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 7 of 17)
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which, however, was quite profuse; the patient rolled and tumbled
about considerably, and would occasionally stand up for a few sec-
onds at a time.

I Treatment. — It appeared that the indications, in view of relief,
were to arouse the action of the stomach, and at the same time
arrest fermentation. I was under the impression that the contents
of the gorged stomach could only be got rid of in the ordinary way,
viz., by digestion. I am aware that it is often customary to give
drastic cathartics in view of getting rid of the contents of the stom-
ach, yet I would not advise the reader to do this, for the horse may
die before the medicine operates.

The following drench was administered :

Fluid Extract of Ginger 1 ounce.

" " " Goldenseal 2 "

Carbonate of Soda 2 drachms.

Water 4 ounces.

After the exhibition of the above, I threw into the rectum a couple
of quarts of soap-suds, to which was added a handful of salt; in
the course of about an hour the animal appeared somewhat relieved,
and I repeated the dose^ also the enema. The patient very soon
afterwards passed a large quantity of excrement, and so rapidly
improved that I left him, and did not see him again until the next
morning, when he appeared to have entirely recovered. With th«


exception of a bran mash or two, the above comprises the whole of
the treatment.

Remarks. — It was Uicky for the horse as well as the parties con-
cerned, that the animal did not get corn instead of oats y for the same
quantity of corn would have surely caused death ; from the fact that
when this article of fodder is submitted, within the stomach, to the
action of heat and moisture, it increases in bulk in a ratio of about
five to one, and the usual result is rupture of the stomach; still
should any of our readers be called upon to treat a case of the lat-
ter kind, there is no other plan of treatment, with which I am ac-
quainted, that will be likely to succeed in saving the animal than the
one above indicated.

A cow is sometimes "gorged," and her paunch is, in consequence,
distended to an enormous capacity, and very frequently an opera-
tion has to be performed in order to remove the contents of the
same ; yet such an operation as the one usually performed, 'w> attend-
ed with much danger, and rather than run the risk of losing the
animal, I should first try to arouse the action of the stomach, as in
the case of a horse.


Preliminary. — This affection is one which prevails very exten-
sively among Western horses, and indeed has occasionally been pre-
sent in all parts of the United States, yet very little of a reliable
character has ever been written on the subject; hence, as a pro-
fessed teacher of veterinary science, and not being willing to carry
my knowledge to the grave, it becomes my pleasant duty to give the
readers of this work the benefit of my experience, and in so doing
I shall endeavor to be brief, practical, and also to deal in facts.

Sweeney is a term used by husbandmen, siirnifying wasting of
the muscles in the region of the shoulder-blade ; professional men
recognize the affection as J[^ro/?Ay— wasting; 2^ gradual qy sudden
diminution in the size of muscles of a region, or of the whole body.
When the affection is confined to the shoulder, it is called local atro-
phy ; and when there occurs a morbid and progressive diminution
in the bulk of the muscles of the whole body, the disease is known
as general atrophy, or Marasmus.

^ Medical writers generally contend that Sweeney or atrophy is occa-
sioned by faulty or defective nutrition, and is usually sympathetic.
Ancient authorities say, that in atrophy, the fat only is wasted.
This is a great mistake: for a coUapsion of the cellular, muscular
and vascular systems, in a case of atrophy, is evidently apparent.

Pathology of Sweeney. — I now propose to discuss the theory
of the pathology of Sweeney.

^ I have had several opportunities of examining horses that have
died in consequence of disease or old age, who, during life, were
the subjects of sweeney, and I always found the muscles of the shoul-
der, or shoulders, pale looking or bloodless ; almost resembling the
muscles of a calf that had been bled to death: the ordinary color
should be a reddish-brown tint. The collapsiou was not only con-


fined to the muscular fibres, but aifeeted the blood-vessels, which
appeared to be constricted; and the cellular membrane had almost
entirely disappeared, merely by condensation and contraction of the
skin over the region of the parts; which contraction usually occurs
in consequence of shrinking of muscles beneath.

