Running 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 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
listlessness. 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 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.