Sore throat, as this disease is commonly termed, is an ailment of frequent occurrence in the horse, appearing on some occasions in the course of one or another of the contagious fevers to which this animal is liable, and on others as an independent local affection, the result of cold. Young horses suffer most frequently and severely, and especially when transferred from the pure air of the open pasture to the foul atmosphere of the stable.
The disease is usually limited to the vascular membrane lining the cavity, and may be of the mildest description. In this case it passes away quickly without causing much inconvenience or suffering to the patient. In other instances, however, it extends deep into the tissues of the throat and neighbouring glands, giving rise to the formation of abscess, with its attendant suffering and danger.
Sore throat often follows upon exposure to inclement weather and sudden changes of temperature, when it appears as part of a common cold. Spring and autumn, while the hair is being shed and a new coat produced, are the times of greatest susceptibility to this form of the malady, and the liability to contract it is materially increased by the depressing influence of over-work and close, foul stables. It may also arise from direct injury inflicted by the lodgment of foreign substances swallowed with the food, or from chemical irritants administered by mistake or otherwise, and it has been suggested that the throat sometimes becomes irritated and inflamed in the colt as the result of "teething".
It almost invariably exists to a greater or less extent associated with "strangles", in which we experience the most severe and dangerous examples of the disease. In certain outbreaks of influenza, catarrhal sore throat is a special feature of the disorder, while in others it is of seldom occurrence. It is difficult to assign a reason for this discrepancy, but probably it may be in some way connected with atmospheric constitution.
Inflammation affecting the mouth not infrequently extends to the throat unless kept under control.
The symptoms of pharyngitis or sore throat vary with the severity of the disease, but they are, nevertheless, very characteristic. Difficulty or inability to swallow is the most striking feature of the affection.
The food, after mastication, is held in the mouth for a brief period before any attempt is made to swallow, and then it is suddenly bolted, while the head is sharply raised or jerked to one side as the effect of pain. The throat may show some fulness, and pressure applied from without excites pain. The glands are sometimes enlarged and tender, in which case the head will be poked out and carried somewhat stiffly. Where the impediment to swallowing is considerable, some of the water returns through the nostrils in the act of drinking, carrying with it fragments of masticated food.
In cases where the disease extends to the respiratory passage there will be coughing, especially with each attempt to swallow. In this disease the mouth contains a large quantity of thick saliva, some of which trickles from the corners and hangs from the lips in ropy lengths.
In rare instances the inflammatory action results in suppuration and the formation of an abscess. Here the breathing is rendered difficult and noisy, the body temperature is raised, the pulse quickened, and marked constitutional disturbance exists. After maturing, the abscess breaks either outwardly or inwardly, in the latter ease discharging the matter (pus) through the nostrils, when the patient experiences immediate and obvious relief.
The course to be adopted in dealing with this disease will depend very much on the severity of the attack. In a large number of instances a short course of warm, sloppy diet, enjoined with a few days' rest and careful nursing, is all that is required to bring about recovery. If, however, the attack assumes an acute character, then treatment must be of a more active kind. Here applications to the throat, both externally and internally, will be necessary. Outwardly a mustard poultice, or flannel bandages wrung out in hot water and frequently renewed should be resorted to, while hot vapour is conveyed to the inflamed part by inhalation from a nose-bag containing bran, or what is better, sawdust saturated with boiling water. A little electuary, composed of extract of belladonna, nitrate of potash, and treacle, should be deposited on the tongue four or five times a day by means of a stick. The patient will suck it in, and in this way the throat may be anointed and soothed without subjecting him to the annoyance and excitement of drenching.
In all cases of this kind the bowels should be gently moved. For this purpose 2 to 4 ounces of sulphate of magnesia may be given in a feed of scalded bran, and repeated at intervals of twenty-four hours three or four times if necessary, or it may be given in the drinking-water if the patient prefers that mode of taking it. Where outward swelling of the throat appears, the part should be freely fomented and poulticed. One of two results may be expected to follow this line of treatment: either the swelling will become resolved and disappear, or an abscess will develop in its substance. The latter will be made known by the appearance of a soft, moist, fluctuating spot on some part of the surface. When this state has been reached the abscess must be laid open and its contents allowed to escape. In the event of its "pointing" inwards the matter will, as we have already indicated, pass out by the nostrils. In either case instant relief will follow, and should no intercurrent drawback arise, a speedy recovery may be anticipated.
At this stage of the disease, treatment must be mainly directed towards improving the general condition and re-establishing convalescence, while at the same time tone must be given to the diseased parts. In the first connection a plentiful supply of good food will be needed, but it is most desirable that it should be judiciously selected and prepared. Scalded corn and chart' with bran, and a little boiled linseed, form a suitable diet at this time. It should, however, be given in small quantities and often. Where bodily weakness is very marked, two or three eggs may be added to the diet as many times a day, and an ounce or two of alcohol may with advantage be mixed with the drinking-water morning and evening. Later on, and as the animal recovers appetite and strength, mineral and vegetable tonics in the form of sulphate of iron and gentian will aid in bringing about complete restoration to health.