This section is from the book "A Manual Of Toy Dogs: How To Breed, Rear, And Feed Them", by Leslie Williams. Also available from Amazon: A Manual Of Toy Dogs: How To Breed, Rear And Feed Them.
Of these, epileptic fits are the most dangerous and by far the least common. A dog suffering from epilepsy which is thoroughly established, is practically incurable, in the present state of canine medical science. Later, perhaps, the Rontgen rays may be beneficially applied to this disease in dogs, as in human beings. In a popular manual it is scarcely necessary to go further into the subject than to say that epilepsy need not be suspected unless the convulsive attacks are more or less recurrent, and so frequent as to exhaust the animal. Not until we have tried such treatment as an amateur can safely give, which is quite enough to cure ordinary teething or suckling fits due merely to some reflex irritation affecting the brain, and found it fail, need we fear epilepsy; and when we do fear it with any reason, skilled advice and diagnosis is absolutely needful, since the case must be watched and treated on its merits.
Suckling fits are exceedingly common among small, highly-organised, and sensitive bitches. They generally begin about the end of the second week of nursing puppies, and do not seem to be in any way caused by overstrain; that is, a small female suckling five puppies is not more likely to suffer from these fits than one only bringing up a brace. Their exact cause is difficult to determine, since very healthy, well-fed animals may have them in common with those that are weak and miserable from under-feeding (which in this case is synonymous with feeding on a non-meat diet) or kennel life.
Whatever the cause, the symptoms are always easy to recognise. The bitch first loses interest in her litter, though her milk-supply is seldom, if ever, lessened. She twitches, and her eyes look dull and filmy, or glassy and staring. She wanders restlessly about, and sometimes pants in the same way as she did when expecting her confinement. Now is the time to intervene, and give one teaspoonful of syrup of chloral with an equal quantity of water. If this is not done, the attack will proceed to staggering, shrieking, and more or less violent convulsions. The administration of the chloral generally causes the symptoms to subside gradually; but should the patient be no better in two hours, repeat the dose, and if giving bromide of potassium in 5 - gr. doses twice or three times a day, immediately after food, does not keep her right, she must go on taking the chloral.
Neither chloral nor bromide affects the milk; if any of it passes therein, the quantity is so very minute as to make no difference to the puppies. It is not at all necessary to take the bitch away from her litter; in fact, it is better to let her go on feeding them. Some will wish to leave their babies, and these should be taken to them and shut in with them, four times a day, and during the night. If she is thoroughly well fed, it never does the bitch any harm to bring up her family, and it would be a very great pity for the puppies to be lost when it is not necessary. But it is exceedingly important that she should be kept in a state of hyper-nutrition - that is, that she should have as much good, underdone meat as she can digest. Bromides are lowering, and besides this, the state of the nerves demands the highest possible feeding. It may be expensive to feed a "fitty" bitch on good beefsteak or roast mutton four times a day, giving her a sponge cake the last thing at night and a little milk, or, what is much better and more digestible, a raw new-laid egg or raw fresh cream, in the early morning; but it is, on the whole, a cheap way of saving a litter of valuable pups.
If there are a large number of pups, some may be given to a foster-mother; but as a rule these are difficult to get, and not often satisfactory. Bromides should always be given immediately after food; on no account when the stomach is empty. Chloral may be given at any time when there is a necessity for it. The 5-gr. bromide tabloids obtainable at any chemist's are very useful; it is unnecessary to dissolve them in water for dogs, but, as before stated, they must be given with or directly after food.
Teething fits should be treated, as far as medicine goes, exactly as suckling fits. Just as a badly-reared, non-meat-fed bitch who, by reason of an anaemic habit, harbours worms, is a poor subject for the latter trouble, so is a puppy that has been brought up on milky slops and large, wet messes of oatmeal and bread and milk, and thus has a weakened digestion, very likely to suffer badly from fits that in a strong young dog would pass off with small trouble. There is usually some warning of teething fits, as staring eyes, etc.; but sometimes, and especially if a puppy of from six to ten months has been much excited, taken out walking on a hot day, allowed to play in the sun, or dragged unwillingly on a lead, they come on very suddenly. While out in hot sun, the dog may suddenly give a shriek and begin to run with all his might, taking no notice of calls. As a general rule, he has the sense to run home, unless some officious person on the way imagines him mad and acts as silly people do under such circumstances.
If it is possible to catch the runaway, he should have his head covered to keep the light out of his eyes, and be taken home as quickly and quietly as possible to be shut in some cool and perfectly dark place until the fit passes off sufficiently to give him a dose of chloral. Afterwards he should have a diet of minced, underdone meat, with bromide of potassium to follow, for a day or two. A plunge into cold water will often stop a fit like this, but is too heroic a remedy to be safe unless the circumstances are very urgent. Cold sponging to the head is good, and quiet and darkness are essential. Some times teething fits go on increasing in frequency and severity until they merge into epilepsy, and the dog is lost. This is occasionally caused by allowing a very young, highly nervous, and excitable dog to be with others of the opposite sex, when these should be in seclusion.
Fits, very much like mild teething fits, are not uncommon in run-down dogs suffering from anaemia and the likely corollary, worms. These are often very transient, and a course of tonic treatment, with rest from excite_ ment, and good feeding, will banish them.