Running dog fits is a nervous affliction of dogs that is also variously known as barking fits, fright disease, furious fits, or canine hysteria. Dogs of all breeds and ages and of both sexes are subject to it, and though it is prevalent throughout the country, it is observed most often in the South. It is not attended by high mortality.
Usually, the animal suffering from dog fits first shows signs of restlessness, and the eyes bear an anxious, fearful expression. Then the animal has an attack of running and barking, with expressions of excitement and fear, which may last anywhere from a few minutes to half an hour. Between attacks, the animal may either appear normal or show signs of dullness and listless-ness. These manifestations are intermittent in character, and may extend over a period of a few days, weeks, months, or years. In mild attacks, the animal may simply hide for a variable period of time and then appear normal. In severe attacks, there may be typical convulsions, with involuntary passage of urine and stool, and salivation. Sometimes the disposition of the animal remains timid, commands are not readily obeyed, and the slightest stimulus provokes snapping and barking.
The cause of this peculiar disease is obscure. Various factor, such as infection, improper diet, hereditary predisposition, circulatory disturbances, indigestion, inbreeding, parasites, heat period, and the like have been ascribed as possible causes. Recent investigations have pointed to a possible deficiency in vitamins A or B. In any case, the actual cause has not yet been established.
Treatment of dog fits consists in the feeding of fresh foods, maintaining bowel regularity, and control of parasites and other conditions, which might add to discomfort and thus possibly aggravate the fit attacks. Supplementary quantities of vitamins A and B should be incorporated into the diet. The ultimate outcome will depend upon the general resistance of the animal and the severity of the fit manifestations. Treatment should be undertaken only under veterinary supervision.
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