George H. Dadd.

A practical treatise on the most obvious diseases peculiar to horses, together with direction for their most rational treatment; containing, also, some valuable information on the art of shoeing horses online

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Online LibraryGeorge H. DaddA practical treatise on the most obvious diseases peculiar to horses, together with direction for their most rational treatment; containing, also, some valuable information on the art of shoeing horses → online text (page 5 of 17)
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the root of the evil," and the disease having been pronounced incura-
ble, our only hopes of success in putting a stop to its propagation
and development, is to adopt preventive measures by rejecting, as
breeders, all animals — sire and dam — that show the least predisposi-
tion to or for this affection. Let the reader understand that the
disease itself is incurable, in so far as the enlargement, dilatation,
and softening of the jaw bones is concerned; yet like spavin, ring-
bone and various other diseases, it is accompanied, in certain stages,
by lameness, and our services as physicians, are only secured in view
of removing this lameness, so that the animal may be enabled to
perform the ordinary equine duties; this is what some persons please
to term a cure, w^hereas, it almost always happens that some altera-
tion in the structure of the parts remains, which actually renders the
horse unsound, because he has that about him, which may from over-
work, or other exciting causes, impair his usefulness.

As regards the "alarming" features of big-head or big-jaw, I
would inform the reader, that almost every lame horse, examined by
me during a period of six months, had either one or the other of the
jaws enlarged; in some cases one angle of the lower jaw was the
seat of thickening and enlargement, but among the majority both
angles were affected.*

* These remarks do not apply to other obvious or accidental lamenesses which are also constantly


A short time ago, I visited, in company with a practicing veteri-
narian, whose attention had never been called to this affection, three
horses, the subjects of lameness, which was said to be occasioned by
eating Hungarian grass: to the astonishment of the parties con-
cerned, I demonstrated that they were all the subjects of enlargements
of the lower jaws, and from the history of thecases and the charac-
ter of the lameness, it was very evident, that it was of an articular
character, and this is a peculiar feature of this affection. Then again
the reader must bear in mind, that the jaws of animals do not dilate
nor enlarge suddenly, nor make appearance all at once, like a meteor
in regions of space; the affection is insidious, progresses in an almost
imperceptible manner, and usually escapes the notice of those who
daily have charge of and handle the animal, as the following case,
which is selected from among many others, will serve to illustrate :

About eighteen months ago a gentleman purchased what then ap-
peared as a tine family horse, a sorrel gelding, aged five years. About
the beginning of March, one year after the purchase, in attempting
to walk the animal from one stable to another, but a short distance
off, he became suddenly lame in one of the hind limbs — low down
towards the foot — and it was found almost impossible to urge him
forward; finally assistance was procured, and the animal had, literal-
ly, to bo carried into a stable. My services having been secured, I
visited the sufferer, and found him standing on three legs, the near
hind one being placed resting on the toe ; the parts around the coro-
net were hot, and the patient was very unwilling to have the part
handled; he seemed to suffer much pain, was breathing hurriedly,
and the pulsations were quick and wiry ; the near approach of any
person seemed to terrify the animal, and he actually trembled from
fear and pain, when ordered to move. On making an examination of
the jaws, I found that both angles of the lower jaw were enlarged
to about two inches in thickness ; this explained the nature of the
sudden, and otherwise mysterious lameness ; the articulating sur-
faces of various bones, and the bones themselves, had become dis-
eased, as is often the case in big-jaw. The owner assured me that
the horse had never before been lame, and he was very much sur-
prised to find the lower jaw enlarged. Here the reader will perceive
that the animal had been in Mr. W.'s possession one year, had per-
formed ordinary labor, yet was the subject of a gradual enlargement
of the jaw, and a constitutional disease, which probably existed, yet
in a slight degree, at the time of purchase ; hence I contend that the
disease in its early stages is of a hidden or insidious character, and
requires some tact and knowledge of the subject in order to -de-
tect it.

