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.
One of the most common diseases in the dog, is rheumatism some form, generally showing itself with very little fever, but sometimes being accompanied with a high degree of fever. The frequency of this disease is owing to the constant exposure of the dog to cold and wet, and very often to his kennel being damp which is the fertile source of kennel lameness, or chest-founder, the latter being nothing more than rheumatism of the muscles of the shoulders. Again, those which spend half their time before a roasting fire, and the other half in the wet and cold, are very liable to contract this kind of fever, but not in so intractable a form as the denizen of the damp kennel. By some writers this affection is classed among inflammations, and it is a debatable point to which of these divisions it should be assigned. But this is of little consequence, so that the fever is properly known and easily recognized by the symptoms. I shall therefore include here, rheumatic fever, which is a general affection, and also the partial attacks known as kennel lameness or chest-founder, and rheumatism of the loins, commonly called palsy of the back.
Rheumatic fever is known by the following signs: - There is considerable evidence of fever, but not of a very high character, tho pulse being full but not very quick, with shivering and dullness, except when touched or threatened - the slightest approach causing a shriek, evidently from the fear of pain. The dog generally retires into a corner, and is very reluctant to come out On being forcibly brought out, he snarls at the hand even of his best friend, and stands with his back up, evidently prepared to defend himself from the pat of the hand, which to him is anguish. The bowels are confined, and the urine highly colored and scanty. The treatment consists in bleeding from the neck, to a moderate extent, if the dog is very gross and full of condition, followed with a smart dose of opening physic: (12) or (13). After this has acted give the following pills:
Purified opium, of each 1 grain. Powdered root of colchicum, 2 to 3 grains. Syrup, enough to make a pill.
Kennel lameness, or chest-founder, manifests itself in a stiffness or soreness of the shoulders, so that the dog is unable to gallop freely down hill, and is often reluctant to jump off his bench to the ground, the shock giving pain to the muscles. It is very common in the kennels of foxhounds, for these dogs, being exposed to wet and cold for hours together, and then brought home to a damp lodging-room, contract the disease with great frequency. Pampered house pets are also very liable to chest-founder, over feeding being quite as likely to produce rheumatism as exposure to cold, and when both are united this condition is almost sure to follow. When it becomes chronic there is little or no fever. After it has existed for some months it is generally regarded as incurable, but instances are known in which the stiffness has entirely disappeared. Chest-founder also arises from a sprain of the muscles which suspend the chest between the shoulders.
The remedies for kennel lameness are nearly the same as for general rheumatism, care being taken to remove the cause if it has existed in the shape of a damp cold lodging-room. The food should be light, and composed chiefly of vegetable materials; strong animal food tends to increase the rheumatic affection. The liniment (43) is very likely to be of service, especially if used after the hot bath, as previously described. It has been asserted, by persons of experience, that a red herring given two or three times a week will cure this disease. I have no personal experience of the merits of this remedy, but, according to Col. Whyte, it has recently been discovered that in the herring there is a specific for human rheumatism. It is worth a trial in dogs. It is given with two drachms of nitre and one of camphor. Most dogs readily eat the herring and camphor, and the nitre is added in a little water as a drench. Cod liver oil is also said to be of great service (5). Iodine with sarsaparilla (3) is a preparation which I have known to be of more service than any internal medicines.
A dragging of the hind limbs is common enough in the dog; though often called palsy, it really is, in most cases, of a rheumatic nature. It closely resembles chest-founder in all its symptoms, excepting that the muscles affected are situated in the loins and hips. The causes and treatment are the same as those for kennel lameness.