Your Equine First Aid Kit
Be prepared for emergencies. Don't wait for something to happen before you gather some basic first aid supplies. Having a first aid kit on hand can be the best insurance against having to use it! Know what is in the kit and what each item is for. In cold climates, keep any liquids, lotions, or paste medications somewhere warm but handy. Like all medications, keep your equine meds out of reach of pets and small children.
You can buy ready-made equine first aid kits in tack shops and from horse supply catalogs. Although items can be less expensive when they are purchased à la carte, the kit container itself offers a convenient way to keep everything together. Kits also often include a laminated information card about basic first aid. Once you figure out what kinds of bandages and other supplies you like best, you can tailor your first aid kit to your own preferences.
If you assemble your own first aid kit, here are some items to include:
A few different kinds of bandages
Traditional quilted leg wrap
Tube of antibiotic cream
Rubber and/or latex gloves
Thermometer, either digital or heavy-duty ring top with string attached
Banamine, bute, bute-less, or other equine-approved pain relievers
Also, keep a cold pack in the freezer. Depending on how adventuresome and experienced you are in your equine self-care program, keep a supply of different size needles and syringes on hand, as well as a vial of antibiotics (make sure they are up-to-date), epinephrine (for allergic reactions, to be used only under the advice of a veterinarian), and perhaps some electrolytes. Ask your veterinarian to help you assemble these types of items and show you how to use them.
You can clean minor scrapes yourself with warm water and an antiseptic solution. If the wound is bleeding, dust it with a blood coagulant. In fly season, apply a dab of wound-healing ointment laced with fly repellent to keep out the bugs. Check the wound daily to make sure it isn't getting infected.
Call your vet immediately for deeper lacerations to determine the need for stitches. Control bleeding first, especially if the wound is squirting blood. Blood spurting from a wound indicates that an artery has been nicked. To control bleeding, get a clean bandage and apply pressure to the wound, either with your hand or by securing the bandage with an ace wrap.
Puncture wounds also need to be carefully examined to ascertain if any part of the object is still lodged in the wound. Puncture wounds are exceptionally susceptible to infection, as dirt gets trapped and the airless environment provides a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Your vet will thoroughly clean the wound and will probably prescribe a precautionary course of antibiotics and a tetanus booster shot if necessary.
Hives are raised bumps that show up all over the horse's neck and body, or sometimes just in a certain area. Hives generally indicate a reaction to something, possibly something in the environment or feed. Figure out what has been introduced to your horse — a different fly spray, a new supplement — and avoid that product.
What does proud flesh mean?
A wound that won't heal produces scar tissue that protrudes from the wound area. This unsightly scar tissue is commonly referred to as proud flesh.
Also called azoturia or Monday morning disease, tying up is essentially muscle cramps caused by a metabolic disturbance of some sort. It is a medical emergency requiring immediate veterinary care. The condition occurs most often when a horse has been out of work and is suddenly ridden aggressively. The afflicted horse will appear stiff and refuse to move. He may sweat profusely and breathe hard, and muscle tremors may be visible over his body. Urine may be dark brown in color, a result of substances released into the blood by the damaged muscles.