In conformity with the opinions of our veterinary authorities, I
have hitherto in most cases considered sweeney as a symptomatic
affection, from the fact that I have had to treat a number of cases
similar to the following:

A celebrated and valuable trotting horse, known as " Rocky,"
owned by a party in Cincinnati, became lame. The animal was
treated for shrinking of the muscles of the shoulder blades, by
setons, lotions, &c., and a long run at grass. The treatment ex-
tended over one year. The animal was finally purchased by Messrs.
Mathews and McGibboney of Chicago. On arrival of the animal I
examined him and found that the sweeney was occasioned by con-
traction of the hoofs. I recommended a different course of treat-
ment. The feet received special attention; and now the owners
inform me that they have been offered a large sum for him.

In May, 1861, I was requested to see a gray gelding, aged eight
years, which had recently been purchased as sound, &g. Shortly
after purchase it was discovered that the animal went lame. It was
noticed that the muscles known as anterior and posterior spinati (in
the region of the shoulder blade), were wasted, and it was evident
that the animal had been treated for sweeney from the f^act that the
marks remained where setons had been introduced.

On making an examination of the foot, on the affected side, I
found enlargement of the lateral cartilages of the coffin bone; the
lateral cartilages had undergone transformation, and had changed
into bone. In the region of the foot, then, was the seat of lameness,
and the poor brute had been tortured in the usual manner about the
shoulder for the expectant cure of that which only constituted a
symptom of organic disease of the coffin bone.

The altered structure and enlargement in the vicinity of the foot
had been entirely overlooked, and it is probable, as rny employer
had only been in possession of the horse a short time, that the crea-
ture must have been unsound at the time of purchase.

The wasting of the muscles of the shoulders, is to be accounted
for in these two cases as follows :

It is a well known fact, that inaction of a muscle induces a de-
crease in its size. The muscles of laboring men decrease in size
whenever, from choice or necessity, the individual leads a sedentary
life. A limb kept at rest for any great length of time, always un-
dergoes more or less atrophy (wasting.) In these cases the foot
diseases were of such a character as to cause the subjects much pain
in progression ; in order to relieve the feet they spared their mus-
cles, which want of free and fall action led to diminished nutrition
and wasting — atrophy. Some of our readers must have noticed the
fact of the shrinkage of the muscles of the haunch in case of disease
or severe lameness of one of the hind feet. This shrinkage often
occurs, as in the case of the shoulder, from want of natural action
and full play of the muscles concerned. We have ample proof
that the wastinsr is the result of want of action, in the fact, that


when the horse becomes the subject of a painful disease in the hind
foot, he neither advances nor rotates the limb any more than he can
possibly help — but holds the foot up. On examination, the atrophy
or wasting is confined to the muscles which perform these two ac-
tions ; and in case of lameness or pain in one of the fore-feet, the
same faulty action is observable, and the same class of muscles
(whose action is almost identical with that of the hind parts) are the
ones affected.

I deem it of great importance that husbandmen should fully un-
derstand this subject, for it will enable them to perceive that — while
inflating horses' shoulders with a quill, or practicing any other ab-
surd treatment in the vicinity of the wasted or sweenied shoulder

they are overlooking the real malady (in the foot), and at best are
only treating symptoms. On careful examination, however, should
it appear that the patient is free from any disorder of the foot or
feet, and on the other hand it is clearly evident that myositis, or
myalgia, of the muscles exist, then the treatment must be directed
to the affected parts — the facts in either case can only be determined
by a competent practitioner.

In view of sustaining the proposition th^it Stoeenei/ is asymptomatic
affection^ I might introduce a great number of cases that have come
under my own observation ; but I do not wish to bore the reader,
nor inflict a long article on him; therefore I submit the preceding
cases as a sample of all the rest which I might offer. The malady
may be of a different grade or character, but the primary disease, of
which Sweeney is the result, originates often in foot lameness.