Natttre op the Disease. — Big-hcadi and big-jaw, are but -on©
form of disease, only located in different parts. When the upper
one becomes the seat of affection, an enlargement of the facial bones
will be observed, and the examiner's attention will be attracted by
the unnatural appearance of the face; as the disease progresses, the
face looks more like that of an elephant than of a horse, and now
the disease being incurable, the subject should mercifully be put out
of his misery. The enlargement of the lower jaw is discovered by


On removing the skin from the sides of the face of such a subject,
and dissecting the muscles and periosteum (covering of bone), th^
bones appear to have undergone a softening process, and particles
can be separated by means of the finger nails ; at the same time if a
transverse section of any of the shall bones be made, they will be
found to have undergone structural changes; for example, thoy will
not only appear softened but honey-combed, and many of the Jaminse
and cartilaginous braces will have been decomposed or dissolved, so
that the bone looks like fibrous net work. In most cases, the vacui-
ties and canals are filled with material resembling soft cheese, which
is probably fatty matter; this occasionally degenerates into pus.

Dr. Gordon forwarded me, some time ago, the head of a horse
who had long been the subject of this malady. The transverse di-
ameter of the bones of both upper and lower jaw, was very much
enlarged ; the periosteum was very highly organized with bloodness ;
the bones were softened and elastic, and could be easily cut with a
knife. On submitting them to the acid test, earthy matter was found
in excess, and by burning them, it was found that they contained
very little animal matter; hence I was led to infer that the disease
is one of mal-nutrition.

The articular surfaces of various bones, and sometimes all the
bones of the body, are often ulcerated and studded with incrusta-
tions; this explains the why and wherefore of the sudden and tor-
menting pains which animals suffer, and goes to show how little of
benefit can be expected from the ordinary treatment, which is prin-
cipally directed to the enlarged jaws.

On removing these diseased cartilages from the articulating sur-
faces of bones, the latter are found to be affected — in fact, ulcerated.
In some cases the ligaments and tendons araseparated by decompo-
sition or necrosis of bone, and the animal "breaks down," as the
saying is.

The subjects of this disease sometimes show lameness in the ver-
tebral region, and in that of the head of the thigh bone; in such
cases we may safely infer that the Jameness is of an articular char-
acter, and tlie inter articular cartilages, as well as the surfaces of
the bones, are incrustrated and ulcerated; in this condition the ani-
mal is liable to become useless, "or break down" at any moment
The following briefcase will illustrate what is meant by " breaking-

I was requested a short time ago by Prof. Muzzy to examine an
aged gray gelding, the subject of lameness in the nearjliind foot;
examination revealed considerable heat, tenderness and tumefaction
around both the hind coronets, and both angles of the lower jaw
much enlarged in their transverse diameters. I advised the owner
to let the animal have a run at grass; accordingly he was sent into
the country, about thirty miles (which waS too long a journey for
him) ; a few days afterwards Frof. Muzzy received a letter, stating
that the horse's strings (tendons) became loose, that he broke dow'n
and traveled on his fetlocks, and was then dead. I infer that necro-
sis took place and the extensor tendons lost their attachment, which
accounted for his "breaking down."

Prof Varnell lately consulted Dr. Harley of London in reference to
this formidable malady, which is said to have been almost unknown


in England until November, 1859, when several cases occurred among
some horses, the property of Mr. Champion Calcot, near Reading.
Three of this gentleman's animals had died, a fourth was not ex-
pected to live many days, and two others were laboring under the
same disease, in a less acute form. The most singular feature of
the disease, as it appeared on the premises of Mr. Calcot, were, that
it did not appear to owe its origin to any perceivable cause, and it
was not known to be prevalent in any other part of England. Still,
my opinion is that it does exist in that country, only not being sus-
pected is not sought for. It prevails very extensively among horses
brought to Ohio, and hundreds of horses are purchased for the
American army in the course of a few months, having more or less
enlargement of the lower jaw, yet I do not belive that either seller
or purchaser suspects the same. This arises from a lack of know-
ledge on the subject, and the same remarks, so far as our ignorance
of the subject is concerned, may apply to England.

In answer to questions put to Mr. Calcot on the subject of m^an-
agement, &c., he contends that the aflected animals had plenty of
exercise; there were no chemical factories or .works in the vicinity;
one horse affected was purchased at a distance, the rest had been
bred on his farm; the sires and dams ail appeared free from the dis-
ease, and they were not all got by the same sire; the food consisted
of good grass, hay, pollard, oatmeal and roots: other horses were
on the farm, fed in tlie same manner as the affected ones, yet they
had no symptoms of the disease (perhaps they will show symptoms
when the jaws shall be examined — they may have the disease, yet
not be lame or apparently ailing.) Mr. Calcot never saw a case of
the kind before. From the above testimony, we may infer that the
causes of this affection are not yet discovered in England, but my
impression is, that overfeeding has a good deal to do in the produc-
tion of the malady.

