This disease is the result of some irritant acting upon the mucous membrane by which the organ is lined. The provocative agents are sometimes mechanical, at others they are of a chemical nature; of the former, stone in the bladder is the more common cause. Chemical irritation results in those cases where the urine is long retained, either as the result of paralysis or otherwise, and in consequence undergoes decomposition. It also follows upon the too-free administration of cantharides and croton-oil, or from their absorption by the skin when applied over a large surface. In mares, it may be the result of difficult parturition, where much force has been employed in extracting the foetus. In-Humiliation of the bladder sometimes complicates certain forms of influenza, and attends the development of morbid growths.
The symptoms are those of abdominal pain with frequent shifting of the hind-feet. Urine is discharged in small quantities and often, and the affected animal repeatedly extends himself as if to stale, without effecting his purpose. The penis is unsheathed from time to time and again retracted; this symptom is particularly marked when the disturbance is caused by cantharides or other sexual irritants. In mares the vulva is spasmodically everted from the same cause. If the bladder be pressed upon by passing the hand into the rectum the animal evinces pain by looking round towards the flank. The urine is usually turbid or muddy, and may be blood-stained. Unless relief is afforded, the pulse becomes quick and small, the breathing accelerated, the mucous membrane of the eyes changes from a pale pink to a brick-red hue. The countenance wears a pinched and haggard expression, and general prostration becomes marked and severe.
Treatment should be directed to subdue existing pain and render the urine as little irritating to the inflamed organ as possible. With the latter object bland soothing fluids, consisting of linseed tea, milk, barley-water, and white of egg, should be given. The bowels must be freely acted upon by a dose of aloes, and enemas of warm water, in which a little extract of belladonna and glycerine has been dissolved, will require to be administered two or three times a day. Nothing contributes so much to the relief of the patient as to guard against the accumulation of excrement in the posterior bowel. In some cases it is most desirable that the bladder be washed out from time to time with a warm antiseptic solution, in the preparation of which carbolic acid or perchloride of mercury will be found the most suitable agents. This, however, being an operation requiring special knowledge, should not be attempted by an amateur.
Small, repeated doses of belladonna will be found most useful in reducing the pain and irritability of the diseased organ, and some relief will also be afforded by hot cloths applied across the loins.
Horses having once suffered from inflammation of the bladder are liable to a recurrence of the disease, to avoid which they should be afforded frequent opportunities to stale.