunks or it may affect, more or less, all the arteries of the body. Arteries which are at the seat of chronic endarteritis are liable to suffer degenerative changes, consisting chiefly of fatty degeneration, calcification, or the breaking down of the degenerated tissue, and the formation of erosions or ulcerlike openings in the inner coat. These erosions are frequently called atheromatous ulcers, and fragments of tissue from these ulcers may be carried into the circulation, forming emboli. Fibrinous thrombi are apt to form upon the roughened surface of the inner coat or upon the surface of the erosions.

Fatty degeneration and calcification of the middle and outer coats may occur, and large, hard, calcareous plates project inward, upon which thrombi may form or may exist in connection with atheroma of the inner coat. When there is much thickening and increase of new tissue in the wall of the affected artery it may encroach upon the capacity of the vessel, and even lead to obliteration. This is often associated with interstitial inflammation of glandular organs.

Treatment.—Carbonate of potassium in 1-dram doses, to be given in 4 ounces liquor acetate of ammonia every six hours; scalded bran sufficient to produce loosening of the bowels, and complete rest; externally, applications of hot water or hot hop infusion.


Atheroma is a direct result of an existing chronic endarteritis, the lining membrane of the vessels being invariably involved to a greater or less degree. It is most frequently found in the arteries, although the veins may develop an atheromatous condition when exposed to any source of prolonged irritation. Atheroma may affect arteries in any part of the body; in some instances almost every vessel is diseased, in others only a few, or even parts of one vessel. It is a very common result of endocarditis extending into the aorta, which we find perhaps the most frequent seat of atheroma. As a result of this condition the affected vessel becomes impaired in its contractile power, loses its natural strength, and, in consequence of its inability to sustain its accustomed internal pressure, undergoes in many cases dilatation at the seat of disease, constituting aneurism. In an atheromatous vessel, calcareous deposits soon occur, which render it rigid, brittle, and subject to ulceration or rupture. In such vessels the contractility is destroyed, the middle coat atrophied and beyond repair. Atheroma in the vessels of the brain is a frequent cause of cerebral apoplexy. No symptoms are manifested by which we can recognize this condition during life.[Pg 265]


This is usually the result of arteritis, and may partly or wholly be impervious to the flow of blood. When this occurs in a large vessel it may be followed by gangrene of the parts; usually, however, collateral circulation will be established to nourish the parts previously supplied by the obliterated vessel. In a few instances constriction of the aorta has produced death.


Aneurism is usually described as true or false. True aneurism is a dilatation of the coats of an artery over a larger or smaller part of its course. Such dilatations are usually due to chronic endarteritis and atheroma. False aneurism is formed after a puncture of an artery by a dilatation of the adhesive lymph by which the puncture was united.

Symptoms.—If the aneurism is seated along the neck or a limb it appears as a tumor in the course of an artery and pulsating with it. The tumor is round, soft, and compressible, and yields a peculiar fluctuation upon pressure. By applying the ear over it a peculiar purring or hissing sound may sometimes be heard. Pulsation, synchronous with the action of the heart, is the diagnostic symptom. It is of a slow, expansive, and heavy character, as if the whole tumor were enlarging under the hand. Aneurisms seated internally may occupy the cavity of the cranium, chest, or abdomen. As regards the first, little is known during life, for all the symptoms which they produce may arise from other causes. Aneurism of the anterior aorta may be situated very closely to the heart or in the arch, and it is very seldom that we can distinguish it from disease of the heart. The tumor may encroach upon the windpipe and produce difficulty in breathing, or it may produce pressure upon the vena cava or the thoracic duct, obstructing the flow of blood and lymph. In fact, whatever parts the aneurism may reach or subject to its pressure, may have their functions suspended or disturbed. When the tumor in the chest is large, we generally find much irregularity in the action of the heart; the superficial veins of the neck are distended, and there is usually dropsical swelling under the breast and of the limbs. There may be a very troublesome cough without any evidence of lung affection. Sometimes pulsation of the tumor may be felt at the lower part of the neck where it joins the chest. When the aneurism occurs in the posterior aorta no diagnostic symptoms are appreciable; when it occurs in the internal iliac arteries an examination per rectum will reveal it.

There is one form of aneurism which is not infrequently overlooked, affecting the anterior mesenteric artery, primarily induced by a worm—Strongylus vulgaris. This worm produces an arteritis, with[Pg 266] atheroma, degeneration, and dilatation of the mesenteric arteries, associated with thrombus and aneurism. The aneurism gives rise to colic, which appears periodically in a very violent and often persistent type. Ordinary colic remedies have no effect, and after a time the animal succumbs to the disease. In all cases of animals which are habitually subject to colicky attacks, parasitic aneurism of the anterior mesenteric artery may be suspected. (See p. 92.)

Pathology.—Aneurisms may be diffuse or sacculated. The diffuse consists in a uniform dilatation of all the coats of an artery, so that it assumes the shape of a cylindrical swelling. The wall of the aneurism is atheromatous, or calcified; the middle coat may be atrophied. The sacculated, or circumscribed, aneurism consists either in a dilatation of the entire circumference of an artery over a short portion of its length, or in a dilatation of only a small portion of one side of the wall. Aneurism may become very large; as it increases in size it presses upon and causes the destruction of neighboring tissues. The cavity of the aneurismal sac is filled with fluid or clotted blood or with layers of fibrin which adhere closely to its wall. Death is produced usually by the pressure and interference of the aneurism with adjoining organs or by rupture. In worm aneurism we usually find large thrombi within the aneurismal dilatation of the artery, which sometimes plug the whole vessel or extend into the aorta. Portions of this thrombus, or clot, may be washed away and produce embolism of a smaller artery. The effect in either case is to produce anemia of the intestinal canal, serous or bloody exudation in its walls, which leads to paralysis of the intestine and resultant colicky symptoms.

Treatment.—The only treatment advisable is to extirpate or ligate the tumor above and below.


Endarteritis, with its subsequent changes in the walls of arteries, is the primary cause of rupture in the majority of instances. The rupture may be partial, involving only one or two coats, and will then form an aneurism. If complete, it may produce death when it involves a large vessel, especially if it is situated in one of the large cavities permitting an excessive escape of blood. Rupture may be produced by mechanical violence or accident.

Symptoms.—In fatal rupture, associated with profuse bleeding, the animal becomes weak, the visible mucous membranes become blanched, the breathing hurried or gasping, pupils dilated, staggering in gait, syncope, death. When the hemorrhage is limited the symptoms may not become noticeable; if it is near the surface of the body a round or diffuse swelling or tumor may form, constituting a hygroma. If the rupture is associated with an external wound, the bleeding artery should be ligated, or where a bandage is applicable,[Pg 267] pressure may be applied by tight bandaging. As a secondary result of rupture of an artery we may have formation of abscess, gangrene of a part, etc.

Treatment.—When rupture of a deep-seated artery is suspected, large doses of fluid extract of ergot may be given to produce contraction of the blood vessels. Tannin and iron are also useful. The animal should be allowed to have as much water as he desires. Afterwards stimulants and nourishing feed are indicated.


By thrombosis is generally understood the partial or complete closure of a vessel by a morbid product developed at the site of the obstruction. The coagulum, which is usually fibrinous, is known as a thrombus. The term "embolism" designates an obstruction caused by any body detached and transported from the interior of the heart or of some vessel. Thrombi occur as the result of an injury to the wall of the vessel or may follow its compression or dilatation; they may result from some alteration of the wall of the vessel by disease or by the retardation of the circulation. These formations may occur during life, in the heart, arteries, veins, or in the portal system. When a portion of fibrin coagulates in one of the arteries and is carried along by the circulation, it will be arrested, of course, in the capillaries, if not before; when in the veins, it may not be stopped until it reaches the lungs; and when in the portal system the capillaries of the liver will prevent its further progress. The formation of thrombi may act primarily by causing partial or complete obstruction, and, secondarily, either by larger or smaller fragments becoming detached from their end and by being carried along by the circulation of the blood to remote vessels, embolism; or by the coagulum becoming softened and converted into pus, constituting suppurative phlebitis. These substances occur most frequently in those affections characterized by great exhaustion or debility, such as pneumonia, purpura hemorrhagica, endocarditis, phlebitis, puerperal fever, hemorrhages, etc. These concretions may form suddenly and produce instantaneous death by retarding the blood current, or they may arise gradually, in which case the thrombi may be organized and attached to the walls of the heart, or they may soften, and fragments of them (emboli) may be carried away. The small, wartlike excrescences occurring sometimes in endocarditis may occasionally form a foundation on which a thrombi may develop.

Symptoms.—When heart clot, or thrombus, exists in the right side, the return of blood from the body and the aeration in the lungs is impeded, and if death occurs, it is owing to syncope rather than to strangulation in pulmonary respiration. There will be hurried and[Pg 268] gasping breathing, paleness and coldness of the surface of the body, a feeble and intermittent or fluttering pulse, and fainting. When a fibrinous coagulum is carried into the pulmonary artery from the right side of the heart, the indications are a swelling and infiltration of the lungs and pulmonary apoplexy. When the clot is situated in the left cavities of the heart or in the aorta, death, if it occurs, takes place either suddenly or at the end of a few hours from coma.

Pathology.—When a coagulum is observed in the heart it may become a question whether it was formed during life or after death. The loose, dark coagula so often found after death are polypi. If the deposition has taken place during the last moments of life, the fibrin will be isolated and soft, but not adherent to the walls; if it be isolated, dense, and adherent or closely intertwined with the muscles of the papillæ and tendinous cords, the deposition has occurred more or less remote from the act of dying. Occasionally the fibrin may be seen lining one of the cavities of the heart, like a false endocardium, or else forming an additional coat to the aorta or other large vessels without producing much obstruction. Thrombi, in some instances, soften in their centers, and are then observed to contain a puslike substance. If this softening has extended considerably, an outer shell, or cyst, only may remain. The sources of danger exist not only in the interruption of the circulation of the blood, but also in a morbid state of the system, produced by the disturbed nutrition of a limb or organ, as well as the mingling of purulent and gangrenous elements with the blood.

Treatment.—The urgent symptoms should be relieved by rest, stimulants, and the use of agents which will act as solvents to the fibrinous clots. Alkalis are specially useful for this purpose. Carbonate of ammonia may be administered in all cases of thrombus, and should be continued for a long time in small doses several times a day. In cases of great debility associated with a low grade of fever, stimulants and tonics, and nitro-muriatic acid as an antiseptic, may be beneficial.


Inflammation of veins may be simple or diffuse. In simple phlebitis the disease of the vein is confined to a circumscribed or limited portion of a vein; in diffuse it involves the vein for a long distance; it may even extend from a limb or foot to the heart.

Causes.—Phlebitis may be induced by contusions or direct injuries, an extension of inflammation from surrounding tissue, such as in abscess, formation of tumor, or malignant growth. It is often due to embolism of infective material, gangrenous matter, etc. Blood-letting from the jugular vein is occasionally followed by dangerous phlebitis.[Pg 269]

Symptoms.—The symptoms vary according to the extent and severity of the inflammation. In most cases the vein is swollen, thickened, and indurated to such a degree as to resemble an artery. A diffused swelling, with great tenderness, may extend along the affected vessel and the animal manifest all the symptoms connected with acute fever and general functional disturbance.

Pathology.—The disease is only serious when large veins are affected. The coats undergo the same changes as in arteritis; clots of blood and lymph plug the inflamed vessel, and, if the inflammatory process continues, these are converted into pus, which ruptures the vessel and produces a deep abscess; or it may be carried away in the circulation and produce metastatic abscess in the lungs or other remote organs. In mild cases the clots may become absorbed and the vessel restored to health. Phlebitis in the course of the veins of the limbs frequently leads to numerous abscesses, which may be mistaken for farcy ulcerations. A very common result of phlebitis is an obliteration of the affected portion of the vein, but as collateral circulation is readily established this is seldom of any material inconvenience.

Treatment.—Phlebitis should be treated by the application of a smart blister along the course of the inflamed vessel; early opening of any abscesses which may form; the animal should have complete rest, and the bowels be kept loose with bran mashes. When the fever runs high, half-ounce doses of nitrate of potassium may be given in the drinking water, which may be changed in two or three days for 1-dram doses of the iodid of potassium. If the animal becomes debilitated, carbonate of ammonia, 1 dram, and powdered gentian, 3 drams, may be given every six hours.


This may be a result of weakening of the coats from inflammatory disease and degeneration. It may also be due to mechanical obstruction from internal or external sources. It is sometimes found in the vein which lies superficial over the inside of the hock joint, and may be due to the pressure of a spavin. Occasionally it may be observed in stallions, which are more or less subject to varicocele, or dilatation of the veins of the testicular cord. Hemorrhoidal veins, or piles, are occasionally met with, generally in horses which run at pasture. Varicose veins may ulcerate and form an abscess in the surrounding tissues, or they may rupture from internal blood pressure and the blood form large tumors where the tissues are soft.

Treatment.—Stallions which manifest a tendency to varicocele should wear suspensory bags when they are exercised. Piles may often be reduced by astringent washes—tea made from white-oak bark or a saturated solution of alum. The bowels should be kept loose with bran mashes and the animal kept quiet in the stable.[Pg 270] When varicose veins exist superficially and threaten to produce inconvenience, they may be ligated above and below and thus obliterated. Sometimes absorption may be induced by constant bandages.


It was formerly supposed that the entrance of air into a vein at the time of the infliction of a wound or in blood-letting was extremely dangerous and very often produced sudden death by interfering with the circulation of the blood through the heart and lungs. Danger from air embolism is exceedingly doubtful, unless great quantities were forced into a large vein by artificial means.


Purpura hemorrhagica usually occurs as a sequel to debilitating diseases, such as strangles, influenza, etc. It may, however, arise in the absence of any previous disease in badly ventilated stables, among poorly fed horses, and in animals subject to exhausting work and extreme temperatures. The disease is probably due to some as yet undiscovered infectious principle. Its gravity does not depend so much upon the amount of blood extravasated as it does upon the disturbance or diminished action of the vasomotor centers.

Symptoms.—This disease becomes manifested by the occurrence of sudden swellings on various parts of the body, on the head or lips, limbs, abdomen, etc. These swellings may be diffused or very markedly circumscribed, though in the advanced stages they cover large areas. They pit on pressure and are but slightly painful to the touch. The limbs may swell to a very large size, the nostrils may become almost closed, and the head and throat may swell to the point of suffocation. The swellings not infrequently disappear from one portion of the body and develop on another, or may recede from the surface and invade the intestinal mucous membrane. The mucous lining of the nostrils and mouth show more or less dark-red or purple spots. There may be a discharge of blood-colored serum from the nostrils; the tongue may be swollen so as to prevent eating or closing of the jaws. In the most intense cases, within from twenty-four to forty-eight hours bloody serum may exude through the skin over the swollen parts, and finally large gangrenous sloughs may form. The temperature is never very high, the pulse is frequent and compressible, and becomes feebler as the animal loses strength. A cough is usually present. The urine is scanty and high colored, and when the intestines are much affected a bloody diarrhea may set in, with colicky pains. Some of the internal organs become implicated in the disease, the lungs may become edematous, extravasation may occur in the intestinal canal, or effusion of serum into the cavity of the[Pg 271] chest or abdomen; occasionally the brain becomes affected. A few cases run a mild course and recovery may commence in three or four days; generally, however, the outlook is unfavorable. In severe cases septic poisoning is liable to occur, which soon brings the case to a fatal issue.

Pathology.—On section we find the capillaries dilated, the connective tissue filled with a coagulable or coagulated lymph, and frequently we may discover gangrenous spots beneath the skin or involving the skin. The lymphatic glands are swollen and inflamed. Extensive extravasations of blood may be found embedded between the coats of the intestines, or excessive effusion into the substance of the lungs.

Treatment.—Diffusible stimulants and tonics should be given from the start. Carbonate of ammonia, 1 dram, fluid extract of red cinchona bark, 2 drams, and tincture of ginger half an ounce, with half a pint of water; thin gruel or milk should be given every four or six hours. But especial care should be exercised to avoid injury by drenching. If the horse has difficulty in getting the head up and swallowing, smaller doses must be given with a small hard-rubber syringe. Sulphate of iron in 1-dram doses may be dissolved in water and given every six hours. Chlorate of potassium, in 2-ounce doses, may be given every eight or twelve hours. Colloidal silver may be administered intravenously in doses of from 5 to 12 grains. Washings with lead and alum water are useful and may be repeated several times each day. If the swellings are very great, they may be incised freely and the resulting wounds should be washed at least twice daily with a warm 3 per cent solution of carbolic acid or other good antiseptic. Tracheotomy may be necessary. Complications, when they arise, must be treated with proper circumspection.


The lymphatic, or absorbent, system is connected with the blood-vascular system, and consists of a series of tubes which absorb and convey to the blood certain fluids. These tubes lead to lymphatic glands, through which the fluids pass to reach the right lymphatic vein and thoracic duct, both of which enter the venous system near the heart. Through the excessively thin walls of the capillaries the fluid part of the blood transudes to nourish the tissues outside the capillaries; at the same time fluid passes from the tissues into the blood. The fluid, after it passes into the tissues, constitutes the lymph, and acts like a stream irrigating the tissue elements. Much of the surplus of this lymph passes into the lymph vessels, which in their commencement can hardly be treated as independent structures, since their walls are so closely joined with the tissues through which they[Pg 272] pass, being nothing more than spaces in the connective tissue until they reach the larger lymph vessels, which finally empty into lymph glands. These lymph glands are structures so placed that the lymph flowing toward the larger trunks passes through them, undergoing a sort of filtration. From the fact of this arrangement lymph glands are subject to inflammatory diseases in the vicinity of diseased structures, because infective material being conveyed in the lymph stream lodges in the glands and produces irritation.


Acute inflammation of the lymph glands usually occurs in connection with some inflammatory process in the region from which its lymph is gathered. Several or all of the glands in a cluster may become affected, as in strangles, nasal catarrh, or nasal gleet, diseased or ulcerated teeth, the lymph glands between the branches of the lower jaw almost invariably become affected, which may lead to suppuration or induration. Similar results obtain in other portions of the body; in pneumonia the bronchial glands become affected; in pharyngitis the postpharyngeal glands lying above the trachea become affected, etc.

Symptoms.—The glands swell and become painful to the touch, the connective tissue surrounding them becomes involved, suppuration usually takes place, and one or more abscesses form. If the inflammation is of a milder type, resolution may take place and the swelling recede, the exudative material being absorbed, and the gland restored without the occurrence of suppuration. In the limbs a whole chain of the glands along the lymphatic vessels may become affected, as in farcy, phlebitis, or septic poisoning.

Treatment.—Fomentation with hot water and the application of camphorated soap liniment or camphorated oil may produce a revulsive action and prevent suppuration. If there is any indication of abscess forming, poultices of linseed meal and bran made into a paste with hot water should be applied, or a mild blistering ointment rubbed in over the swollen gland. As soon as fluctuation can be felt a free opening must be made for the escape of the contained pus. The wound may subsequently be washed out with a solution of chlorid of zinc, 5 grains to the ounce of water, three times a day.


Specific inflammation of the lymphatic structures usually affects the hind legs; very seldom a fore leg. This disease is very sudden in its attack, exceedingly painful, accompanied by a high temperature and great general disturbance.[Pg 273]

Causes.—Horses of lymphatic or sluggish temperament are predisposed to this affection. It usually attacks well-fed animals, and in such cases may be due to an excess of nutritive elements in the blood. Sudden changes in work or in the habits of the animal may induce an attack.

Symptoms.—It is usually ushered in by a chill, rise in temperature, and some uneasiness; in a very short time this is followed by lameness in one leg and swelling on the inside of the thigh. The swelling gradually surrounds the whole limb and continues on downward until it reaches the foot. The limb is excessively tender to the touch, the animal perspires, the breathing is accelerated, pulse hard and quick, and the temperature may reach 106° F. The bowels early become very constipated and urine scanty. The symptoms usually are on the increase for about two days, then they remain stationary for the same length of time; the fever then abates; the swelling recedes and becomes less painful. It is very seldom, though, that all the swelling leaves the leg; generally it leaves some permanent enlargement, and the animal becomes subject to recurrent attacks. Occasionally the inguinal lymphatic glands (in the groin) undergo suppuration, and pyemia may supervene and prove fatal. In severe cases the limb becomes denuded of hair in patches, and the skin remains indurated with a fibrous growth, which is known by the name of elephantiasis.

Treatment.—The parts should be bathed freely and frequently with water as hot as the hand can bear and then fomented with vinegar and water, equal parts, to which add 2 ounces of nitrate of potassium for each gallon. This should be applied frequently, after the hot water, for the first day. Afterwards the leg may be dried with a woolen cloth and bathed with camphorated soap liniment. Internally administer artificial Carlsbad salts in 2 to 4 ounce doses three times daily. Feed lightly and give complete rest. This treatment, if instituted early in the attack, very frequently brings about a remarkable change within 24 hours.

[Pg 274]


By James Law, F. R. C. V. S.,

Formerly Professor of Veterinary Science, etc., Cornell University.

We can scarcely overestimate the value of sound eyes in the horse, and hence all diseases and injuries which seriously interfere with vision are matters of extreme gravity and apprehension, for should they prove permanent they invariably depreciate the selling price to a considerable extent. A blind horse is always dangerous in the saddle or in single harness, and he is scarcely less so when, with partially impaired vision, he sees things imperfectly, in a distorted form or in a wrong place, and when he shies or avoids objects which are commonplace or familiar. When we add to this that certain diseases of the eyes, like recurring inflammation (moon blindness), are habitually transmitted from parent to offspring, we can realize still more fully the importance of these maladies. Again, as a mere matter of beauty, a sound, full, clear, intelligent eye is something which must always add a high value to our equine friends and servants.


(Pl. XXII.)


A full description of the structure of the eye is incompatible with our prescribed limits, and yet a short description is absolutely essential to the clear understanding of what is to follow.

The horse's eye is a spheroidal body, flattened behind, and with its posterior four-fifths inclosed by an opaque, white, strong fibrous membrane (the sclerotic), on the inner side of which is laid a more delicate, friable membrane, consisting mainly of blood vessels and pigment cells (the choroid), which in its turn is lined by the extremely delicate and sensitive expansion of the nerve of sight (the retina). The anterior fifth of the globe of the eye bulges forward from what would have been the direct line of the sclerotic, and thus forms a segment of a much smaller sphere than is inclosed by the sclerotic. Its walls, too, have in health a perfect translucency, from which it has derived the name of transparent cornea. This transparent coat is composed, in the main, of fibers with lymph interspaces,[Pg 275] and it is to the condition of these and their condensation and compression that the translucency is largely due. This may be shown by compressing with the fingers the eye of an ox which has just been killed, when the clear transparent cornea will suddenly become clouded over with a whitish-blue opacity, and this will remain until the compression is interrupted. The interior of the eye contains three transparent media for the refraction of the rays of light on their way from the cornea to the visual nerve. Of these media the anterior one (aqueous humor) is liquid, the posterior (vitreous humor) is semisolid, and the intermediate one (crystalline lens) is solid. The space occupied by the aqueous humor corresponds nearly to the portion of the eye covered by the transparent cornea. It is, however, divided into two chambers, anterior and posterior, by the iris, a contractile curtain with a hole in the center (the pupil), and which may be looked on as in some sense a projection inward of the vascular and pigmentary coat from its anterior margin at the point where the sclerotic or opaque outer coat becomes continuous with the cornea or transparent one. This iris, or curtain, besides its abundance of blood vessels and pigment, possesses two sets of muscular fibers, one set radiating from the margin of the pupil to the outer border of the curtain at its attachment to the sclerotic and choroid, and the other encircling the pupil in the manner of a ring. The action of the two sets is necessarily antagonistic, the radiating fibers dilating the pupil and exposing the interior of the eye to view, while the circular fibers contract this opening and shut out the rays of light. The form of the pupil in the horse is ovoid, with its longest diameter from side to side, and its upper border is fringed by several minute, black bodies (corpora nigra) projecting forward and serving to some extent the purpose of eyebrows in arresting and absorbing the excess of rays of light which fall upon the eye from above. These pigmentary projections in front of the upper border of the pupil are often mistaken for the products of disease or injury in place of the normal and beneficent protectors of the nerve of sight which they are. Like all other parts, they may become the seat of disease, but so long as they and the iris retain their clear, dark, aspect, without any tints of brown or yellow, they may be held to be healthy.