It appears to me that this disease, as I have already written, is
one of raal-nutrition or defective nourishment ; hence, may be con-
sidered as a scorbutic affection, like that affecting the human sub-
ject, which is known to be the result of faulty nutrition, and which
often results in division of bony parts which were once immovable —
the epiphysis of the pelvis for example — also in the separation of
cartilages from the ribs, and the shaft bones softened and ruined by
caries, ulceration or death of bones.

N'ame op the Disease. — Big-head and big-jaw are terms suffi-
ciently explicit in ordinary conversation; but in view of scientific
inquiry it is necessary to employ terms indicative of the pathology
of the disease. We cannot expect, however, to select any one
name that shall apply to all the pathological conditions, duriiig the
rise, progress and termination of this peculiar malady ; the condition
of the bones, are : a state of enlargement, softening, and degenera-
tion of the same. The disease is known to veterinary surgeons as

Cause of the Disease.— I have already informed the reader
that the disease may have an heredicary origin ; otherwise, I can-
not account for its universal prevalence, in certain localities, under
the ordinary modes of feeding and general management. I grant


that, at first, the disease might have had an accidental or sjfontane-
ous origin, and finally become permanent and transmissible ; for
example, glanders and farcy afford illustrations of a spontaneous
disease becoming contagious and transmissible. There must have
been a time when neither of the two latter diseases existed ; hence,
when the first subject became glandered he could not have taken it
by infection or by contagion, but it must have had a spontaneous
origin, and finally, became permanent.

I do not pretend to urge that the active disease itself is transmis-
sible, yet, in certain cases, a predisposition is transferred to the
progeny. This may be called the predisposing cause ; the ordinary
exciting causes are those which disturb and derange the digestive
function. The digestive or nutritive function is deranged, both by
excessive and defective functional labors, or by the animal existing
on food that does not contain the necessary amount of nitrogenous
or muscle-making matter. This is the case when Indian corn is
used as food for a great length of time; it is hard to digest, is defi-
cient in nitrogen, and almost always over-distends the stomach ; for,
when submitted to the action of heat and the gastric fluids, it in-
creases in bulk to about six times its original capacity. I liave no-
ticed that where much whole corn is fed, as in Ohio and Indiana, the
disease is most prevalent.

Associated with the predisposing and exciting causes, are others :
for example, hard usage, sore abuse, and bad stable management.

This disease is rarely ever heard of in England, and this may
be owino: to the fact that the food there furnished to horses is
rich in phosphates and nitrogen, while corn contains more of
starchy matter ; which, instead of furnishing material for the prepa-
ration of muscular or animal matter, merely furnishes that which is
consumed in the process of respiration.

Trea-tment op the Disease. — The ordinary treatment, as prac-
ticed by some persons, is to bore into the jaw-bone and inject the
same with some corrosive poison; others expose the jaw-bone, and
saw out a section of the same ; some persons blister, or apply
preparations of iodine. Such treatment, I think, only tends to create
unnecessary irritation and pain, and cannot possibly be of any ben-
efit, for I contend that the disease is not local, but constitutional ;
and the reader will, probably, after perusing this article, come to the
same conclusion.

The disease has extensive ramifications in various parts of the
bony fabric, and therefore the local treatment must fail in curing the
malady. Cases may arise w^hich require surgical operations, and if
so, I have no objections to offer.

I have often been told that horses, after having all sorts of bar-
barities practiced on them, have recovered ; this, so far as the treat-
ment is concerned, is in accordance with the spirit of the old error.
*' He got well after taking my medicine ; therefore, in consequence
of taking it." This is assuming a falsehood as a fact, and then giving
fanciful reasons for it.

In view both of prevention and cure of this organic disease ot
the bones and their articulations, more is to be accomplished by
regimen than by medicine. The animal should alwa\ s be provided
with wholesome diet, and whenever green vegetables can be ob-


tained, they should be fed liberally, or, what is much better, provided
the season permits, let the animal roam in a pasture.

