To bandage or not?

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Apr 7, 2004
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Is it better to bandage a wound or not? We have a horse that rolled too close to our wire fence ( not barbed ) She got her legs caught and also was getting zapped by the electric wire we had on the fence. She has some pretty good cuts on both back legs(hock area) and they are swollen today. It doesn't seem like their is any real bad damage inside the leg since she will bear weight on them. She walked pretty well yesterday, but today she is a little swollen and more sore. My daughter has been cleaning them and salving them at least 2 times a day. It happened 2 days ago and we have her stalled. We just started her on antibiotics in case of any infection starting - the fence was not rusty or anything but we thought it might help if the cuts got contaminated from anything. So I am curious what has worked for any of you and what has not worked?
Had a horse get into barb last spring. Vet said to keep it clean and doctored but not to bandage. For some reason causes more proud flesh if bandaged. I gave asprin and a little bute. Can't even tell there was a cut there unless you knew to look for it. Good Luck
it really just depends on the wound, Kelly. I would put her on bute.
Thanks! I thought you should bandage to keep dirt out & my daughter said no you just keep it clean. She is the expert ! We do have her on bute also. The cuts didn't really bleed much but I am guessing there is quite a bit of bruising under the skin. I just hope it isn't anything more serious.
Thanks again
Unfortuately I've dealt with a fair share of those wire cuts, both shallow and deep.

One thing that I'd like to suggest is water therapy. Simply hose the wounds out at least once a day with cold water. It really does help the healing process by reducing swelling and promoting circulation, plus also gets rid of debris in the wound. Also if you notice granular tissue forming (proud flesh) good old slack lime sprinkled on the wound helps reduce it. For some reason (and this is only what I can remember) I think proud flesh might be an anerobic process, so if you can keep the wound uncovered you're already one step ahead of it. Vicki could probably elaborate on the whys and hows of these therapies, but all I can tell you is that they do work on most cuts and are inexpensive.

I do however use the vet for wounds that require stitching or if there are large flaps of skin hanging off that need to be removed. If a cut is close to a joint you may want to keep an eye on it in case of infection, as it can cause permanent damage if not treated with a good course of antibiotics. Almost forgot to mention- tetnus shots for horses are one of the cheapest ways of protecting them. There are quite a few horses lost every year due to the want of that inexpensive preventative measure. Just a suggestion. Remember that if you have any doubts, call the vet. They do treat animals for a living, and spent a considerable amount of time gaining their knowledge, so are the best source for advice in these matters.

Good luck with your horse. Take care.
Ditto on the hydro therapy and double ditto on the Tetanus! Also, just for consideration, I don't like to keep a horse with minor to moderate leg lacerations stalled. First, I don't like the potential and constant exposure to bacteria sources in the stall. Furthermore, if movement is not going to aggravate the injury, then I believe that you get increased circulation and less stiffness (both of which aid the healing process) if you can let the animal outside. If you don't have a choice, at least make sure to do some walking several times a day.
I agree with the cold hosing and the tetnus as well. The cold hosing should have started immediately. Swelling causes damage, so the less swelling involved, the better. If the cut was close to the ground, I'd bandage it to keep it clean. If the cut was gaping, and in a place where stitches couldn't be done, I'd bandage it, otherwise, I'd let it air, but I'd put furazone on it to keep it moist and not dried out and crusty looking. Flies are also another issue. I've also used bandaging to keep the swelling down to a dull roar. Hocks are hard to bandage. But if she is sore enough to lay down and rest, then those cuts are going to be on the ground, possibly grinding into the ground when she gets up if those cuts are anywhere near her pivot point on the hock. If you do bandage, do so loosely...very important. Wrapping in a figure 8 around the joint. It's another bandage applied normally on the cannon bone below the hock bandage that does the trick to keeping it on. Unless you are an expert on bandaging, I wouldn't attempt to wrap the hock, you could do more damage than good. I would however, put two bandages normally on her back legs for support. If you get a thick padding under the bandage below the injured hock, you can actually change the pviot point from the hock and put all the strain on the bandage itself when she gets up. As for proud flesh, I don't think that it makes any difference whether she is bandaged or not. It's got a life of its own and once you see it, you know that she is over the hump and healing well. It can come on fast, though, so you have to keep and eye out for it...happen literally overnight! You have to stay on top of it. I just rub the cut with my fingers and give it a good massage or even use a toothbrush or something to gently abraid the cut until I see bleeding start, then quit. You don't want the proud flesh to get the jump on you. It will disfigure things and the vet will have to come out and contour things with a knife. A couple of days and you are past the proud flesh stage, then you get the nice scab that you've been waiting for. Good luck! And please don't take the tetnus shot advise lightly, you don't EVER want to see a horse with lockjaw.....ever!
If you want to keep the dirt from getting into leg wounds, but don't want to bandage, you can put some baby desitin, bag balm, etc. on around and on the wound and the dirt and debris will stick to that instead of getting in the wound.[/quote]