The vitreous or semisolid refracting medium occupies the posterior part of the eye—the part corresponding to the sclerotic, choroid, and retina—and has a consistency corresponding to that of the white of an egg, and a power of refraction of the light rays correspondingly greater than the aqueous humor.

The third or solid refracting medium is a biconvex lens, with its convexity greatest on its posterior surface, which is lodged in a depression in the vitreous humor, while its anterior surface corresponds to the opening of the pupil. It is inclosed in a membranous covering[Pg 276] (capsule) and is maintained in position by a membrane (suspensory ligament) which extends from the margin of the lens outward to the sclerotic at the point of junction of the choroid and iris. This ligament is, in its turn, furnished with radiating, muscular fibers, which change the form or position of the lens so as to adapt it to see with equal clearness objects at a distance or close by.

Another point which strikes the observer of the horse's eye is that in the darkness a bright, bluish tinge is reflected from the widely dilated pupil. This is owing to a comparative absence of pigment in the choroid coat inside the upper part of the eyeball, and enables the animal to see and advance with security in darkness where the human eye would be of little use. The lower part of the cavity of the horse's eye, into which the dazzling rays fall from the sky, is furnished with an intensely black lining, by which the rays penetrating the inner nervous layer are instantly absorbed.


These consist of four straight muscles, two oblique, and one retractor. The straight muscles pass from the depth of the orbit forward on the inner, outer, upper, and lower sides of the eyeball, and are fixed to the anterior portion of the fibrous (sclerotic) coat, so that in contracting singly they respectively turn the eye inward, outward, upward, and downward. When all act together they draw the eyeball deeply into its socket. The retractor muscle also consists of four muscular slips, repeating the straight muscles on a smaller scale, but as they are only attached on the back part of the eyeball they are less adapted to roll the eye than to draw it down into its socket. The two oblique muscles rotate the eye on its own axis, the upper one turning its outer surface upward and inward, and the lower one turning it downward and inward.


This is a structure which, like the retractor muscle, is not found in the eye of man, but it serves in the lower animals to assist in removing foreign bodies from the front of the eyeball. It consists, in the horse, of a cartilage of irregular form, thickened inferiorly and posteriorly where it is intimately connected with the muscles of the eyeball and the fatty material around them, and expanded and flattened anteriorly where its upper surface is concave, and, as it were, molded on the lower and inner surface of the eyeball. Externally it is covered by the mucous membrane which lines the eyelids and extends over the front of the eye. In the ordinary restful state of the eye the edge of this cartilage should just appear as a thin fold of membrane at the inner angle of the eye, but when the eyeball is drawn deeply into the orbit the cartilage is pushed forward, outward, and upward[Pg 277] over it until the entire globe may be hidden from sight. This protrusion of the cartilage so as to cover the eye may be induced in the healthy eye by pressing the finger and thumb on the upper and lower lids, so as to cause retraction of the eyeball into the socket. When foreign bodies, such as sand, dust, and chaff, or other irritants, have fallen on the eyeball or eyelids it is similarly projected to push them off, their expulsion being further favored by a profuse flow of tears.


This is seen, to a lesser extent, in all painful inflammations of the eye, and to a very marked degree in lockjaw, when the spasm of the muscles of the eyeball draws the latter deeply into the orbit and projects forward the masses of fat and the cartilage. The brutal practice of cutting off this apparatus whenever it is projected necessitates this explanation, which it is hoped may save to many a faithful servant a most valuable appendage. That the cartilage and membrane may become the seat of disease is undeniable, but so long as its edge is thin and even and its surface smooth and regular the mere fact of its projection over a portion or the whole of the eyeball is no evidence of disease in its substance, nor any warrant for its removal. It is usually but the evidence of the presence of some pain in another part of the eye, which the suffering animal endeavors to assuage by the use of this beneficent provision. For the diseases of the cartilage itself, see "Encephaloid cancer."


This consists, first, of a gland for the secretion of the tears, and, second, of a series of canals for the conveyance of the superfluous tears into the cavity of the nose.

The gland is situated above the outer part of the eyeball, and the tears which have flowed over the eye and reached the inner angle are there directed by a small, conical papilla (lacrimal caruncle) into two minute orifices, and thence by two ducts (lacrimal) to a small pouch (lacrimal sac) from which a canal leads through the bones of the face into the nose. This opens in the lower part of the nose on the floor of the passage and a little outside the line of union of the skin which lines the false nostril with the mucous membrane of the nose. In the ass and mule this opening is situated on the roof instead of the floor of the nose, but still close to the external opening.


To avoid unnecessary repetition the following general directions are given for the examination of the eye: The eye, and to a certain extent the mucous membrane lining the eyelids, may be exposed to view by gently parting the eyelids with the thumb and forefinger pressed on the middle of the respective lids. The pressure, it is true, causes[Pg 278] the protrusion of the haw over a portion of the lower and inner part of the eye, but by gentleness and careful graduation of the pressure this may be kept within bounds, and oftentimes even the interior of the eye can be seen. As a rule it is best to use the right hand for the left eye, and the left hand for the right, the finger in each case being pressed on the upper lid while the thumb depresses the lower one. In cases in which it is desirable to examine the inner side of the eyelid further than is possible by the above means, the upper lid may be drawn down by the eyelashes with the one hand and then everted over the tip of the forefinger of the other hand, or over a probe laid flat against the middle of the lid. When the interior of the eye must be examined it is useless to make the attempt in the open sunshine or under a clear sky. The worst cases, it is true, can be seen under such circumstances, but for the slighter forms the horse should be taken indoors, where all light from above will be shut off, and should be placed so that the light may fall on the eye from the front and side. Then the observer, placing himself in front of the animal, will receive the reflected rays from the cornea, the front of the lens and the back, and can much more easily detect any cloudiness, opacity, or lack of transparency. The examination can be made much more satisfactory by placing the horse in a dark chamber and illuminating the eye by a lamp placed forward and outward from the eye which is to be examined. Any cloudiness is thus easily detected, and any doubt may be resolved by moving the lamp so that the image of the flame may be passed in succession over the whole surface of the transparent cornea and of the crystalline lens. Three images of the flame will be seen, the larger one upright, reflected from the anterior surface of the eye; a smaller one upright, reflected from the anterior surface of the lens; and a second small one inverted from the back surface of the lens.

So long as these images are reflected from healthy surfaces they will be clear and perfect in outline, but as soon as one strikes on an area of opacity it will become diffused, cloudy, and indefinite. Thus, if the large, upright image becomes hazy and imperfect over a particular spot of the cornea, that will be found to be the seat of disease and opacity. Should the large image remain clear, but the small upright one become diffuse and indefinite over a given point, it indicates opacity on the front of the capsule of the lens. If both upright images remain clear while the inverted one becomes indistinct at a given point, then the opacity is in the substance of the lens itself or in the posterior part of its capsule.

If in a given case the pupil remains so closely contracted that the deeper parts of the eye can not be seen, the eyelids may be rubbed with extract of belladonna, and in a short time the pupil will be found widely dilated.[Pg 279]



Some faulty conditions of the eyelids are congenital, as division of an eyelid in two, after the manner of harelip, abnormally small opening between the lids, often connected with imperfect development of the eye, and closure of the lids by adhesion. The first is to be remedied by paring the edges of the division and then bringing them together, as in torn lids. The last two, if remediable at all, require separation by the knife, and subsequent treatment with a cooling astringent eyewash.


Spasm of eyelids may be owing to constitutional susceptibility, or to the presence of local irritants (insects, chemical irritants, sand, etc.) in the eye, to wounds or inflammation of the mucous membrane, or to disease of the brain. When due to local irritation it may be temporarily overcome by instilling a few drops of a 4 per cent solution of cocaine into the eye, when the true cause may be ascertained and removed. The nervous or constitutional disease must be treated according to its nature.

Drooping eyelids, or ptosis.—This is usually present in the upper lid, or is at least little noticed in the lower. It is sometimes but a symptom of paralysis of one-half of the face, in which case the ear, lips, and nostrils on the same side will be found soft, drooping, and inactive, and even the half of the tongue may partake of the palsy. If the same condition exists on both sides, there is difficult, snuffling breathing, from the air drawing in the flaps of the nostrils in inspiration, and all feed is taken in by the teeth, as the lips are useless. In both there is a free discharge of saliva from the mouth during mastication. This paralysis is a frequent result of injury, by a poke, to the seventh nerve, as it passes over the back of the lower jaw. In some cases the paralysis is confined to the lid, the injury having been sustained by the muscles which raise it, or by the supraorbital nerve, which emerges from the bone just above the eye. Such injury to the nerve may have resulted from fracture of the orbital process of the frontal bone above the eyeball.

The condition may, however, be due to spasm of the sphincter muscle, which closes the lids, or to inflammation of the upper lid, usually a result of blows on the orbit. In the latter case it may run a slow course with chronic thickening of the lid.

The paralysis due to the poke may be often remedied, first, by the removal of any remaining inflammation by a wet sponge worn beneath the ear and kept in place by a bandage; secondly, when all inflammation has passed, by a blister on the same region, or by rubbing[Pg 280] it daily with a mixture of olive oil and strong aqua ammonia in equal proportions. Improvement is usually slow, and it may be months before complete recovery ensues.

In paralysis from blows above the eyes the same treatment may be applied to that part.

Thickening of the lid may be treated by painting with tincture of iodin, and that failing, by cutting out an elliptical strip of the skin from the middle of the upper lid and stitching the edges together.


The eyelids suffer more or less in all severe inflammations of the eye, whether external or internal, but inasmuch as the disease sometimes starts in the lids and at other times is exclusively confined to them, it deserves independent mention.

Among the causes may be named: Exposure to drafts of cold air, or to cold rain or snow storms; the bites or stings of mosquitoes, flies, or other insects; snake bites, pricks with thorns, blows of whip or club; accidental bruises against the stall or ground, especially during the violent struggles of colic, enteritis, phrenitis (staggers), and when thrown for operations. It is also a result of infecting inoculations, as of erysipelas, anthrax, boil, etc., and is noted by Leblanc as especially prevalent among horses kept on low, marshy pastures. Finally, the introduction of sand, dust, chaff, beards of barley and seeds of the finest grasses, and the contact with irritant, chemical powders, liquids, and gases (ammonia from manure or factory, chlorin, strong sulphur fumes, smoke, and other products of combustion, etc.) may start the inflammation. The eyelids often undergo extreme inflammatory and dropsical swelling in urticaria (nettlerash, surfeit) and in the general inflammatory dropsy known as purpura hemorrhagica.

The affection will, therefore, readily divide itself into (1) inflammations due to constitutional causes; (2) those due to direct injury, mechanical or chemical; and (3) such as are due to inoculation with infecting material.

(1) Inflammations due to constitutional causes are distinguished by the absence of any local wound, and the history of a low, damp pasture, exposure, indigestion from unwholesome feed, or the presence elsewhere on the limbs or body of the general, doughy swellings of purpura hemorrhagica. The lids are swollen and thickened; it may be slightly or it may be so extremely that the eyeball can not be seen. If the lid can be everted to show its mucous membrane, that is seen to be of a deep-red color, especially along the branching lines of the blood vessels. The part is hot and painful, and a profuse flow of tears and mucus escapes on the side of the face, causing irritation[Pg 281] and loss of the hair. If improvement follows, this discharge becomes more tenacious, and tends to cause adhesion to the edges of the upper and lower lids and to mat together the eyelashes in bundles. This gradually decreases to the natural amount, and the redness and congested appearance of the eye disappears, but swelling, thickening, and stiffness of the lids may continue for a time. There may be more or less fever according to the violence of the inflammation, but so long as there is no serious disease of the interior of the eye or of other vital organ, it is usually moderate.

The local treatment consists in astringent, soothing lotions (sugar of lead 30 grains, laudanum 2 teaspoonfuls, rain water—boiled and cooled—1 pint), applied with a soft cloth kept wet with the lotion, and hung over the eye by tying it to the headstall of the bridle on the two sides. If the mucous membrane lining of the lids is the seat of little red granular elevations, a drop of solution of 2 grains of nitrate of silver in an ounce of distilled water should be applied with the soft end of a clean feather to the inside of the lid twice a day. The patient should be removed from all such conditions (pasture, faulty feed, exposure, etc.) as may have caused or aggravated the disease, and from dust and irritant fumes and gases. He should be fed from a manger high enough to favor the return of blood from the head, and should be kept from work, especially in a tight collar which would prevent the descent of blood by the jugular veins. The diet should be laxative and nonstimulating (grass, bran mashes, carrots, turnips, beets, potatoes, or steamed hay), and any costiveness should be corrected by a mild dose of raw linseed oil (1 to 1-1/2 pints). In cold weather warm blanketing may be needful, and even loose flannel bandages to the limbs, but heat should never be sought at the expense of pure air.

(2) In inflammations due to local irritants of a noninfective kind a careful examination will usually reveal their presence, and the first step must be their removal with a pair of blunt forceps or the point of a lead pencil. Subsequent treatment will be in the main the local treatment advised above.

(3) In case of infective inflammation there will often be found a prick or tear by which the septic matter has entered, and in such case the inflammation will for a time be concentrated at that point. A round or conical swelling around an insect bite is especially characteristic. A snake bite is marked by the double prick made by the two teeth and by the violent and rapidly spreading inflammation. Erysipelas is attended with much swelling, extending beyond the lids and causing the mucous membrane to protrude beyond the edge of the eyelid (chemosis). This is characterized by a bright, uniform, rosy red, disappearing on pressure, or later by a dark, livid hue, but with less branching redness than in noninfecting inflammation and[Pg 282] less of the dark, dusky, brownish or yellowish tint of anthrax. Little vesicles may appear on the skin, and pus may be found without any distinct limiting membrane, as in abscess. It is early attended with high fever and marked general weakness and inappetence. Anthrax of the lids is marked by a firm swelling, surmounted by a blister, with bloody serous contents, which tends to burst and dry up into a slough, while the surrounding parts become involved in the same way. Or it may show as a diffuse, dropsical swelling, with less of the hard, central sloughing nodule, but, like that, tending to spread quickly. In both cases alike the mucous membrane and the skin, if white, assumes a dusky-brown or yellowish-brown hue, which is largely characteristic. This may pass into a black color by reason of extravasation of blood. Great constitutional disturbance appears early, with much prostration and weakness and generalized anthrax symptoms.

Treatment.—The treatment will vary according to the severity. Insect bites may be touched with a solution of equal parts of glycerin and aqua ammonia, or a 10 per cent solution of carbolic acid in water. Snake bites may be bathed with aqua ammonia, and the same agent given in doses of 2 teaspoonfuls in a quart of water, or alcohol may be given in pint or quart doses, according to the size of the animal. In erysipelas the skin may be painted with tincture of chlorid of iron, or with a solution of 20 grains of iodin in an ounce of carbolic acid, and one-half an ounce of tincture of chlorid of iron may be given thrice daily in a bottle of water. In anthrax the swelling should be painted with tincture of iodin, or of the mixture of iodin and carbolic acid, and if very threatening it may have the tincture of iodin injected into the swelling with a hypodermic syringe, or the hard mass may be freely incised to its depth with a sharp lancet and the lotion applied to the exposed tissues. Internally, iodid of potassium may be given in doses of 2 drams thrice a day, or tincture of the chlorid of iron every four hours.


This is an inflammation of limited extent, advancing to the formation of matter and the sloughing out of a small mass of the natural tissue of the eyelid. It forms a firm, rounded swelling, usually near the margin of the lid, which suppurates and bursts in four or five days. Its course may be hastened by a poultice of camomile flowers, to which have been added a few drops of carbolic acid, the whole applied in a very thin muslin bag. If the swelling is slow to open after having become yellowish white, it may be opened by a lancet, the incision being made at right angles to the margin of the lid.[Pg 283]


These are respectively caused by wounds, sloughs, ulcers, or other causes of loss of substance of the mucous membrane on the inside of the lid and of the skin on the outside; also of tumors, skin diseases, or paralysis which leads to displacement of the margin of the eyelid. As a rule, they require a surgical operation, with removal of an elliptical portion of the mucous membrane or skin, as the case may be, but which requires the skilled and delicate hand of the surgeon.


This consists in the turning in of the eyelashes so as to irritate the front of the eye. If a single eyelash, it may be snipped off with scissors close to the margin of the eyelid or pulled out by the root with a pair of flat-bladed forceps. If the divergent lashes are more numerous, the treatment may be as for entropion, by excising an elliptical portion of skin opposite the offending lashes and stitching the edges together, so as to draw outward the margin of the lid at that point.


The eyelids form a favorite site for tumors, and above all, warts, which consist in a simple diseased overgrowth (hypertrophy) of the surface layers of the skin. If small, they may be snipped off with scissors or tied around the neck with a stout, waxed thread and left to drop off, the destruction being completed, if necessary, by the daily application of a piece of sulphate of copper (blue vitriol), until any unhealthy material has been removed. If more widely spread, the wart may still be clipped off with curved scissors or knife, and the caustic thoroughly applied day by day.

A bleeding wart, or erectile tumor, is more liable to bleed, and is best removed by constricting its neck with the waxed cord or rubber band, or if too broad it may be transfixed through its base by a needle armed with a double thread, which is then to be cut in two and tied around the two portions of the neck of the tumor. If still broader, the armed needle may be carried through the base of the tumor at regular intervals, so that the whole may be tied in moderately sized sections.

In gray and in white horses black, pigmentary tumors (melanotic) are common on the black portions of skin, such as the eyelids, and are to be removed by scissors or knife, according to their size. In the horse they do not usually tend to recur when thoroughly removed, but at times they prove cancerous (as is the rule in man), and then they tend to reappear in the same site or in internal organs with, it may be, fatal effect.[Pg 284]

Encysted, honeylike (melicerous), sebaceous, and fibrous tumors of the lids all require removal with the knife.


The eyelids are torn by attacks with horns of cattle, or with the teeth, or by getting caught on nails in stall, rack, or manger, on the point of stumps, fences, or fence rails, on the barbs of wire fences, and on other pointed bodies. The edges should be brought together as promptly as possible, so as to effect union without the formation of matter, puckering of the skin, and unsightly distortions. Great care is necessary to bring the two edges together evenly without twisting or puckering. The simplest mode of holding them together is by a series of sharp pins passed through the lips of the wound at intervals of not more than a third of an inch, and held together by a thread twisted around each pin in the form of the figure 8, and carried obliquely from pin to pin in two directions, so as to prevent gaping of the wound in the intervals. The points of the pins may then be cut off with scissors, and the wound may be wet twice a day with a weak solution of carbolic acid.


Though cruelly excised for alleged "hooks," when itself perfectly healthy, in the various diseases which lead to retraction of the eye into its socket, the haw may, like other bodily structures, be itself the seat of actual disease. The pigmentary, black tumors of white horses and soft (encephaloid) cancer may attack this part primarily or extend to it from the eyeball or eyelids; hairs have been found growing from its surface, and the mucous membrane covering it becomes inflamed in common with that covering the front of the eye. These inflammations are but a phase of the inflammation of the external structures of the eye, and demand no particular notice nor special treatment. The tumors lead to such irregular enlargement and distortion of the haw that the condition is not to be confounded with the simple projection of the healthy structure over the eye when the lids are pushed apart with the finger and thumb, and the same remark applies to the ulceration, or caries, of the cartilage. In the latter case, besides the swelling and distortion of the haw, there is this peculiarity, that in the midst of the red inflamed mass there appears a white line or mass formed by the exposed edge of the ulcerating cartilage. The animal having been thrown and properly fixed, an assistant holds the eyelids apart while the operator seizes the haw with forceps or hook and carefully dissects it out with blunt-pointed scissors. The eye is then covered with a cloth, kept wet with an eyewash, as for external ophthalmia.[Pg 285]


The escape of tears on the side of the cheek is a symptom of external inflammation of the eye, but it may also occur from any disease of the lacrimal apparatus which interferes with the normal progress of the tears to the nose; hence, in all cases when this symptom is not attended with special redness or swelling of the eyelids, it is well to examine the lacrimal apparatus. In some instances the orifice of the lacrimal duct on the floor of the nasal chamber and close to its anterior outlet will be found blocked by a portion of dry mucopurulent matter, on the removal of which tears may begin to escape. This implies an inflammation of the canal, which may be helped by occasional sponging out of the nose with warm water, and the application of the same on the face. Another remedy is to feed warm mashes of wheat bran from a nosebag, so that the relaxing effects of the water vapor may be secured.

The two lacrimal openings, situated at the inner angle of the eye, may fail to admit the tears by reason of their deviation outward in connection with the eversion of the lower lid or by reason of their constriction in inflammation of the mucous membrane. The lacrimal sac, into which the lacrimal ducts open, may fail to discharge its contents by reason of constriction or closure of the duct leading to the nose, and it then forms a rounded swelling beneath the inner angle of the eye. The duct leading from the sac to the nose may be compressed or obliterated by fractures of the bones of the face, and in disease of these bones (osteosarcoma, so-called osteoporosis, diseased teeth, glanders of the nasal sinuses, abscess of the same cavities).

The narrowed or obstructed ducts may be made pervious by a fine, silver probe passed down to the lacrimal sac, and any existing inflammation of the passages may be counteracted by the use of steaming mashes of wheat bran, by fomentations or wet cloths over the face, and even by the use of astringent eyewashes and the injection of similar liquids into the lacrimal canal from its nasal opening. The ordinary eyewash may be used for this purpose, or it may be injected after dilution to half its strength. The fractures and diseases of the bones and teeth must be treated according to their special demands when, if the canal is still left pervious, it may be again rendered useful.


In inflammation of the outer parts of the eyeball the exposed vascular and sensitive mucous membrane (conjunctiva) which covers the ball, the eyelids, the haw, and the lacrimal apparatus, is usually the most deeply involved, yet adjacent parts are more or less implicated, and when disease is concentrated on these contiguous parts it constitutes[Pg 286] a phase of external opththalmia which demands a special notice. These have accordingly been already treated of.