I now propose to show that sweeney is not always a symptomatic

I have often noticed that when horses have been over-driven or
over-worked, they become stiff and lame in those parts of the body
most susceptible to the ordinary influences; for example, one horse
may perform a long journey with a weighty man on his back, and the
next day the animal shows symptoms of lameness in the lumbar
region ; his back is arched ; the limbs are brought under the centre
of the body, and every movement indicates that the animal suffers
tormenting pains which are located in the muscles of the back; this
is myositis, or inflammation of muscular fibre ; sometimes, however,
the malady constitutes myalgia — muscular pain and spasm unaccom-
panied by inflammatory action.

Another horse may be put to a similar kind of work, and in a few
hours afterwards he is found very stiff and lame; but the symptoms
are not the same as those just recorded; the pathology is probably
identical ; it is the same disease, only it has a different locality — it is
myositis of the pectoral muscles, involving also the muscles of the
shoulder blades. And the intelligent owner of the afflicted animal
will notice that his fore extremities are unnaturally advanced ; the
foreparts of the body are unnaturally hot and tender ; the fore-feet
are feverish, and the hoofs are hotter than usual; the advanced posi-
tion of the fore extremities and shoulders, gives a very marked hol-
lo wness to the forepart of the chest, and many men, on seeing such
a case, would declare that the animal was chest foundered, this being
the name which is sometimes given to such a condition; but really it
is owing to myalgia — muscular pain and stiffness.


It is "well known that all muscles are subject to inflammatory action
and muscular pain from work disproportionate to their strength ; for
example, let any man undertake to saw wood, practice with heavy
dumb-bells, or ride on a horse — feats that he has never been accus-
tomed to — and whether the labor be excessive or not, the individual
w,i\\ shortly complain of more or less muscular pain, and if he be a
weak man, the more excessive will be that pain. Now the muscles
of the horse being just as susceptible to pain as those of the man,
are just as easily operated on through the well known exciting

In the case of a horse, when the work has been very excessive and
of a character to bring the muscles of the shoulders, their tendons
and coverings, into a state of over- exertion, it will often be found
that some of the muscular fibres in the region of the shoulder, are
fractured, small blood-vessels are ruptured, and other pathological
changes take place ; this is followed by inflammation — myositis. Sup-
pose, therefore, a horse shows symptoms of myositis after excessive
work, and in the course of a few days it is noticed that the muscles
of his shoulders are wasting away, and they continue to waste, so
that all persons who examine the animal pronounce him sweenied —
we may then infer that the wasting (sweeney) is not symptomatic,
but is the result of myositis, the principal treatment for which is, rest;
afterwards diminish the work, and by proper diet and tonics, in-
crease the power to do it.


Laryngitis signifies inflammation of the lining membrane of the
larynx ; it is sometimes known as sore throat. Like other inflamma-
tory afl*ections of the respiratory apparatus, it is accompanied by
feverish symptoms — heat, pain, and difficult respiration.

The inflammatory condition exists during a limited period, varying
from two to five days ; then, generally, commences the suppurative
stage, which is characterized by a discharge from both nostrils.

Cause of Laryngitis. — As regards the special cause of this
afl'ection very little is known ; it is supposed, however, to originate
in a common cold, &c., yet I have known horses to become the sub-
jects of it that have not been exposed to the ordinary influences
which are said to produce the symptoms of cold ; hence we may
infer that bad management, and the evils of domestication have
something to do with it.

The fact is, disease neither respects man nor horse; each must
once in a while suffer and groan, swallow drugs, get well, or else
" kick the bucket f and as regards the horse, the greater his value,
the more likely is he to get sick, from the fact that he is sure to be
petted, over-fed, and generally he is too well cared for.

Symptoms. — The most observable symptoms are, protrusion of the
head ; a sort of half suppressed cough ; slight swelling in the region
of the throat; difficulty in swallowing; and if the ear be applied to
this region, a grating sound is heard.


Treatment. — The animal should be fed on sloppy bran mashes
three times daily, to which add one drachm of powdered nitre, and
twice daily lubricate the region of the throat with some stimulating
liniment. Let the patient breathe a pure atmosphere, and he will
soon get well.


This is one of the most painful among equine affections.

Persons who have suffered the pains attending acute pleurisy,
describe them as lancinating / this accounts for the deplorable con-
dition of a horse when suddenly attacked with this terrible affliction.

