Understanding Wound Care
Injuries to your horse are almost inevitable but knowing how to perform emergency wound care can be lifesaving. It has been said that the most important “vital sign” is a good strong dial-tone. You want to call and have your veterinarian on the way while you institute emergency care. Your primary goal is to stop any life threatening bleeding. This would be arterial or large vein blood loss. You should be able to do this with compression and a great way to accomplish this is to apply a clean towel over the wound and wrap snugly with vet-wrap. A tourniquet should not be applied as it cuts off all blood flow and can cause serious problems. For lacerations and puncture wounds where you cannot apply a bandage, you should hold a clean towel over the wound until bleeding stops. If the wound is dirty and contaminated and not bleeding profusely then it can be cleaned gently with water to remove debris. Caustic materials such as alcohols/peroxides/oils and powders should not be used. Many think that a moist wound needs air to dry and should be left uncovered. This is not true. When a wound is left unbandaged , the contamination returns and wound infection continues. This leads to more granulation tissue and proud flesh. The bandage should be changed every 3-5 days unless there is a foul odor or the wound is discharging excessively. It has been found that frequent bandage changing actually retards wound healing by removing healthy fibroblasts from the wound surface before they can set up the scaffolding needed for wound contracture. Your veterinarian can guide you in how best to clean and bandage the wound on your horse and which medication are best suited for that injury.