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Diseases of the stomach depend as much perhaps on
a lack of mastication and salivary mixture as on the qual­
ity or quantity of food. “ The food of the horse contains
an abundant quantity of starchy materials, and the pro­
cess by which these are rendered soluble begins in the
mouth, not only by their admixture with the salivary
secretions, but by a chemical change, through which the
non-soluble starch is converted into dextrine and grape
sugar, and made fit for the action of the intestinal, bili­
ary, and gastric secretions, and for absorption by the
vessels of the intestinal walls. For the purpose of per­
forming this process the horse is provided with 24 mill­
stones in the form of molar teeth. Horses are best kept
in health when fed on an admixture of food requiring
thorough mastication, and cattle when, in addition to the
more nutritious aliments, they are freely supplied with
food requiring remastication, such as hay, grass, or straw.
An error in the diet or a sudden change from one kind
of food to another, not only deranges the stomach, but
the intestinal canal as well.” (Williams.)

In the horse the process of digestion is only begun in
the stomach ; it is completed in the intestines. The
stomach is small in proportion to the size of the horse ;
the intestines, in the aggregate, are not. The stomach
being small, requires to be often filled. A horse ought
not to be worked over five or six hours without food. If
it works ten hours, and is given enough food, it is liable
to gorge itself. It is also liable, in its haste, to bolt its

96                        THE DISEASES OF THE HORSE.


Is rare as an independent disease. It is probably always
the result of irritation of the mucous membrane. This
may be caused by improper food, especially in foals and
calves ; foreign bodies, specific fevers, mineral and vege­
table poisons, &c.

Symptoms.—There are no sure signs to detect the in­
dependent form of the disease. In the poisonous form
the symptoms vary with the dose and effect rather than
with the kind of poison. Blue vitriol, corrosive sublimate,
or arsenic causes nausea, loathing of food, often accom­
panied by a discharge of saliva ; horse paws, looks dis­
tressfully at flanks, lies down, rolls about, rises in great
agony ; quick and painful heaving at the flanks; finally
breaks into profuse perspiration. Other poisons cause vom­
iting, belching, enormous gaseous distension ; pulse at first
quick, then contracted to a thread, afterward impercepti­
ble ; prostration ; reels in walking ; bowels either violently
purged or else so constricted that, notwithstanding painful
efforts, nothing but mucus is passed ; grows delirious and
dangerous; falls, stretches limbs, groans, gapes, dies.

Remedy —An oily laxative removes any irritant and
irritant discharges. Ice, with hydrocyanic acid or mor­
phine, or morphine hypodermically, for irritation and pain.
Antacids and bismuth, with or without small doses of
opium, most useful in young animals. Hot fomentations
to abdomen. The brain symptoms and paralysis often oc­
curring in adult cattle, is usually relieved by full doses
of oil followed by demulcents, molasses, salines, and lax­
ative injections. Patients nourished with milk, well boiled
gruel, and nutritive clysters. For doses, see pages 13 to 29.

Robertson describes a chronic or mild form of gastritis.




Stomach staggers, according to Robertson, “is chiefly,
if not entirely, the result of filling the stomach to reple­
tion.” Some foods are worse than others, such as brewers’
grain, damaged wheat, ripe vetches, and cooked food. The
disorder is not uncommon, and is sometimes very danger­
ous. In frequency, however, it has fallen off about fifty
per cent. in the past sixty years. Cause—regular and
judicious feeding. The infrequency of the disorder in
France is attributed to the use of laxative and digestible
foods. Sleepy, mad, and apoplectic staggers are apparently
only conditions or effects of stomach staggers, for severe
cases of the latter perhaps always affect the brain more
or less.

Grass staggers is caused by rye grass. It paralyzes the
limbs, especially the hind limbs, having little if any affect
on the brain. Robertson says it is caused by the seed
stems of the grass, which horses eat in preference to any
other part, and that the time of danger is the ripening
time. Cattle and sheep are little affected, for they eat the
body of the grass, losing, if they lose any part, the stem.
Lambs, however, he says, sometimes suffer, for they nip
the stems, but more in play than to obtain food. Williams
says the grass is also dangerous when it has been cut and
allowed to heat and ferment before being used. Little is
positively known about the specific poison in question.

Symptoms.—Stomach staggers: Usually sudden fu­
gitive abdominal pain;” lies down, but soon up; down
again ; soon greater restlessness; continued or interrupted
pawing; head protruded; in some cases belching; in rare
cases attempts at vomiting, with a liquid discharge from
the nose. In severe cases acute pain, belching, straining
to vomit; lies down carefully.

The sleepy stage (condition) is characterized by dullness;

98                        THE DISEASES OF THE HOUSE.

head hangs; disposed to press it against something; re­
fuses to eat; when forced to change position, shows want
of control over movements; disposed to press head against
wall again; breathing more or less stertorous.

The mad stage is dangerous; horse liable to do any­
thing. This stage appears to be very rare.

The symptoms of grass staggers develop gradually. Pa­
ralysis of hind limbs; in a day or two the weakness in­
creases ; reels in walking; danger of falling; disinclined
to lie down; anxious countenance; partial paralysis of
fore legs;- perfect consciousness; calm; bowels rather
confined; urine, appetite, breathing, and pulse natural.
In severe cases there is the same disposition to stand,
even steadying body against wall or stall. Muscular twitch-
ings sometimes occur, and in rare cases brain disturbance ;
when unable to stand and down, muscular twitchings usu­
ally excessive; limbs move automatically; consciousness
impaired ; breathing stertorous; death near. These symp­
toms may vary, but chiefly as to rapidity of development
or intensity in individual cases.