Causes.—The causes of external opththalmia are mainly those that act locally—blows with whips, clubs, and twigs, the presence of foreign bodies, like hayseed, chaff, dust, lime, sand, snuff, pollen of plants, flies attracted by the brilliancy of the eye, wounds of the bridle, the migration of the scabies (mange) insect into the eye, smoke, ammonia arising from the excretions, irritant emanations from drying marshes, etc. Road dust containing infecting microbes is a common factor. A very dry air is alleged to act injuriously by drying the eye as well as by favoring the production of irritant dust; the undue exposure to bright sunshine through a window in front of the stall, or to the reflection from snow or water, also is undoubtedly injurious. The unprotected exposure of the eyes to sunshine through the use of a very short overdraw check is to be condemned, and the keeping of the horse in a very dark stall, from which it is habitually led into the glare of full sunlight, intensified by reflection from snow or white limestone, must be set down among the locally acting causes. Exposure to cold and wet, to wet and snow storms, to cold drafts and wet lairs must also be accepted as causes of conjunctivitis, the general disorder which they produce affecting the eye, if that happens to be the weakest and most susceptible organ of the body, or if it has been subjected to any special local injury, like dust, irritant gases, or excess of light. Again, external opththalmia is a constant concomitant of inflammation of the contiguous and continuous mucous membranes, as those of the nose and throat—hence the red, watery eyes that attend on nasal catarrh, sore throat, influenza, strangles, nasal glanders, and the like. In such cases, however, the affection of the eye is subsidiary and is manifestly overshadowed by the primary and predominating disease.

Symptoms.—The symptoms are watering of the eye, swollen lids, redness of the mucous membrane exposed by the separation of the lids—it may be a mere pink blush with more or less branching redness, or it may be a deep, dark red, as from effusion of blood—and a bluish opacity of the cornea, which is normally clear and translucent. Except when resulting from wounds and actual extravasation of blood, however, the redness is seen to be superficial, and if the opacity is confined to the edges, and does not involve the entire cornea, the aqueous humor behind is seen to be still clear and limpid. The fever is always less severe than in internal ophthalmia, and runs high only in the worst cases. The eyelids may be kept closed, the eyeball retracted, and the haw protruded over one-third or one-half of the ball, but this is due to the pain only and not to any excessive sensibility to light, as shown by the comparatively widely dilated pupil. In internal ophthalmia, on the contrary, the narrow, contracted pupil is[Pg 287] the measure of the pain caused by the falling of light on the inflamed and sensitive optic nerve (retina) and choroid.

If the affection has resulted from a wound of the cornea, not only is that the point of greatest opacity, forming a white speck or fleecy cloud, but too often blood vessels begin to extend from the adjacent vascular covering of the eye (sclerotic) to the white spot, and that portion of the cornea is rendered permanently opaque. Again, if the wound has been severe, though still short of cutting into the anterior layers of the cornea, the injury may lead to ulceration that may penetrate more or less deeply and leave a breach in the tissue which, if filled up at all, is repaired by opaque fibrous tissue in place of the transparent cellular structure. Pus may form, and the cornea assumes a yellowish tinge and bursts, giving rise to a deep sore which is liable to extend as an ulcer, and may be in its turn followed by bulging of the cornea at that point (staphyloma). This inflammation of the conjunctiva may be simply catarrhal, with profuse mucopurulent discharge; it may be granular, the surface being covered with minute reddish elevations, or it may become the seat of a false membrane (diphtheria).

Treatment.—In treating external ophthalmia the first object is the removal of the cause. Remove any dust, chaff, thorn, or other foreign body from the conjunctiva, purify the stable from all sources of ammoniacal or other irritant gas; keep the horse from dusty roads, and, above all, from the proximity of a leading wagon and its attendant cloud of dust; remove from pasture and feed from a rack which is neither so high as to drop seeds, etc., into the eyes nor so low as to favor the accumulation of blood in the head; avoid equally excess of light from a sunny window in front of the stall and excess of darkness from the absence of windows; preserve from cold drafts and rains and wet bedding, and apply curative measures for inflammation of the adjacent mucous membranes or skin. If the irritant has been of a caustic nature, remove any remnant of it by persistent bathing with tepid water and a soft sponge, or with water mixed with white of egg, or a glass filled with the liquid may be inverted over the eye so that its contents may dilute and remove the irritant. If the suffering is very severe, a lotion with a few grains of extract of belladonna or of morphia in an ounce of water may be applied, or, if it is available, a few drops of 4 per cent solution of cocaine may be instilled into the eye.

In strong, vigorous patients benefit will usually be obtained from a laxative, such as 2 tablespoonfuls of Glauber's salt daily, and if the fever runs high from a daily dose of half an ounce of saltpeter. As local applications, astringent solutions are usually the best, as 30 grains of borax or of sulphate of zinc in a quart of water, to be applied constantly on a cloth, as advised under "Inflammation of the[Pg 288] eyelids." In the absence of anything better, cold water may serve every purpose. Above all, adhesive and oily agents (molasses, sugar, fats) are to be avoided, as only adding to the irritation. By way of suggesting agents that may be used with good effect, salt and sulphate of soda may be named, in solutions double the strength of sulphate of zinc, or 7 grains of nitrate of silver may be added to a quart of distilled water, and will be found especially applicable in granular conjunctivitis, diphtheria, or commencing ulceration. A cantharides blister (1 part of Spanish fly to 4 parts lard) may be rubbed on the side of the face 3 inches below the eye, and washed off next morning with soapsuds and oiled daily till the scabs are dropped.


As a result of external ophthalmia, opaque specks, clouds, or haziness are too often left on the cornea and require for their removal that they be daily touched with a soft feather dipped in a solution of 3 grains nitrate of silver in 1 ounce distilled water. This should be applied until all inflammation has subsided, and until its contact is comparatively painless. It is rarely successful with an old, thick scar following an ulcer, nor with an opacity having red blood vessels running across it.


These may be treated with nitrate of silver lotion of twice the strength used for opacities. Powdered gentian, one-half ounce, and sulphate of iron, one-fourth ounce, daily, may improve the general health and increase the reparatory power.


Although inflammations of the iris, choroid, and retina—the inner, vascular, and nervous coats of the eye—occur to a certain extent independently of each other, yet one usually supervenes upon the other, and, as the symptoms are thus made to coincide, it will be best for our present purposes to treat the three as one disease.

Causes.—The causes of internal ophthalmia are largely those of the external form only, acting with greater intensity or on a more susceptible eye. Severe blows, bruises, punctures, etc., of the eye, the penetration of foreign bodies into the eye (thorns, splinters of iron, etc.), sudden transition from a dark stall to bright sunshine, to the glare of snow or water, constant glare from a sunny window, abuse of the overdraw checkrein, vivid lightning flashes, drafts of cold, damp air; above all, when the animal is perspiring, exposure in cold rain or snowstorms, swimming cold rivers; also certain general diseases like rheumatism, arthritis, influenza, and disorders of the[Pg 289] digestive organs, may become complicated by this affection. From the close relation between the brain and eye—alike in the blood vessels and nerves—disorders of the first lead to affection of the second, and the same remark applies to the persistent irritation to which the jaws are subjected in the course of dentition. So potent is the last agency that we dread a recurrence of ophthalmia so long as dentition is incomplete, and hope for immunity if the animal completes its dentition without any permanent structural change in the eye.

Symptoms.—The symptoms will vary according to the cause. If the attack is due to direct physical injury, the inflammation of the eyelids and superficial structures may be quite as marked as that of the interior of the eye. If, on the other hand, from general causes, or as a complication of some distant disease, the affection may be largely confined to the deeper structures, and the swelling, redness, and tenderness of the superficial structures will be less marked. When the external coats thus comparatively escape, the extreme anterior edge of the white or sclerotic coat, where it overlaps the border of the transparent cornea, is in a measure free from congestion, and, in the absence of the obscuring dark pigment, forms a whitish ring around the cornea. This is partly due to the fact that a series of arteries (ciliary) passing to the inflamed iris penetrate the sclerotic coat a short distance behind its anterior border, and there is therefore a marked difference in color between the general sclerotic occupied between these congested vessels and the anterior rim from which they are absent. Unfortunately, the pigment is often so abundant in the anterior part of the sclerotic as to hide this symptom. In internal ophthalmia the opacity of the cornea may be confined to a zone around the outer margin of the cornea, and even this may be a bluish haze rather than a deep, fleecy white. In consequence it becomes impossible to see the interior of the chamber for the aqueous humor and the condition of the iris and pupil. The aqueous humor is usually turbid, and has numerous yellowish-white flakes floating on its substance or deposited in the lower part of the chamber, so as to cut off the view of the lower portion of the iris. The still visible portion of the iris has lost its natural, clear, dark luster, which is replaced by a brownish or yellowish sere-leaf color. This is more marked in proportion as the iris is inflamed, and less so as the inflammation is confined to the choroid. The quantity of flocculent deposit in the chamber of the aqueous humor is also in direct ratio to the inflammation of the iris. Perhaps the most marked feature of internal ophthalmia is the extreme and painful sensitiveness to light. On this account the lids are usually closed, but when opened the pupil is seen to be narrowly closed, even if the animal has been kept in a darkened stall. Exceptions to this are seen when inflammatory effusion[Pg 290] has overfilled the globe of the eye, and by pressure on the retina has paralyzed it, or when the exudation into the substance of the retina itself has similarly led to its paralysis. Then the pupil may be dilated, and frequently its margin loses its regular, ovoid outline and becomes uneven by reason of the adhesions which it has contracted with the capsule of the lens, through its inflammatory exudations. In the case of excessive effusion into the globe of the eye that is found to have become tense and hard so that it can not be indented with the tip of the finger, paralysis of the retina is liable to result. With such paralysis of the retina, vision is heavily clouded or entirely lost; hence, in spite of the open pupil, the finger may be approached to the eye without the animal's becoming conscious of it until it touches the surface, and if the nose on the affected side is gently struck and a feint made to repeat the blow the patient makes no effort to evade it. Sometimes the edges of the contracted pupil become adherent to each other by an intervening plastic exudation, and the opening becomes virtually abolished. In severe inflammations pus may form in the choroid or iris, and escaping into the cavity of the aqueous humor show as a yellowish-white stratum below. In nearly all cases there is resulting exudation into the lens or its capsule, constituting a cloudiness or opacity (cataract), which in severe and old-standing cases appears as a white, fleecy mass behind a widely dilated pupil. In the slighter cases cataract is to be recognized by examination of the eye in a dark chamber, with an oblique side light, as described in the introduction to this article. Cataracts that appear as a simple haze or indefinite, fleecy cloud are usually on the capsule (capsular), while those that show a radiating arrangement are in the lens (lenticular), the radiating fibers of which the exudate follows. Black cataracts are formed by the adhesion of the pigment on the back of the iris to the front of the lens, and by the subsequent tearing loose of the iris, leaving a portion of its pigment adherent to the capsule of the lens. If the pupil is so contracted that it is impossible to see the lens, it may be dilated by applying to the front of the eye with a feather some drops of a solution of 4 grains of atropia in an ounce of water.

Treatment.—The treatment of internal ophthalmia should embrace, first, the removal of all existing causes or sources of aggravation of the disease, which need not be repeated here. Special care to protect the patient against strong light, cold, wet weather, and active exertion must, however, be insisted on. A dark stall and a cloth hung over the eye are important, while cleanliness, warmth, dryness, and rest are equally demanded. If the patient is strong and vigorous, a dose of 4 drams of Barbados aloes may be given, and if there is any reason to suspect a rheumatic origin one-half a dram powdered colchicum and one-half ounce salicylate of soda may be given daily.[Pg 291] Locally the astringent lotions advised for external ophthalmia may be resorted to, especially when the superficial inflammation is well marked. More important, however, is to instill into the eye, a few drops at a time, a solution of 4 grains of atropia in 1 ounce of distilled water. This may be effected with the aid of a soft feather, and may be repeated at intervals of 10 minutes until the pupil is widely dilated. As the horse is to be kept in a dark stall, the consequent admission of light will be harmless, and the dilation of the pupil prevents adhesion between the iris and lens, relieves the constant tension of the eye in the effort to adapt the pupil to the light, and solicits the contraction of the blood vessels of the eye and the lessening of congestion, exudation, and intraocular pressure. Should atropia not agree with the case, it may be replaced by morphia (same strength) or cocaine in 4 per cent solution. Another local measure is a blister, which can usually be applied to advantage on the side of the nose or beneath the ear. Spanish flies may be used as for external ophthalmia. In very severe cases the parts beneath the eye may be shaved and three or four leeches applied. Setons are sometimes beneficial, and even puncture of the eyeball, but these should be reserved for professional hands.

The diet throughout should be easily digestible and moderate in quantity—bran mash, middlings, grass, steamed hay, etc.

Even after the active inflammation has subsided the atropia lotion should be continued for several weeks to keep the eye in a state of rest in its still weak and irritable condition, and during this period the patient should be kept in semidarkness, or taken out only with a dark shade over the eye. For the same reason heavy drafts and, rapid paces, which would cause congestion of the head, should be carefully avoided.


This is an inflammatory affection of the interior of the eye, intimately related to certain soils, climates, and systems, showing a strong tendency to recur again and again, and usually ending in blindness from cataract or other serious injury.

Causes.—Its causes may be fundamentally attributed to soil. On damp clays and marshy grounds, on the frequently overflowed river bottoms and deltas, on the coasts of seas and lakes alternately submerged and exposed, this disease prevails extensively, and in many instances in France (Reynal), Belgium, Alsace (Zundel, Miltenberger), Germany, and England it has very largely decreased under land drainage and improved methods of culture. Other influences, more or less associated with such soil, are potent causative factors. Thus damp air and a cloudy, wet climate, so constantly associated[Pg 292] with wet lands, are universally charged with causing the disease. These act on the animal body to produce a lymphatic constitution with an excess of connective tissue, bones, and muscles of coarse, open texture, thick skins, and gummy legs covered with a profusion of long hair. Hence the heavy horses of Belgium and southwestern France have suffered severely from the affection, while high, dry lands adjacent, like Catalonia, in Spain, and Dauphiny, Provence, and Languedoc; in France, have in the main escaped.

The rank, aqueous fodders grown on such soils are other causes, but these again are calculated to undermine the character of the nervous and sanguineous temperament and to superinduce the lymphatic. Other feeds act by leading to constipation and other disorders of the digestive organs, thus impairing the general health. Hence in any animal predisposed to this disease, heating, starchy feeds, such as maize, wheat, and buckwheat, are to be carefully avoided. It has been widely charged that beans, peas, vetches, and other Leguminosæ are dangerous, but a fuller inquiry contradicts the statement. If these feeds are well grown, they invigorate and fortify the system, while, like any other fodder, if grown rank; aqueous, and deficient in assimilable principles, they tend to lower the health and open the way for the disease.

The period of dentition and training is a fertile exciting cause, for though the malady may appear at any time from birth to old age, yet the great majority of victims are from 2 to 6 years old, and if a horse escapes the affection till after 6 there is a reasonable hope that he will continue to resist it. The irritation about the head during the eruption of the teeth, and while fretting in the unwonted bridle and collar, the stimulating grain diet and the close air of the stable all combine to rouse the latent tendency to disease in the eye, while direct injuries by bridle, whip, or hay seeds are not without their influence. In the same way local irritants, like dust, severe rain and snow storms, smoke, and acrid vapors are contributing causes.

It is evident, however, that no one of these is sufficient of itself to produce the disease, and it has been alleged that the true cause is a microbe, or the irritant products of a microbe, which is harbored in the marshy soil. The prevalence of the disease on the same damp soils which produce ague in man and anthrax in cattle has been quoted in support of this doctrine, as also the fact that, other things being equal, the malady is always more prevalent in basins surrounded by hills where the air is still and such products are concentrated, and that a forest or simple belt of trees will, as in ague, at times limit the area of its prevalence. Another argument for the same view is found in the fact that on certain farms irrigated by town sewage this malady has become extremely prevalent, the sewage being assumed to form a suitable nidus for the growth of the germ.[Pg 293] But on these sewage farms a fresh crop may be cut every fortnight, and the product is precisely that aqueous material which contributes to a lymphatic structure and a low tone of health. The presence of a definite germ in the system has not yet been proved, and in the present state of our knowledge we are only warranted in charging the disease to the deleterious emanations from the marshy soil in which bacterial ferments are constantly producing them.

Heredity is one of the most potent causes. The lymphatic constitution is of course transmitted and with it the proclivity to recurring ophthalmia. This is notorious in the case of both parents, male and female. The tendency appears to be stronger, however, if either parent has already suffered. Thus a mare may have borne a number of sound foals, and then fallen a victim to the malady, and all foals subsequently borne have likewise suffered. So it is in the case of the stallion. Reynal even quotes the appearance of the disease in alternate generations, the stallion offspring of blind parents remaining sound through life and yet producing foals which furnish numerous victims of recurrent ophthalmia. On the contrary, the offspring of diseased parents removed to high, dry regions and furnished with wholesome, nourishing rations will nearly all escape. Hence the dealers take colts that are still sound or have had but one attack from the affected low Pyrenees (France) to the unaffected Catalonia (Spain), with confidence that they will escape, and from the Jura Valley to Dauphiny with the same result.

Yet the hereditary taint is so strong and pernicious that intelligent horsemen everywhere refuse to breed from either horse or mare that has once suffered from recurrent ophthalmia, and the French Government studs not only reject all unsound stallions, but refuse service to any mare which has suffered with her eyes. It is this avoidance of the hereditary predisposition more than anything else that has reduced the formerly wide prevalence of this disease in the European countries generally. A consideration for the future of our horses would demand the disuse of all sires that are unlicensed, and the refusal of a license to any sire which has suffered from this or any other communicable constitutional disease.

Other contributing causes deserve passing mention. Unwholesome feed and a faulty method of feeding undoubtedly predisposes to the disease, and in the same district the carefully fed will escape in far larger proportion than the badly fed; it is so also with every other condition which undermines the general health. The presence of worms in the intestines, overwork, and debilitating diseases and causes of every kind weaken the vitality and lay the system more open to attack. Thierry long ago showed that the improvement of close, low, dark, damp stables, where the disease had previously prevailed, practically banished the affection. Whatever contributes to[Pg 294] strength and vigor is protective; whatever contributes to weakness and poor health is provocative of the disease in the predisposed subject.

Symptoms.—The symptoms vary according to the severity of the attack. In some cases there is marked fever, and in some slighter cases it may be almost altogether wanting, but there is always a lack of vigor and energy, bespeaking general disorder. The local symptoms are in the main those of internal ophthalmia, in many cases with an increased hardness of the eyeball from effusion into its cavity. The contracted pupil does not expand much in darkness, nor even under the action of belladonna. Opacity advances from the margin, over a part or whole of the cornea, but so long as it is transparent there may be seen the turbid, aqueous humor with or without flocculi, the dingy iris robbed of its clear, black aspect, the slightly clouded lens, and a greenish-yellow reflection from the depth of the eye. From the fifth to the seventh day the flocculi precipitate in the lower part of the chamber, exposing more clearly the iris and lens, and absorption commences, so that the eye may be cleared up in ten or fifteen days.

The characteristic of the disease is, however, its recurrence again and again in the same eye until blindness results. The attacks may follow one another after intervals of a month, more or less, but they show no relation to any particular phase of the moon, as might be inferred from the familiar name, but are determined rather by the weather, the health, the feed, or by some periodicity of the system. From five to seven attacks usually result in blindness, and then the second eye is liable to be attacked until it also is ruined.

In the intervals between the attacks some remaining symptoms betray the condition, and they become more marked after each successive access of disease. Even after the first attack there is a bluish ring around the margin of the transparent cornea. The eye seems smaller than the other, at first because it is retracted in its socket, and often after several attacks because of actual shrinkage (atrophy). The upper eyelid, in place of presenting a uniform, continuous arch, has, about one-third from its inner angle, an abrupt bend, caused by the contraction of the levator muscle. The front of the iris has exchanged some of its dark, clear brilliancy for a lusterless yellow, and the depth of the eye presents more or less of the greenish-yellow shade. The pupil remains a little contracted, except in advanced and aggravated cases, when, with opaque lens, it is widely dilated. If, as is common, one eye only has suffered, the contrast in these respects with the sound eye is all the more characteristic. Another feature is the erect, attentive carriage of the ear, to compensate to some extent for the waning vision.[Pg 295]

The attacks vary greatly in severity in different cases, but the recurrence is characteristic, and all alike lead to cataract and intraocular effusion, with pressure on the retina and abolition of sight.

Prevention.—The prevention of this disease is the great object to be aimed at, and this demands the most careful breeding, feeding, housing, and general management, as indicated under "Causes." Much can also be done by migration to a high, dry location, but for this and malarious affections the improvement of the land by drainage and good cultivation should be the final aim.

Treatment is not satisfactory, but is largely the same as for common internal ophthalmia. Some cases, like rheumatism, are benefited by 1-scruple doses of powdered colchicum and 2-dram doses of salicylate of soda twice a day. In other cases, with marked hardness of the globe of the eye from intraocular effusion, aseptic puncture of the eye, or even the excision of a portion of the iris, has helped. During recovery a course of tonics (2 drams oxid of iron, 10 grains nux vomica, and 1 ounce sulphate of soda daily) is desirable to invigorate the system and help to ward off another attack. The vulgar resort to knocking out the wolf teeth and cutting out the haw can only be condemned. The temporary recovery would take place in one or two weeks, though no such thing had been done, and the breaking of a small tooth, leaving its fang in the jaw, only increases the irritation.


The common result of internal ophthalmia, as of the recurrent type, may be recognized as described under the first of these diseases. Its offensive appearance may be obviated by extraction or depression of the lens, but as the rays of light would no longer be properly refracted, perfect vision would not be restored, and the animal would be liable to prove an inveterate shyer. If perfect blindness continued by reason of pressure on the nerve of sight, no shying would result.


Causes.—The causes of this affection are tumors or other disease of the brain implicating the roots of the optic nerve, injury to the nerve between the brain and eye, and inflammation of the optic nerve within the eye (retina), or undue pressure on the same from dropsical or inflammatory effusion. It may also occur from overloaded stomach, from a profuse bleeding, and even from the pressure of the gravid womb in gestation.

Symptoms.—The symptoms are wide dilatation of the pupils, so as to expose fully the interior of the globe, the expansion remaining[Pg 296] the same in light and darkness. Ordinary eyes when brought to the light have the pupils suddenly contract and then dilate and contract alternately until they adapt themselves to the light. The horse does not swerve when a feint to strike is made unless the hand causes a current of air. The ears are held erect, turn quickly toward any noise, and the horse steps high to avoid stumbling over objects which it can not see.

Treatment is only useful when the disease is symptomatic of some removable cause, like congested brain, overloaded stomach, or gravid womb. When recovery does not follow the termination of these conditions, apply a blister behind the ear and give one-half dram doses of nux vomica daily.


A variety of tumors attack the eyeball—dermoid, papillary, fatty, cystic, and melanotic—but perhaps the most frequent in the horse is encephaloid cancer. This may grow in or on the globe, the haw, the eyelid, or the bones of the orbit, and can be remedied, if at all, only by early and thorough excision. It may be distinguished from the less dangerous tumors by its softness, friability, and great vascularity, bleeding on the slightest touch, as well as by its anatomical structure.


This consists in a bulging forward of the cornea at a given point by the sacculate yielding and distention of its coats, and it may be either transparent or opaque and vascular. In the last form the iris has become adherent to the back of the cornea, and the whole structure is filled with blood vessels. In the first form the bulging cornea is attenuated; in the last it may be thickened. The best treatment is by excision of a portion of the rise so as to relieve the intraocular pressure.


Acari in the eye have been incidentally alluded to under inflammation of the lids.

