Wound First Aid

Tips to ensure that your horse heals as quickly as possible.

The American Quarter Horse Journal

Whether you’re out riding the trails, showing at an event or riding in your backyard, it’s always good to be prepared for an accident or injury. Let’s face it, horses are sometimes prone to accidents. Here are a few bits of advice on how to prepare for minor injuries:

First-Aid Kit

The easiest way to be ready for any emergency is to have a well-stocked first-aid kit available at all times. Here are recommended items to have in a kit:

Another way you can be prepared for your horse's injuries is to download our FREE Horse Wound Care report.

    • Clippers or a guarded razor
    • 60 mL syringe and 19-gauge needle or spray bottle to wash out wounds
    • Telfa dressings or antimicrobial dressing, such as Kerlix AMD
    • Antiseptic soap to clean around the wound
    • Wound cleaner, like diluted povidone iodine
    • Gauze
    • Padded cotton
    • Betadine or triple-antibiotic ointment
    • Tongue depressors to apply ointment
    • Scissors

Wound Cleaner

Water can work as a wound cleanser, but Dr. Ted Stashak recommends two other options – povidone iodine (10 percent dilution) and chlorohexidine diacetate (2 percent dilution). When using chlorohexidine diacetate, however, be extremely careful not to let it come in contact with the eye, as it can cause ocular toxicity.

The ideal mixtures:

    • 15 milliliters (approximately 3 teaspoons) of povidone iodine to 1 liter of water
    • 25 milliliters (approximately 5 teaspoons) of chlorohexidine diacetate to 975 milliliters (approximately 4 cups) of water

When to Call the Vet

“Many of the cases that veterinarians deal with, and that I dealt with through my career through referral, are ones that were managed, in most cases, by the horse owners,” warns Dr. Stashak. “Unfortunately, because of lack of recognition of how serious an injury it was, it then became serious because it became infected.”

Learn more about how you can be ready for those minor wounds and injuries. Download our FREE Horse Wound Care report.

So when is a cut not just a cut?

In most cases, Dr. Stashak says, superficial wounds that do not gape open can be managed by a horse owner.

Any wound, no matter how small, that overlies a synovial structure is at risk of developing an infection that can be career- or life-threatening. Synovial structures are located in joints and sheaths protecting tendons and contain synovial fluid, a yellowish lubricating, protective fluid. Puncture wounds can look very minor but can penetrate deep enough to invade the delicate capsules. Any wound over a synovial region that leaks yellow fluid requires immediate care by a veterinarian

Other situations that require a call to the vet are:

    • A laceration that is gaping open, requiring stitches.
    • Any wound that does not appear to be healing; it could be infected or have a foreign body imbedded deep in the wound.
    • Any injury or wound involving blood coming from the nostril; it could involve fractured facial bones, or the cut could penetrate the nasal cavity or sinus and lead to more serious problems.