Your Bleeding Horse - What to Do

Foal receiving emergency first aid for bleeding injury.
Foal receiving emergency first aid for bleeding injury.

Spurting blood indicates that an artery is most likely involved and calls for immediate action to stop the flow. On the other hand, dark blood oozing through the skin indicates that the bleeding is venous and not immediately life-threatening.

Traumatic injuries nearly always are accompanied by bleeding. In most cases, blood loss is minimal and constant pressure for several minutes will allow the blood to clot. However, if blood is gushing or if application of pressure does not stop the bleeding, a veterinarian should be called immediately.

What to do

When a horse is bleeding, the first consideration should be to get it to a safe place and keep the animal as calm as possible. People and other animals should be kept away. The wound should be bandaged securely and pressure applied to reduce the blood flow.

If the area is too large to be bandaged, a clean pad made from gauze or other clean fabric should be placed against the wound. If blood is squirting, a tourniquet may be necessary. This is often the case with leg injuries.

Call a vet immediately and get advice as to whether the tourniquet might cause harm. A tourniquet should be loosened every 15 to 30 minutes for a duration of approximately 5 minutes to allow blood to temporarily flow back into the limb.

If the wound is deep or near a vital structure, surgical repair by a veterinarian will be necessary once the bleeding is under control. If the wound is relatively minor, proper cleansing and disinfecting of the area accompanied by hair clipping where necessary and application of an appropriate bandage may be sufficient.

About the Author

Flossie Sellers

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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.