This section is from the book "The Dogs Of Great Britain, America, And Other Countries. Their Breeding, Training, and Management in Health and Disease", by John Henry Walsh (Stonehenge). Also available from Amazon: The Dogs Of Great Britain, America And Other Countries.
Chorea, or St. Vitus's dance, may be known by the spasmodic twitches which accompany it, and cease during sleep. In slight cases the spasm is a mere drop of the head and shoulder, or sometimes of the hind quarter only, the nods in the former case, or the backward drop in the latter, giving a very silly and weak expression to the animal. Chorea is generally a consequence of distemper, so that it is unnecessary to describe its early stages. It rarely destroys life, though it is occasionally accompanied by fits, and the sufferer ultimately dies, apparently from exhaustion. Of the exact nature of the disease we know nothing, the most careful examination of the brain and spinal cord leading to no decided result. In the treatment it is desirable to ascertain the existence of worms, and if they are found, no remedy will be likely to be beneficial, so long as they are allowed to continue their attacks. If 347 they are only suspected, it is prudent to give a dose of the most simple worm-medicine, such as the areca nut (65). If this brings away only one or two, the presence of others may be predicated, and a persistence in the proper medicines will be necessary, until the dog is supposed to be cleansed from them.
Beyond this, the remedies must be directed to improve the general health, and at the same time to relieve any possible congestion of the brain or spine, by the insertion of a seton in the neck. Fresh country air is very beneficial. If good nourishing animal food, mixed with a proper proportion of vegetables does not avail, recourse may be had to the following tonic, which is often of the greatest service: Sulphate of zinc, 2 to 5 grains; extract of gentian, 3 grains. Mix, and form a bolus. To be given three times a day.
Careful attention must be paid to the state of the bowels, both constipation and looseness being prejudicial to the health, and each requiring the appropriate treatment. Sometimes the tonic pill (62) will do wonders, and often the change from it to the sulphate of zinc and back again will be of more service than either of them continued by itself. A perseverance in these methods, with the aid of the shower-bath, used by means of a watering-pot applied to the head and spine, and followed by moderate exercise, will sometimes entirely remove the disease. In the majority of cases a slight drop will be ever afterwards noticed, and in sporting-dogs the strength is seldom wholly restored.