Filaria palpebralis is a white worm, one-half to 1 inch long, which inhabits the lacrimal duct and the underside of the eyelids and haw in the horse, producing a verminous conjunctivitis. The first step in treatment in such cases is to remove the worm with forceps, then treat as for external inflammation.

Setaria equina is a delicate, white, silvery-looking worm, which I have repeatedly found 2 inches in length (a length as great as 5 inches has been reported). It invades the aqueous humor, where its constant active movements make it an object of great interest, and it is frequently[Pg 297] exhibited as a "snake in the eye."[1] When present in the eye it causes inflammation and has to be removed through an incision made with the lancet in the upper border of the cornea close to the sclerotic, the point of the instrument being directed slightly forward to avoid injury to the iris. Then cold water or astringent antiseptic lotions should be applied.

Filaria conjunctivæ, resembling Setaria equina very much in size and general appearance, is another roundworm which has been found in the eye of the horse.

The echinococcus, the cystic or larval stage of the echinococcus tapeworm of the dog, has been found in the eye of the horse, and a cysticercus is also reported.


[1] This worm is normally a parasite of the peritoneal cavity, and is probably transmitted from one horse to another by some biting insect which becomes infected by embryos in the blood.—M. C. Hall.

[Pg 298]


By A. Liautard, M. D., V. M.,

Formerly principal of the American Veterinary College, New York.

[Revised by John R. Mohler, A. M., V. M. D.]

It is as living, organized, locomotive machines that the horse, camel, ox, and their burden-bearing companions are of practical value to man. Hence the consideration of their usefulness and consequent value to their human masters ultimately and naturally resolves itself into an inquiry concerning the condition of that special portion of their organism which controls their function of locomotion. This is especially true in regard to the members of the equine family, the most numerous and valuable of all the beasts of burden, and it naturally follows that with the horse for a subject of discussion the special topic and leading theme of inquiry, by an easy lapse, will become an inquest into the condition and efficiency of his power for usefulness as a carrier or traveler. There is a great deal of abstract interest in the study of that endowment of the animal economy which enables its possessor to change his place at will and convey himself whithersoever his needs or his moods may incline him; how much greater, however, the interest that attaches to the subject when it becomes a practical and economic question and includes within its purview the various related topics which belong to the domains of physiology, pathology, therapeutics, and the entire round of scientific investigation into which it is finally merged as a subject for medical and surgical consideration—in a word, of actual disease and its treatment. It is not surprising that the intricate and complicated apparatus of locomotion, with its symmetry and harmony of movement and the perfection and beauty of its details and adjuncts, by students of creative design and attentive observers or nature and her marvelous contrivances and adaptations, should be admiringly denominated a living machine.

Of all the animal tribe the horse, in a state of domesticity, is the largest sharer with his master in his liability to the accidents and dangers which are among the incidents of civilized life. From his exposure to the missiles of war on the battlefield to his chance of picking up a nail from the city pavement there is no hour when he is[Pg 299] not in danger of incurring injuries which for their repair may demand the best skill of the veterinary practitioner. This is true not alone of casualties which belong to the class of external and traumatic cases, but includes as well those of a kind perhaps more numerous, which may result in lesions of internal parts, frequently the most serious and obscure of all in their nature and effects.

The horse is too important a factor in the practical details of human life and fills too large a place in the business and pleasure of the world to justify any indifference to his needs and physical comfort or neglect in respect to the preservation of his peculiar powers for usefulness. In entering somewhat largely, therefore, upon a review of the subject, and treating in detail of the causes, the symptoms, the progress, the treatment, the results, and the consequences of lameness in the horse, we are performing a duty which needs no word of apology or justification. The subject explains and justifies itself, and is its own vindication and illustration, if any are needed.

The function of locomotion is performed by the action of two principal systems of organs, known in anatomical and physiological terminology as passive and active, the muscles performing the active and the bones the passive portion of the movement. The necessary connection between the cooperating parts of the organism is effected by means of a vital contact by which the muscle is attached to the bone at certain determinate points on the surface of the latter. These points of attachment appear sometimes as an eminence, sometimes as a depression, sometimes a border or an angle, or again as a mere roughness, but each perfectly fulfilling its purpose, while the necessary motion is provided for by the formation of the ends of the long bones into the requisite articulations, joints, or hinges. Every motion is the product of the contraction of one or more of the muscles, which, as it acts upon the bony levers, gives rise to a movement of extension or flexion, abduction or adduction, rotation or circumduction. The movement of abduction is that which passes from and that of adduction that which passes toward the median line, or the center of the body. The movements of flexion and extension are too well understood to need defining. It is the combination and rapid alterations of these movements which produce the different postures and various gaits of the animal, and it is their interruption and derangement, from whatever causes, which constitute the pathological condition known as lameness.

A concise examination of the general anatomy of these organs, however, must precede the consideration of the pathological questions pertaining to the subject. A statement, such as we have just given, containing only the briefest hint of matters which, though not necessarily in their ultimate scientific minutiæ, must be clearly comprehended in order to acquire a symmetrical and satisfactory view of[Pg 300] the theme as a practical collation of facts to be remembered, analyzed, applied, and utilized.

It was the great Bacon who wrote: "The human body may be compared, from its complex and delicate organization, to a musical instrument of the most perfect construction, but exceedingly liable to derangement." In its degree the remark is equally applicable to the equine body, and if we would keep it in tune and profit by its harmonious action we must at least acquaint ourselves with the relations of its parts and the mode of their cooperation.


The bones, then, are the hard organs which in their connection and totality constitute the skeleton of an animal (see Plate XXIII). They are of various forms, three of which—the long, the flat, and the small—are recognized in the extremities. These are more or less regular in their form, but present upon their surfaces a variety of aspects, exhibiting in turn, according to the requirement of each case, a roughened or smooth surface, variously marked with grooves, crests, eminences, and depressions, for the necessary muscular attachments, and, as before mentioned, are connected by articulations and joints, of which some are immovable and others movable.

The substance of the bone is composed of a mass of combined earthy and animal matter surrounded by a fine, fibrous enveloping membrane (the periosteum) which is intimately adherent to the external surface of the bone, and is, in fact, the secreting membrane of the bony structure. The bony tissue proper is of two consistencies, the external portion being hard and "compact," and called by the latter term, while the internal, known as the "spongy" or "areolar tissue," corresponds to the descriptive terms. Those of the bones that possess this latter consistency contain also, in their spongy portion, the medullary substance known as marrow, which is deposited in large quantities in the interior of the long bones, and especially where a central cavity exists, called, for that reason, the medullary cavity. The nourishment of the bones is effected by means of what is known as the nutrient foramen, an opening established for the passage of the blood vessels which convey the nourishment necessary to the interior of the organ. Concerning the nourishment of the skeleton, there are other minutiæ, such as the venous arrangement and the classification of their arterial vessels into several orders, which, though of interest as an abstract study, are not of sufficient practical value to refer to here.

The active organs of locomotion, the muscles (see Plate XXIII), speaking generally, form the fleshy covering of the external part of the skeleton and surround the bones of the extremities. They vary[Pg 301] greatly in shape and size, being flat, triangular, long, short, or broad, and are variously and capriciously named, some from their shape, some from their situation, others from their use; and thus we have abductors and adductors—the pyramidal, orbicular, the digastricus, the vastus, and so on. Those which are under the control of the will, known as the voluntary muscles, appear in the form of fleshy structures, red in color, and with fibers of various degrees of fineness, and are composed of fasciculi, or bundles of fibers, united by connective or cellular tissue, each fasciculus being composed of smaller ones but united in a similar manner to compose the larger formations, each of which is enveloped by a structure of similar nature known as the sarcolemma. Many of the muscles are united to the bones by the direct contact of their fleshy fibers, but in other instances the body of the muscle is more or less gradually transformed into a cordy or membranous structure known as the tendon or sinew, and the attachment is made by the very short fibrous threads through the medium of a long tendinous band, which, passing from a single one to several others of the bones, effects its object at a point far distant from its original attachment. In thus carrying its action from one bone to another, or from one region of a limb to another, these tendons must necessarily have smooth surfaces over which to glide, either upon the bones themselves or formed at their articulations, and this need is supplied by the secretion of the synovial fluid, a yellowish, unctuous substance, furnished by a peculiar tendinous synovial sac designed for the purpose.

Illustrations in point of the agency of the synovial fluid in assisting the sliding movements of the tendons may be found under their various forms at the shoulder joint, at the upper part of the bone of the arm, at the posterior part of the knee joint, and also at the fetlocks, on their posterior part.

As the tendons, whether singly or in company with others, pass over these natural pulleys they are retained in place by strong, fibrous bands or sheaths, which are by no means exempt from danger of injury, as will be readily inferred from a consideration of their important special use as supports and reenforcements of the tendons themselves, with which they must necessarily share the stress of whatever force or strain is brought to bear upon both or either.

We have referred to that special formation of the external surface of a bone by which it is adapted to form a joint or articulation, either movable or fixed, and a concise examination of the formation and structure of the movable articulations will here be in place. These are formed generally by the extremities of the long bones, or may exist on the surfaces of the short ones. The points or regions where the contact occurs are denominated the articular surface, which assumes from this circumstance a considerable variety of aspect and[Pg 302] form, being in one case comparatively flat and another elevated; or as forming a protruding head or knob, with a distinct convexity; and again presenting a corresponding depression or cavity, accurately adapted to complete, by their coaptation, the ball-and-socket joint. The articulation of the arm and shoulder is an example of the first kind, while that of the hip with the thigh bone is a perfect exhibition of the latter.

The structure whose office it is to retain the articulating surfaces in place is the ligament. This is usually a white, fibrous, inelastic tissue; sometimes, however, it is elastic in character and yellowish. In some instances it is funicular shaped or corded, serving to bind more firmly together the bones to which its extremities are attached; in others it consists of a broad membrane, wholly or partially surrounding the broad articulations, and calculated rather for the protection of the cavity from intrusion by the air than for other security. This latter form, known as capsular, is usually found in connection with joints which possess a free and extended movement. The capsular and funicular ligaments are sometimes associated, the capsular appearing as a membranous sac wholly or partially inclosing the joint, the funicular, here known as an interarticular ligament, occupying the interior, and thus securing the union of the several bones more firmly and effectively than would be possible for the capsular ligament unassisted.

The universal need which pertains to all mechanical contrivances of motion has not been forgotten while providing for the perfect working of the interesting piece of living machinery which performs the function of locomotion, as we are contemplating it, and nature has consequently provided for obviating the evils of attrition and friction and insuring the easy play and smooth movement of its parts by the establishment of the secretion of the synovia, the vital lubricant of which we have before spoken, as a yellow, oily, or rather glairy secretion, which performs the indispensable office of facilitating the play of the tendons over the joints and certain given points of the bones. This fluid is deposited in a containing sac, the lining (serous) membrane of which forms the secreting organ. This membrane is of an excessively sensitive nature, and while it lines the inner face of the ligaments, both capsular and fascicular, it is attached only upon the edges of the bones, without extending upon their length, or between the layers of cartilage which lie between the bones and their articular surfaces.

Our object in thus partially and concisely reviewing the structure and condition of the essential organs of locomotion has been rather to outline a sketch which may serve as a reference chart of the general features of the subject than to offer a minute description of the parts referred to. Other points of interest will receive proper attention[Pg 303] as we proceed with the illustration of our subject and examine the matters which it most concerns us to bring under consideration. The foundation of facts which we have thus far prepared will be found sufficiently broad, we trust, to include whatever may be necessary to insure a ready comprehension of the essential matters which are to follow as our review is carried forward to completion. What we have said touching these elementary truths will probably be sufficient to facilitate a clear understanding of the requirements essential to the perfection and regularity which characterize the normal performance of the various movements that result in the accomplishment of the action of locomotion. So long as the bones, the muscles and their tendons, the joints with their cartilages, their ligaments, and their synovial structure, the nerves and the controlling influences which they exercise over all, with the blood vessels which distribute to every part, however minute, the vitalizing fluid which sustains the whole fabric in being and activity—so long as these various constituents and adjuncts of animal life preserve their normal exemption from disease, traumatism, and pathological change, the function of locomotion will continue to be performed with perfection and efficiency.

On the other hand, let any element of disease become implanted in one or several of the parts destined for combined action, any change or irregularity of form, dimensions, location, or action occur in any portion of the apparatus—any obstruction or misdirection of vital power take place, any interference with the order of the phenomena of normal nature, any loss of harmony and lack of balance be betrayed—and we have in the result the condition of lameness.


Physiology.—Comprehensively and universally considered, then, the term lameness signifies any irregularity or derangement of the function of locomotion, irrespective of the cause which produced it or the degree of its manifestation. However slightly or severely it may be exhibited, it is all the same. The nicest observation may be demanded for its detection, and it may need the most thoroughly trained powers of discernment to identify and locate it, as in cases in which the animal is said to be fainting, tender, or to go sore. On the contrary, the patient may be so far affected as to refuse utterly to use an injured leg, and under compulsory motion keep it raised from the ground, and prefer to travel on three legs rather than to bear any portion of his weight upon the afflicted member. In these two extremes, and in all the intermediate degrees, the patient is simply lame—pathognomonic minutiæ being considered and settled in a place of their own.[Pg 304]

This last condition of disabled function—lameness on three legs—and many of the lower degrees of simple lameness are very easy of detection, but the first, or mere tenderness or soreness, may be very difficult to identify, and at times very serious results have followed from the obscurity which has enveloped the early stages of the malady. For it may easily occur that in the absence of the treatment which an early correct diagnosis would have indicated, an insidious ailment may so take advantage of the lapse of time as to root itself too deeply into the economy to be subverted, and become transformed into a disabling chronic case, or possibly one that is incurable and fatal. Hence the impolicy of depreciating early symptoms because they are not accompanied with distinct and pronounced characteristics, and from a lack of threatening appearances inferring the absence of danger. The possibilities of an ambush can never be safely ignored. An extra caution costs nothing, even if wasted. The fulfillment of the first duty of a practitioner, when introduced to a case, is not always an easy task, though it is too frequently expected that the diagnosis, or "what is the matter" verdict, will be reached by the quickest and surest kind of an "instantaneous process" and a sure prognosis, or "how will it end," guessed at instanter.

Usually the discovery that the animal is becoming lame is comparatively an easy matter to a careful observer. Such a person will readily note the changes of movements which will have taken place in the animal he has been accustomed to drive or ride, unless they are indeed slight and limited to the last degree. But what is not always easy is the detection, after discovering the fact of an existing irregularity, of the locality of its point of origin, and whether its seat be in the near or off leg, or in the fore or the hind part of the body. These are questions too often wrongly answered, notwithstanding the fact that with a little careful scrutiny the point may be easily settled. The error, which is too often committed, of pronouncing the leg upon which the animal travels soundly as the seat of the lameness, is the result of a misinterpretation of the physiology of locomotion in the crippled animal. Much depends upon the gait with which the animal moves while under examination. The act of walking is unfavorable for accurate observation, though, if the animal walks on three legs, the decision is easy to reach. The action of galloping will often, by the rapidity of the muscular movements and their quick succession, interfere with a nice study of their rhythm, and it is only under some peculiar circumstances that the examination can be safely conducted while the animal is moving with that gait. It is while the animal is trotting that the investigation is made with the best chances of an intelligent decision, and it is while moving with that gait, therefore, that the points should be looked for which must form the elements of the diagnosis.



[Pg 305]Our first consideration should be the physiology of normal or healthy locomotion, that thence we may the more easily reach our conclusions touching lameness, or that which is abnormal, and by this process we ought to succeed in obtaining a clew to the solution of the first problem, to wit, in which leg is the seat of the lameness?

A word of definition is here necessary, in order to render that which follows more easily intelligible. In veterinary nomenclature each two of the legs, as referred to in pairs, is denominated a biped. Of the four points occupied by the feet of the animal while standing at rest, forming a square, the two fore legs are known as the anterior biped; the two hinder, the posterior; the two on one side, the lateral: and one of either the front or hind biped with the opposite leg of the hind or front biped will form the diagonal biped.

Considering, as it is proper to do, that in a condition of health each separate biped and each individual leg is required to perform an equal and uniform function and to carry an even or equal portion of the weight of the body, it will be readily appreciated that the result of this distribution will be a regular, evenly balanced, and smooth displacement of the body thus supported by the four legs, and that therefore, according to the rapidity of the motion in different gaits, each single leg will be required at certain successive moments to bear the weight which had rested upon its congener while it was itself in the air, in the act of moving; or, again, two different legs of a biped may be called upon to bear the weight of the two legs of the opposite biped while also in the air in the act of moving.

To simplify the matter by an illustration, the weight of an animal may be placed at 1,000 pounds, of which each leg, in a normal and healthy condition, supports while at rest 250 pounds. When one of the fore legs is in action, or in the air, and carrying no weight, its 250 pounds share of the weight will be thrown upon its congener, or partner, to sustain. If the two legs of a biped are both in action and raised from the ground, their congeners, still resting in inaction, will carry the total weight of the other two, or 500 pounds. And as the succession of movements continues, and the change from one leg to another or from one biped to another, as may be required by the gait, proceeds, there will result a smooth, even, and equal balancing of active movements, shifting the weight from one leg or one biped to another, with symmetrical precision, and we shall be presented with an interesting example of the play of vital machanics in a healthy organization.

Much may be learned from the accurate study of the action of a single leg. Normally, its movements will be without variation or failure. When at rest it will easily sustain the weight assigned to it[Pg 306] without showing hesitancy or betraying pain, and when it is raised from the ground in order to transfer the weight to its mate it will perform the act in such manner that when it is again placed upon the ground to rest it will be with a firm tread, indicative of its ability to receive again the burden to be thrown back upon it. In planting it upon the ground or raising it again for the forward movement while in action, and again replanting it upon the earth, each movement will be the same for each leg and for each biped, whether the act is that of walking or trotting, or even of galloping. In short, the regular play of every part of the apparatus will testify to the existence of that condition of orderly soundness and efficient activity eloquently suggestive of the condition of vital integrity which is simply but comprehensively expressed by the terms health and soundness.

But let some change, though slight and obscure, occur among the elements of the case; some invisible agency of evil intrude among the harmonizing processes going forward; any disorder occur in the relations of cooperating parts; anything appear to neutralize the efficiency of vitalizing forces; any disability of a limb to accept and to throw back upon its mate the portion of the weight which belongs to it to sustain—present itself, whether as the effect of accident or otherwise; in short, let anything develop which tends to defeat the purpose of nature in organizing the locomotive apparatus and we are confronted at once by that which may be looked upon as a cause of lameness.

Not the least of the facts which it is important to remember is that it is not sufficient to look for the manifestation of an existing discordance in the action of the affected limb alone, but that it is shared by the sound one and must be searched for in that as well as the halting member, if the hazard of an error is to be avoided. The mode of action of the leg which is the seat of the lameness will vary greatly from that which it exhibited when in a healthy condition, and the sound leg will also offer important modifications in the same three particulars before alluded to, to wit, that of resting on the ground, that of its elevation and forward motion, and that of striking the ground again when the full action of stepping is accomplished. Inability in the lame leg to sustain weight will imply excessive exertion by the sound one, and lack of facility or disposition to rest the lame member on the ground will necessitate a longer continuance of that action on the sound side. Changes in the act of elevating the leg, or of carrying it forward, or in both, will present entirely opposite conditions between the two. The lame member will be elevated rapidly, moved carefully forward, and returned to the ground with caution and hesitancy, and the contact with the earth will be effected as lightly as possible, while the sound limb will rest longer on the[Pg 307] ground, move boldly and rapidly forward, and strike the ground promptly and forcibly. All this is due to the fact that the sound member carries more than its normal, healthy share of the weight of the body, a share which may be in excess from 1 to 250 pounds, and thus bring its burden to a figure varying from 251 to 500 pounds, all depending upon the degree of the existing lameness, whether it is simply a slight tenderness or soreness, or whether the trouble has reached a stage which compels the patient to the awkwardness of traveling on three legs.

That all this is not mere theory, but rests on a foundation of fact may be established by observing the manifestations attending a single alteration in the balancing of the body. In health the support and equilibrium of that mass of the body which is borne by the fore legs is equalized and passes by regular alternations from the right to the left side and vice versa. But if the left leg, becoming disabled, relieves itself by leaning, as it were, on the right, the latter becomes, consequently, practically heavier and the mass of the body will incline or settle upon that side. Lameness of the left side, therefore, means dropping or settling on the right and vice versa. We emphasize this statement and insist upon it, the more from the frequency of the instances of error which have come under our notice, in which persons have insisted upon their view that the leg which is the seat of the lameness is that upon which he drops and which the animal is usually supposed to favor.


Properly appreciating the remarks which have preceded, and fully comprehending the modus operandi and the true pathology of lameness, but little remains to be done in order to reach an answer to the question as to which side of the animal is the seat of the lameness, except to examine the patient while in action. We have already stated our reasons for preferring the movement of trotting for this purpose. In conducting such an examination the animal should be unblanketed, and held by a plain halter in the hands of a man who knows how to manage his paces, and the trial should always be made over a firm, hard road whenever it is available. He is to be examined from various positions—from before, from behind, and from each side. Watching him as he approaches, as he passes by, and as he recedes, the observer should carefully study that important action which we have spoken of as the dropping of the body upon one extremity or the other, and this can readily be detected by attending closely to the motions of the head and of the hip. The head drops on the same side on which the mass of the body will fall, dropping toward the right when the lameness is in the left fore leg, and the hip dropping in posterior lameness, also on the sound leg, the reversal of the conditions,[Pg 308] of course, producing reversed effects. In other words, when the animal in trotting exhibits signs of irregularity of action, or lameness, and this irregularity is accompanied with dropping or nodding the head, or depressing the hip on the right side of the body, at the time the feet of the right side strike the ground, the horse is lame on the left side. If the dropping and nodding are on the near side the lameness is on the off side.

In a majority of cases, however, the answer to the first question relating to the lameness of a horse is, after all, not a very difficult task. There are two other problems in the case more difficult of solution and which often require the exercise of a closer scrutiny, and draw upon all the resources of the experienced practitioner to settle satisfactorily. That a horse is lame in a given leg may be easily determined, but when it becomes necessary to pronounce upon the query as to what part, what region, what structure is affected, the easy part of the task is over, and the more difficult and important, because more obscure, portion of the investigation has commenced—except, of course, in cases of which the features are too distinctly evident to the senses to admit of error. It is true that by carefully noting the manner in which a lame leg is performing its functions, and closely scrutinizing the motions of the whole extremity, and especially of the various joints which enter into its structure; by minutely examining every part of the limb; by observing the outlines; by testing the change, if any, in temperature and the state of the sensibility—all these investigations may guide the surgeon to a correct localization of the seat of trouble, but he must carefully refrain from the adoption of a hasty conclusion, and, above all, assure himself that he has not failed to make the foot, of all the organs of the horse the most liable to injury and lesion, the subject of the most thorough and minute examination of all the parts which compose the suffering extremity.

The greater liability of the foot than of any other part of the extremities to injury from casualties, natural to its situation and use, should always suggest the beginning of an inquiry, especially in an obscure case of lameness at that point. Indeed the lameness may have an apparent location elsewhere when that is the true seat of the trouble, and the surgeon who, while examining his lame patient, discovers a ringbone, and convincing himself that he has encountered the cause of the disordered action suspends his investigation without subjecting the foot to a close scrutiny, at a later day when regrets will avail nothing, may deeply regret his neglect and inadvertence. As in human pathological experience, however, there are instances when inscrutable diseases will deliver their fatal messages, while leaving no mark and making no sign by which they might be identified and classified, so it will happen that in the humbler animals[Pg 309] the onset and progress of mysterious and unrecognizable ailments will at times baffle the most skilled veterinarian, and leave our burden-bearing servants to succumb to the inevitable, and suffer and perish in unrelieved distress.