Symptoms. — The excruciating torment attending the early devel-
opments of the malady, causes the animal to get down and tumble
about, as if he were the subject of colic ; but soon it will be observed
that the case is not one of colic, for as soon as the most painful
features of the malady have subsided, the animal does not recline
on the floor, but stands, with his fore legs wide apart, in view of
preventing friction between the lungs and the interior lining mem-
brane of the cavity of the chest ; the pain is continuous, which is
proof positive that the animal is not the subject of colic. ^.

If pressure be made with the finger on the spaces between the,
ribs and the chest, it elicits symptoms of great pain ; and should the ^''-i
ear be placed against the walls of the chest, a grating sotmd will be
heard, and the respiratory murmur is not natural. This malady is
apt to terminate in dropsy of the chest. In all cases of acute pleu-
risy the pulse is strong and wiry.

Treatment. — Supposing the disease to be in its early stage, as
shown by such symptoms as above, give the patient twenty-five
drops of tincture of aconite, mixed in about two ounces of water,
and ten drops more every hour, un^iil the pulse becomes softer ; then
omit the aconite, and give one drachm of powdered nitre, twenty -five
drops of powdered blood-root, in four ounces of water ; drench the
animal very carefully, so as not to put him to unnecessary pain. It
is possible that the animal may take this medicine if placed in a
V bucket containing a few quarts of water. This latter medicine may
* be repeated every four hours, until four doses have been taken ; in
the meantime, a thin paste of mustard and vinegar should be care-
fully rubbed on the sides of the chest and under the breast ; the
paste must be quite thin, or it cannot be absorbed, hence will be
useless. Should the weather be chilly, clothe the lower part of the
limbs with flannel.

The intelligent-owner will attend to the wants of the animal, ana
see that he is located in a part of the stable where he will be free
from annoyance.

It will be easy to ascertain whether or no the case is curable ; for
if, during the treatment, the patient continues to grow worse, hydro-
thorax, or dropsy of the chest, is sure to set in ; this latter disease
requires the services of a veterinary surgeon.

Equal parts.



A great many of the horses lately disposed of by the Government,
as " condemned," *' contraband," &c., were, and still are, subjects
of various forms of skin disease — mange, lousiness, &c., and it is
probable that when such animals are introduced into decent " horse
society," they will be the means of spreading the itch, mange, lousi-
ness, &c. ; hence, I propose to give the readers of this work some
advice on the subject.

In the first place, almost all the skin diseases prevalent among
army horses owe their origin to neglect and filth. Hence cleanliness
— brush and curry-comb — are the best means of prevention, and are
also valuable as curative agents.

The best local application for diseases of the above character, is
as follows :

Linseed Oil,
Tincture of Lobelia,
Pyroligneous Acid,
Spirits of Turpentine,

Apply, by means of a sponge, a portion of the above mixture to
all parts of the body ; and the patient should have an occasional dose
of sulphur in a " bran mash :" four drachms of sulphur constitute a

The next best advice I have to ofier is. Government horses labor-
ing under any of the notorious prqsralent affections, are very dear at
any price ; hence, touch not, purchase not j for ^ooc? money and had
horses soon part company ; and as the old saying is, " that is the
way the money goes."

A great many of the horses lately disposed of by the Government
are the subjects of a skin disease known to medical men as mange;
it makes its appearance as a pustular eruption, commencing about
the regions of the roots of the hair of the mane and tail ; where,
soon, a scurfy state of the skin appears. The disease soon extends,
and makes itself visible by spots denuded of hair ; these spots are
the seat of a coating of mealy powder, which can be rubbed off.
Throughout the whole course of the disease the animal is tormented
with an incessant itching sensation, and is continually rubbing and
biting himself. It should be generally understood that this malady
is highly contagious, and, therefore, can readily be communicated
from one horse to another ; hence, the affected animal should not be
allowed to come in contact with others not so affected.

Mange, or itch, sometimes assumes a highly inflammatory type ;
this depends somewhat on the vascularity of the surface of the body,
and the specific irritability of the skin wliich is peculiar to some
animals of the sanguine and nervous temperaments.

