Dogs have powerful organs of digestion, but the heavy task they put upon them in the way of gorging upon all kinds of food, the recklessness they show in swallowing stones, coal, dirt, and bones, and the carelessness of owners in feeding frequently result in a loss of tone and power of the dog’s stomach, and render it unable to perform its important function in the process of digestion, and the food eaten, instead of being made fit for the nourishment of the body, acts as a heavy load and irritant to the stomach, or produces disorders and diseases of the bowels, such as indigestion, diarrhea, and constipation.
INDIGESTION.-This is the commonest of all canine diseases and the greatest cause of thriftless and ill health. The appetite is irregular, wholesome food is refused or eaten mincingly and slobbered about, and a preference is shown for garbage and indigestible matter. There is generally considerable thirst, and the food taken into the stomach is frequently vomited in a more or less altered condition and mixed with slime and mucus. If it remains in the stomach it ferments and generates gas, which distends the abdomen and causes pain and uneasiness. The breath is foul and offensive, the gums inflamed, the tongue coated, and the bowels deranged. The animal is dull, listless, and out of sorts.
Treatment.-Carefully regulating the diet and attention to sanitary conditions will effect a cure in ordinary attacks. If there is much pain and systemic disturbance, remedies must be administered. If the stomach is full and there is gaseous distention, vomiting can be induced by giving two teaspoonfuls of wine of ipecac as a first dose and a teaspoonful every ten minutes thereafter until the stomach is emptied. On the contrary, if severe vomiting exists, ten or fifteen grains of the subnitrate of bismuth may be given to settle the stomach. If there is a state of constipation or diarrhea the remedies that are recommended for such conditions should be administered. The patient should be fed an easily digested diet, such as raw lean beef, chopped fine, gelatine, meat soups, and stale whole-wheat bread, boiled rice, and fresh milk.
In this disease, as in worms and distemper, Dent’s Condition Pills will be found efficacious, as they are made from drugs especially selected for dogs, and assist in the digestion of foods as well as tone up the organs of digestion. For the benefit of owners, however, who do not have them on hand we give two useful prescriptions:
Bicarbonate of soda, 2 drachms.
Tr. rhubarb, 3 drachms.
Tr. Gentian, 4 drachms.
Tr. nux vomica, 1 drachm.
Liq. bismuth, 1 ounce. Water, 6 ounces.
Dose, a teaspoonful to a tablespoonful after feeding.
For those who prefer powders, take:
Ingluvin, 1 2 to 2 scruples.
Carbonate of bismuth, I 2 to 2 drachms.
Powdered nux vomica, 1 to 3 grains.
Mix and divide into 12 powders, and give one three times a day after feeding.
CONSTPATION.-This ailment is common to all dogs, and is due generally either to neglect or ignorance upon the part of the owner. Regular exercise and discrimination in feeding will keep most dogs’ bowels in good condition and thereby determine the condition of the animal; for biliousness, disorders of the liver and kidneys, and the attendant conditions of foul breath, loss of appetite, languor, rough coat, and general unthriftiness are frequently due to the fact that there has been absorbed into the system certain poisonous products thrown off by the refuse matter that has for several days been lodged in the large intestine.
Causes.-The fecal matter in the intestines becomes hard, dry, and lumpy unless there is an unfailing supply of water for drinking purposes. Confinement in restricted quarters or chaining brings about a state of the nervous system that manifests itself by costiveness. If proper opportunity is not given dogs to relieve themselves, fecal matter accumulates in the lower bowels and brings about paralysis of that part. A concentrated diet, like one of all meat, has not sufficient residue to properly stimulate the bowels. Wheat flour is constipating. Graham flour, oat and corn meal are not, but on account of the excessive residue will, if continued too long, overtax the bowels. Vegetables, such as cabbage, greens, and onions, have a laxative action on the bowels on account of certain medicinal elements, as well as their large amount of water.