From the closeness and intimacy of the connection existing between the two principal elements of the bony structure while in health, it frequently becomes exceedingly difficult, when a state of disease has supervened, to discriminate accurately as to the part primarily affected and to determine positively whether the periosteum or the body of the bone is originally implicated. Yet a knowledge of the fact is often of the first importance, in order to obtain a favorable result from the treatment to be instituted. It is, however, quite evident that in a majority of instances the bony growths which so frequently appear on the surface of their structure, to which the general term of exostosis is applied, have had their origin in an inflammation of the periosteum, or enveloping membrane, and known as periostitis. However this may be, we have as a frequent result, sometimes on the body of the bone, sometimes at the extremities, and sometimes involving the articulation itself, certain bony growths, or exostoses, known otherwise by the term of splint, ringbone, and spavin, all of which, in an important sense, may be finally referred to the periosteum as their nutrient source and support, at least after their formation, if not for their incipient existence.

Cause.—It is certain that inflammation of the periosteum is frequently referable to wounds and bruises caused by external agencies, and it is also true that it may possibly result from the spreading inflammation of surrounding diseased tissues, but in any case the result is uniformly seen in the deposit of a bony growth, more or less diffuse, sometimes of irregular outline, and at others projecting distinctly from the surface from which it springs, as so commonly presented in the ringbone and the spavin.

Symptoms.—This condition of periostitis is often difficult to determine. The signs of inflammation are so obscure, the swelling of the parts so insignificant, any increase of heat so imperceptible, and the soreness so slight, that even the most acute observer may fail to find the point of its existence, and it is often long after the discovery of the disease itself that its location is positively revealed by the visible presence of the exostosis. Yet the first question had been resolved, in discovering the fact of the lameness, while the second and third remained unanswered, and the identification of the affected limb and the point of origin of the trouble remained unknown until their palpable revelation to the senses.[Pg 310]

Treatment.—When, by careful scrutiny, the ailment has been located, a resort to treatment must be had at once, in order to prevent, if possible, any further deposit of the calcareous structure and increase of the exostotic growth. With this view the application of water, either warm or cold, rendered astringent by the addition of alum or sugar of lead, will be beneficial. The tendency to the formation of the bony growth, and the increase of its development after its actual formation, may often be checked by the application of a severe blister of Spanish fly. The failure of these means and the establishment of the diseased process in the form of chronic periostitis cause various changes in the bone covered by the disordered membrane, and the result may be softening, degeneration, or necrosis, but more usually it is followed by the formation of the bony growths referred to, on the cannon bone, the coronet, the hock, etc.


We first turn our attention to the splint, as certain bony enlargements that are developed on the cannon bone, between the knee or the hock and the fetlock joint, are called. (See Plate XXV.) They are found on the inside of the leg, from the knee, near which they are frequently found, downward to about the lower third of the principal cannon bone. They are of various dimensions, and are readily perceptible both to the eye and to the touch. They vary considerably in size, ranging from that of a large nut downward to very small proportions. In searching for them they may be readily detected by the hand if they have attained sufficient development in their usual situation, but must be distinguished from a small, bony enlargement that may be felt at the lower third of the cannon bone, which is neither a splint nor a pathological formation of any kind, but merely the buttonlike enlargement at the lower extremity of the small metacarpal or splint bone.

We have said that splints are to be found on the inside of the leg. This is true as a general statement, but it is not invariably so, for they occasionally appear on the outside. It is also true that they appear most commonly on the fore legs, but this is not exclusively the case, because they may at times be found on both the inside and outside of the hind leg. Usually a splint forms only a true exostosis, or a single bony growth, with a somewhat diffuse base, but neither is this invariably the case. In some instances they assume more important dimensions, and pass from the inside to the outside of the bone, on its posterior face, between that and the suspensory ligament. This form is termed the pegged splint, and constitutes a serious and permanent deformity, in consequence of its interference with the play of the fibrous cord which passes behind it, becoming thus a source of continual irritation and consequently of permanent lameness.[Pg 311]

Symptoms.—A splint may thus frequently become a cause of lameness though not necessarily in every instance, but it is a lameness possessing features peculiar to itself. It is not always continuous, but at times assumes an intermittent character, and is more marked when the animal is warm than when cool. If the lameness is near the knee joint, it is very liable to become aggravated when the animal is put to work, and the gait acquires then a peculiar character, arising from the manner in which the limb is carried outward from the knees downward, which is done by a kind of abduction of the lower part of the leg. Other symptoms, however, than the lameness and the presence of the splint, which is its cause, may be looked for in the same connection as those which have been mentioned as pertaining to certain evidences of periostitis, in the increase of the temperature of the part, with swelling and probably pain on pressure. This last symptom is of no little importance, since its presence or absence has in many cases formed the determining point in deciding a question of difficult diagnosis.

Cause.—A splint being one of the results of periostitis, and the latter one of the effects of external hurts, it naturally follows that the parts which are most exposed to blows and collisions will be those on which the splint will most commonly be found, and it may not be improper, therefore, to refer to hurts from without as among the common causes of the lesion. But other causes may also be productive of the evil, and among these may be mentioned the over-straining of an immature organism by the imposition of excessive labor upon a young animal at a too early period of his life. The bones which enter into the formation of the cannon are three in number, one large and two smaller, which, during the youth of the animal, are more or less articulated, with a limited amount of mobility, but which become in maturity firmly joined by a rigid union and ossification of their interarticular surface. If the immature animal is compelled, then, to perform exacting tasks beyond his strength, the inevitable result will follow in the muscular straining, and perhaps tearing asunder of the fibers which unite the bones at their points of juncture, and it is difficult to understand how inflammation or periostitis can fail to develop as the natural consequence of such local irritation. If the result were deliberately and intelligently designed, it could hardly be more effectually accomplished.

The splint is an object of the commonest occurrence—so common, indeed, that in large cities a horse which can not exhibit one or more specimens upon some portion of his extremities is one of the rarest of spectacles. Though it is in some instances a cause of lameness, and its discovery and cure are sometimes beyond the ability of the shrewdest and most experienced veterinarians, yet as a source of vital danger to the general equine organization, or even of functional[Pg 312] disturbance, or of practical inconvenience, aside from the rare exceptional cases which exist as mere samples of possibility, it can not be considered to belong to the category of serious lesions. The worst stigma that attaches to it is that in general estimation it is ranked among eyesores and continues indefinitely to be that and nothing different. The inflammation in which they originated, acute at first, either subsides or assumes the chronic form, and the bony growth becomes a permanence—more or less established, it is true, but doing no positive harm and not hindering the animal from continuing his daily routine of labor. All this, however, requires a proviso against the occurrence of a subsequent acute attack, when, as with other exostoses, a fresh access of acute symptoms may be followed by a new pathological activity, which shall again develop, as a natural result, a reappearance of the lameness.

Treatment.—It is, of course, the consideration of the comparative harmlessness of splints that suggests and justifies the policy of noninterference, except as they become a positive cause of lameness. And a more positive argument for such noninterference consists in the fact that any active and irritating treatment may so excite the parts as to bring about a renewed pathological activity, which may result in a reduplication of the phenomena, with a second edition, if not a second and enlarged volume, of the whole story. For our part, our faith is firm in the impolicy of interference, and this faith is founded on an experience of many years, during which our practice has been that of abstention.

Of course, there will be exceptional conditions which will at times indicate a different course. These will become evident when the occasions present themselves, and extraordinary forms and effects of inflammation and growth in the tumors offer special indications. But our conviction remains unshaken that surgical treatment of the operative kind is usually useless, if not dangerous. We have little faith in the method of extirpation except under very special conditions, among which that of diminutive size has been named; this seems in itself to constitute a sufficient negative argument. Even in such a case a resort to the knife or the gouge could scarcely find a justification, since no operative procedure is ever without a degree of hazard, to say nothing of the considerations which are always forcibly negative in any question of the infliction of pain and the unnecessary use of the knife.





Bone Spavin. Hocks, with Skin Removed.


[Pg 313]If an acute periostitis of the cannon bone has been readily discovered, the treatment we have already suggested for that ailment is at once indicated, and the astringent lotions may be relied upon to bring about beneficial results. Sometimes, however, preference may be given to a lotion possessing a somewhat different quality, the alterative consisting of tincture of iodin applied to the inflamed spot several times daily. If the lameness persists under this mild course of treatment, it must, of course, be attacked by other methods, and we must resort to the cantharides ointment or Spanish-fly blister, as we have before recommended. Besides this, and producing an analogous effect, the compounds of biniodid of mercury are favored by some. It is prepared in the form of an ointment, consisting of 1 dram of the biniodid to 1 ounce of either lard or vaseline. It forms an excellent blistering and alterative application, and is of special advantage in newly formed or recently discovered exostosis.

It remains a pertinent query, however, and one which seems to be easily answered, whether a tumor so diminutive in size that it can be detected only by diligent search, and which is neither a disfigurement nor an obstruction to the motion of the limb, need receive any recognition whatever. Other modes of treatment for splints are recommended and practiced which belong strictly to the domain of operative veterinary surgery; among these are to be reckoned actual cauterization, or the application of the fire iron and the operation of periosteotomy. These are frequently indicated in the treatment of splints which have resisted milder means.

The mode of the development of their growth; their intimacy, greater or less, with both the large and the small cannon bones; the possibility of their extending to the back of these bones under the suspensory ligament; the dangerous complications which may follow the rough handling of the parts, with also a possibility, and, indeed, a probability, of their return after removal—these are the considerations which have influenced our judgment in discarding from our practice and our approval the method of removal by the saw or the chisel, as recommended by certain European veterinarians.


Ringbone is the designation of the exostosis which is found on the coronet and in the digital and phalangeal regions. (See Plate XXVI.) The name is appropriate, because the growth extends quite around the coronet, which it encircles in the manner of a ring, or perhaps because it often forms upon the back of that bone a regular osseous arch, through which the back tendons obtain a passage. The places where these growths are usually developed have caused their subdivision and classification into three varieties, with the designations of high, middle, and low, though much can be said as to the importance of the distinction. It is true that the ringbone or phalangeal exostosis may be found at various points on the foot, in one case forming a large bunch on the upper part and quite close to the fetlock joint; in another around the upper border of the hoof, or perhaps on the extreme front or on the very back of the coronet. The shape in which they commonly appear is favorable to their easy discovery,[Pg 314] their form when near the fetlock usually varying too much from the natural outlines of the part when compared with those of the opposite side to admit of error in the matter. (See also page 439.)

A ringbone, when on the front of the foot, even when not very largely developed, assumes the form of a diffused convex swelling. If situated on the lower part, it will form a thick ring, encircling that portion of the foot immediately above the hoof; when found on the posterior part, a small, sharp osseous growth somewhat projecting, sometimes on the inside and sometimes on the outside of the coronet, may comprise the entire manifestation.

Cause.—As with splints, ringbones may result from severe labor in early life, before the process of ossification has been fully perfected; or they may be referred to bruises, blows, sprains, or other violence; injuries of tendons, ligaments, or joints also may be among the accountable causes.

It is certain that they may commonly be traced to diseases and traumatic lesions of the foot, and their appearance may be reasonably expected among the sequelæ of an abscess of the coronet; or the cause may be a severe contusion resulting from calking, or a deep-punctured wound from picking up a nail or stepping upon any hard object of sufficiently irregular form to penetrate the sole.

Moreover, a ringbone may originate in heredity. This is a fact of no little importance in its relation to questions connected with the extensive interests of the stock breeder and purchaser.

That the hereditary transmission of constitutional idiosyncrasies is an active cause with regard to diseases in general, it would be absurd to assert, but we do say that a predisposition to contract ringbone through faulty conformation, such as long, thin pasterns with narrow joints and steep fetlocks, may be inherited in many cases, and in a smaller proportion of cases this predisposition may act as a secondary cause in the formation of ringbone.

The importance of this point when considered in reference to the policy which should be observed in the selection of breeding stock is obvious, and, as the whole matter is within the control of the owners and breeders, it will be their own fault if the unchecked transmission of ringbones from one equine generation to another is allowed to continue. It is our belief that among the diseases which are known for their tendency to perpetuate and repeat themselves by individual succession, those of the bony structures stand first, and the inference from such fact which would exclude every animal of doubtful soundness in its osseous apparatus from the stud list and the brood farm is too plain for argument.

Symptoms.—Periostitis of the phalanges is an ailment requiring careful exploration and minute inspection for its discovery, and is very liable to result in a ringbone of which lameness is the result.[Pg 315] The mode of its manifestation varies according to the state of development of the diseased growth as affected by the circumstances of its location and dimensions. It is commonly of the kind which, in consequence of its intermittent character, is termed lameness when cool, having the peculiarity of exhibiting itself when the animal starts from the stable and of diminishing, if not entirely disappearing after some distance of travel, to return to its original degree, if not indeed a severer one, when he has again cooled off in his stable. The size of the ringbone does not indicate the degree to which it cripples the patient, but the position may, especially when it interferes with the free movement of the tendons which pass behind and in front of the foot. While a large ringbone will often interfere but little with the motion of the limb, a smaller growth, if situated under the tendon, may become the cause of considerable and continued pain.

A ringbone is doubtless a worse evil than a splint. Its growth, its location, its tendency to increased development, its exposure to the influence of causes of renewed danger, all tend to impart an unfavorable cast to the prognosis of a case and to emphasize the importance and the value of an early discovery of its presence and possible growth. Even when the discovery has been made, it is often the case that the truth has come to light too late for effectual treatment. Months may have elapsed after the first manifestation of the lameness before a discovery has been made of the lesion from which it has originated, and there is no recall for the lapsed time. And by the uncompromising seriousness of the discouraging prognosis must the energy and severity of the treatment and the promptness of its administration be measured. The periostitis has been overlooked; any chance that might have existed for preventing its advance to the chronic stage has been lost; the osseous formation is established; the ringbone is a fixed fact, and the indications are urgent and pressing.

Treatment.—The preventive treatment consists in keeping colts well nourished and in trimming the hoof and shoeing to balance the foot properly and thus prevent an abnormal strain on the ligaments. Even after the ringbone has developed, a cure may sometimes be occasioned by proper shoeing directed toward straightening the axis of the foot as viewed from the side by making the wall of the hoof from the coronet to the toe continuous with the line formed by the front of the pastern. So long as inflammation of the periosteum and ligaments remains, a sharp blister of biniodid of mercury and cantharides may do good if the animal is allowed to rest for four or five weeks. If this fails, some success may be accomplished by point firing in two or three lines over the ringbone. It is necessary to touch the hot iron well into the bone, as superficial firing does little good. When all these measures have failed to remove the lameness, or when[Pg 316] the animal is not worth a long and uncertain treatment, a competent veterinarian should be engaged to perform double neurectomy, high or low, of the plantar nerves, or neurectomy of the median nerve as indicated by the seat of the lesion.


On each side of the bone of the hoof—the coffinbone—there are normally two supplementary organs which are called the cartilages of the foot. They are soft, and though in a degree elastic, yet somewhat resisting, and are implanted on the lateral wings of the coffinbone. Evidently their office is to assist in the elastic expansion and contraction of the posterior part of the hoof, and their healthy and normal action doubtless contributes in an important degree to the perfect performance of the functions of that part of the leg. These organs are, however, liable to undergo a process of disease which results in an entire change in their properties, if not in their shape, by which they acquire a character of hardness resulting from the deposit of earthy substance in the intimate structure of the cartilage, and it is this change, when its consummation has been effected, that brings to our cognizance the diseased growth which has received the designation of sidebones. They are situated on one or both sides of the leg, bulging above the superior border of the hoof in the form of two hard bodies composed of ossified cartilage, irregularly square in shape and unyielding under the pressure of the fingers.

Cause.—Sidebones may be the result of a low inflammatory condition or of an acute attack as well, or may be caused by sprains, bruises, or blows; or they may have their rise in certain diseases affecting the foot proper, such as corns, quarter cracks, or quittor. The deposit of calcareous matter in the cartilage is not always uniform, the base of that organ near its line of union with the coffinbone being in some cases its limit, while at other times it is diffused throughout its substance, the size and prominence of the growth varying much in consequence.

Symptoms.—It would naturally be inferred that the degree of interference with the proper functions of the hoof which must result from such a pathological change would be proportioned to the size of the tumor, and that as the dimensions increase the resulting lameness would be the greater in degree. This, however, is not the fact. A small tumor while in a condition of acute inflammation during the formative stage may cripple a patient more severely than a much larger one in a later stage of the disease. In any case the lameness is never wanting, and with its intermittent character may usually be detected when the animal is cooled off after labor or exercise. The class of animals in which this feature of the disease is most frequently[Pg 317] seen is that of the heavy draft horse and others similarly employed. There is a wide margin of difference in respect to the degrees of severity which may characterize different cases of sidebone. While one may be so slight as to cause no inconvenience, another may develop elements of danger which may involve the necessity of severe surgical interference.

Treatment.—The curative treatment should be similar to the prophylactic, and such means should be used as would tend to prevent the deposit of bony matters by checking the acute inflammation which causes it. The means recommended are the free use of the cold bath; frequent soaking of the feet, and at a later period treatment with iodin, either by painting the surface with the tincture several times daily or by applying an ointment made by mixing 1 dram of the crystals with 2 ounces of vaseline, rubbed in once a day for several days. If this proves to be ineffective, a Spanish-fly blister to which a few grains of biniodid of mercury have been added will effect in a majority of cases the desired result and remove the lameness. If finally this treatment is ineffectual the case must be relegated to the surgeon for the operation of neurectomy, or the free and deep application of the firing iron.



This affection, popularly termed bone spavin, is an exostosis of the hock joint. The general impression is that in a spavined hock the bony growth should be seated on the anterior and internal part of the joint, and this is partially correct, as such a growth will constitute a spavin in the most nearly correct sense of the term. But an enlargement may appear on the upper part of the hock also, or possibly a little below the inner side of the lower extremity of the shank bone, forming what is known as a high spavin; or, again, the growth may form just on the outside of the hock and become an outside or external spavin. And, finally, the entire under surface may become the seat of the osseous deposit, and involve the articular face of all the bones of the hock, which again is a bone spavin. There would seem, then, to be but little difficulty in comprehending the nature of a bone spavin, and there would be none but for the fact that there are similar affections which may confuse one if the diagnosis is not very carefully made.

But the hock may be "spavined," while to all outward observation it still retains its perfect form. With no enlargement perceptible to sight or touch the animal may yet be disabled by an occult spavin, an anchylosis in fact, which has resulted from a union of several of the bones of the joint, and it is only those who are able to realize[Pg 318] the importance of its action to the perfect fulfillment of the function of locomotion by the hind leg who can comprehend the gravity of the only prognosis which can be justified by the facts of the case—a prognosis which is essentially a sentence of serious import in respect to the future usefulness and value of the animal. For no disease, if we except those acute inflammatory attacks upon vital organs to which the patient succumbs at once, is more destructive to the usefulness and value of a horse than a confirmed spavin. Serious in its inception, serious in its progress, it is an ailment which, when once established, becomes a fixed condition which there is no known means of dislodging.

Cause.—The periostitis, of which it is nearly always a termination, is usually the effect of a traumatic cause operating upon the complicated structure of the hock, such as a sprain which has torn a ligamentous insertion and lacerated some of its fibers, or a violent effort in jumping, galloping, or trotting, to which the victim has been compelled by the torture of whip and spur while in use as a gambling implement by a sporting owner, under the pretext of "improving his breed"; the extra exertion of starting an inordinately heavy load, or an effort to recover his balance from a misstep, slipping upon an icy surface, or sliding with worn shoes upon a bad pavement, and other kindred causes. We can repeat here what we have before said concerning bones, in respect to heredity as a cause. From our own experience we know of equine families in which this condition has been transmitted from generation to generation, and animals otherwise of excellent conformation have been rendered valueless by the misfortune of a congenital spavin.

Symptoms.—The evil is one of the most serious character for other reasons, among which may be specified the slowness of its development and the insidiousness of its growth. Certain indefinite phenomena and alarming changes and incidents furnish usually the only portents of approaching trouble. Among these signs may be mentioned a peculiar posture assumed by the patient while at rest, and becoming at length so habitual that it can not fail to suggest the action of some hidden disorder. The posture is due to the action of the adductor muscles, the lower part of the leg being carried inward, and the heel of the shoe resting on the toe of the opposite foot. Then an unwillingness may be noticed in the animal to move from one side of the stall to the other. When driven he will travel, but stiffly, with a sort of sidelong gait between the shafts, and after finishing his task and resting again in his stall will pose with the toe pointing forward, the heel raised, and the hock flexed. Considerable heat and inflammation soon appear. The slight lameness which appears when backing out of the stall ceases to be noticeable after a short distance of travel.[Pg 319]

A minute examination of the hock may then reveal the existence of a bony enlargement which may be detected just at the junction of the hock and the cannon bone, on the inside and a little in front, and tangible both to sight and touch. This enlargement, or bone spavin, grows rapidly and persistently and soon acquires dimensions which renders it impossible to doubt any longer its existence or its nature. Once established, its development continues under conditions of progress similar to those to which we have before alluded in speaking of other like affections. The argument advanced by some that because these bony deposits are frequently found on both hocks they are not spavins is fallacious. If they are discovered on both hocks, it proves merely that they are not confined to a single joint.

The characteristic lameness of bone spavin, as it affects the motion of the hock joint, presents two aspects. In one class of cases it is most pronounced when the horse is cool, in the other when he is at work. The first is characterized by the fact that when the animal travels the toe first touches the ground, and the heel descends more slowly, the motion of flexion at the hock taking place stiffly, and accompanied with a dropping of the hip on the opposite side. In the other case the peculiarity is that the lameness increases as the horse travels; that when he stops he seeks to favor the lame leg, and when he resumes his work soon after he steps much on his toe, as in the first variety.

As with sidebones, though for a somewhat different reason, the dimensions of the spavin and the degree of the lameness do not seem to bear any determinate relation, the most pronounced symptoms at times accompanying a very diminutive growth. The distinction between the two varieties of cool and warm, however, may easily be determined by remembering the fact that in most cases the first, or cool, is due to a simple exostosis, while the second is generally connected with disease of the articulation, such as ulceration of the articular surface—a condition which, as we proceed further, will receive our attention when we reach the subject of stringhalt.

An excellent test for spavin lameness, which may be readily applied, consists in lifting the affected leg from the ground for one or two minutes and holding the foot high so as to flex all the joints. An assistant, with the halter strap in his hand, quickly starts the animal off in a trot, when, if the hock joint is affected, the lameness will be so greatly intensified as to lead readily to a diagnosis.

Prognosis.—Having thus fully considered the history of bone spavin, we are prepared to give due weight to the reasons that exist for the adverse prognosis which we must usually feel compelled to pronounce when encountering it in practice, as well as to realize the importance of early discovery. It is but seldom, however, that the necessary advantage of this early knowledge can be obtained, and[Pg 320] when the true nature of the trouble has become apparent it is usually too late to resort to the remedial measures which, if duly forewarned, a skillful practitioner might have employed. We are fully persuaded that but for the loss of the time wasted in the treatment of purely imaginary ailments very many cases of bone spavin might be arrested in their incipiency and their victims preserved for years of comfort for themselves and valuable labor to their owners.