In some stages of this skin affection, a close examination will
detect, under the scarf-skin, little watery eminences, known as vesi-
cles ; and at the base of the same can be seen little red patches; this

* See Magnetic Lotioa.


is the seat of the parasite, and his burrowing course can be distinctly-
traced from one vesicle to another.

The parasites, which are said to be the sum and substance of the
disease, are termed " Acari," and their " manibles," — or mouth — are
a sort of i^incers, pointed and sharp, which enables them to puncture
the common integument, or skin of animals, and at the same time to
imbibe the animal juices, on which they thrive and propagate.

The remedy, or local application, previously recommended, often
fails in curing "Itch, or Mange," simply because it is not rubbed on
the surface with sufficient force to penetrate the scarf-skin; hence, it
has but little, if any, effect on the concealed parasite. In order to
obviate this difficulty, all excrementitious matter must be removed
from the skin by means of a good stiff brush, which brush must never
be used on any other animal.

The modern method of applying the local application is to rub it
into the skin by means of a thick pair of leather gloves, and some
"elbow grease." The rubbing should be repeated daily until the
disease is conquered. Supposing the disease to be " stubborn" and
protracted, the external application must be rubbed into the skin by
means of a stiff brush, and the animal should be daily dosed with
the following :

Sublimated Sulphur 1 drachm.

Iodide of Potass 20 grains.

Powdered Poplar Bark 1 drachm.

To be incorporated with the food.


I was present at a sale of army and contraband horses lately held
in St. Louis, and I noticed that many of them were the subjects of a
skin disease known to the members of our profession as "P%nasw,"
which disease chiefly affected the face, neck, sides of the chest and

The disease presented circumscribed patches, more or less denuded
of hair ; the epidermis, or external covering of the skin, detached
itself from the sub-tissue in white flakes, yet there appeared to be
no itching sensation nor impairment of the general health, conse-
quently I am led toinferthat the disease is not contagious. By fric-
tion with linseed oil and lime water, equal parts, a cure is easily-


Bots occur chiefly among horses that have been recently at grass.
They are generated from the larvas of the oestrus equi ; the larvae are
deposited on the legs and shoulders, or parts that the horse is apt to
lick with his tongue ; they then pass into the stomach and become
attached to the cuticular portion of the same. In the succeeding
summer they are discharged from the anus, and passing through the


chrysalis stage, they appear as a gad-fly, and are then again ready
to propagate their species.

1 must confess that in former years I advocated the theory, as
taught at the schools and through the pages of our text books, that
hots were innoxious, and seldom^ if ever, did any harm to horses.
In fact one of our most distinguished writers on veterinary science,
(the late Mr. Percival), suggested that "bots might serve some useful
purpose by exciting the function of the stomach, they then arouse
the sluggishness of this organ, by which means digestion is pro-

Mr. Percival also promulgated the following theory : " You may
boldly assert that bots are in nowise injurious; still you cannot per-
suade the world so, and, therefore, you must be prepared to meet
the complaints of those unbelievers, who will now and then declare
that their horses have bots — which must be got rid of. But I know
of no medicine that has the power of destroying them; and even if
we possessed such, I am not sure that we could, even when dead,
detach them from the cuticular coat of the stomach to which they
are attached with small horns."

Hence, in accordance with the dictum of the schools, and popular
medical teachings, I formerly was a medical convert to their false
theories, and dare not use my own experience and intelligence
aixainst that of tlie recoGi:nizcd authorities. But "facts are stubborn
things." At the present period, having emancipated myself from
the theory of the schools on the subject under consideration, I em-
phatically declare that the presence of bots in a horse's stomach is
conclusive evidence of an exciting cause of disease, peculiar to the
digestive organs ; they (the bots) are, in fact, a foreign body located
in the interior of the stomach, one of the most sensitive organs of
the animal economy ; they must necessarily pervert the function of
that organ.

There is no doubt that a large number of bots congregated within
the stomach near the termination of the esophagus must interfere

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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 7 of 17)