Call the veterinarian! That is our first thought when sickness and pain strike our pet dog or cat or other animal friend. We want competent medical help for such suffering creatures and we see that we get it.

Red Indians learned from the wolves that a sulphur spring cures rheumatism; from the bear that a red clay bath will heal wounds; from deer that ferns will cure fever. Europeans first learned the virtues of catnip or mint, from watching sick cats.

Animals have drug stores. Though they never attended schools of pharmacy, wild animals of woodland and meadow and birds of the air know how to mix prescriptions. They know the proper dosage. They know the therapeutic value of massage. Also, the curative value of hot and cold baths. Some surgeons of fur and feather make serviceable splints to bind up broken legs or wings.

Though old bears in National Parks love to take hot baths to soothe aches and pains. During rainy spells, wild turkeys make their young ones eat spicebush to protect them from complications due to dampness.

Cats dip feverish feet in cold water. Wounded wild boars wallow in red clay to fill the wound with the healing substance and to protect it from infection. When sick, deer, sheep and goats go straight to their outdoor drug-stores and help themselves from nature’s bounteous shelves of curative herbs.

A few years ago an electrical company put on the market a machine which produces artificial fever. It was hailed as a great advance in science for the curing of certain diseases. But the common little fox knew all about including artificial fever centuries before. Wily fox mixes up green leaves with the earth, applies the mixture to a wound, and a fever is produced will all its healing effect. When a jackal is infested with ticks he holds a ball of woolly stuff in his mouth and enters water, his snout alone above water. All the ticks move out of his body and collect with woolly ball. He drops the ball in water and scoots.

Many denizens of field and forest are acquainted with the beneficial values of hydrotheraphy. Sick animals have been known to heal themselves of ordinary diseases by lying down near a running stream eating little or nothing, and drinking lots of pure water. Elephants suffering from stomach trouble starve for some days and swallow some alkaline soil which acts as a purgative.

The forest drug stores holds marvelous remedies for cuts, bruises and broken bones. Bears use soft spruce resin to smear in wounds to prevent haemorrhages. They also plaster healing clay thickly in injured parts. Beaver and muskrats are too clever to use clay for wounds. It would wash off in the water. So, from Mother Nature’s drug-store, they select gum from resinous trees to rub on their lace-rations.

Amputations are common. Trapped animals do not hesitate go gnaw off their own legs to release themselves. They do the job neatly, too, though the process must be painful. When an ant breaks its leg, other ants carry out amputation. If the injury is hopeless the sufferer is put to death.

Squirrels hold broken legs in one position until the bone “sets”. Wild turkeys do the same with broken wings. Cleverest of all woodland surgeons are the woodcocks. These small birds have been known to mend broken legs by making splints of clay and applying them to the fractured members. They have shown still greater surgical knowledge by mixing fibrous roots with the clay to hold the broken leg more firmly.

But have you ever considered how these very same creatures nurse themselves and their kin in their own animal world? Mother Nature has gifted her children with a fascinating intelligence to care for and cure themselves.

Sick dogs, if left to themselves, will instinctively seek out and eat certain weeds or grasses with medicinal properties. Cat-nip is an aromatic herb which appeals to cats all animals, but when ill, cats will hunt for this plant for its ability cure.

Sheep, cows, goats and deer will also doctor themselves by eating herbs with curative powers.

When we are troubled by sore or weak eyes, our own doctor will often prescribe dark glasses. When our animal friends are so afflicted, they instinctively keep in the shadows of avoid bright sunlight by covering their eyes with their paws.

We soothe cuts and scratches with salves and medical ointments. Deer will endeavour to cover such wounds with downy spruce resin. Bears use soft clay or gum. Hogs wallow in the mud to stop the flow of blood, and horses will ease their hurts by licking each other.

Just as we resort to amputation only as a last resort, so does the animal world. But a fox will not hesitate to completely gnaw off a sore limb when other methods of treatment fail. Afterwards, the wound is licked, bathed in a cool spring, and anointed with gum. Raccoons, beavers, and muskrats also follow this course.

Man has adopted medical treatment which have been used instinctively by the animal kingdom for centuries. In treating rheumatism, for example, we flock to mineral spring resorts, and undergo many varieties of heat application. Deer and cattle so stricken will bathe in sulphur springs, or lie down in the warmest possible sunlight. Often, their recovery is as complete as the cure we attempt to bring ourselves by “modern’ methods.

Have you ever wondered if wild animals ever have a tooth ache? Or what they did if one of their molar began giving them trouble? If the tusk of an elephant gives trouble it wedges the defective tooth in a suitable cleft of a tree and pulls till it comes away, all the while howling with pain.

The crocodile has his own private dentist. That’s right! Strange as it may sound, these great reptiles really do have fairly reliable “dentist!” The only thing a crocodile has to do when he is bothered with an aching tooth, is to wait patiently until one of these dentists makes his daily visit.

Crocodiles, as you must know, spend a great part of their lives in the river’s muddy waters. But here is something you may not know. They are continually being annoyed by small, worm-like pests called leeches which infest their mouths and cause them a great deal of trouble.

That’s where the dentist comes in. He is the spur-winged plover bird, and it is his joh as Mr.Crocodile’s dentist to get rid of these bothersome leeches.

Every day, the crocodile spends a portion of his time basking on the sunbacked shore near a river. When he spies the small plover bird approaching, he opens his great mouth and the little bird hops fearlessly into the great jaws.

Once he is inside, Dr.Plover performs a two-fold job. He gets busy picking the offending leeches out of the creatures’ bridge-work plus any food that is left clinging to the teeth and, in the process, enjoys a meal for his trouble. The crocodile, of course, appreciates such first-class service and takes great precaution and proper care not to swallow his dentist accidentally.

When the dentist has finished his job on any patient, and wants to get out, all he has to do is give the crocodile a gentle reminder by prodding him on the roof of his mouth with one of the sharp spurs. The jaws spring open and Dr.Plover hops out to visit some other patient who may be in dire need of a dentist and is patiently waiting for him.

A horse turned loose in a pasture without salt will instinctively mouth rocks looking for the mineral, and chickens given insufficient time to furnish the calcium needed for egg shells will go hunting for bones or stones and will peek at anything that looks like them. These manifestations are often quoted as proving that animals will balance their own diets.

During hibernation crocodiles swallow a piece of wood or stone because its digestive juice is so potent that unless there is something in the stomach to act upon the juices will eat away the stomach.

Hippopotamus, after over eating, presses his belly upon a sharp reed, thereby breaking a blood vessel and relieving its congestion. Thereby rubbing its belly on limestone soil, it stops the bleeding.

*This article was written by Dr.P.KAMALANATHAN who was then student of Final B.V.SC., for the Madras Veterinary College Annual 1979 when the blogger was their Student Editor.


Jake Folger said...

Good information on Animals. Keep writing.

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Bubuloon said...

Really Very nice post because very informative post. Inflatable Collar

Boo Dog said...

Thanks for sharing your experiences with all of us. boo the dog The World's Cutest Dog

Coollama said...

This is the one of the most interesting articles about hibernation of crocodiles i ever read - great! :)

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