Equine Wound Sprays Play a Helpful Role in Proper Healing
What you do after your horse is injured has a great impact on how well the wound heals — or doesn't.
Having wound-care products on hand means you’re always prepared to deal with different injuries — from cuts and abrasions to sores, burns, scratches and irritated skin.
Stocking your supplies
Wound sprays make it possible to directly apply treatment to the area without touching it with your hands, which can introduce bacteria.
Fortunately, wound sprays have come a long way since those early aerosol spray cans. As you stock your equine first aid kit, you'll be glad to know there are now products that make it easier than ever to treat wounds. There are also more options than ever.
In addition to liquid wound sprays in non-aerosol containers, there are sprayable gel products that stay in place where a liquid might run or drip. For areas that need extra protection while they heal but are hard to bandage, look for a wound spray that forms a "liquid bandage."
Assess the injury
Many minor wounds can be treated by the horse owner, but if you have any concerns that a vet visit may be necessary, take a close-up photo of the injury. Send your veterinarian the photo so he or she can quickly assess whether or not they need to come out.
"If a wound is just one or two inches long and there's no more than a quarter-inch separation, it likely doesn't need sutures," notes Sam Crosby, DVM, whose equine veterinary practice is based in Arcadia, Oklahoma.
With any injury that breaks the skin, check your records to see when your horse received his last tetanus vaccine. If it's been longer than six months, a booster vaccination is recommended.
First step: clean it up!
Cleaning is the first step in treating any wound, even minor injuries that don't require veterinary care. It will take more time and effort if the wound happened hours earlier and is crusted with blood or debris.
It's important to clean any wound as soon as possible, as it typically takes between three to six hours for bacteria to move deeper into the tissue and start infection.
Clean the wound using a hose to run water over the injury for at least 10 minutes. Dirty wounds will require longer hosing.
Don't use a spray nozzle! You don't need high pressure, just enough water pressure to help move dirt and debris out of the wound, advises Crosby.
He recommends keeping a surgical scrub or mild iodine soap in your barn’s first aid kit to help clean wounds. In a pinch, a mild dish soap, like Ivory, will also work.
Treating minor wounds
When you clean a wound and start treating it within a few hours of occurrence, the skin won’t have contracted. This offers the best opportunity for healing with the least amount of scarring.
After you clean the wound thoroughly, if there’s still any mild bleeding, you can apply a product that helps with clotting, like Wonder Dust™ Wound Powder. (Any wound that won't stop bleeding requires prompt veterinary care. Get a veterinarian on the scene as quickly as possible if you think your horse has lost a significant amount of blood.)
A general wound spray like Purishield® Wound & Skin Care Fast-Acting Spray promotes healing in multiple ways and can be applied to any wound after it has been thoroughly cleaned.
The body actively begins repairing a wound within days of injury. During the repair stage of healing, it's important to keep the wound clean, covered and moist, unless otherwise instructed.
This is when you could use a wound-care product like TRI-Care® Triple Action Wound Treatment and Aloe Heal™ Veterinary Cream to help keep the area moist.
Some wounds need to be bandaged for part of the healing process. Incorrect bandaging can cause its own problems, so don't be afraid to ask how to bandage a horse’s wound. If you aren't sure how to apply a bandage correctly, ask your veterinarian to show you first and then watch while you do it.
As the wound heals, granulated tissue in the injured area converts to scar tissue and fills in the opening as the skin closes over. Crosby explains that, at this point, bandaging is no longer needed, if you were bandaging it at all.
Purishield® Wound & Skin Care Intensive Care Gel is a long-lasting sprayable gel that adheres to the wound and helps it stay protected during the healing process.
There are even products that allow you to "spray on" a bandage, which is ideal for places that are hard to bandage but need extra protection while healing. Purishield® Wound & Skin Care Liquid Bandage Plus is a sprayable liquid bandage that shields the area to help promote healing.
If your horse is recovering from a wound during fly season, a product like SWAT® Fly Repellent Ointment can be applied around the wound or sore to protect the area from various species of nuisance and biting flies.
With all wound-care products, follow label directions carefully for frequency and duration of use.If you have any questions about which type of wound-care product to use during the healing process, your veterinarian can advise you
It's a good idea to wear disposable latex or vinyl gloves when changing bandages and applying topical treatment to a wound. This prevents any germs or bacteria on your hands from transferring into an open wound. At the same time, it keeps you from coming in direct contact with any drainage or pus.
Scenarios that require a vet
Some injuries absolutely require veterinary care and you shouldn't try treating them on your own. Call your veterinarian without delay for any wound that involves:
- bleeding you can't stop
- exposed bone, tendon or ligament
- embedded foreign object (don't remove it — wait for the vet!)
- injury on top of or near a joint
- hanging flaps of skin
- tendon injury
- heel bulb injury
For those times when a wound does require veterinary attention, your veterinarian will give you details on how to continue treating the injury. Depending on the location and severity of the wound, medication may be needed to manage inflammation and pain.
Signs of complications
Sometimes, despite treatment, a wound doesn't heal as expected. Call your veterinarian promptly if you notice any of the following signs:
- oozing drainage two or more weeks after injury
- persistent heat and swelling
- horse has a fever
Don't take a "wait-and-see" approach if healing isn’t progressing as it should. Your veterinarian may need to evaluate the wound and adjust treatment.
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