wound care equitopia

Ultimately, most wounds warrant a call to your veterinarian – even if a wound looks minor, it can become a big deal.

This is the first of a two-part blog post, written by doctor of veterinary medicine, Dr Vanessa G.B. Rood, DVM  (formerly Vanessa Gant Bradley). Vanessa emphasized in equine medicine at UC Davis and was the recipient of the elite Hiscox/AAEP Equine Scholarship for equine health and welfare.  She completed an Emergency & Sport horse fellowship at Peninsula Equine Medical Center, and has 30 years of equine experience. She is a member of the American Association of Equine Practitioners and the American Veterinary Medical Association.


Horses can take something small and make it into a monster all too quickly.  Your veterinarian will appreciate the opportunity to guide your early care and help you decide what type of intervention or medication is warranted.

Below are a few of the ‘usual suspect’ wounds every owner should be ready to encounter:


These are the most common and typically most benign.  However, I often must remind people that horses can take a small cut or scrape and seed a very serious infectious call a cellulitis.  Cellulitis is an infection and inflammation of the tissues around a wound, or of the limb, that can arise from even the smallest of wounds.  So even if you think your wound is nothing but a nuisance, you never can be too careful or monitor too closely.

  • Cleanse the wound with sterile saline
  • Apply topical wound care product; e.g.: Alu-Spray or Alu-Shield
    • Alu-Spray: This is a preferable topical wound care product as it creates a dry antiseptic barrier without the disadvantage of an ointment.  When an ointment is applied without a bandage, it may attract dirt and debris
  • Monitor for any swelling, heat, or lameness
  • Call your veterinarian with any concerns.

Wound Care (Part 1)THE GUSHER:

Can you take your horse’s heart rate from the beat of the blood leaping from their wound?  You’ve hit an artery ! Don’t panic – it will be ok.  Is your wound creating an ever-growing oozy puddle wherever your horse now steps?  Yikes!!  It’s ok, horses can lose (what seems like) an entire Scorsese films’ worth of blood before anyone should be too worried.  It might look like a startling amount, but remember – even a little spilled milk looks like a lot when it hits the floor.

The first thing is to stay calm. Apply non-stick gauze (if possible) and then wrap, wrap, wrap.  A heavy stable wrap or even polo wraps will staunch the bleeding.   If the wound bleeds through the bandage just keep adding more to the outside of the wrap, and do not remove your original bandage.  Keep yourself and your horse quiet and calm is possible (hay can be a good tool in these moments).

  • Call your vet once the bandage is secure and your horse is calm.
  • Reapply bandage material as/if the blood oozes through your first wrap.
  • Keep an eye on the people around when a lot of blood is involved – nobody wants to call an ambulance, after calling the vet, for your thoughtful, but woozy, neighbor that hit the floor at the site of the all that blood! (Seriously friends, this happens….).

Wound Care (Part 1)

In the next post, I will be looking at the joint lurker, face wounds, and the most common wound mistakes I encounter in my practice. 

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