Remedy.—Aloes or calomel and oil to unload the
stomach and bowels. Ether or spirit of ammonia every
two hours overcomes flatulence and spasm. Clysters, hand
rubbing, exercise. Hot fomentations or cloths wrung out
of hot water, or in-rubbing of merely warming dose of
mustard, abate spasm and pain. If pain persists, morphine
and atrophine hypodermically. One or two doses of acon­
ite tincture sometimes useful. Bleeding sometimes advisa­
ble if brain disturbance or breathing occurs. A long, fine
trocar and canula in extreme swelling. Strychnine and
counter-irritants to spine for paralysis. In young animals,
where stomach is overloaded with clots of curd, oil, fol­
lowed by ether or spirit of ammonia.

For doses, see pages 13 to 29.




Is a faulty conversion of food into its natural elements.
In the horse, owing to the food continuing in the stomach
but a comparatively short time, much of the digestive
process is performed in the intestines. Indigestion there­
fore is not altogether the fault of the stomach.

The seat of indigestion seems to be the hair-like or
velvet-like lining of the stomach or intestinal canal. These
membranes furnish secretions indispensably necessary to
the due conversion of food into nourishing and feculent
matter, and one or both of them may be functionally
faulty, causing irritation, inflammation, &c. But there
may be other causes, namely—imperfect mastication and
salivary secretion; torpid liver; the bile may be defective
in quality or quantity; also the pancreatic juice; or there
may be derangement in the worm-like movements of the
intestines, by means of which their contents are propelled.

The disorder is peculiar to young horses, especially such
as are reared in low, marshy, cold, poor pastures. The
coarse, rank, sour grass seems to lay the foundation of
disease of the bowels.

Symptoms.—The symptoms are plain, but it is usu­
ally difficult to name the part or organ that is affected.
The horse is dull and spiritless, though the appetite may
be even voracious; but it may be intermittent—good at
one time, bad at another ; sometimes it is depraved, horse
eating dirt, plaster, brick, wood, stones, &c.; coat pen-
feathered, dry, and perhaps scurfy, nor is it shed at the
usual season ; hide­bound ; dung either darker or lighter
than natural, Avith offensive odor, and coated with mucus;
when broken, crumbles to pieces, appearing to consist of
loosely compacted chopped hay, mingled with many entire
or imperfectly dissolved oats; colicky pains in severe or
advanced cases ; inclined to be costive when in stable, but
exercise causes purging; skin sympathizes, as shown by

100                      THE DISEASES OF THE HORSE.

the coat; it may be in a morbid or perhaps eruptive

Remedy.—Careful dietary; avoid long fasts; vary food;
water at reasonable intervals, or keep it in stable con­
stantly. A laxative is almost invariably the first requi­
site, conjoined with a cholagogue in bilious cases. (Chol-
agogues promote the flow of bile. See ‘ Purgatives,’ page
35.) Alkalies, chalk, magnesia before feeding, or with
food in debilitated cases. Ball of whiting and piece of rock
salt in rack. Alkalies may be conjoined with nux vomica
and other bitters. Hydrochloric or other mineral acids,
with bitters and iron salts, preferable to alkalies in per­
sistent cases. Hard worked horses often benefited by mix­
ing an ounce of linseed oil with food daily. Glycerine,
especially for young. Ox-bile with gentian or nux vomica
in intractable cases. Bismuth and hydrocyanic acid in
chronic gastric irritability. Creosote, eucalyptus, pepper­
mint oils for undue fermentation. Arsenic with morphine
in chronic irritable cases, and where food causes diarrhea.

For doses, see pages 13 to 29.

BOTS (Afterward Gad-Flies),

Are little grub-like creatures, voided with the dung.
As a rule they are not injurious. In some cases, how­
ever, when present in large numbers, they are injurious,
and may cause, or at least aid in causing, death. It is
said that no known medicine will destroy the bo.t while
in the stomach.

The gad-fly or bot undergoes about as many transfor­
mations as the butter­fly. The egg is deposited on the
hair in autumn, is conveyed to the tongue by licking,
hatched by the heat and moisture almost instantly, and
is then conveyed, with the food, to the stomach, where
it remains during the winter, its dark-brown hooks being
securely fixed in the cuticular coat, a part that is said to
be as insensible to pain as are the hoofs. In the spring


it releases its hold, is conveyed to the intestines, and
sooner or later expelled. It dries, assumes a crysalis state
for about two months, and then is born as a gad-fly.

Remedy.—Turpentine and oils, bitters, hydrochloric
acid, copper and iron sulphates, arsenic ; then purgatives.
Green fodder. Destroy larvæ and fly.

For doses, see pages 13 to 29.


Is a natural though not necessary termination of unre­
lieved gorged stomach, and perhaps also chronic indiges­
tion or other disease. It may also be caused by the strain
of vomiting, or attempted vomiting, the struggles of the
horse while suffering, stones in the stomach, external vio­
lence, &c. It is peculiar to old and exhausted horses.
Fatal. Morphine injected under the skin will afford some


Is caused by the stomach or intestines, or both, becom­
ing distended with air or gas (gas from food). The dis­
order is usually caused by green food—grass, wheat, rye,
&c The condition of the stomach is sometimes an im­
portant factor. Crib-biters are predisposed to colic. A
sharp trot will often give a crib-biter relief.

Remedy.—See ‘ Colic, Spasmodic and Flatulent,’ pages
102, 103, 104.


Dr. Brown describes one, weighing 7¼ ounces, that ap­
parently caused no inconvenience till it obstructed the
pylorus. It had a rather tortuous pedicle, 3 inches long
by 1 in diameter, with an artery and 2 veins in its cen­
ter. About 15 inches of “the first small gut were mor­

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