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Wounds

Wounds must be seen by the vet if

  • Full thickness through the skin near a joint or tendon
  • Large or bleeding heavily
  • If the horse is not vaccinated against tetanus

Wounds are usually only sutured if fresh (up to eight hours old). Sutured wounds can breakdown due to infection, tension, movement or lack of intact blood supply to the region.

Puncture wounds are not sutured as these often have contamination and foreign bodies which produce a lot of discharge and if sutured an abscess may form.

What to do

  • If bleeding heavily, apply pressure until bleeding slows/stops. (A horse can lose 10 litres of blood without causing many problems.)
  • If contaminated remove soil and hair etc from the wound and flush with large volumes of water or VERY dilute hibiscrub. This may restart the wound bleeding.
  • Trim hair from around the wound edges (without getting hair into the wound).
  • NO POULTICES/POWDERS/PURPLE SPRAY.

Dressings

  • A non stick dressing +/- hydrogel is always used.
  • Larger wounds heal faster with less scarring if kept covered and moist with a non-adhesive dressing and movement restricted with a support dressing.
  • Some wounds e.g. on the body cannot be dressed. Applying Vaseline to skin below the wound helps to keep the area clean and prevents the wound discharge from scalding the skin. Fly repellent on the rest of the horse is very important.
  • Leg wounds should be dressed from above the wound right down to the foot unless only a very light dressing is applied, otherwise the limb below the dressing will swell.
  • Plenty of padding prevents pressure sores and allows bandages to be applied more tightly to reduce limb swelling.
  • Keeping movement of the horse restricted (box rest) will aid healing and prevent the bandage from rubbing and slipping.
  • Large wounds may need redressing daily initially, time between dressings changes is increased gradually dependent on discharge and odour from the wound. We try to change dressings as infrequently as possible as each dressing change disrupts healing but if there are large volumes of discharge or it is a very infected or contaminated wound then daily changes will be needed initially.
  • If dressings stick, soak off to prevent damage to the healing cells.