Oil a Cure for the Bite of a Mad Dog

[ Oil a Cure for the Bite of a Mad Dog ] Dr. William James Almon

Contributor Role
Contributor Name
Dr. William James Almon

Date: 1785/05/31

Publication Format

Veterinary Medicine



Nova Scotia

Source: Manuscript Notebook of Dr. William James Almon
Institution: Nova Scotia Archives | Source Origin: Almon Family Fonds | Reference: MG 1 / Microfilm Reel 10,045


A medical marvel story that focuses on rabies and one specific way to avoid developing rabies, madness, and death after being bit by a mad dog, p. 269. The account appeared in "Extract of a letter to the Authors of the Journal de Paris, May 31, 1785" published the same year in the London periodical, The Political Magazine and Parliamentary, Naval, Military, and Literary Journal, Vol. 10, No. 32, p. 143. Almon's version is transcribed almost verbatim, and focuses on the use of oil externally, in poultices, and internally in warding off rabies and healing bite wounds.


“A mad dog went into a work shop where several men
were employed in making oil. He instantly bit the leg 
of one of the work men in three places. The man endea
-vouring to avoid the animal, accidentally stepped into
a large vessel that stood behind him, full of oil. One
of his companions hastened to his assistance, and ecoun
-tered the dog with a stick, but before he got the bet
-ter of him, was unluckily bit in the leg likewise. The 
accident of stepping into the oil did not however happen
to this man as to the one that was first bit, and he
shortly after died of the hydrophobia. Whereas the other
man who had got his wounds moistened with the 
oil never shewed the least symptoms of it. The dog
that was killed had bit several other dogs, which in a 
few days were seized with madness, and communicated
it to several inhabitants. One of the strolling quacks
with whom the country abounds, happened to be in
this place at the time. He made a proper use of the
accident of the two workmen, he dressed all the wounds
given by mad dogs with oil, often changed the poultices
and even made the patients take a little oil internally.
Not one of his patients died, and all those who were
not treated in this manner perished miserably.”
    The gentleman who relates the above affirmed
that he had saved the lives of many people in that terrible
state, by using the same remedy.

The word appears as "physicians" in The Political Magazine, which was likely Almon's source (see Description).