Novel Theory of the Cause of Rabies

Take a look at Dr. Mary Walker’s views on rabies, dogs and treatment from a 1916 Dog World article.

By Dog World Eds. | June 19, 2012

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From the Archives of Dog World: Enjoy this all-access pass to dog history from the pages of the longest published dog magazine. This content remains in its original form and reflects the language and views of its time. Health and behavior information evolves and only the most current advice should be followed.

Dog World magazine July 1916Dr. Mary E. Walker writes some interesting notes on the disease of rabies, which may hold the attention of dog lovers. “I had been living on starvation rations,” she says, “for months, and one day the sight of food caused such a contraction of the thorat that breathing was so labored that my mouth was filled with air bubbles and a foam similar to that of a dog with rabies. Swallowing was impossible because of the contraction of the throat, but there was an inclination to bite on an angry emotion because of the condition. This condition only lasted a brief time, and then I rejoiced at the occurrence because of my discovery of the cause of rabies and just how dogs are affected and the prevention and treatment of rabies.”

Dr. Walker says the cause is that the want of food is so great that the throat contracts unduly as if in the action of swallowing and the foam is caused by imperfect breathing. The biting is caused by the desire to bite food and the dog has no other way of expression. “He could not take food,” she says, “nor lap water because of the rigidity of the muscular tissue of the throat. The condition of rabies is produced in well-to-do dogs because of a want of the whole body that could not be met because of some illness that may not be apparent to the owners.”

As a means of prevention Dr. Walker suggests having a dish of fresh water and one of fresh food where the dog can reach them at any time. “A dog,” she says, “can regulate its diet better than can be done for it, but have a change in kinds of food so that the appetite will be good always. Let dogs ride part of a long distance, as too great fatigue will impair the appetite. Give pure water, but native water. Do not bathe a dog with a full or an empty stomach and not too frequently. Do not speak harshly to a dog.”

As treatment Dr. Walker’s panacea is the following: “Put strong mustard dampened with water on the throat. Put into a warm bath and keep for hours at a warm temperature and until all symptoms have passed.”


Excerpted from Dog World magazine, July 1916, vol.1 no.7. For back issues of Dog World, click here.

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