Top Tips for Preventing Wound Infections in Horses
Here’s a handy guide on wound infections in horses to print and laminate for down the yard! Pin it to a tack room board so it’s always on hand as you’ll never know when you need it!
Wound Infections in Horses – Tips on reducing the risk
Minor cuts and grazes are an inevitable occurrence at some point for most horse owners. Without proper management a simple wound can become infected, resulting in a longer rehabilitation period and potentially costly vet bills.
The cause of an injury has a great influence over the likelihood of an infection setting in, and an injury that results in soft tissue damage, such as those caused by barbed wire or a nail are highly susceptible to infection.
Infection is a major factor in delaying the wound from healing, causing reduced elasticity of the tissue, opening up of wounds that have been surgically closed with sutures and the formation of exuberant granulation of the tissue.
Reducing the Risk of Wound Infections
- Clean all open wounds as soon as possible (even minor wounds) with a saline solution or a level teaspoon of salt per pint of previously boiled water. Dirty wounds have a much higher rate of infection than clean wounds.
- If necessary clip the coat and clean around the wound area.
- Avoid spraying water directly onto the wound as this can force any contamination further inside.
- Assess the wound and if unknown, try to discover the cause as there may be a foreign body hidden below the wound surface.
- Do not poke about in the wound as this will cause infection.
- Flush the wound with saline solution before covering the affected area with a non-adherent dressing if necessary.
- Keep the horse in a clean, dry environment.
A hot poultice such as Animalintex® can be used on a wound that has become infected to draw out the pus. This must be changed every 12 hours. If the pus is not drained away, the wound may heal around it causing pressure and infection to build up causing extreme pain.
It is also important to make sure your horse is vaccinated against tetanus as some wounds, e.g. puncture wounds, are ideal for tetanus to flourish undetected.
When the infection has disappeared, the wound should be covered with a dry dressing until it starts to heal over. It is vital to keep the wound clean and dry.
If in any doubt about treating a wound or if the horse’s state deteriorates consult your veterinary surgeon immediately.