Does your horse’s wound need a bandage?
- Your horse is very likely a four-legged accident waiting to happen. Most likely, you will find yourself saying “how did this happen” or “what on earth were you doing?”. When you are tending to his latest cut, scrape, or whatever, you need to decide two things: Do you need to call the Vet, and do you need to bandage the wound?
- If you can see a flap of skin, under layers of tissue, loads and loads of blood, or the wound is near a joint, a call to your Vet is in order. If there is swelling, limping, you suspect a puncture, a call to your Vet is in order. If you are unsure if you need to call the Vet, a call to your Vet is in order.
Now you and your veterinarian will need to determine a bandaging plan.
This horse has a tiny scrape, but it’s covered to keep dirt out and to keep the fleece from his exercise boots from rubbing and irritating the cut.
How deep is the wound?
- Superficial scrapes likely won’t need a bandage, but anything that exposes layers of tissues can benefit from cover. This keeps the bugs and dirt out, allowing healing. Also, sutures are likely in order if you can see layers.
Does the wound move a lot?
- Hock sores, cuts on the knee, and any wound on a joint can be seriously dangerous. There is the possibility of the joint itself being involved in the wound, and it moves!
- Every step your horse takes can irritate the wound, and in some cases open it back up. Spider bandages are great for knees, and you can easily cover and protect a hock with some creative use of elastic tape.
Keep a spider bandage in your Vet Kit so you don’t have to look for someone’s shirt to steal if you need to make on in a hurry.
Is dirt going to find a way into the wound?
- Leg wounds are common, and also tend to get very dirty as your horse moves around and again as he gets comfy to sleep. Keep the dirt and shavings out with a bandage.
Look for signs that the bandage is too tight – like this one. The wrap is denting the leg on the edges.
Is there swelling with the wound?
- Even the smallest wound can cause major swelling in a leg, which can lead to cellulitis. Trust me on this one – cellulitis is NOT your friend. Cellulitis is a nasty skin infection that can spread to other tissues, and in horses can turn his leg into a tree trunk.
- Leg wounds are also susceptible to proud flesh. See this masterpiece of an article for more info on proud flesh. Of course, if you have swelling or proud flesh your Veterinarian needs to get involved. Your horse will need specific bandaging, like a standing wrap, and a course of treatment as prescribed by your Veterinarian.
What bandaging material do you need to have in your Vet Kit?
- I like to have non-stick pads, these can “glue” on the wound with some antibiotic cream or ointment. Then a layer of cotton batting or cotton gauze, and followed by either vet wrap or elastikon wrap.
- Vet wrap can bunch up and fall on some areas, but elastic bandaging is super sticky and stays put. The most important part is the non-stick bandage, no use in having the wound open again as you do a bandage change.
Elastikon is the stickiest tape around!
- Large wounds that are not easily bandaged can benefit from being covered with “horse undies” to keep bugs at bay and shaving out.
How can you spot a possible infection in a wound?
- Any more swelling, heat, soreness, or redness around a wound might mean infection. Call your Vet.
- Is the sore oozing pus? Or if it’s scabbed over, is it swelling outwards? Call your Vet.
- Does your horse have a fever? This is a HUGE RED FLAG that your horse’s wound is infected and it’s starting to take over his whole body. Absolutely do not wait another second and call your Vet.
How do you like to bandage wounds?