Whenever I have a case of this kind under treatment, I furnish
apples, beets, carrots, cabbages, or any other kind of vegetable that
I can procure, and I find that such articles are usually devoured
with a good relish. The object in feeding green food is to combat
the scorbutic diatheses which usually exists.

The patient should also be allowed from five to seven quarts of
oats per day.

When a horse with enlargement of the lower or upper jaw is
suddenly attacked with acute lameness, he should be placed in a
wide stall, and the parts where the lameness appears to be located,
as well as the jaws, should be diligently rubbed, twice daily, with a
portion of the following :

Spirits of Camphor 6 ounces.

Cod Liver Oil 4 "

Oil of Cedar 2 «

Diluted Acetic Acid 1 pint

Then procure the following :

Chlorate of Potass 2 ounces.

Powdered Gimjer 4 "

« Gentian 3 «

« Podophyllum 2 "

« Poplar Bark 6 *'

- Dose : one ounce night and morning, to be incorporated with the

This treatment usually palliates the lameness. Should it not do
so, the owner must be patient and give nature time to restore the
animal to comparative usefulness.


Preliminary. — Two cases of Tetanus having lately occurred in
my practice in the city of St. Louis, and both terminating favorably,
I have thought that I could not do a better service to the readers of
this work than to give them the facts. The treatment was so simple
that any one might undertake the same feat, and I think that such
treatment is more likely to be successful than the old-fashioned
method. So far as my experience goes, I am satisfied that we are
apt to do too much (over-medicate) in this, as well as in other
diseases; and it often happens that the recuperative powers of na-
ture have to contend, not only with the original malady, but also
with one of a medicinal character, created by over-dosing ; and per-
haps this is the reason that has led some veterinary writers to con-
tend that " tetanic affections, arising in consequence of a punctured
woundy are almost always sure to prove fataV*

Nature of Tetanus. — Tetanus must not be confounded with
trismus^ or locked jaw, yet the former may run into the latter, and


does really belong to the same class and order. Tetanus is charac-
terized, however, by the same rigidity of various muscles of the
body, yet at the same time the jaws are not locked, the animal has
not lost, entirely, the power of swallowing, can drink and eat a little
and take medicine ; whereas, in complete locked jaw, the spasm ex-
tends to the muscles of the pharynx^ rendering it impossible, while
the spasm lasts, for the patient to swallow.

Tetanus is supposed to depend on irritation, directly or indirectly,
of the excito-motor system (true spinal cord.) If this be true, and I
have no reason to doubt it, then all surgical operations, in view of
removing the cause, are not only useless, but injurious, for the mal-
ady has migrated beyond the reach of the surgeon's knife. I now
introduce a brief report of the " cases."

Case 1. March 1, 1862, I was requested to visit a bay gelding,
aged eight years, the property of Captain Silva. The messenger
informed me that the animal was " all stiffened up." On arrival I
noticed the following spmptoms : On applying my hand over the
region of the neck, the muscles felt hard and rigid ; the eyes had a
sort of squinting appearance; the nose protruded ; the ears were
erect and stationary ; the nostrils were expanded to their utmost
capacity; the head, neck and trunk appeared quite rigid, so that it
was impossible to coax or compel the animal to turn "short round,"
— in other w^ords, describe a circle ; the abdomen appeared " tucked
up," in consequence of a rigid condition of its walls ; the hind limbs
were straddling, and the fore ones occupied a forward position, an-
terior to the axis of the shoulder-blade ; the bowels were constipated ;
the pulse wiry, and the respirations accelerated and laborious.
These symptoms constitute the key-note of the malady. I might, if
I felt disposed, entertain the reader with an elaborate article on the
regular veterinary craftsman's theory of the progressive symptoms ;
but the intelligent reader will infer that as the disease progresses,
the symptoms multiply and vary, therefore it is not good policy for
me to introduce secondary symptoms, for they only tend to obscure
the real nature of the disease.

Treatment. — I rubbed the neck and back with a portion of the

Cod Liver Oil 1 pint.

Oil of Cedar .4 ounces.

