Leg wounds often require the skills of a veterinarian.New window.
Four important questions to ask when a horse sustains a wound or laceration:
- Is any bleeding easily controlled?
- Will the wound or laceration require stitches?
- Is the wound near a joint, tendon sheath, or bursa?
- Is it a puncture wound?
If the wound or laceration is bleeding, a pressure bandage should be applied immediately and a determination made as to whether or not the bleeding requires a veterinarian's attention.
If an artery has been cut, bright red blood that spurts with the heart-beat may be present. Such bleeding may not stop under pressure alone, so a call to the veterinarian is in order.
If the wound or laceration is large or creates gaping skin, sutures may be required for protection and healing. A veterinarian should be called to examine the wound carefully and assess the depth of the wound and whether are not any underlying structures are involved. The wound can then be stitched and proper treatment given to prevent infection. Wounds that involve only the skin can usually just be cleansed and bandaged.
Joint or tendon wounds
If the wound is in the area of a joint, tendon sheath, or bursa, the attention of a veterinarian is extremely important because flushing the area surgically, often via arthroscopy, greatly reduces the chances of loss of function and infection. The affected area should be bandaged and the horse placed on stall rest.
Horses often incur puncture wounds to the foot. Puncture wounds are potentially the most serious of all wounds because they tend to penetrate the horse's flesh, with bacteria coming trapped in the wound.
At the first sign of lameness, it is important to examine the sole and frog. In many cases, the object that caused the puncture wound will be visible. If the object is not visible, a hoof tester may be used to locate the site of the injury. Puncture wounds of the sole are among the most serious because of the lack of drainage to the outside.
If the wound is in the back of the hoof, bacteria may invade the navicular bursa. From there, the infection can travel up the entire leg of the horse with extremely serious consequences. An abscess in the foot area can lead to all kinds of problems, including septicemia, bacterial laminitis, and tetanus.
All horses that suffer puncture wounds should receive a tetanus toxoid booster if the state of immunity is unknown. In cases involving puncture wounds, bleeding should be allowed to continue and the veterinarian should be called.
Puncture wounds in the hoof are potentially dangerous to the horse's health. New window.
For minor puncture wounds, the entire sole and frog should be cleansed and washed. The wound should be opened up and irrigated with a dilute Betadine solution, then packed with Betadine-saturated gauze. Irrigation should be repeated daily until healing is established and the horse should be confined in a clean, dry stall. At any sign of infection, a veterinarian should be called to determine if antibiotics are necessary.
Prompt attention to all wounds will help ensure the health of the horse and prevent serious complications. In cases of minor wounds, owners or handlers can often effectively disinfect and bandage the wound, but if the wound is serious or a puncture wound, the services of a veterinarian are necessary.
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Considered by many to be the best horse first aid book on the market Dr. Kellon's Guide to First Aid for Horses is written by a veterinarian. The easy to use format allows horse owners to quickly find first aid information in an emergency.
This BETADINE FIRST AID & WOUND CARE is recommended by veterinarians for cleansing and disinfecting wounds in cases of bleeding injuries. Betadine comes in several sizes and no first aid kit should be without a supply of this effective wound care product.
Keep a supply of these Ever Ready First Aid Bandage Compression Dressings on hand for horse injuries. Vacuum-sealed, the hemorrhage control compression bandage is 6 inches wide and 70 inches long.
About the author
As an animal lover since childhood, Flossie was delighted when Mark, the CEO and developer of EquiMed asked her to join his team of contributors.
She enrolled in My Horse University at Michigan State and completed a number of courses in everything related to horse health, nutrition, diseases and conditions, medications, hoof and dental care, barn safety, and first aid.
Staying up-to-date on the latest developments in horse care and equine health is now a habit, and she enjoys sharing a wealth of information with horse owners everywhere..