Symptoms.-Continued straining and the passage of hard, dry, lumpy matter; congested eyes; loss of appetite; coated tongue; offensive breath, and a listless, out-of-sorts appearance. As the feces get pressed into the lower bowels in a compact mass, colicky pains occur and the belly becomes hard and distended.
Treatment.-The first thing to do is to unload the bowels, not by strong purgatives that will only complicate matters, but by an injection either of soapsuds or a teaspoonful of glycerine. If the-owner does not care to use one of the regular remedies the following pills are useful. They should be made by a druggist:
Ext. belladonna, 3 to 12 grains.
Powd. rhubarb, 6 to 30 grains.
Powd. nux vomica, 1 to 6 grains.
The smaller quantities for small and the larger for the large breeds of dogs. The above should be carefully mixed and divided into 12 pills, one to be given twice a day after food.
In all cases the cure must be looked for through a change in the diet and system of management. See that your dog’s supply of fresh water is unfailing and that he is exercised daily. If he has been fed largely on meat and wheat bread, feed with the meat a quantity of freshly chopped cabbage, spinach, dandelions, or beet tops. Substitute oatmeal, cornmeal, or graham bread for the wheat flour, or, better still, feed Spratt’s Dog Cakes, as they are an admirably balanced ration that keep the bowels in a healthy condition. By a variation of these different foods and a course of treatment with Dent’s Condition Pills, the system can be toned up and habits will become regular and the general health and appearance improved.
DIARRHEA.-This disease, of common occurrence among young puppies and old overfed dogs, refers to abnormal changes in the character and frequency of the passages of the bowels. In this disorder the membranes of the bowels are not diseased, but simply pass off matter that irritates them. When the bowels themselves become inflamed and ulcerated the disorder is known as dysentery, and it is obvious that a simple attack of diarrhea, if not properly attended to, is liable to run into the much more serious case of dysentery.
Causes.-Errors in diet and indigestion are the common causes. The eating of decayed and irritating food, often brought about by leaving stale food over from one meal to another, foul water, and injuries caused by blows or kicks, will bring on this disorder. The retained excretions of constipation also throw off poisons that will unduly stimulate the bowels. A severe chilling and cold that forces the blood to the intestines will also set up diarrhea. Worms are a common cause, and among puppies changes in the milk of the nursing mother or the abrupt change to cow’s milk are frequent causes. Diarrhea is also brought on by the injudicious use of salts and calomel.
Symptoms.-These are of course evident, and indicate the severity of the attack by their character and frequency. In an acute attack vomiting of offensive matter accompanies the loose, watery discharge from the bowels. Blood is sometimes present as a result of piles or a congestion of the membranes, as well as small amounts of mucus. In a simple attack of diarrhea the general health suffers but little, but if not checked the weakness becomes excessive, and among puppies the mortality is high.
Treatment.-As the disease is simply nature’s effort to throw off irritating matter, it should be assisted by giving a dose of castor oil to empty the intestines. The diet should be attended to. Feed milk, three parts, mixed with lime water, one part, and a milk porridge made by browning wheat flour and then mixing it with milk. Spratt’s special foods are very useful in these cases. A good diarrhea mixture in severe cases is:
Laudanum, 1 drachm.
Tr. rhubarb, 4 drachms.
Peppermint, water to make 4 ounces.
Dose, a teaspoonful to two tablespoonfuls three times a day.
But generally all that will be necessary to do is to attend to the diet as previously described. Where worms are the cause, and their presence is always to be suspected, particularly if the nature of the discharge is variable, sometimes lumpy and covered by mucous froth and small air bubbles, their expulsion must be accomplished by suitable vermifuges.
Diarrhea in young puppies can generally be cured by changing the diet. Feed less milk, and for it substitute beef tea or wheat bread soaked in blood gravy. If there is much pain, give five or ten drops of paregoric. Precipitated chalk in doses of onefourth teaspoonful for small puppies and one-half teaspoonful for puppies of two months and over, is a harmless and useful remedy in these cases, and the dose may be repeated every two or three hours.