Which Injuries Require a Vet?

Horses will always find a way to injure themselves, so it’s important to provide a safe
environment and have a well-stocked first aid kit. The correct supplies will allow you
to perform “triage” until your veterinarian arrives.

Critical areas that need assessment and treatment as soon as possible are deep
lacerations, wounds near a joint, and eyeballs. If your horse has a minor skin scrape,
you might be fine treating it yourself. Superficial skin scrapes and wounds are
generally easy to clean and can be managed by you. If you have an established
relationship with your veterinarian, you may be able to snap a quick picture and get
some advice.

When treating wounds there are a few things to consider. Foreign objects in a wound
should not be removed until your veterinarian has been alerted. This is particularly
important in deep puncture wounds to the chest or abdomen. If a horse steps on a
nail, do not pull it out. If it is not all the way in the foot, cut the nail at the entry site.
Puncture wounds of the feet need radiographs to determine which structures have
been affected. Experience and knowledge of anatomy are needed when significant
injuries occur. Minor lacerations can be cleaned gently with saline solution. If they
are actively bleeding, then apply a pressure bandage to slow the bleeding.
Bandages should be left in place until your veterinarian arrives to avoid disrupting a
clot or distressing the horse.

When it comes to creams and sprays, don’t apply anything to the wound until it has
been assessed by your veterinarian. It is difficult to evaluate and suture a wound that
is covered in these products.

Horses are always looking for the next best way to injure themselves. While we love
them, they are flight animals and don’t always think before they act. Regularly check
your horse’s stall/paddock/pasture for sharp objects, obstacles, corners, loose
boards, trash that may have blown into the area and damage that can cause them to
become injured.

This column is sponsored by Polk Equine, and the opinions expressed herein may
not reflect those of CFAN or of its advertisers.

BIO: Dr. Katie Hennessy graduated from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary
Medicine in 2008 with a degree in large animal health and equine medicine. She
completed an advanced internship at The Equine Medical Center of Ocala and is
currently the owner and practicing veterinarian at Polk Equine. Her expertise ranges
from small and exotic creatures to large animals, specializing in equine medicine.

Accessibility Toolbar