This disease is so termed from the yellow discoloration imparted to the tissues of the body by bile, which, in consequence of some functional or structural disorder of the liver, has been allowed to accumulate in the blood.
It may originate in the growth of tumours or other organic disease affecting the liver, or, as has been observed, it may follow upon .some temporary functional disturbance. It should, however, be noticed that jaundice may be absent in animals whose livers have suffered considerable structural disease, or the tissues may be deeply stained in one whose liver, examined after death, shows no obvious change. In the latter instances it may be regarded as arising out of some functional impairment of the gland.
In addition to the yellow tint imparted to the visible mucous membranes, there is also more or less discoloration of the urine. The faeces are pale and clay-coloured, and coated with mucus, or they are periodically thin and watery and foul-smelling. In some patients the urine may be stained before any decided symptoms of ill-health are manifested. There soon appears, however, dulness, with lowering head and indisposition to feed. The mouth is dry, clammy, and emits an offensive odour, the skin is harsh, dry, and dirty, and the coat "stares". The pulse remains unchanged, or may be slower than normal, and there is a general want of nervous energy and no disposition for work.
Treatment will depend upon the causes out of which the disorder arises. If we have been led to suspect a condition of congestion of the liver owing to dietetic errors, we shall first require to unload the bowels by means of an aperient dose of aloes, and then readjust the daily allowance of food, and afterwards submit the patient to a course of salines. Here the sulphates of magnesia and soda may be given, either separately or combined, in doses of two ounces in the morning, in the hope of restoring function and directing the bile into its proper channel. We may further assist the digestive function by providing bile in the form of oxgall, administered in the form of balls with oatmeal, or the meal of linseed from which the oil has been pressed. The general health should, as far as practicable, be sustained by judicious exercise, ample clothing, friction to the skin, and the administration of vegetable tonics, with which may be combined a small dose of nitrate of potash and common salt, to be given in the food morning and evening. With a decreasing quantity of bile in the urine the mineral acids will be found to hasten convalescence. Animals having once suffered from this disorder should be carefully dieted, guarded against excessive fatigue, and protected from exposure to easterly and north-easterly winds. Four ounces of sulphate of magnesia, given in the food occasionally, will assist in maintaining the normal activity of the liver and in warding off another attack.