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.
Not an ailment, but a subject which needs a few words, is the taking of poison by toy dogs. Unluckily, there is always risk in a town, not only of the wilful poisoner, who apparently exists, but of the ingestion of poisoned meat or bread and butter put for rats or beetles, and afterwards thrown out. In ninety-nine cases out of a hundred a poisoned dog has had strychnine, this being the favourite drug of all those who employ poison at all. Arsenic is too slow, and of other poisons, thank Providence! the vulgar have mostly no knowledge. The symptoms of strychnine poisoning are, firstly, excitement - the patient runs about, and barks with a peculiar strident shriek. According to the quantity of the poison taken and the quantity of food in the stomach at the time, this stage occupies a longer or shorter period. Taken shortly after a good meal, the poison seems less rapid in action than when the stomach is empty. Presently come convulsions, and constant shrieking; then the limbs stick out and are perfectly stiff and rigid. Even at this stage the dog can often be saved if means are at hand. Never be without a bottle of syrup of chloral in the house; it will keep indefinitely. First make the dog sick.
Use sulphate of zinc in water, or weak mustard and warm water, and give plenty of this latter. The best way is by putting it in a phial, and running it down the throat by way of a pouch of lower lip diawn out from the teeth at the angle of the mouth. As soon as the patient has been sick, give a teaspoonful of the syrup of chloral in water. This is the antidote to strychnine. If you cannot wait to make the patient sick, give the chloral at once - but give it: and the dose may be repeated every two hours until the convulsions cease. For a tiny pup or dog under 5 lbs. the dose may be halved. Recovery from strychnine is very rapid, and it leaves, as a rule, no ill effects, though there is a widespread belief, and a mistaken one, that it subsequently affects the kidneys.
All the other kinds of poison dogs are likely to get or be given work as irritants, and these need veterinary diagnosis. Salt, I may here remark, is so violent and irritating a purgative to the dog that it is next door to a poison, and the effects of castor oil in his intestine are not so very far behind. Constant drugging is a thing as much to be avoided in dogs as in their owners, and I cannot too strongly deprecate the foolish practice - foolish or worse - of giving doses of castor oil after shows, or as so - called prophylactics - preventives of illness. If a dog has been much confined at a show, and is likely to be irregular in consequence, a little pure olive oil with his dinner (not the nut oil often sold by grocers as olive oil) will do no harm, although a dinner of oatmeal gruel or boiled sheep's liver would be much more sensible and act better; if he seems well and lively, leave him alone. Some people actually go the length of dosing their puppies with castor oil at intervals, for no reason that I can ascertain beyond a vague idea that it "clears the system." So it does - of strength and the healthy mucoid secretion of the intestine, without which natural functions cannot be properly performed.
Syrup of buck-thorn, or cascara sagrada, is another medicine that should never be given to small dogs : it is far too irritating and severe. When we have such excellent aperients as olive oil, magnesia, and rhubarb among drugs, and boiled sheep's liver among meats, we want no semi-poisonous irritant and violent drugs like castor oil, which, in the end, produce the very condition they were supposed to cure, and by pulling down the system, open the door to illness.