North Hollywood, California.
OF all diseases to which dogs are subject, distemper is perhaps the most frequent, it is also the most difficult to define. It has been compared to typhoid, or to typhus fever in man, though the comparison hardly seems to be a good one. The disease seems to be contagious. We say “seems to be,” because back of all contagious diseases, in man or beast, is an element which no one can explain. Of a dozen men or dogs, exposed to a contagious disease, a certain number may contract the disease, while the remainder, though equally exposed, will escape. When we are able to explain this we will know more of contagious diseases than we do now. However, distemper is to be mechanically classed as a contagious disease.
It is far more apt to attack young dogs and those known as “pure-bred,” than old dogs and the dog rabble, but at any rate, if a dog shows signs of the disease it is best to isolate him from other dogs, if any be kept about the place. The symptoms vary considerably. The following picture is drawn by Blaine:.
One of the earliest symptoms is a short dry cough, which is followed by a lessening of the appetite, of the flesh, of the strength, and spirits; the coat also begins to stare, the eyes to wink in a full light, as though painfully affected by it; they also, if observed in the morning. exhibit the remains of a little hardened mucus, which may be seen adhering to the inner corner of each, while a general cloudiness of the eye steals over its surface; the nose also is bedewed with a watery discharge, greater or less as the membraneous linings of the orbits and nasal cavities are more or less inflamed, in which state it may sometimes remain for two or three weeks without much alteration;
it eventually, however, increases, and changes from a limpid, watery fluid to a muco-purulent discharge (something like the discharge from an abscess) which flows down the face from the inner corner of each eye, and as the disease becomes more intense, it frequently closes up the lids during the night, and blinds the dog until his efforts have opened them.
The nasal discharge, which is at first thin and watery, becomes muco- purulent, and later one of direct pus, by which his nose is more or less closed up each morning by the viscid exudations like the poor dogs eyes. As the intensity of the inflammation extends, the cough also, which was at first a slight huskiness (or perhaps hardly existed at all, for in some cases but little cough attends the early stages) increases to a distressing harsh sounding one, and frequent attempts to force something up the throat by an effort that appears compounded of coughing and vomiting. To these appearances are usually added wasting, weakness, listlessness and lessening of the appetite also.
Remembering that dogs cannot relate their symptoms or feelings, I would be inclined to regard the foregoing picture as being nearer to “Grippe” than to either typhoid or typhus.
Hurndall has to say: “I regard distemper as a catarrhal fever, affecting more or less severely, the mucous membranes of the various canals of the body, the nervous system being not infrequently implicated.”.
Lord says: “A contagious disease of which all dogs appear to carry the seeds in their system, accompanied with fever and derangement of most of the internal organs, and frequently ending in chorea, paralysis or inflammation of the lungs.” If the seeds of the disease are in the system, it can hardly be termed a contagious disease.
Moore says: “The symptoms present considerable variations, which depend upon the rapidity of the disease, the character of the prevailing epidemic and the local complications.”.
Mills, after stating that the symptoms are very numerous and varied, concludes that” it will not be feasible to enumerate all the combinations that occur, as these are simply endless.”.
From the foregoing, the reader will see that distemper, the worst of dog diseases, is a rather meaningless term, and that the only way to intelligently treat the disease is to individualise the cases, i.e.; do not think of the name of the disease, but look for the symptoms in the dog.
At the outset, if the dog is feverish, or chilly and feverish by turns, and restless, give him Aconite, as this great polychrest arrests more diseases in their incipiency than any other remedy. Or, should the dog appear dull, feverish and stupid, “drunken looking,” give him Gelsemium. The difference between the two is that Aconite has restlessness prominent in its pathogenesis, whilst Gelsemium is characterised by a dull, sluggish besotted condition. These two, Aconite and Gelsemium, are only of use in the beginning of the disease. If they do not check it, resort must be had to others, as indicated.
Bryonia will be called for when the dog has symptoms of bronchitis, which is known by short, hurried breathing, as though the act were painful, together with rattling of mucus. When the mucus becomes “rusty” instead of being blood-streaked, then should Phosphorus be given. This is, of course, a dangerous stage. When a clear fluid runs from the nose and eyes, either or both, and that symptom is very prominent, accompanied, it may be, by fever and other symptoms, Natrum mur. is clearly indicated.
When there is diarrhoea and exhaustion, i.e., when the vital powers seem to sink, offensive and acrid effusion from inflamed eyes and nose, with great restlessness and constant whining, then Arsenicum will be called for. Should the mouth be more or less ulcerated, breath particularly offensive, with bloody diarrhoea, Mercurius must be given. Belladonna is called for, especially when the throat is inflamed and the eyes involved, also when the brain seems to be involved and there are fits.
Many readers may know that their dog has distemper, and yet not be able to, or have time to, differentiate between the various remedies. To these we would say, give him Arsenicum for a few days, then follow with Nux Vomica. Indeed, a great many cases will yield to this treatment. It would seem needless to add that all the drugs before mentioned are not in the usual crude form as used by the allopathic veterinarians, but are dynamised homoeopathic drugs, and anyone giving this system a trial will have to familiarise himself with these remedies.