Sulphuric Ether 3 "

The parts were rubbed once daily for a period of ten days. Dur-
ing this time the animal got four drachms, night and morning, of
the Fluid Extract of Indian Hemp {Cannabis IncUcus). The horse
was located on the Bellefontaiu road, ten miles from the city, conse-
quently I did not see him as often as I wished; but a faithful servant
had charge of the horse, and I think he paid proper attention to my

At the end of three weeks all symptoms of Tetanus had entirely
disappeared. The disease was occasioned by a punctured wound in
the near fore foot.

June 6, 1862. Capt. S, this day brought my patient to the city
for treatment for atro^yliy of the natscles of the shoulder (commonly
known as sioeeney.) The muscles of the shoulder-blade, known as


the Antea and Postea Spinatus, are completely wasted away, so that
the spine of the shoalder-blade and the bead of the humerus are un-
natm-ally prominent, on the 7iear side. The animal is still under
treatment, and appears to be doing well.

Case 2. Mr. Wells, residing on Madison street, in this city,
requested me, May 25, to visit a horse, tlie subject of Tetanus. I
was informed that the aaimal had accidentally " picked up a nail ;"
the nail had been withdrawn, and the part was dressed by a black-
smith. On making an examination of the case, the symptoms were
about the same as those observed in case No. 1. I treated the pa-
tient on the same general principles, — administered Indian Hemp^
and lubricated the surface of the body with the same kind of lini-
ment. In the course of fourteen days the aniiiftal had so far recov-
ered that I left him to the care of the proprietor.


The followinix will illustrate the nature of the disease and mode
of treatment :

Recorded Symptoms of the Disease. — On the 4th of March my
attention was called to three horses brought here by Mr. C, of and
from Indiana. As their symptoms were precisely similar, I shall only
describe those of one — a fine stallion aged eight years : he stood
with his head pendulous, his fore limbs wide apart, and from the
period of his arrival, three days, had not made any attempt to lie
down. His respirations were much quickened; expiration, accom-
panied by a sort of subdued grunt, indicative of pain, and showing
that the lining membrane of the cavity of the chest was involved in
the disease. The pulse was quick, yet feeble, showing that the ani-
mal was somewhat prostrated, and had actually been sick for many
days, although the owner thought difterently. The visible surfaces
of the mouth presented a very peculiar appearance, although nOt
unusual in a disease of this character. They were of a light ma-
hogany color, and the lining membrane of the nostrils was of a
light leaden hue. Auscultation and percussion practiced over the
thoracic region, revealed tubular respiration ; also, that the chest
was occupied by a considerable quantity of water ; the breath had
a bad odor, and the patient had no relish for food, and most of the
time he was in a state of stupor. These were the most noticeable
symptoms at the period of my first visit. On questioning the owner,
he admitted that all three of the horses appeared a little dull, were
weak — easily fatigued — and through very little exertion would sweat,
and their appetite was not good.

This is the case with most typhoid affections : they begin without
any warning other than slight dullness, weakness, and some disturb-
ance of the digestive organs, and it is only when typhoid pneumonia
becomes seated on the lungs, as shown by difficult respiration and
other physical signs, that the owner ia aware of the horse being
really sick.

The stud alluded to, was treated on the stimulating, antiseptic,
aiid alterative plan, during a period of sixteen days, and was rapidly


convalescing, but the owner grew impatient, and put him on board
the boat, when in the course of twenty- four hours he died.

The other two animals did not survive their arrival in this city
over twenty -four hours ; notwithstanding the most rational treatment
they died of a complication of thoracic and abdominal disease.
During the progress of the malady, tliey had a discharge of viscous
matter, which adhered in thick incrustations around the margins of
the nostrils, and they suffered excruciating torment from sharp ab-
dominal pains, and their dung was liquid and bloody ; shortly before
death, their tongues acquired a brown color, and their gums and
teeth were covered with a dirty slime ; parts of the body were be-
dewed with cold, clammy sweats ; the evacuations became very fetid,
and all the other sypiptoms greatly aggravated ; soon they staggered
and fell, never to rise again.

It is probable that this disease assumed the enzootic type ; it was

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Online LibraryGeorge H. DaddA practical treatise on the most obvious diseases peculiar to horses, together with direction for their most rational treatment; containing, also, some valuable information on the art of shoeing horses → online text (page 5 of 17)