When you are faced with any wound on your horse please don’t hesitate to contact Parkside Equine for advice. This page contains only basic general advice for your information and is not a replacement for veterinary advice. Any wound on a horse has the potential to develop complications including tetanus, so we advise all horses are vaccinated against tetanus. There is a primary course of 2 injections 4-6 weeks apart and then boosters every 2-3 years. If you ask Parkside Equine to vaccinate for equine flu, then tetanus will be included in the schedule, with flu boosters every year and tetanus boosters combined with the flu jab every other year. If you are unsure about whether your horse is up-to-date, please ring so that we can confirm when your horse needs a booster, especially if you don’t have your passport immediately to hand!

 

What to do with a wound on your horse:

Carefully clip the hair around the wound so you can examine it, being sure to keep any clipped hair out of the wound. It may or may not be very sore, so watch out for kicks and bites!  You may at this stage call us because you find it is a large wound which may need stitching or a deep wound which needs checking to see what other structures and affected. If you aren’t sure, call your veterinary surgeon as soon as possible, and always better to be safe than sorry!

Gentle cleaning the wound using hand warm saline (approximately 1 pint of water with a teaspoon of table salt added to it) with nothing added is the safest option. Be careful to not contaminate the wound with what you are using to clean it, i.e. use a clean cloth, swab or soaked cotton wool. If you use an antiseptic e.g. Hibiscub, then only use it around the edges of the wound. You can flush a wound using a clean syringe or a low pressure hose but be very careful you don’t push contamination deeper into the wound by either using too high a flushing pressure or too much water. You may call us at this stage as you may have found something you are unsure of, but for some wounds that don’t need covering, this is all you need to do. For wounds that do not require bandaging, you may also need to carefully apply insect repellent around (not in!) the wound to help keep the flies away. We also recommend Vulketan ointment, which encourages swift, natural healing and discourages infection without any antibiotics. Vulketan is prescription-only, and is very effective even in tiny doses. 

If you need to apply a dressing then it should consist of the following layers, applied evenly and not too tight. All of these dressings are available for you to purchase and should be in your equine first aid kit:

Intracite hydrogel applied directly onto the clean wound. This keeps the wound moist so promotes rapid healing.

Melolin non-adhesive dressing applied with the shiny side against the wound. This absorbs any discharge.

 Soffban dressing provides padding and more absorption if the wound is producing a lot of discharge, it cannot be applied too tightly because it will tear if you over stretch it.

 Conforming bandage supports the dressing, it should be applied firmly (like a stable bandage) but is stretchy so can be put on too tight.

 

Petflex bandage (or Vetrap) provides a protective layer which sticks to itself and not the horse, so should keep the dressing in place and repels some water. It should be applied firmly but not at full stretch as it can be put on too tightly as well.

If you have never put on a dressing or are unsure, ask your vet or someone knowledgeable at your yard to help you with your first few dressings – they can take some practice to get right, and some horses are experts at removing them, so there are a few tips and tricks that we can share. 

All horses with dressings should be examined twice daily for foul smell, discharge, heat, discomfort, slipping and any evidence their dressing has become wet (if they become wet then dry out, a dressing can act like a tourniquet causing lots of damage in a very short time). Dressings should be changed when the absorbent layers have become saturated and wounds should be covered until they heal. Three days would be the maximum time to leave in place a clean, tidy dressing. Most horses need to be stable rested when they have a dressing on to prevent it slipping or becoming wet or muddy. A stable bandage over the dressed area greatly protects the dressing and helps keep it in place - but not too tight! 

 

If the wound is relatively small, clean, and easily washed out, many horses do not need antibiotic creams or powders, and in fact many of the commonly used creams can actually slow healing down. If you aren’t sure whether your horse’s wound requires a vet, or if you are at all unsure about what is happening at any stage, or even whether a cream is appropriate to put on a particular sort of wound, please call your veterinary surgeon for advice. 

 

Petflex bandage (or Vetrap) provides a protective layer which sticks to itself and not the horse, so should keep the dressing in place and repels some water. It should be applied firmly but not at full stretch as it can be put on too tightly as well.

If you have never put on a dressing or are unsure, ask your vet or someone knowledgeable at your yard to help you with your first few dressings – they can take some practice to get right, and some horses are experts at removing them, so there are a few tips and tricks that we can share. 

All horses with dressings should be examined twice daily for foul smell, discharge, heat, discomfort, slipping and any evidence their dressing has become wet (if they become wet then dry out, a dressing can act like a tourniquet causing lots of damage in a very short time). Dressings should be changed when the absorbent layers have become saturated and wounds should be covered until they heal. Three days would be the maximum time to leave in place a clean, tidy dressing. Most horses need to be stable rested when they have a dressing on to prevent it slipping or becoming wet or muddy. A stable bandage over the dressed area greatly protects the dressing and helps keep it in place - but not too tight! 

 

If the wound is relatively small, clean, and easily washed out, many horses do not need antibiotic creams or powders, and in fact many of the commonly used creams can actually slow healing down. If you aren’t sure whether your horse’s wound requires a vet, or if you are at all unsure about what is happening at any stage, or even whether a cream is appropriate to put on a particular sort of wound, please call your veterinary surgeon for advice.