Wounds are unfortunately very common in horses and you’re almost guaranteed to encounter one at some point! Careful management of wounds can help optimise the environment for healing and ensure as speedy a recovery as possible.
The numerous ways that horses manage to injure themselves never fail to surprise – from running into gates, to finding the only sharp bit of wire in a field. Regardless of the cause of the wound, it is always best to call your vet so the best treatment can be initiated.
Unfortunately, wound healing cannot be accelerated in horses. However, being aware of the factors that affect wound healing and appropriate wound management can help to optimise healing.
– Wound location
– Wound type
– Blood supply to the wound
– Wound contamination
Wound location often determines how a wound can be practically managed to optimise healing. Wounds located on the legs can be bandaged, but usually require immobilisation, as the skin in this area doesn’t contract well. Leg wounds over joints or points of movement can be very challenging to immobilise adequately so are often not suitable for stitching. Wounds over joints also need further assessment to determine if the joint itself is affected.
Wounds on the chest cannot easily be bandaged, however, the skin is loose and can often be readily stitched.
One of the most important factors affecting wound healing is the depth and type of wound. Wounds broadly fall into four categories:
All healing wounds need a blood supply to bring the nutrients needed for healing to the site. A wound in an area of poor blood circulation is more likely to take longer to heal. Sometimes, a wound is so large that the injury itself has damaged all the blood vessels supplying the wounded area, resulting in delayed healing until the blood vessels have healed first.
Wounds can be contaminated by foreign bodies or bacteria. If the contamination is not eliminated, delayed healing or even non-healing will result. To ensure normal healing, wounds must be cleared of foreign objects and flushed to reduce bacterial contamination. Your vet may advise antibiotics for your horse if infection is suspected.
Always follow advice from your vet on how to best manage your horse. They’ll usually need a period of rest and may need to be stabled and bandaged. Remember that care for your horse during this period should go beyond just their wound. There is likely to be a change in your horse’s routine and this can have an impact on your horse’s digestive tract and well-being. Addressing this can be a key part of supporting their recovery. Nutri-Gard Extra, with B Vitamins, prebiotics, and digestible fibre provides multi-action support for digestive health and is ideal for stabled horses or those experiencing sudden diet changes. Protein is vital for healing, so it is important that your horse is not only getting enough in their diet, but that it is good quality. For horses that find being stabled a challenge, a calming equine supplement such as Nutri-calm can help.
If you aren’t confident in bandaging, either ask someone more experienced to do it for you or ask your vet to show you how. Poorly applied bandages can delay would healing and cause additional problems.
It is important to consult your vet with any questions or concerns about wounds on your horse – they will always be happy to give advice.