The following are a few hints regarding the treatment of ailing pets; in the case of troubles which fall into none of these categories, veterinary aid should be sought. It should be noted that accidents involving fractures, etc., should be treated as in the case of human beings.
Illnesses amongst dogs and cats are often due to a forgetfulness of the fact that they are carnivorous animals, and that to feed them upon a vegetable and farinaceous menu courts all manner of illness, and is distinctly cruel. The cat likes its flesh food freshly killed, and even the dog, although naturally inclined to carrion, should never have meat or fish that is at all tainted. Bad breath and flatulence are two common evils arising from this, although they may be due to a sloppy diet, which, because of the lack of work for teeth and gums, is a common cause of pyorrhcea in these animals. Bones that splinter readily should never be given to carnivorous animals to gnaw. Fragments swallowed may easily perforate one or other of the delicate internal membranes.
For common Colds, denoted by lassitude, sneezing and discharge from the eyes and nostr I Is, warmth and a mild aperient, such as warm salad oil, should set matters right in a few days. As in the case of the human subject, colds should not be neglected, on account of complications which may arise.
From colds, when disregarded, arise many serious internal inflammations, such as Peritonitis, Enteritis, Gastritis, Bronchitis, and the dreaded Pneumonia that accounts for a high mortality amongst animals.
Heat, on the lines indicated for distemper, forms a most important part of the cure.
This is usually traceable to errors in diet, or too little exercise, or chill. A purgative first thing in the morning, with no food for half an hour afterwards, will give relief; or vaseline may be used as a clyster for delicate puppies, but the cure is the removal of the cause.
Diarrhoea is often a symptom of more serious conditions. Give a slight purgative, keep, warm, and diet upon light and nourishing, but not sloppy foods. In puppies and kittens, diarrhcea is often due to a farinaceous diet; condensed milk induces the condition in both cats and kittens, and should never be given to them. If cow’s or goat’s milk is unobtainable, pure water should be given them to drink.
The diseases of dogs and cats are the same, but they are both commonly healthy and long-lived when rationally fed and given comfortable sleeping quarters, free from draught. Dogs and cats that live entirely indoors often have to spend a night on the floor; at least, the dog is sometimes compelled to do so, the cat generally climbing into an armchair or sofa away from the draught. This is why the latter suffers less from chills and colds than the dog. Its more purely carnivorous tastes and cleaner feeding, also save it from many dietetic diseases from which the dog suffers, while the closer texture of its coat protects it better from the cold. Generally speaking, the cat takes more exercise than the dog, and, therefore, keeps in better health.
Canine Distemper in its common form, is an infectious catarrh of the mucous membranes of the eyes, and the respiratory and digestive organs. The nervous system and the skin may also be attacked.
Complications, which are numerous, constitute a grave danger. Dogs under one year old are most subject to it, but it is also fairly frequent up to the age of two years, while it is rare in older animals. It is due to infection, and chills, colds and run-down constitution.
It is a mistake to suppose that all dogs and cats (and many other small carnivorous animals) must have distemper. Young animals sent to shows, or allowed to go carelessly abroad where they meet others are the most frequent sufferers. Those that are carefully preserved from contact with strange animals seldom suffer from the disease.
Dullness, lassitude, loss of appetite, sneezing, short husky cough, and a discharge from the eyes and nose. This is succeeded by emaciation, which is often very rapid, and considerable fever. Symptoms may vary with the particular organs affected. The illness lasts about four weeks, but in mild cases recovery may take place in from eight to ten days. During convalescence every effort must be directed towards building up the strength with nourishing foods, such as raw egg, chicken, cooked rabbit flesh (raw for cats). Chills must be prevented, as pneumonia is a common complication, in which case, cure is hopeless.
The animal must be kept warm and well-wrapped up during the course of the disease, and the temperature of the room must be maintained by night. Place rubber hot-water bottles beneath the bedding. Good nursing is important, and one must be prepared to attend the patient during the night (renewing the water in the hot-water bottle) and tempting him to take a little liquid food. Unless this can be managed it is better to take the animal to a veterinary surgeon to be looked after. Boiled milk, beef tea, meat extract, and finely-chopped raw or lean cooked meat, as well as raw eggs, should be administered in small quantities as often as the animal seems to care for them, or about every hour. Give it whichever food it prefers, and when it tires of one, try another, and at all costs maintain the strength and warmth. The more highly-bred the animal, the more severe is the attack.
If kept in an artificial aquarium, toy fish frequently suffer from a fungoid parasite upon the scales, which causes sores and death from septic poisoning. The specimens affected should be placed in a separate vessel, under a slowly running tap, for several weeks. Once daily the vessel should be removed, or the tap turned off for an hour, and the water made the colour of port with permanganate of potash crystals, being afterwards gradually run clear again.
This trouble may be due to a lack of grit for the gizzard in grain-eating birds, and is indicated by almost constant eating. Bi-carbonate of soda in the drinking water (as much as will lie on a sixpence dissolved in two ounces of drinking water for a canary or bird of similar size) is an excellent remedy.
When an aperient is necessary, olive oil is safe to use; castor-oil is unsafe even for the larger species. Oil, and other medicine, may be readily administered with a clean fountain-pen filler or the tip of a feather.
These pests, internal and external, occasion considerable trouble, and illness amongst pet animals.
Foremost amongst the former are the round-worms, from which practically all dogs suffer in puppyhood and in later life— cats and kittens, too; tape-worms are less common but much more dangerous. An abnormal appetite, with a fondness for picking up filth, is a sure indication of the presence of pests, which will generally be found when the excreta are examined. The animal should be fasted for from two or three to twelve hours, according to its age and size, then given a vermifuge. A teaspoonful of olive oil may answer for delicate toy puppies and kittens, but oil of male fern or santonin is generally necessary for bigger animals. Give no food for an hour, and repeat the dose every second day until the excreta shows that all the pests have been expelled. To get rid of tape-worm, freshly powdered areca nut, from a pinch as much as will lie on a shilling, according to size and breed, should be given after fasting. It should not, however, be given to cats, for which santonin or oil-male fern must be used. The areca nut may be made into a pill or bolus with fresh butter and placed at the back of the tongue so that the animal must swallow it.
Pulmonary affections trouble birds a good deal, and Pneumonia is indicated by quickened respiration, fever, diarrhoea, spasmodic eagerness to feed being accompanied by rapid emaciation. The only hope is warmth. Sick birds, large and small, are surprisingly responsive to the curative influence of heat— not the heat of a warm room, but a temperature of 85° or 90° Fahr., maintained steadily for several days and nights, although a cooler temperature is of value. When heat is employed’ as a curative agent it must be maintained until the condition and appetite are again normal, when it must be very gradually withdrawn. Usually, in the matter of diet, it is best to tempt the patient with those foods for which it has a preference. Exception to this occurs in cases of indigestion (to which pet birds are often victims), diarrhoea or constipation, which manifestly call for dieting.