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;.
This disease is often called colt distemper because colts rarely ever escape it, very few horses reaching the age of five years without an attack. There are two forms of this disease: the regular, and the irregular or malignant form. The name, strangles, originated from the difficulty in breathing. The regular form generally runs its course in from ten to fifteen days, while the irregular form may last as many weeks. This disease may occur at any season of the year, but is generally most severe during the spring months.
Symptoms. - In the regular form the symptoms are somewhat similar to those of catarrh. There is dullness; discharge from the nostrils, pulse and breathing slightly quickened and a rise of two or three degrees in temperature. There is also swelling of the throat and of the glands underneath the jaws. In the irregular form the fever often runs very high; abscesses form on different parts of the body, and may form on the inside, where they generally prove fatal. As the disease progresses the legs swell; the appetite fails; great prostration follows, often resulting in death.
Treatment. - In the mild form, blanket arid stable the animal according to the season; feed on nutritious, laxative diet, and give, three times a day, a heaping teaspoonful of the following: Powdered gentian root and nitrate of potash, of each equal parts, mixed. If the throat is tender, rub in three times a day till sore, a little of the following: Raw linseed oil, turpentine, and aqua ammonia, of each equal parts, mixed. When abscesses form they should be opened and syringed out once or twice a day with carbolic acid, two teaspoonfuls and water one pint. If the symptoms become more severe, running on toward the irregular form, stimulants and tonics will be necessary. Nitrous ether, from 1 to 2 ounces, and quinine, 20 grains, should be given three or four times a day. The discharge from the nostrils, in either form, can be greatly facilitated by steaming over a pail of hot water into which has been put a tablespoonful of turpentine to the gallon of water. If the swelling in the throat should become so severe as to threaten strangulation, the only hope will be in tracheotomy, and as this will require the services of a veterinarian we will not describe the operation.