Much stress is laid, by allopathic writers, upon feeding in this disease, and they state that every means should be employed to induce the dog to eat so as to sustain his strength. This, we think, is a mistake. Give the dog free across to plenty of fresh, clean water, but do not force him to eat. He is like a sick man, it may be, to whom the very thought of food is disgusting. Cure the disease by the indicated remedy, and nature will soon supply the appetite when the disease is conquered.
Another branch, so to speak, of homoeopathy, was the so-called Isopathy, or isopathic medication, which dates back to 400 B.C., as taught by Xenocrates. This means the employment of the morbid products of a disease for the cure of the same disease (Aequalia Aequalibus). It was introduced into homoeopathy by Dr. Lux in 1823, and in part adopted by Dr. Hering. Lux taught that the toxins formed in the body, properly attenuated, are capable of curing the very diseases that give rise to them that is, every disease is supposed to have within itself its own antidote.
In 1830 Hering proposed as a remedy for hydrophobia the saliva of a rabid dog, properly attenuated; the very teaching and practice of Pasteur. He also proposed Phthisine as a remedy for tuberculosis, and forty years later it, too, received popular and scientific endorsement by Koch and others. As early as 1834, Dr. Stapf, one of the greatest of the early Homoeopathists, who looked upon the subject dispassionately, says: “I do not doubt that the discovery of the curative action of the morbid matters, in diseases that produce them, to be one of the most important discoveries that has been made since the beginning of our school.”.
The foregoing led me to apply this method in both the treatment and prevention of distemper in the dog, and the results will be found in my little booklet published recently. The Treatment of Distemper with Potentised Virus, and will be only briefly alluded to in this paper. In order for a veterinarian or layman to treat this disease by this method, it is imperative that he at least gain in insight into the principles of homoeopathy, and its wonderful philosophy, to get the best results. He must acquaint himself with such things as “potencies” instead of doses; he must learn not to push the remedy too far, giving it ample time to do its work, other wise he will meet with many dismal failures, and so forth.
In regard to using it prophylactically, if directions are followed to the letter, and always providing that the product is kept undefiled by storing away from crude drugs and not being exposed to strong odours, such as coal-tar antiseptics and so forth, any ordinary layman can immunize his own without any trouble at all. The general procedure is as follows:.
At weaning, the puppies receive for a week one dose daily of the 30th potency, and nothing more for a month. At the expiration of a mouth, the puppies receive for a week a daily dose of the 200th potency, and nothing more for a month. At the expiration of the month, each puppy receives three doses, one at two hourly intervals, of the 1,000th potency. After this, at monthly intervals, each puppy receives an increased potency, three doses at two hourly intervals until he has received one of the C. mm. strength.
This completes the course, and though it may be looked upon as irksome to some, still it is better than shooting them with serum of some kind and losing them all. I am convinced that where this procedure is carried out, it is possible to raise puppies to maturity without their developing this dread disease. Furthermore, even after this, when one knows that they are going to be exposed to a, so to speak, concentrated exposure, such as an indoor show or the like, there is nothing to hinder one, a few days prior to this, from giving three doses in quick succession of a potency of this product, and in that way pad their immunity a little more.
Another line that is interesting me just now is to give pregnant bitches, irrespective of whether they may have had the disease, or been immunized against it, a course of potencies during their pregnancy, to try and start the immunization of the puppies in utero. This is a peculiar field for homoeopathy. By means of the deeply acting anti-psoric remedies, the lowest strata of perverted life where it first established itself in impurities in the finest fibres and cellular structures, can be restored.
Medicines chosen wisely and given to the expectant bitch, can benefit the coming puppies. Frequently, with the indicated remedy, anatomical and structural deficiencies as cleft palate, hare-lip, eczema, etc., can be prevented in families where such have appeared, because the taint that gave rise to them in former pregnancies has been neutralised by the timely administration of the homoeopathic antipsoric remedies.
Of course I am often asked by veterinarians who are absolutely sceptical in regard to homoeopathy, “What on earth has your product to do with the actual virus of canine distemper, or dont you believe in the existence of such an entity?” Of course I believe and know that there is such an entity, but in just what relation it really stands in connection with the disease itself I am frank to admit that I do not really know, and furthermore, I dont think anybody else does.
We all agree that it is less the presence of the organism than the suitability of the tissues for its growth that determines the disease. But is this pre-disposition itself the disease be it a condition to be defined electrically, chemically, or whatever and do the organisms result from it, or does the disease require the organisms plus the pre-disposition? Some have occasionally suggested the former view. Whatever the future may disclose we must admit that organisms, and viruses are associated with disease, have recognisable characteristics and can convey disease.
At least the evidence available at present points overwhelmingly to these conclusions, and that those who deny them have generally only sight acquaintance with this evidence. We must therefore assume that so-called germs of disease are at least in close relation to disease, and although Medorrhinum, Psorinum, and Distemperinum caninum can be held to owe their efficacy, not to the organisms present in the material from which they were originally made, but to some un-named and un-defined substance of disease.