Symptoms and Diagnosis. - This is one of the most serious conditions we are called upon to face when dealing with diseases of the foot, for in many cases it quickly ends in exhaustion and death of the patient, while in even the most favourable cases nothing better than a condition of complete and bony anchylosis is to be expected. The owner, therefore, should be warned accordingly.

As in the other joint affections, so here, we get all the symptoms of acute febrile constitutional disturbance. The pulse, the temperature, the respirations, and the general haggard, 'tucked-up,' and distressed appearances of the animal all tell too plain a tale. Our patient is in constant pain, and the seat of the trouble is clearly enough shown by the constant pawing movements of the affected foot. If he has room to get up and down in comfort the animal adopts for long periods at a stretch the recumbent position, and is not upon his legs long enough to take the necessary amount of food to keep him going. Even when down, it is plain to see that the animal is not at rest. The pawing movement is still maintained with the foot, and every now and again the eyes are opened and the headed lifted to give a troubled look round. The appetite, too, is capricious, and in many cases almost entirely lost.

In some slight degree the condition is less to be feared in a fore than in a hind foot - that is, so far as absolutely fatal results are concerned. With the condition confined to one fore-foot, the animal is able to get up and down with a moderate degree of comfort. At intervals, therefore, he rises to take nourishment, and as soon as his wants are satisfied again lies down.

With the disease in a hind-foot matters are not taken so comfortably. The patient finds that with each day's increasing weakness the difficulty that at first he had to raise himself with only one sound hind-foot becomes enormously increased. The consequence is that he fears to go down, and the standing position is maintained until sheer weakness overcomes him, and he goes down, not to rise again without assistance.

If judiciously attended he is, of course, put in slings before this stage is reached; but there are instances, as in the case of a cart-mare heavy with foal, where the use of slings is most decidedly contra-indicated.

If doubt before existed as to the nature of the case, it is at a later stage dispelled by the appearance, generally in the hollow of the heel, of a hot and painful swelling. This at first is hard, but later fluctuates. Finally it breaks at one or more spots, and there exudes from the opening or openings a purulent and oftentimes sanious discharge, which coagulates about each fistula after the manner of ordinary synovia.

With the discharge of the abscess contents there is some slight improvement in the symptoms. Here, with a suitable treatment, and with a patient of a particularly robust constitution, the case appears to turn, and slowly but surely progresses towards the only end we can hope for - namely, a more or less painless anchylosis of the articulation.

In less favourable cases the purulent discharge continues, and (always a bad sign) becomes more or less chocolate-like in colour, distinctly thin, and stinking. The diseased process spreads until the ligaments of the joint, both by reason of their infiltration with the inflammatory discharges, and also on account of the ravages made on them by the invading pus, either greatly stretch or altogether rupture.

The joint, after its ligaments have been destroyed in this manner, is loosened, and the bones are now freely movable. Their manipulation gives to the touch a sickening, grating sound - in other words, we have crepitus. This, of course, indicates that the articular cartilages have become greatly eroded by the inflammatory process, and so left what we may term 'raw' surfaces of bone to rub together. When the animal is put to the walk the toe of the foot is elevated, and the extreme mobility of the foot gives one the idea of fracture. With every step there is a peculiar sucking noise, comparable to that of a foot moving in a boot of water, and putrescent matter is squeezed from every opening each time the foot is put to the ground. Although we have seen cases even advanced thus far recover, it is questionable whether it is now wise to attempt to prolong life. Slaughter is far more humane, and, in our opinion, except with a valuable brood animal, more economical.

If the animal is allowed to linger, other symptoms will nearly always present themselves before death occurs. Whether in slings or not, a careful watch should be kept upon the sound limb. For some time the patient stands upon it incessantly, but sooner or later it happens that a farther visit show us the animal standing with full weight on the diseased foot, and making painful pawing movements with what before was the sound. We immediately jump to the conclusion 'laminitis.' And so it is, but it is a laminitis brought about by pyaemia. This is indicated by the swollen and oedematous nature of the lymphatics of the limb. Plainly enough they indicate the road by which the poison has travelled. It is in this way: Pus and putrefactive organisms have gained entrance to the lymphatics of the original diseased limb. From these they have rapidly gained the blood-stream and set up infection elsewhere. In this particular instance it is demonstrated by the laminitis and lymphangitis of the previously sound limb. With the poison thus circulating in the blood-stream, we often also get spots of infection commenced in one or other of the more vital organs - notably the lungs or the kidneys. The end of our case is then either a gangrenous pneumonia or complications induced by a condition of widespread pyaemia.

With the animal in slings there are one or two other symptoms that call for attention. In many cases, especially with animals of a lymphatic and indolent nature, the use made of them is inordinate. The patient rests so continually in them that alarming swellings commence to make their appearance about the rectum, or in the case of a mare about the vulva. The animal must then be let down at regular intervals and again raised when rest is obtained.

A more alarming symptom still is when the animal, instead of resting in the slings by his buttocks, casts his weight bodily into the belly-rest and hangs with a heavy head into the head-stall. This indicates complete exhaustion and a wish for death. Matters should therefore be explained to the owner, and his consent obtained for immediate destruction.