Treatment.—To consider a hypothetical case: An early discovery of lameness has been made; that is, the existence of an acute inflammation—of periostitis—has been detected. The increased temperature of the parts has been observed, with the stiffened gait and the characteristic pose of the limb, and the question is proposed for solution, What is to be done? Even with only these comparatively doubtful symptoms—doubtful with the nonexpert—we should direct our treatment to the hock in preference to any other joint, since of all the joints of the hind leg it is this which is most liable to be attacked, a natural result from its peculiarities of structure and function. And in answer to the query, What is the first treatment indicated? We should answer rest—emphatically, and as an essential condition, rest. Whether only threatened, suspected, or positively diseased, the animal must be wholly released from labor, and it must be no partial or temporary quiet of a few days. In all stages and conditions of the disease, whether the spavin is nothing more than a simple exostosis, or whether accompanied with the complication of arthritis, there must be a total suspension of effort until the danger is over. Less than a month's quiet ought not to be thought of—the longer the better.

Good results may also be expected from local applications. The various lotions which cool the parts, the astringents which lower the tension of the blood vessels, the tepid fomentations which accelerate the circulation in the engorged capillaries, the liniments of various composition, the stimulants, the opiate anodynes, the sedative preparations of aconite, the alterative frictions of iodin—all these are recommended and prescribed by one or another. We prefer counterirritants, for the reason, among many others, that by the promptness of their action they tend to prevent the formation of the bony deposits. The lameness will often yield to the blistering action of cantharides, in the form of ointment or liniment, and to the alterative preparations of iodin or mercury. If the owner of a "spavined" horse really succeeds in removing the lameness, he has accomplished all that he is justified in hoping for; beyond this let him be well persuaded that a "cure" is impossible.

For this reason, moreover, he will do well to be on his guard against the patented "cures" which the traveling horse doctor may urge upon him, and withhold his faith from the circular of the agent[Pg 321] who will deluge him with references and certificates. It is possible that nostrums may in some exceptional instances prove serviceable, but the greater number of them are capable of producing only injurious effects. The removal of the bony tumor can not be accomplished by any such means, and if a trial of these unknown compounds should be followed by complications no worse than the establishment of one or more ugly, hairless cicatrices, it will be well for both the horse and his owner.

Rest and counterirritation, with the proper medicaments, constitute, then, the prominent points in the treatment designed for the relief of bone spavin. Yet there are cases in which all the agencies and methods referred to seem to lack effectiveness and fail to produce satisfactory results. Either the rest has been prematurely interrupted or the blisters have failed to modify the serous infiltration, or the case in hand has some undiscernible characteristics which seem to have rendered the disease neutral to the agencies used against it. An indication of more energetic means is then presented, and free cauterization with the firing iron becomes necessary.

At this point a word of explanation in reference to this operation of firing may be appropriate for the satisfaction of any among our readers who may entertain an exaggerated idea of its severity and possible cruelty.

The operation is one of simplicity, but is nevertheless one which, in order to secure its benefits, must be reserved for times and occasions of which only the best knowledge and highest discretion should be allowed to judge. It is not the mere application of a hot iron to a given part of the body which constitutes the operation of firing. It is the methodical and scientific introduction of heat into the structure with a view to a given effect upon a diseased organ or tissue by an expert surgeon. The first is one of the degrees of mere burning. The other is scientific cauterization, and is a surgical manipulation which should be committed exclusively to the practiced hand of the veterinary surgeon.

Either firing alone or stimulation with blisters is of great efficacy for the relief of lameness from bone spavin. Failure to produce relief after a few applications and after allowing a sufficient interval of rest should be followed by a second or, if needed, a third firing.

In case of further failure there is a reserve of certain special operations which have been tried and recommended, among which those of cunean tenotomy, periosteotomy, the division of nervous branches, etc., may be mentioned. These, however, belong to the peculiar domain of the veterinary practitioner, and need not now engage our attention.[Pg 322]


In technical language a fracture is a "solution of continuity in the structure or substance of a bone." It ranks among the most serious of the lesions to which the horse—or any animal—can be subject. It is a subject of special interest to veterinarians and horse owners in view of the fact that it occurs in such a variety of forms and subjects the patient to much loss of time, resulting in the suspension of his earning capacity. Though of less serious consequence in the horse than in man, it is always a matter of grave import. It is always slow and tedious in healing and is frequently of doubtful and unsatisfactory result.

This solution of continuity may take place in two principal ways. In the most numerous instances it includes the total thickness of the bone and is a complete fracture. In other cases it involves only a portion of the thickness of the bone, and for that reason is described as incomplete. If the bone is divided into two separate portions and the soft parts have received no injury, the fracture is a simple one, or it becomes compound if the soft parts have suffered laceration, and comminuted if the bones have been crushed or ground into fragments, many or few. The direction of the break also determines its further classification. Broken at a right angle, it is transverse; at a different angle it becomes oblique, and it may be longitudinal or lengthwise. In a complete fracture, especially of the oblique kind, there is a condition of great importance in respect to its effect upon the ultimate result of the treatment in the fact that from various causes, such as muscular contractions or excessive motion, the bony fragments do not maintain their mutual coaptation, but become separated at the ends, which makes it necessary to add another descriptive term—with displacement. These words again suggest the negative and introduce the term without displacement, when the facts justify that description. Furthermore, a fracture may be intra-articular or extra-articular, as it extends into a joint or otherwise, and, once more, intra-periosteal when the periosteum remains intact. Finally, there is no absolute limit to the use of descriptive terminology in the case.

The condition of displacement is largely influential in determining the question of treatment and as affecting the final result of a case of fracture. This, however, is dependent upon its location or whether its seat is in one or more of the axes of the bone, in its length, its breadth, its thickness, or its circumference. An incomplete fracture may also be either simple or comminuted. In the latter case the fragments are held together by the periosteum when it is intact; in that case the fracture belongs to the intra-periosteal class. At times, also, there is only a simple fissure or split in the bone, making a condition of much difficulty of diagnosis.[Pg 323]

Causes.—Two varieties of originating cause may be recognized in cases of fracture. They are the predisposing and the occasional. As to the first, different species of animals differ in the degree of their liability. That of the dog is greater than that of the horse, and in horses the various questions of age, the mode of labor, the season of the year, the portion of the body most exposed, and the existence of ailments, local and general, are all to be taken into account.

Among horses, those employed in heavy draft work or that are driven over bad roads are more exposed than light-draft or saddle horses, and animals of different ages are not equally liable. Dogs and young horses, with those which have become sufficiently aged for their bones to have acquired an enhanced degree of frangibility, are more liable than those which have not exceeded the time of their prime. The season of the year is undoubtedly, though in an incidental way, an important factor in the problem of the etiology of these accidents, for though they may be observed at all times, it is during the months when the slippery condition of the icy roads renders it difficult for both men and beasts to keep their feet that they occur most frequently. The long bones, those especially which belong to the extremities, are most frequently the seat of fractures, from the circumstance of their superficial position, their exposure to contact and collision, and the violent muscular efforts involved both in their constant, rapid movement and their labor in the shafts or at the pole of heavy and heavily laden carriages.

The relation between sundry idiosyncrasies and diathesis and a liability to fractures is too constant and well-established a pathological fact to need more than a passing reference. The history of rachitis, of melanosis, and of osteoporosis, as related to an abnormal frangibility of the bones, is a part of our common medical knowledge. There are few persons who have not known of cases among their friends of frequent and almost spontaneous fractures, or at least of such as seem to be produced by the slightest and most inadequate violence, and there is no tangible reason for doubting an analogous condition in dividuals of the equine race. Among local predisposing causes mention must not be omitted of such bony diseases as caries, tuberculosis, and others of the same class.

Exciting, occasional, or "efficient" causes of fracture are in most instances external traumatisms, as violent contacts, collisions, falls, etc., or sudden muscular contractions. These external accidents are various in their character, and are usually associated with quick muscular exertion. A violent, ineffectual effort to move too heavy a load; a semispasmodic bracing of the frame to avoid a fall or resist a pressure; a quick jump to escape a blow; stopping too suddenly after speeding; struggling to liberate a foot from a rail, perhaps to be thrown in the effort—all these are familiar and easy examples of accidents[Pg 324] happening hourly by which our equine servants become sufferers. We may add to these the fracture of the bones of the vertebræ, occurring when casting a patient for the purpose of undergoing a surgical operation, quite as much as the result of muscular contraction as of a preexisting diseased condition of the bones. A fracture occurring under these circumstances may be called with propriety indirect, while one which has resulted from a blow or a fall differently caused is of the direct kind.

Symptoms.—We now return to the first items in our classification of the varieties of fractures for the purpose of bringing them in turn under an orderly review, and our first examination will include those which belong to the first category, or the complete kind. Irregularity in the performance of the functions of the apparatus to which the fractured bone belongs is a necessary consequence of the existing lesion, and this is lameness. If the broken bone belongs to one of the extremities, the impossibility of the performance of its natural function in sustaining the weight of the body and contributing to the act of locomotion is usually complete, though the degree of disability will vary according to the kind of fracture and the bone which is injured. For example, a fracture of the cannon bone without displacement, or of one of the phalanges, which are surrounded and sustained by a complex fibrous structure, is, in a certain degree, not incompatible with some amount of resting on the foot. On the contrary, if the shank bone, or that of the forearm is the implicated member, it would be very difficult for the leg to exercise any agency whatever in the support of the body, and in a fracture of the lower jaw it would be obviously unreasonable to expect it to contribute materially to the mastication of feed.

It seldom happens that a fracture is not accompanied with a degree of deformity, greater or less, of the region or the leg affected. This is due to the exudation of the blood into the meshes of the surrounding tissues and to the displacement which occurs between the fragments of the bones, with subsequently the swelling which follows the inflammation of the surrounding tissues. The character of the deformity will mainly depend upon the manner in which the displacement occurs.

In a normal state of things the legs perform their movements with the joints as their only centers or bases of action, with no participation of intermediate points, while with a fracture the flexibility and motion which will be observed at unnatural points are among the most strongly characteristic signs of the lesion. No one need be told that, when the shaft of a limb is seen to bend midway between the joints, with the lower portion swinging freely, the leg is broken. There are still some conditions, however, in which the excessive mobility is not easy to detect. Such are the cases in which the fracture[Pg 325] exists in a short bone, near a movable joint, or in a bone of a region where several short and small bones are united in a group, or even in a long bone the situation of which is such that the muscular covering prevents the visible manifestation of the symptom.

If the situation of a fracture precludes its discovery by means of this abnormal flexibility, other modes of detection remain. There is one method which is absolute and positive and which can be applied in by far the most, though not in all cases. This is crepitation, or the peculiar effect which is produced by the friction of the fractured surfaces one against another. Though discerned by the organs of hearing it can scarcely be called a sound, for the grating of the parts as the rubbing takes place is more felt than heard; however, there is no mistaking its import in cases favorable for the application of the test. The conditions in which it is not available are those of incomplete fracture, in which the mobility of the part is lacking, and those in which the whole array of phenomena are usually obscure. To obtain the benefit of this pathognomonic sign requires deliberate, careful, and gentle manipulation. Sometimes the slightest of movements will be sufficient for its development, after much rougher handling has failed to discover it. Perhaps the failure in the latter case is due to a sort of defensive spasmodic rigidity caused by the pain resulting from the rude interference.

More or less reactive fever is a usual accompaniment of a fracture. Ecchymosis in the parts is but a natural occurrence, and is more easily discovered in animals possessing a light-colored and delicate skin than in those of any other character.

There are difficulties in the way of the diagnosis of an incomplete fracture, even sometimes when there is a degree of impairment in the function of locomotion, with evidences of pain and swelling at the seat of lesion. There should then be a careful examination for evidences of a blow or other violence sufficient to account for the fracture, though very often a suspicion of its existence can be converted into a certainty only by a minute history of the patient if it can be obtained up to the moment of the occurrence of the injury. A diagnosis ought not to be hastily pronounced, and where good ground for suspicion exists it ought not to be rejected upon any evidence less than the best. We too often read of serious and fatal complications following careless conclusions in similar cases, among which we may refer to one instance of a complete fracture manifesting itself in an animal during the act of rising in his stall after a decision had been pronounced that he had no fracture at all.

Fractures are of course liable to complications, especially those which are of a traumatic character, such as extensive lacerations, tearing of tissues, punctures, contusions, etc. Unless these are in communication with the fracture itself the indication is to treat them[Pg 326] simply as independent lesions upon other parts of the body. A traumatic emphysema at times causes trouble, and abscesses, more or less deep and diffused, may follow. In some cases small, bony fragments from a comminuted fracture, becoming loose and acting as foreign bodies, give rise to troublesome fistulous tracts. A frequent complication is hemorrhage, which often becomes of serious consequence. A fracture in close proximity to a joint may be accompanied with dangerous inflammations of important organs, and induce an attack of pneumonia, pleurisy, arthritis, etc., especially if near the chest; it may also cause luxations, or dislocations. Gangrene, as a consequence of contusions or of hemorrhage or of an impediment to the circulation, caused by unskillfully applied apparatus, must not be overlooked among the occasional incidents; nor must lockjaw, which is not an uncommon occurrence. Even founder, or laminitis, has been met with as the result of forced and long-continued immobility of the feet in the standing posture, as one of the involvements of unavoidably protracted treatment.

When a simple fracture has been properly treated and the broken ends of the bone have been securely held in coaptation, one of two things will occur. Either—and this is the more common event—there will be a union of the two ends by a solid cicatrix, the callus, or the ends will continue separated or become only partially united by an intermediate fibrous structure. In the first instance the fracture is consolidated or united; in the second there is a false articulation, or pseudarthrosis.

The time required for a firm union or true consolidation of a fracture varies with the character of the bone affected, the age and constitution of the patient, and the general conditions of the case. The union will be perfected earlier in a young than in an adult animal, and sooner in the latter than in the aged, and a general healthy condition is, of course, in every respect, an advantage.

The mode of cicatrization, or method of repair in lesions of the bones, has been a subject of much study among investigators in pathology, and has elicited various expressions of opinion from those high in authority. The weight of evidence and preponderance of opinion are about settled in favor of the theory that the law of reparation is the same for both the hard and the soft tissues. In one case a simple exudation of material, with the proper organization of newly formed tissue, will bring about a union by the first intention, and in another the work will be accompanied with suppuration, or union by the second intention, a process so familiar in the repair of the soft structures by granulation.

Considering the process in its simplest form, in a case in which it advances without interruption or complication to a favorable result, it may probably be correctly described in this wise:[Pg 327]

On the occurrence of the injury an effusion of blood takes place between the ends of the bone. The coagulation of the fluid soon follows, and this, after a few days, undergoes absorption. There is then an excess of inflammation in the surrounding structure, which soon spreads to the bony tissue, when a true ostitis is established, and the compact tissue of the bone becomes the seat of a new vascular organization, and of a certain exudation of plastic lymph, appearing between the periosteum and the external surface of the bone, as well as on the inner side of the medullary cavity. After a few days the ends of the bone thus surrounded by this exudate become involved in it, and the lymph, becoming vascular, is soon transformed into cartilaginous, and in due time into bony, tissue.

Thus the time required for the consolidation of the fractured segments is divisible into two distinct periods. In the first they are surrounded by an external bony ring, and the medullary cavity is closed by a bony plug or stopper, constituting the period of the provisional callus. This is followed by the period of permanent callus, during which the process of converting the cartilaginous into the osseous form is going forward.

The restorative process is sooner completed in the carnivorous than in the herbivorous tribes. In the former the temporary callus may attain sufficient fineness of consistency for the careful use of the limb within four weeks, but with the latter a period of from six weeks to two months is not too long to allow before removing the supporting apparatus from the limb.

This, in general terms, represents the fact when the resources of nature have not been thwarted by untoward accidents, such as a want of vigor in the constitution of the patient or a lack of skill on the part of the practitioner, and especially when, from any cause, the bony fragments have not been kept in a state of perfect immobility and the constant friction has prevented the osseous union of the two portions. Failures and misfortunes are always more than possible, and instead of a solid and practicable bony union the sequel of the accident is sometimes a false joint, composed of mere flexible cartilage, a poor pseudarthrosis. The explanation of this appears to be that, first, the sharp edges of the ends of the bone disappear by becoming rounded at their extremities by friction and polishing against each other. Then follows an exudation of a plastic nature which becomes transformed into a cartilaginous layer of a rough, articular aspect. In this bony nuclei soon appear, and the lymph secreted between the segments thus transformed, instead of becoming truly ossified, is changed into a sort of fibrocartilaginous pouch, or capsular sac, in which a somewhat albuminous secretion, or pseudo-synovia, permits the movement to take place. Most commonly, however, in our animals, the union of the bony fragments is obtained[Pg 328] wholly through the medium of a layer of fibrous tissue, and it is because the union has been accomplished by a ligamentous formation only that motion becomes practicable.

Prognosis.—The prognosis in a case of fracture in an animal is one of the gravest vital import to the patient, and therefore of serious pecuniary concern to his owner. The period has not long elapsed when to have received such a hurt was quite equivalent to undergoing a sentence of death for the suffering animal, and perhaps to-day a similar verdict is pronounced in many cases in which the exercise of a little mechanical ingenuity, with a due amount of careful nursing, might secure a contrary result and insure the return of the patient to his former condition of soundness and usefulness.

Treatment.—Considered per se, a fracture in an animal is in fact no less amenable to treatment than the same description of injury in any other living being. But the question of the propriety and expediency of treatment is dependent upon certain specific points of collateral consideration.

(1) The nature of the lesion is a point of paramount importance. A simple fracture occurring in a bone where the ends can be firmly secured in coaptation presents the most favorable condition for successful treatment. If it is that of a long bone, it will be the less serious if situated at or near the middle of its length than if it were in close proximity to a joint, from the fact that perfect immobility can rarely, in the latter case, be secured without incurring the risk of subsequent rigidity of the joint.

A simple is always less serious than a compound fracture. A comminuted is always more dangerous than a simple, and a transverse break is easier to treat than one which is oblique. The most serious are those which are situated on parts of the body in which it is difficult to obtain perfect immobility, and especially those which are accompanied with severe contusions and lacerations in the soft parts; the protrusion of fragments through the skin; the division of blood vessels by the broken ends of the bone; the existence of an articulation near the point to which inflammation is liable to extend; the luxation of a fragment of the bone; laceration of the periosteum; the presence of a large number of bony particles, the result of the crushing of the bone—all these are circumstances which discourage a favorable prognosis, and weigh against the hope of saving the patient for future usefulness.

Fractures which may be accounted curable are those which are not conspicuously visible, as those of the ribs, where displacements are either very limited or do not occur, the parts being kept in situ by the nature of their position, the shape of the bones, the articulations they form with the vertebra, the sternum, or their cartilages of prolongation; those of transverse processes of the lumbar vertebra; those of[Pg 329] the bones of the face; those of the ilium; and that of the coffinbones. To continue the category, the following are evidently curable when their position and the character of the patient contribute to aid the treatment: Those of the cranium, in the absence of cerebral lesions; those of the jaws; of the ribs, with displacement; of the hip; and those of the bones of the leg in movable regions, but where their vertical position admits of perfect coaptation.

On the contrary, a compound, complicated, or comminuted, fracture, in whatever region it may be situated, may be counted incurable.

In treating fractures time is an important element and "delays are dangerous." Those of recent occurrence unite more easily and more regularly than older ones.

(2) As a general rule, fractures are less serious in animals of the smaller species than in those of more bulky dimensions. This influence of species will be readily appreciated when we realize that the difficulties involved in the treatment of the latter class have hardly any existence in connection with the former. The difference in weight and size, and consequent facility in handling and making the necessary applications of dressings and other appliances for the purpose of securing the indispensable immobility of the parts, and usually a less degree of uneasiness in the deportment of the patients are considerations in this connection of great weight.

(3) In respect to the utilization of the animal, the most obvious point in estimating the gravity of the case in a fracture accident is the certainty of the total loss of the services of the patient during treatment—certainly for a considerable period of time; perhaps permanently. For example, the fracture of the jaw of a steer just fattening for the shambles will involve a heavier loss than a similar accident to a horse. Usually the fracture of the bones of the extremities in a horse is a very serious casualty, the more so proportionately as the higher region of the limb is affected. In working animals it is exceedingly difficult to treat a fracture in such manner as to restore a limb to its original perfection of movement. A fracture of a single bone of an extremity in a breeding stallion or mare will not necessarily impair the value of the animal as a breeder. Other specifications under this head, though pertinent and more or less interesting, may be omitted.

(4) Age and temper are important factors of cure. A young, growing, robust patient whose vis vitæ is active is amenable to treatment which one with a waning constitution and past mature energies would be unable to endure, and a docile, quiet disposition will act cooperatively with remedial measures which would be neutralized by the fractious opposition of a peevish and intractable sufferer.

The fulfillment of three indications is indispensable in all fractures. The first is the reduction, or the replacement, of the parts as nearly[Pg 330] as possible in their normal position. The second is their retention in that position for a period sufficient for the formation of the provisional callus, and the third, which, in fact, is but an incident of the second, the careful avoidance of any accidents or causes of miscarriage which might disturb the curative process.

In reference to the first consideration, it must be remembered that the accident may befall the patient at a distance from his home, and his removal becomes the first duty to be attended to. Of course, this must be done as carefully as possible. If he can be treated on the spot, so much the better, though this is seldom practicable, and the method of removal becomes the question calling for settlement. But two ways present themselves—he must either walk or be carried. If the first, it is needless to say that every caution must be observed in order to obviate additional pain and to avoid any aggravation of the injury. Led slowly, and with partial support, if practicable, the journey will not always involve untoward results. If he is carried, it must be by means of a wagon, a truck, or an ambulance; the last being designed and adapted to the purpose, would, of course, be the most suitable vehicle. As a precaution which should never be overlooked, a temporary dressing should first be applied. This may be so done as for the time to answer all the purposes of the permanent adjustment and bandaging. Without thus securing the patient, a fracture of an inferior degree may be transformed to one of the severest kind, and, indeed, a curable changed to an incurable injury. We recall a case in which a fast-trotting horse, after running away in a fright caused by the whistle of a locomotive, was found on the road limping with excessive lameness in the off fore leg, and walked with comparative ease some 2 miles to a stable before being seen by a surgeon. His immediate removal in an ambulance was advised, but before that vehicle could be procured the horse lay down, and upon being made to get upon his feet was found with a well-marked comminuted fracture of the os suffraginis, with considerable displacement. The patient, however, after long treatment, made a comparatively good recovery and though with a large, bony deposit, a ringbone, was able to trot in the forties.

The two obvious indications in cases of fracture are reduction, or replacement, and retention.

In an incomplete fracture, where there is no displacement, the necessity of reduction does not exist. With the bone kept in place by an intact periosteum, and the fragments secured by the uninjured fibrous and ligamentous structure which surrounds them, there is no dislocation to correct. Reduction is also at times rendered impossible by the seat of the fracture itself, by its dimensions, alone, or by the resistance arising from muscular contraction. That is illustrated even in small animals, as in dogs, by the exceeding difficulty[Pg 331] encountered in bringing together the ends of a broken femur or humerus, the muscular contractions being even in these animals sufficiently forcible to renew the displacement.

