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.
This disease has been classed among the inflammations. The symptoms are chiefly as follows: The first is a marked change of temper; the naturally cheerful dog becoming waspish and morose, and the bold fondling pet retreating from his master's hand 323 as if it was that of a stranger. On the other hand, the shy dog becomes bold; in almost every instance there is a total change of manner for several days before the absolute outbreak of the attack, which is indicated by a kind of delirious watching of imaginary objects, the dog snapping at the wall, or if anything comes in his way, tearing it to pieces with savage fury. With this there is constant watchfulness, and sometimes a peculiarly hollow howl. At other times no sound whatever is given, the case being then described as "dumb madness." Fever is always present, but it is difficult to ascertain to what extent on account of the danger of approaching the patient. Urgent thirst accompanies the fever. Mr. Grantley Berkeley strongly maintains that no dog really attacked with rabies will touch water, and that the presence of thirst is a clear sign of the absence of this disease.
This theory is so entirely in opposition to the careful accounts given by all those who have witnessed the disease, when it had unquestionably been communicated either to man or to some of the lower animals, that no credence need be given it. Mr. Youatt witnessed more cases of rabies than perhaps any equally good Observer, and he strongly insists upon the presence of thirst, as may be gathered from the concluding portion of the following extract:
"Some very important conclusions may be drawn from the appearance and character of the urine. The dog, at particular times when he is more than usually salacious, may, and does diligently search the urining places; he may even at those periods be seen to lick the spot which another animal has just wetted. If a peculiar eagerness accompanies this strange employment, if in the parlor, which is rarely disgraced by this evacuation, every corner is perse-vcringly examined, and licked with unwearied and unceasing industry, the dog cannot be too carefully watched; there is great danger about him; he may, without any other symptom, be pronoun- . ced to be decidedly rabid. I never knew a single mistake about this. Much has been said of the profuse discharge of saliva from the mouth of the rabid dog. It is an undoubted fact that, in this disease, all the glands concerned in the secretion of saliva become increased in bulk and vascularity. The sublingual glands wear an evident character of inflammation; but it never equals the increased discharge that accompanies epilepsy or nausea. The frothy spume, at the corners of the mouth, is not for a moment to be compared with that which is evident enough in both of these affections.
It is a symptom of short duration, and seldom lasts longer than twelve hours. The stories that are told of the mad dog, covered with froth, are altogether fabulous. The dog recov-ering from, or attacked by a fit may be seen in this state, but not the rabid dog. Fits are often mistaken for rabies, and hence the delusion.
"The increased secretion of saliva soon passes away. It lessens in quantity and becomes thick, viscid, adhesive, and glutinous. It clings to the corners of the mouth, and probably more annoyingly so to the membrane of the fauces. The human being is sadly distressed by it. He forces it out with the greatest violence, or utters the falsely supposed bark of a dog, in his attempts to eject it from his mouth. This symptom occurs in the human being when the disease is fully established, or at a late period of it The dog furiously attempts to brush away the secretion with his paws. It is an early symptom in the dog, and it can scarcely be mistaken in him. When he is fighting with his paws at the corners of his mouth, let no one suppose that a bone is sticking between the poor fellow's teeth; nor should any useless and dangerous effort be made to relieve him. If all this uneasiness arose from a bone in the mouth, the mouth would continue permanently open, instead of closing when the animal for a moment discontinues his efforts. If after a while he loses his balance and tumbles over, there can be no longer any mistake. It is the saliva becoming more and more glutinous, irritating the fauces and threatening suffocation.
To this naturally and rapidly succeeds an insatiable thirst The dog that still has full power over the muscles of his jaws continues to lap. He knows not when to cease, and the poor fellow whose jaw and tongue are paralyzed, plunges his muzzle into the water-dish to his very eyes, in order that he may get one drop of water into the back part of his mouth to moisten and to cool his dry and parched fauces. Hence, instead of this disease being always characterized by the dread of water in the dog, it is marked by a thirst often perfectly unquenchable. Twenty years ago, this assertion would have been peremptorily denied. Even at the present day we occasionally meet with those who ought to know better, and who will not believe that the dog which fairly, or perhaps eagerly, drinks, can be rabid."
My own experience fully confirms the above account, having seen, as I have, seven cases of genuine rabies, in all of which thirst was present in a greater or less degree; in five of the cases the disease was communicated to other dogs. If the rabid dog is not molested he will seldom attack any living object; but the slightest obstruction in his path is sufficient to rouse his fury, he then bites savagely, and in the most unreasoning manner, wholly regardless of the consequences. The gait, when at liberty, is a long trot in a straight line.
The average time of the occurrence of rabies after the bite is, in the dog, from three weeks to six months, or possibly even longer; a suspected case therefore requires careful watching for at least that time; after three months, the animal supposed to have been bitten may be considered tolerably safe, if no unfavorable symptoms have in the meantime shown themselves. The duration of the disease is about four or five days, but I have myself known a case to be fatal in forty-eight hours. No remedy having yet been discovered for rabies, nothing remains but to kill the dog suffering therefrom.