This section is from the book "The Farmers Ready Reference Or Hand Book Of Diseases Of Horses And Cattle", by S. C. Orr. . Also available from Amazon: The Farmer's Ready Reference;.
Bloating is of very common occurrence in cattle, especially in districts where red clover is raised for pasture. Allowing animals to graze upon clover in the morning while the dew is on, or even when it is wet from rain, will often cause severe bloating. Frozen roots or vegetables of any kind, grass when covered with frost, half-wilted tops of garden vegetables are all likely to cause trouble.
Symptoms. - The symptoms cannot be mistaken. The left flank will be most prominent, being often raised above the level of the backbone, and having a drum-like sound when struck with the hand When the stomach becomes greatly distended it presses forward upon the diaphragm and lungs so much as to interfere with the breathing; and if not relieved the animal reels, falls and dies of suffocation.
Treatment. - In moderate cases, where death from suffocation is not imminent, a heaping tablespoonful of pulverized charcoal mixed with water and given as a drench, and repeated in half an hour, is sometimes very effectual. Four drachms of carbonate of ammonia, given in a quart of water every half hour will often stop the formation of gas. But in urgent cases puncturing in the flank is the only resort. This is best done with trocar and canula, which every stock raiser should have and know how to use. In the absence of a trocar, a long, slender-bladed knife may be used. The point at which to puncture is high up on the left flank at an equal distance from the last rib, the point of the hip, and the transverse process of the vertebrae. An incision half an inch long should be made in the skin, the point of the trocar inserted and pushed downward and slightly inward and forward. The trocar should then be withdrawn, leaving the canula in the opening until all the gas has escaped and its formation ceased. The trocar should then be inserted and the canula removed and a little carbolized oil rubbed on the wound. The animal should then have a pound of Epsom salt dissolved in half a gallon of water and given as a drench.