It is generally, therefore, only fractures of the long bones, and then at points not in close proximity to the trunk, that may be considered to be amenable to reduction. It is true that some of the more superficial bones, as those of the head, of the pelvis, and of the thoracic walls, may in some cases require special manipulations and appliances for their retention in their normal positions; hence the treatment of these and of a fractured leg can not be the same.

The methods of accomplishing reduction vary with the features of each case, the manipulations being necessarily modified to meet different circumstances. If the displacement is in the thickness of the bone, as in transverse fracture, the manipulation of reduction consists in applying constant pressure upon one of the fragments, while the other is kept steady in its place, the object of the pressure being the reestablishment of the exact coincidence of the two bony surfaces. If the displacement has taken place at an angle it will be sufficient in order to effect the reduction to press upon the summit, or apex, of the angle until its disappearance indicates that the parts have been brought into coaptation. This method is often practiced in the treatment of a fractured rib. In a longitudinal fracture, or when the fragments are pressed together by the contraction of the muscles to which they give insertion until they so overlap as to correspond by certain points of their circumference, the reduction is to be accomplished by effecting the movements of extension, counter extension, and coaptation. Extension is accomplished by making traction upon the lower portion of the limb. Counter extension consists in firmly holding or confining the upper or body portion in such manner, that it shall not be affected by the traction applied to the lower part. In other words, the operator, grasping the limb below the fracture, draws it down or away from the trunk, while he seeks not to draw away, but simply to hold the upper portion still until the broken ends of bone are brought to their natural relative positions, when the coaptation, which is thus effected, has only to be made permanent by the proper dressings to perfect the reduction.

In treating fractures in small animals the strength of the hand is usually sufficient for the required manipulations. In the fracture of the forearm of a dog, for example, while the upper segment is firmly held by one hand the lower may be grasped by the other and the bone itself made to serve the purpose of a lever to bring about the desired coaptation. In such case that is sufficient to overcome the muscular contraction and correct the overlapping or other malposition of the bones. If, however, the resistance can not be overcome in this way, the upper segment may be committed to an assistant for[Pg 332] the management of the counter extension, leaving to the operator the free use of both hands for the further manipulation of the case.

If the reduction of fractures in small animals is an easy task, however, it is far from being so when the patient is a large animal whose muscular force is largely greater than that of several men combined. In such case resort must be had not only to superior numbers for the necessary force, but in many cases to mechanical aids. A reference to the manner of proceeding in a case of fracture with displacement of the forearm of a horse will illustrate the matter. The patient is first to be carefully cast, on the uninjured side, with ropes or a broad, leather strap about 18 feet long passed under and around his body and under the axilla of the fractured limb and secured at a point opposite to the animal and toward his back. This will form the mechanical means of counter extension. Another rope will then be placed around the inferior part of the leg below the point of fracture, with which to produce extension, and this will sometimes be furnished with a block and pulleys, in order to augment the power when necessary; there is, in fact, always an advantage in their use, on the side of steadiness and uniformity, as well as of increased power. It is secured around the fetlock or the coronet or, what is better, above the knee and nearer the point of fracture, and is committed to assistants. The traction on this should be firm, uniform, and slow, without relaxing or jerking, while the operator carefully watches the process. If the bone is superficially situated he is able, by the eye, to judge of any changes that may occur in the form or length of the parts under traction, and discovering, at the moment of its happening, the restoration of symmetry in the disturbed region he gently but firmly manipulates the place until all appearance of severed continuity has vanished. Sometimes the fact and the instant of restoration are indicated by a peculiar sound or "click" as the ends of the bones slip into contact, to await the next step of the restorative procedure.

The process is the same when the bones are covered with thick muscular masses except that it is attended with greater difficulties from the fact that the finger must be substituted for the eye and taxis must take the place of sight.

It frequently happens that perfect coaptation is prevented by the interposition, between the bony surfaces, of such substances as a small fragment of detached bone or a clot of blood; sometimes the extreme obliquity of the fracture, by permitting the bones to slip out of place, is the opposing cause. These are difficulties which can not always be overcome, even in small-sized animals, and still it is only when they are mastered that a correct consolidation can be looked for. Without it the continuity between the fragments will be[Pg 333] by a deformed callus, the union will leave a shortened, crooked, or angular limb, and the animal will be disabled.

If timely assistance can be obtained, and the reduction accomplished immediately after the occurrence of the accident, that is the best time for it, but if it can not be attended to until inflammation has become established and the parts have become swollen and painful, time must be allowed for the subsidence of these symptoms before attempting the operation. A spasmodic, muscular contraction which sometimes interposes a difficulty may be easily overcome by subjecting the patient to general anesthesia, and need not, therefore, cause any loss of time. A tendency to this may also be overcome by the use of sedatives and antiphlogistic remedies.

The reduction of the fracture having been accomplished, the problem which follows is that of retention. The parts which have been restored to their natural position must be kept there, without disturbance or agitation, until the perfect formation of a callus, and it is here that ample latitude exists for the exercise of ingenuity and skill by the surgeon in the contrivance of the necessary apparatus. One of the most important of the conditions which are available by the surgeon in treating human patients is denied to the veterinarian in the management of those which belong to the animal tribes. This is position. The intelligence of the human patient cooperates with the instructions of the surgeon, in the case of the animal sufferer there is a continual antagonism between the parties, and the forced extension and fatiguing position which must for a considerable period be maintained as a condition of restoration require special and effective appliances to insure successful results. To obtain complete immobility is scarcely possible, and the surgeon must be content to reach a point as near as possible to that which is unattainable. For this reason, as will subsequently be seen, the use of slings and the restraint of patients in very narrow stalls is much to be preferred to the practice sometimes recommended of allowing entire freedom of motion by turning them loose in box stalls. Temporary and movable apparatus are not usually of difficult use in veterinary practice, but the restlessness of the patients and their unwillingness to submit quietly to the changing of the dressings render it obligatory to have recourse to permanent and immovable bandages, which should be retained without disturbance until the process of consolidation is complete.

The materials composing the retaining apparatus consist of oakum, bandages, and splints, with an agglutinating compound which forms a species of cement by which the different constituents are blended into a consistent mass to be spread upon the surface covering the locality of the fracture. Its components are black pitch, rosin, and Venice turpentine, blended by heat. The dressing may be applied[Pg 334] directly to the skin, or a covering of thin linen may be interposed. A putty made with powdered chalk and the white of egg is recommended for small animals, though a mixture of sugar of lead and burnt alum with the albumen is preferred by others. Another formula is spirits of camphor, Goulard's extract, and albumen. Another recommendation is to saturate the oakum and bandages with an adhesive solution formed with gum arabic, dextrin, flour paste, or starch. This is advised particularly for small animals, as is also the silicate of soda. Dextrin mixed while warm with burnt alum and alcohol cools and solidifies into a stony consistency, and is preferable to plaster of Paris, which is less friable and has less solidity, besides being heavier and requiring constant additions as it becomes older. Starch and plaster of Paris form another good compound.

In applying the dressing the leg is usually padded with a cushion of oakum thick and soft enough to equalize the irregularities of the surface and to form a bedding for the protection of the skin from chafing. Over this the splints are placed. The material for these is, variously, pasteboard, thin wood, bark, laths, gutta-percha, strips of thin metal, as tin or perhaps sheet iron. They should be of sufficient length not only to cover the region of the fracture but to extend sufficiently above and below to render the immobility more nearly complete than in the surrounding joints. The splints, again, are covered with cloth bandages—linen preferably—soaked in a glutinous mixture. These bandages are to be carefully applied, with a perfect condition of lightness. They are usually made to embrace the entire length of the leg in order to avoid the possibility of interference with the circulation of the extremity as well as for the prevention of chafing. They should be rolled from the lower part of the leg upward and carefully secured against loosening. In some instances suspensory bandages are recommended, but except for small animals our experience does not justify a concurrence in the recommendation.

These permanent dressings always need careful watching with reference to their immediate effect upon the region they cover, especially during the first days succeeding that of their application. Any manifestation of pain, or any appearance of swelling above or below, or any odor suggestive of suppuration should excite suspicion, and a thorough investigation should follow without delay. The removal of the dressing should be performed with great care, and especially so if time enough has elapsed since its application to allow of a probability of a commencement of the healing process or the existence of any points of consolidation. With the original dressing properly applied in its entirety in the first instance, the entire extremity will have lost all chance of mobility, and the repairing process may be permitted to proceed without interference. There will be no necessity[Pg 335] and there need be no haste for removal or change except under such special conditions as have just been mentioned, or when there is reason to judge that solidification has become perfect, or for the comfort of the animal, or for its readaptation in consequence of the atrophy of the limb from want of use. Owners of animals are often tempted to remove a splint or bandage prematurely at the risk of producing a second fracture in consequence of the failure of the callus properly to consolidate.

The method of applying the splints which we have described refers to the simple variety only. In a compound case the same rules must be observed, with the modification of leaving openings through the thickness of the dressing, opposite the wound, in order to permit the escape of pus and to secure access to the points requiring the application of treatment.


Fractures of the cranial bones in large animals are comparatively rare, though the records are not destitute of cases. When they occur, it is as the result of external violence, the sufferers being usually run-aways which have come in collision with a wall or a tree or other obstruction, or it may occur in those which in pulling upon the halter have broken it with a jerk and been thrown backward, as may occur in rearing too violently. Under these conditions we have witnessed fractures of the parietal, of the frontal, and of the sphenoid bones. These fractures may be of both the complete and the incomplete kinds, which indeed is usually the case with those of the flat bones, and they are liable to be complicated with lacerations of the skin, in consequence of which they are easily brought under observation. When the fact is otherwise and the skin is intact, however, the diagnosis becomes difficult.

Symptoms.—The incomplete variety may be unaccompanied with any special symptoms, but in the complete kind one of the bony plates may be so far detached as to press upon the cerebral substance with sufficient force to produce serious nervous complications. When the injury occurs at the base of the cranium hemorrhage may be looked for, with paralytic symptoms, and when these are present the usual termination is death. It may happen, however, that the symptoms of an apparently very severe concussion may disappear, resulting in an early and complete recovery, and the surgeon will therefore do well to avoid undue haste in venturing upon a prognosis. In fractures of the orbital or the zygomatic bones the danger is less pressing than with injuries otherwise located about the head.

Treatment.—The treatment of cranial fractures is simple, though involving the best skill of an experienced surgeon. When incomplete hardly any interference is needed; even plain bandaging may usually[Pg 336] be dispensed with. In the complete variety the danger to be combated is compression of the brain, and attention to this indication must not be delayed. The means to be employed are the trephining of the skull over the seat of the fracture and the elevation of the depressed bone or the removal of the portion which is causing the trouble. Fragments of bone in comminuted cases, bony exfoliations, collections of fluid, or even protruding portions of the brain substance must be carefully cleansed away and a simple bandage so applied as to facilitate the application of subsequent dressings.


In respect to their origin—usually traumatic—these injuries rank with the preceding, and are commonly of the incomplete variety. They may easily be overlooked, and may even sometimes escape recognition until the reparative process has been well established and the wound is discovered owing to the prominence caused by the presence of the provisional callus which marks its cure. When the fracture is complete it will be marked by local deformity, mobility of the fragments, and crepitation. Nasal hemorrhage, roaring, frequent sneezing, loosening or loss of teeth, difficulty of mastication, and inflammation of the cavities of the sinuses are varying complications of these accidents. The object of the treatment should be the restoration of the depressed bones as nearly as possible to their normal position and their retention in place by protecting splints, which should cover the entire facial region. Special precautions should be observed to prevent the patient from disturbing the dressing by rubbing his head against surrounding objects, such as the stall, manger, rack, etc. Clots of blood in the nasal passages must be washed out, collections of pus removed from the sinuses, and, if the teeth are loosened and liable to fall out, they should be removed. If roaring is threatened, tracheotomy is indicated.


These are mentioned by continental authors and are usually encountered in connection with fractures of the nasal bone, and may take place either in the width or the length of the bone.

The deformity of the upper lip, which is drawn sidewise in this lesion, renders it easy of diagnosis. The abnormal mobility and the crepitation, with the pain manifested by the patient when undergoing examination, are concurrent symptoms. Looseness of the teeth, abundant salivation, and entire inability to grasp the feed complete the symptomatology of these accidents. In the treatment splints of gutta-percha or leather are sometimes used, but they are of difficult application. Our own judgment and practice are in favor of the union of the bones by means of metallic sutures.[Pg 337]


A fracture here is not an injury of infrequent occurrence. It involves the body of the bone, at its symphysis, or back of it, and includes one or both of its branches, either more or less forward, or at the posterior part near the temporomaxillary articulation, at the coronoid process.

Falls, blows, or other external violence, or powerful muscular contractions during the use of the speculum, may be mentioned among the causes of this lesion. The fracture of the neck, or that portion formed by the juncture of the two opposite sides, and of the branches in front of the cheeks, causes the lower jaw, the true dental arch, to drop, without the ability to raise it again to the upper, and the result is a peculiar and characteristic physiognomy. The prehension and mastication of feed become impossible; there is an abundant escape of fetid and sometimes bloody saliva, especially if the gums have been wounded; there is excessive mobility of the lower end of the jawbone; and there is crepitation, and frequently paralysis of the under lip. Although an animal suffering with a complete and often compound and comminuted fracture of the submaxilla presents at times a serious aspect, the prognosis of the case is comparatively favorable, and recovery is usually only a question of time. The severity of the lesion corresponds in degree to that of the violence to which it is due, also to the resulting complications and the situation of the wound. It is simple when at the symphysis, but becomes more serious when it affects one of the branches, and most aggravated when both are involved. Fracture of the coronoid process becomes important principally as an evidence of the existence of a morbid diathesis, such as osteoporosis, or the like.

The particular seat of the injury, with its special features, will, of course, determine the treatment. For a simple fracture, without displacement, provided there is no laceration of the periosteum, an ordinary supporting bandage will usually be sufficient, but when there is displacement the reduction of the fracture must first be accomplished, and for this special splints are necessary. In a fracture of the symphysis or of the branches the adjustment of the fragments by securing them with metallic sutures is the first step necessary, to be followed by the application of supports, consisting of splints of leather or sheets of metal, the entire front of the head being then covered with bandages prepared with adhesive mixtures. During the entire course of treatment a special method of feeding becomes necessary. The inability of the patient to appreciate the situation, of course, necessitates a resort to an artificial mode of introducing the necessary feed into his stomach; this is accomplished by forcing between the commissures of the lips, in a liquid form, by means of a[Pg 338] syringe, the milk or nutritive gruels selected for his sustenance until the consolidation is sufficiently advanced to permit the ingestion of feed of a more solid consistency. The callus will usually be sufficiently hardened in two or three weeks to allow of a change of diet to mashes of cut hay and scalded grain, until the removal of the dressing restores the animal to its old habit of mastication.


These are not very common, but when they do occur the bones most frequently injured are those of the back and loins.

Causes.—The ordinary causes of fracture are responsible here as elsewhere, such as heavy blows on the spinal column, severe falls while conveying heavy loads, and especially violent efforts in resisting the process of casting. Although occurring more or less frequently under the latter circumstances, the accident is not always attributable to carelessness or error in the management. It may, of course, sometimes result from such a cause as a badly prepared bed, or the accidental presence of a hard body concealed in the straw, or to a heavy fall when the movements of the patient have not been sufficiently controlled by an effective apparatus and its skillful adaptation, but it is quite as liable to be caused by the violent resistance and the consequent powerful muscular contraction by the frightened patient. The simple fact of the overarching of the vertebral column, with excessive pressure against it from the intestinal mass, owing to the spasmodic action of the abdominal muscles, may account for it, and so also may the struggles of the animal to escape from the restraint of the hobbles while frantic under the pain of an operation without anesthesia. In these cases the fracture usually occurs in the body or the annular part, or both, of the posterior dorsal or the anterior lumbar vertebra. When the transverse processes of the last-named bones are injured, it is probably in consequence of the heavy concussion incident to striking the ground when cast. The diagnosis of a fracture of the body of a vertebra is not always easy, especially when quite recent, and more especially when there is no accompanying displacement.

Symptoms.—There are certain peculiar signs accompanying the occurrence of the accident while an operation is in progress which should at once excite the suspicion of the surgeon. In the midst of a violent struggle the patient becomes suddenly quiet; the movement of a sharp instrument, which at first excited his resistance, fails to give rise to any further evidence of sensation; perhaps a general trembling, lasting for a few minutes, will follow, succeeded by a cold, profuse perspiration, particularly between the hind legs, and frequently there will be micturition and defecation. Careful examination of the vertebral column may then detect a slight depression or[Pg 339] irregularity in the direction of the spine, and there may be a diminution or loss of sensation in the posterior part of the trunk, while the anterior portion continues to be as sensitive as before. In making an attempt to get upon his feet, however, upon the removal of the hobbles, only the fore part of the body will respond to the effort, a degree of paraplegia being present, and while the head, neck, and fore part of the body will be raised, the hind quarters and hind legs will remain inert. The animal may perhaps succeed in rising and probably may be removed to his stall, but the displacement of the bone will follow, converting the fracture into one of the complete kind, either through the exertion of walking or by a renewed attempt to rise after another fall before reaching his stall. By this time the paralysis is complete, and the extension of the meningitis, which has become established, is a consummation soon reached.

To say that the prognosis of fracture of the body of the vertebra is always serious is to speak very mildly. It would be better, perhaps, to say that occasionally a case may recover. Fractures of the transverse processes are less serious.

Treatment.—Instead of stating the indication in this class of cases as if assuming them to be amenable to treatment, the question naturally would be: Can any treatment be recommended in a fracture of the body of a vertebra? The only indication in such a case, in our opinion, is to reach the true diagnosis in the shortest possible time and to act accordingly. If there is displacement, and the existence of serious lesions may be inferred from the nervous symptoms, the destruction of the suffering animal appears to suggest itself as the one conclusion in which considerations of policy, humanity, and science at once unite.

If, however, it is fairly evident that no displacement exists; that pressure upon the spinal cord is not yet present; that the animal with a little assistance is able to rise upon his feet and to walk a short distance—it may be well to experiment upon the case to the extent of placing the patient in the most favorable circumstances for recovery and allow nature to operate without further interference. This may be accomplished by obtaining immobility of the whole body as much as possible, and especially of the suspected region, by placing the patient in slings, in a stall sufficiently narrow to preclude lateral motion, and covering the loins with a thick coat of agglutinative mixture. Developments should be watched and awaited.


The different regions of the chest are not equally exposed to the violence that causes fractures of the ribs, and they are therefore either more common or more easily discovered during life at some points than at others. The more exposed regions are the middle and[Pg 340] the posterior, while the front is largely covered and defended by the shoulder. A single rib may be the seat of fracture, or a number may be involved, and there may be injuries on both sides of the chest at the same time. It may take place lengthwise, in any part of the bone, though the middle, being the most exposed, is the most frequently hurt. Incomplete fractures are usually lengthwise, involving a portion only of the thickness of one or other of the surfaces. The complete kind may be either transverse or oblique, and are most commonly denticulated. The fracture may be comminuted, and a single bone may show one of the complete and one of the incomplete kind at different points. The extent of surface presented by the thoracic region, with its complete exposure at all points, explains the liability of the ribs to suffer from all the forms of external violence.

Symptoms.—In many instances fractures, especially the incomplete variety, of these bones continue undiscovered, without displacement, though the evidences of local pain, a certain amount of swelling, and a degree of disturbance of the respiration, if noticed during the examination of a patient, may suggest a suspicion of their existence. Abnormal mobility and crepitation are difficult of detection, even when present, and they are not always present. When there is displacement the deformity which it occasions will betray the fact, and when such an injury exists the surgeon, in view of possible and probable complications of thoracic trouble, of course will become vigilant and prepare himself for an encounter with a case of traumatic pleuritis or pneumonia. Fatal injuries of the heart are recorded. Subcutaneous emphysema is a common accompaniment of broken ribs, and I recall the death, from this cause, of a patient of my own which had suffered a fracture of two ribs in the region of the withers, under the cartilages of the shoulder, and of which the diagnosis was made only after the fatal ending of the case.

These hurts are not often of a very serious character, though the union is never so solid and complete as in other fractures, the callus being usually imperfect and of a fibrous character, with an amphiarthrosis formation. Still, complications occur which may impart gravity to the prognosis.

Treatment.—Fractures with but a slight or no displacement need no reduction. All that is necessary is a simple application of a blistering nature as a preventive of inflammation or for its subjugation when present, and in order to excite an exudation which will tend to aid in the support and immobilization of the parts. At times, however, a better effect is obtained by the application of a bandage placed firmly around the chest, although, while this limits the motion of the ribs, it is liable to render the respiration more labored.

If there is displacement, with much accompanying pain and evident irritation of the lungs, the fracture must be reduced without[Pg 341] delay. The means of effecting this vary according to whether the displacement is outward or inward. In the first case the bone may be straightened by pressure from without, while in the second the end of it must be raised by a lever, for the introduction of which a small incision through the skin and intercostal spaces will be necessary. When coaptation has been effected it must be retained by the external application of an adhesive mixture, with splints and bandages around the chest.


These fractures will be considered under their separate denominations, as those of the sacrum and the os innominatum, or hip, which includes the subdivisions of the ilium, the pubes, and the ischium.

The sacrum.—Fractures of this bone are rarely met with among solipeds. Among cattle, however, it is of common occurrence, being attributed not only to the usual varieties of violence, as blows and other external hurts, but to the act of coition and violent efforts in parturition. It is generally of the transverse kind and may be recognized by the deformity which it occasions. This is due to the dropping of the bone, with a change in its direction and a lower attachment of the tail, which also becomes more or less paralyzed. The natural and spontaneous relief which usually interposes in these cases has doubtless been observed by the extensive cattle breeders of the West, and their practice and example fully establish the inutility of interference. Still, cases may occur in which reduction may be indicated, and it then becomes a matter of no difficulty. It is effected by the introduction of a round, smooth piece of wood into the rectum as far as the fragment of bone and using it as a lever, resting upon another as a fulcrum placed under it outside. The bone, having been thus returned, may be kept in place by the ordinary external means in use.

The os innominatum.—Fracture of the ilium may be observed either at the angle of the hip or at the neck of the bone; those of the pubes may take place at the symphysis, or in the body of the bone; those of the ischium on the floor of the bone, or at its posterior external angle. Or, again, the fracture may involve all three of these constituent parts of the hip bone by having its situation in the articular cavity—the acetabulum by which it joins the femur or thigh bone.

Symptoms.—Some of these fractures are easily recognized, while others are difficult to identify. The ordinary deformity which characterizes a fracture of the external angle of the ilium, its dropping and the diminution of that side of the hip in width, unite in indicating the existence of the condition expressed by the term "hipped." An incomplete fracture, however, or one that is complete without displacement, or even one with displacement, often demands the closest[Pg 342] scrutiny for its discovery. The lameness may be well marked, and an animal may show it but little while walking, though upon being urged into a trot will manifest it more and more, until presently it will cease to use the crippled limb altogether, and travel entirely on three legs. The acute character of the lameness will vary in degree as the seat of the lesion approximates the acetabulum. In walking, the motion at the hip is very limited, and the leg is dragged; while at rest it is relieved from bearing its share in sustaining the body. An intelligent opinion and correct conclusion will depend largely upon a knowledge of the history of the case, and while in some instances that will be but a report of the common etiology of fractures, such as blows, hurts, and other external violence, the simple fact of a fall may furnish in a single word a satisfactory solution of the whole matter.

With the exception of the deformity of the ilium in a fracture of its external angle, and unless there has been a serious laceration of tissues and infiltration of blood, or excessive displacement, there are no very definite external symptoms in a case of a fracture of the hip bone. There is one, however, which, in a majority of cases, will not fail—it is crepitation. This evidence is attainable by both external and internal examination—by manipulation of the gluteal surface and by rectal taxis. Very often a lateral motion, or balancing of the hinder parts by pressing the body from one side to the other, will be sufficient to render the crepitation more distinct—a slight sensation of grating, which may be perceived even through the thick coating of muscle which covers the bone—and the sensation may not only be felt, but to the expert may even become audible. This external manifestation is, however, not always sufficient in itself, and should invariably be associated with the rectal taxis for corroboration. It is true that this may fail to add to the evidence of fracture, but till then the simple testimony afforded by the detection of crepitation from the surface, though a strong confirmatory point, is scarcely sufficiently absolute to establish more than a reasonable probability or strong suspicion in the case.

In addition to the fact that the rectal examination brings the exploring hand of the surgeon into near proximity to the desired point of search, and to an accurate knowledge of the situation of parts, both pro and con as respects his own views, there is another advantage attendant upon it which is well entitled to appreciation. This is the facility with which he can avail himself of the help of an assistant, who can aid him by manipulating the implicated limb and placing it in various positions, so far as the patient will permit, while the surgeon himself is making explorations and studying the effect from within. By this method he can hardly fail to ascertain the character of the fracture and the condition of the bony ends. By[Pg 343] the rectal taxis, as if with eyes in the finger ends, he will "see" what is the extent of the fracture of the ilium or of the neck of that bone; to what part of the central portion of the bone (the acetabulum) it reaches; whether this is free from disease or not, and in what location on the floor of the pelvis the lesion is situated. By this method we have frequently been able to detect a fracture at the symphysis, which, from its history and symptoms and an external examination, could only have been guessed at. Yet, with all its advantages, the rectal examination is not always necessary, as, for example, when the fracture is at the posterior and external angle of the ischium, when by friction of the bony ends the surgeon may discern the crepitation without it.

Every variety of complication, including muscular lacerations with the formation of deep abscesses and injuries to the organs of the pelvic cavity, the bladder, the rectum, and the uterus, may be associated with fractures of the hip bone.

Prognosis.—The prognosis of these lesions will necessarily vary considerably. A fracture of the most superficial part of the bone of the ilium or of the ischium, especially if there is little displacement, will unite rapidly, leaving a comparatively sound animal often quite free from subsequent lameness. If there is much displacement, however, only a ligamentous union will take place, with much deformity and more or less irregularity in the gait. Other fractures may be followed by complete disability of the patient, as, for example, when the cotyloid cavity is involved, or when the reparatory process has left bony deposits in the pelvic cavity at the seat of the union, which may, in the case of the female, interfere with the steps of parturition, or induce some local paralysis by pressure upon the nerves which govern the muscles of the hind legs. This is a condition not infrequently observed when the callus has been formed on the floor of the pelvis near the obturator foramen, pressing upon the course or involving the obturator nerve.

Treatment.—In our estimation, the treatment of all fractures of the hip bone should be of the simplest kind. Rendered comparatively immovable by the thickness of the muscles by which the region is enveloped, one essential indication suggests itself, and that is to place the animal in a position which, so far as possible, will be fixed and permanent. For the accomplishment of this purpose the best measure, as we consider it, is to place the horse in a stall of just sufficient width to admit him, and to apply a set of slings, snugly, but comfortably. (See Plate XXXI.) This will fulfill the essential conditions of recovery—rest and immobility. Blistering applications would be injurious, though the adhesive mixture might prove in some degree beneficial.[Pg 344]

The minimum period allowable for solid union in a fractured hip is, in our judgment, two months, and we have known cases in which that was too short a time.

As we have said before, there may be cases in which the treatment for fracture at the floor of the pelvis has been followed by symptoms of partial paralysis, the animal, when lying down, being unable to regain his feet, but moving freely when placed in an upright position. This condition is owing to the interference of the callus with the functions of the obturator nerve, which it presses upon or surrounds. By my experience in similar cases I feel warranted in cautioning owners of horses in this condition to exercise due patience, and to avoid a premature sentence of condemnation against their invalid servants; they are not all irrecoverably paralytic. With alternations of moderate exercise, rest in the slings, and the effect of time while the natural process of absorption is taking effect upon the callus, with other elements of change that may be so operating, the horse in due time may become able once more to earn his subsistence and serve his master.


This bone is seldom fractured, its comparative exemption being due to its free mobility and the protection it receives from the superimposed soft tissues. Only direct and powerful causes are sufficient to effect the injury, and when it occurs the large rather than the smaller animals are the subjects.

Cause.—The causes are heavy blows or kicks and violent collisions with unyielding objects. Those which are occasioned by falls are generally at the neck of the bone, and of the transverse and comminuted varieties.

Symptoms.—The diagnosis is not always easy. The symptoms are inability to rest the leg on the ground and to carry weights, and they are present in various degrees from slight to severe. The leg rests upon the toe, seems shortened, and locomotion is performed by jumps. Moving the leg while examining it and raising the foot for inspection seem to produce much pain and cause the animal to rear. Crepitation is readily felt with the hand upon the shoulder when the leg is moved. If the fracture occurs in the upper part of the bone, overlapping of the fragments and displacement will be considerable.

The fracture of this bone is usually classed among the more serious accidents, though cases may occur which are followed by recovery without very serious ultimate results, especially when the seat of the injury is at some of the upper angles of the bone or about the acromion crest. But if the neck and the joint are the parts involved, complications which are likely to disable the animal for life are liable to be present.[Pg 345]

Treatment.—If there is no displacement, a simple adhesive dressing to strengthen and immobilize the parts will be sufficient. A coat of black pitch dissolved with wax and Venice turpentine, and kept in place over the region with oakum or linen bands, will be all the treatment required, especially if the animal is kept quiet in the slings.

Displacement can not be remedied, and reduction is next to impossible. Sometimes an iron plate is applied over the parts and retained by bandages, as in the dressing of Bourgelat (Plate XXX); this may be advantageously replaced by a pad of thick leather. In smaller animals the parts are retained by figure-8 bandages, embracing both the normal and the diseased shoulders, crossing each other in the axilla and covered with a coating of adhesive mixture.


These are more common in small than in large animals, and are always the result of external traumatism, such as falls, kicks, and collisions. They are generally very oblique, are often comminuted, and though more usually involving the shaft of the bone will in some cases extend to the upper end and into the articular head.

Symptoms.—There is ordinarily considerable displacement in consequence of the overlapping of the broken ends of the bone, and this of course causes more or less shortening of the limb. There will also be swelling, with difficulty of locomotion, and crepitation will be easy of detection. This fracture is always a serious damage to the patient, leaving him with a permanently shortened limb and an incurable, lifelong lameness.

Treatment.—If treatment is determined on, it will consist in the reduction of the fracture by means of extension and counter extension, to accomplish which the animal must be thrown. If successful in the reduction, then follows the application and adjustment of the apparatus of retention, which must be of the most perfect and efficient kind. Finally, this, however skillfully contrived and carefully adapted, will often fail to effect any good purpose whatever.


A fracture in this region may also involve the radius or the ulna, the latter being broken at times in its upper portion above the radio-ulnar arch at the olecranon. If the fracture occurs at any part of the forearm from the radio-ulnar arch down to the knee, it may involve either the radius alone or the radius and the cubitus, which are there intimately united.

Cause.—Besides having the same etiology with most of the fractures, those of the forearm are, nevertheless, more commonly due to kicks from other animals, especially when crowded together in large[Pg 346] numbers in insufficient space. It is a matter of observation that under these circumstances fractures of the incomplete kind are those which occur on the inside of the leg, the bone being in that region almost entirely subcutaneous, while those of the complete class are either oblique or transverse. The least common are the longitudinal, in the long axis of the bone.

Symptoms.—This variety of fracture is easily recognized by the appearance of the leg and the different changes it undergoes. There is inability to use the limb; impossibility of locomotion; mobility below the injury; the ready detection of crepitation—in a word, the assemblage of all the signs and symptoms which have been already considered as associated with the history of broken bones.

The fracture of the ulna alone, principally above the radio-ulnar arch, may be ascertained by the aggravated lameness, the excessive soreness on pressure, and perhaps a certain increase of motion, with a very slight crepitation if tested in the usual way. Displacement is not likely to take place except when it is well up toward the olecranon or its tuberosity, the upper segment of the bone being in that case likely to be drawn upward. For a simple fracture of this region there is a fair chance of recovery, but in a case of the compound and comminuted class there is less ground for a favorable prognosis, especially if the elbow joint has suffered injury. A fracture of the ulna alone is not of serious importance, except when the same conditions prevail. A fracture of the olecranon is less amenable to treatment, and promises little better than a ligamentous union.

Treatment.—Considering all the various conditions involving the nature and extent of these lesions, the position and direction of the bones of the forearm are such as to render the chances for recovery from fracture as among the best. The reduction, by extension and counterextension; the maintenance of the coaptation of the segments; the adaptation of the dressing by splints, oakum, and agglutinative mixtures; in fact, all the details of treatment may be here fulfilled with a degree of facility and precision not attainable in any other part of the organism. An important, if not an essential, point, however, must be emphasized in regard to the splints. Whether they are of metal, wood, or other material, they should reach from the elbow joint to the ground, and should be placed on the posterior face and on both sides of the leg. This is then to be so confined in a properly constructed box as to preclude all possibility of motion, while yet it must sustain a certain portion of the weight of the body. The iron splint (represented in Plate XXX) recommended by Bourgelat is designed for fractures of the forearm, of the knee, and of the cannon bone, and will prove to be an appliance of great value. For small animals the preference is for an external covering of gutta-percha, embracing the entire leg. A sheet of this substance of suitable thickness, according[Pg 347] to the size of the animal, softened in lukewarm water, is, when sufficiently pliable, molded on the outside of the leg, and when suddenly hardened by the application of cold water forms a complete casing sufficiently rigid to resist all motion. Patients treated in this manner have been able to use the limb freely, without pain, immediately after the application of the dressing. The removal of the splint is easily effected by cutting it away, either wholly or in sections, after softening it by immersing the leg in a warm bath.


This accident, happily, is of rare occurrence, but when it takes place is of a severe character, and always accompanied with synovitis, with disease of the joint.

Cause.—It may be caused by falling upon a hard surface, and is usually compound and comminuted. Healing seldom occurs, and when it does there is usually a stiffness of the joint from arthritis.

Symptoms.—As a result of this fracture there is inability to bear weight on the foot. The leg is flexed as in complete radial paralysis, or fracture of the ulna. There is abnormal mobility of the bones of the knee, but crepitation is usually absent.

Prognosis.—Healing is hard to effect, as one part of the knee is drawn upward by the two flexor muscles which separate it from the lower part. The callus which forms is largely fibrous, and if the animal is put to work too quickly this callus is liable to rupture. In favorable cases healing takes place in two or three months. Many horses during the treatment develop founder, with consequent drop sole in the sound leg, as a result of pressure due to continuous standing.

Treatment.—Place the animal in the slings, bring the pieces of bone together if possible, and try to keep them in place by a tight plaster-of-Paris dressing about the leg, extending down to the fetlock. Place the animal in a roomy box stall well provided with bedding so that he can lie down, to prevent founder.


The protection which this bone receives from the large mass of muscles in which it is enveloped does not suffice to invest it with immunity in regard to fractures.

Cause.—It contributes its share to the list of accidents of this description, sometimes in consequence of external violence and sometimes as the result of muscular contraction; sometimes it takes place at the upper extremity of the bone; sometimes at the lower; sometimes at the head, when the condyles become implicated; but it is principally found in the body or diaphysis. The fracture may be[Pg 348] of any of the ordinary forms, simple or compound, complete or incomplete, transverse or oblique, etc. A case of the comminuted variety is recorded in which 85 fragments of bone were counted and removed.

The thickness of the muscular covering sometimes renders the diagnosis difficult by interfering with the manipulation, but the crepitation test is readily available, even when the swelling is considerable, and which is liable to be the case as the result of the interstitial hemorrhage which naturally follows the laceration of the blood vessels of the region involved.

Symptoms.—If the fracture is at the neck of the bone the muscles of that region (the gluteal) are firmly contracted, and the leg seems to be shortened in consequence. Locomotion is impossible. There is intense pain and violent sweating at first. Crepitation may in some cases be discerned by rectal examination, with one hand resting over the coxo-femoral (hip) articulation. Fractures of the tuberosities of the upper end of the bone, the great trochanter, may be identified by the deformity, the swelling, the impossibility of rotation, and the dragging of the leg in walking. Fracture of the body is always accompanied with displacement, and as a consequence a shortening of the leg, which is carried forward. The lameness is excessive, the foot being moved, both when raising it from the ground and when setting it down, very timidly and cautiously. The manipulations for the discovery of crepitation always cause much pain. Lesions of the lower end of the bone are more difficult to diagnosticate with certainty, though the manifestation of pain while making heavy pressure upon the condyles will be so marked that only crepitation will be needed to turn a suspicion into a certainty.

Treatment.—The question as to treatment in fractures of this description resolves itself into the query whether any treatment can be suggested that will avail anything practically as a curative measure; whether, upon the hypothesis of reduction as an accomplished fact, any permanent or efficient device as a means of retention is within the scope of human ingenuity. If the reduction were successfully performed, would it be possible to keep the parts in place by any known means at our disposal? At the best the most favorable result that could be anticipated would be a reunion of the fragments with a considerable shortening of the bone and a helpless, limping, crippled animal to remind us that for human achievement there is a "thus far and no farther."

In small animals, such as dogs and cats, however, attempts at treatment are justifiable, and we are convinced that in many cases of difficulty in the application of splints and bandages a patient may be placed in a condition of undisturbed quiet and left to the processes of nature for "treatment" as safely and with as good an[Pg 349] assurance of a favorable result as if he had been subjected to the most heroic secundum artem doctoring known to science. As a case in point, mention may be made of the case of a pregnant bitch which suffered a fracture of the upper end of the femur by being run over by a light wagon. Her "treatment" consisted in being tied up in a large box and let alone. In due time she was delivered of a family of puppies, and in three weeks she was running in the streets, limping very slightly, and nothing the worse for her accident.


This, fortunately, is a rare accident, and can result only from direct violence, as a kick or other blow. The lameness which follows it is accompanied with enormous tumefaction of the joint, pain, inability to bear weight upon the foot, and finally disease of the articulation. Crepitation is absent, because the hip muscles draw away the upper part of the bone. The prognosis is unavoidably adverse, destruction being the only termination of this incurable and very painful injury. Most of the reported cases of cures are based upon a wrong diagnosis.


Of all fractures these are probably more frequently encountered than any others among the class of accidents we are considering. As with injuries of the forearm of a like character, they may be complete or incomplete; the former when the bone is broken in the middle or at the extremities, and transverse, oblique, or longitudinal. The incomplete kind are more common in this bone than in any other.

Symptoms.—Complete fractures are easy to recognize, either with or without displacement. The animal is very lame, and the leg is either dragged or held clear from the ground by flexion at the stifle, while the lower part hangs down. Carrying weight or moving backward is impossible. There is excessive mobility below the fracture, and well-marked crepitation. If there is much displacement, as in an oblique fracture, there will be considerable shortening of the leg.

While incomplete fractures can not be recognized in the tibia with any greater degree of certainty than in any other bone, there are some facts associated with them by which a diagnosis may be justified. The hypothetical history of a case may serve as an illustration:

An animal has received an injury by a blow or a kick on the inside of the bone, perhaps without showing any mark. Becoming very lame immediately afterwards, he is allowed a few days' rest. If taken out again, he seems to have recovered his soundness, but within[Pg 350] a day or two he betrays a little soreness, and this increasing he becomes very lame again, to be furloughed once more, with the result of a temporary improvement, and again a return to labor and again a relapse of the lameness; and this alternation seems to be the rule. The leg being now carefully examined, a local periostitis is readily discovered at the point of the injury, the part being warm, swollen, and painful. What further proof is necessary? Is it not evident that a fracture has occurred, first superficial—a mere split in the bony structure, which, fortunately, has been discovered before some extra exertion or a casual misstep had developed it into one of the complete kind, possibly with complications? What other inference can such a series of symptoms thus repeated establish?

The prognosis of fracture of the tibia, as a rule, must be unfavorable.

Treatment.—The difficulty of obtaining a union without shortening, and consequently without lameness, is proof of the futility of ordinary attempts at treatment, but though this may be true in respect to fractures of the complete kind, it is not necessarily so with the incomplete variety, and with this class the simple treatment of the slings is all that is necessary to obtain consolidation. A few weeks of this confinement will be sufficient.

With dogs and other small animals there are cases which may be successfully treated. If the necessary dressings can be successfully applied and retained, a cure will follow.


Injuries of the astragalus which had a fatal termination have been recorded. Fractures of the os calcis have also been observed, but never with a favorable prognosis, and attempts to induce recovery, as might have been expected, have proved futile.


Whether these occur in the fore or hind legs, they appear either in the body or near their extremities. If in the body as a rule the three metacarpal or metatarsal bones are affected, and the fracture is generally transverse and oblique. On account of the absence of soft tissue and tightness of the skin, the broken bones pierce the skin and render the fracture a complicated one. The diagnosis is easy when all the bones are completely broken, but the incomplete fracture can be only suspected.

Symptoms.—There is no displacement, but excessive mobility, crepitation, inability to sustain weight, and the leg is kept off the ground by the flexion of the upper joint.[Pg 351]

No region of the body affords better facilities for the application of treatment, and the prognosis on this account is usually favorable. We recall a case, however, which proved fatal, though under exceptional circumstances. The patient was a valuable stallion of highly nervous organization, with a compound fracture of one of the cannon bones, and his unconquerable resistance to treatment, excited by the intense pain of the wound, precluded all chance of recovery, and ultimately caused his death.

Treatment.—The general form of treatment for these lesions will not differ from that which has been already indicated for other fractures. Reduction, sometimes necessitating the casting of the patient; coaptation, comparatively easy by reason of the subcutaneous situation of the bone; retention, by means of splints and bandages—applied on both sides of the region, and reaching to the ground as in fractures of the forearm—these are always indicated. We have obtained excellent results by the use of a mold of thick gutta-percha, composed of two sections and made to surround the entire lower part of the leg as in an inflexible case.


The hind extremity is more liable than the fore to this injury. It is usually the result of a violent effort, or of a sudden misstep or twisting of the leg, and may be transverse, or, as has usually been the case in our experience, longitudinal, extending from the upper articular surface down to the center of the bone, and generally oblique and often comminuted. The symptoms are the swelling and tenderness of the region, possibly crepitation; a certain abnormal mobility; an excessive degree of lameness, and in some instances a dropping back of the fetlock, with perhaps a straightened or upright condition of the pastern.

The difficulty of reduction and coaptation in this accident, and the probability of bony deposits, as of ringbones, resulting in lameness, are circumstances which tend to discourage a favorable prognosis.

The treatment is that which has been recommended for all fractures, so far as it can be applied. The iron splint which has been mentioned gives excellent results in many instances, but if the fracture is incomplete and without displacement, a form of treatment less energetic and severe should be attempted. One case is within our knowledge in which the owner lost his horse by his refusal to subject the animal to treatment, the post-mortem revealing only a simple fracture with very slight displacement.


Though these are generally of the comminuted kind, there are often conditions associated with them which justify the surgeon in[Pg 352] attempting their treatment. Though crepitation is not always easy to detect, the excessive lameness, the soreness on pressure, the inability to carry weight, the difficulty experienced in raising the foot, all these suggest, as the solution of the question of diagnosis, the fracture of the coronet, with the accompanying realization of the fact that there is yet, by reason of the situation of the member, immobilized as it is by its structure and its surroundings, room left for a not unfavorable prognosis. Only a slight manipulation will be needed in the treatment of this lesion. To render the immobility of the region more fixed, to support the bones in their position by bandaging, and to establish forced immobility of the entire body with the slings is usually all that is required. Ringbone, being a common sequela of the reparative process, must receive due attention subsequently. One of the severest complications liable to be encountered is an immobile joint (anchylosis). Neurectomy of the median nerve may relieve lameness after a fracture of the phalanges.


These lesions may result from a penetrating street nail, or follow plantar or median neurectomy. In the latter instance it is caused by the animal setting the foot down carelessly and too violently, and partly due to degeneration of bone tissue which follows nerving.

Though these fractures are not of very rare occurrence, their recognition is not easy, and there is more of speculation than of certainty pertaining to their diagnosis. The animal is very lame and spares the injured foot as much as possible, sometimes resting it upon the toe alone and sometimes holding it from the ground. The foot is very tender, and the exploring pinchers of the examining surgeon cause much pain. During the first 24 hours there is no increased pulsation in the digital and plantar arteries, but on the second day it is apparent.

There is nothing to encourage a favorable prognosis, and a not unusual termination is an anchylosis with either the navicular bone or the coronet.

No method of treatment needs to be suggested here, the hoof performing the office of retention unaided. Local treatment by baths and fomentations will do the rest. It may be months before there is any mitigation of the lameness.

An ultimate recovery depends to a great extent upon whether the other foot can support the weight during the healing process without causing a drop sole in the supporting foot.


This lesion has been considered by veterinarians, erroneously, we think, as one of rare occurrence. We believe it to be more frequent[Pg 353] than has been supposed. Many observations and careful dissections have convinced us that fractures of these little bones have been often mistaken for specific lesions of the numerous ligaments that are implanted upon their superior and inferior parts, and which have been described as a "giving way" or "breaking down" of these ligaments. In my post-mortem examinations I have always noted the fact that when the attachments of the ligaments were torn from their bony connections minute fragments of bony structure were also separated, though we have failed to detect any diseased process of the fibrous tissue composing the ligamentous substance.

Cause.—From whatever cause this lesion may arise, it can hardly be considered as of a traumatic nature, no external violence having any apparent agency in producing it, and it is our belief that it is due to a peculiar degeneration or softening of the bones themselves, a theory which acquires plausibility from the consideration of the spongy consistency of the sesamoids. The disease is a peculiar one, and the suddenness with which different feet are successively attacked, at short intervals and without any obvious cause, seems to prove the existence of some latent, morbid cause which has been unsuspectedly incubating. It is not peculiar to any particular class of horses, nor to any special season of the year, having fallen under our observation in each of the four seasons.

Symptoms.—The general fact is reported in the history of most cases that it makes its appearance without premonition in animals which, after enjoying a considerable period of rest, are first exercised or put to work, though in point of fact it may manifest itself while the horse is still idle in his stable. A hypothetical case, in illustration, will explain our theory: An animal which has been at rest in his stable is taken out to work, and it will be presently noticed that there is something unusual in his movement. His gait is changed, and he travels with short, mincing steps, without any of his accustomed ease and freedom. This may continue until his return to the stable, and then, after being placed in his stall, he will be noticed shifting his weight from side to side and from one leg to another, continuing the movement until rupture of the bony structure takes place. But it may happen that the lameness in one or more of the extremities, anterior or posterior, suddenly increases, and it becomes evident that the rupture has taken place in consequence of a misstep or a s