First Aid for Horses
Tuesdays with Tony
It’s that time of the month again, it’s time for you all to come out and meet me, Tony! This month my seminar is all about ME! Well that, and first aid for your horse. Come out on Thursday at 6:30pm for a meet and greet with yours truly as well as a talk from my docs on first aid.
Whether you’ve owned horses for a long time or you are a new horse owner, you are probably well aware that horses try to find a way to hurt themselves on a daily basis. That is why it is a good idea to have a first aid kit prepared and ready to go at all times and in all situations. I have seen my fair share of horsey emergencies here and have a developed an all-inclusive list of supplies for you to make your own first aid kit.
The most important part of your first aid kit will be a card with my clinic phone number and emergency number on it. Remember, if you ever have any kind of emergency your best bet is to call me at the clinic so I can get ahold of my docs for you and they can further direct you on what to do. I am available 24/7/365 and will track down one of the doctors for you so no need to worry about that.
The Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic number is (352) 472-1620
The Springhill Equine After-hours Emergency number is (352) 474- 5007
I know by now, you all have read my blog about bute, banamine, and previcox/equioxx. And if you haven’t yet, shame on you, you owe me extra pets on Thursday at the seminar. After you finish this blog, come back up and click on the link to read that one.
Nonetheless, having at least one type of NSAID as a part of your first aid kit is always a good idea. I personally recommend keeping a tube of bute or banamine paste on hand. I find the paste form of these medications are much easier and safer to administer than the injectable or powder forms. I am sure you humans with your opposable thumbs find administering medications orally significantly easier than I do. NSAIDs are multi-purpose and can be used in several different emergency situations. Always ask my docs for instructions before giving your horse any NSAID or other medication.
Over the years, I’ve heard numerous stories around the clinic about how, if there is something for a horse to cut itself on, they will find it. No sharp corner goes untouched by a horse’s limb, eye, or nostril. No stray nail goes unturned by a hoof, and no wire stays nicely laying on the ground out of your horse’s way. In a lifetime of horse ownership, you will undoubtedly see a lacerated limb, an eyelid or nostril laceration, and a hoof abscess or two. Until my docs can get to you and fully assess the extent of injury, cleaning a wound with an antiseptic cleaner such as dilute iodine solution or chlorhexidine solution and applying a bandage to the wound to keep it clean and help control bleeding is never a bad idea.
Your bandage material should consist of gentle anti-biotic ointment such as silver sulfadiazine, non-stick telfa pads, combi roll or clean standing bandages, cling wrap, vet wrap, adhesive bandage such as elasticon, and of course the fix-all of all fixing things, duct tape. Baby diapers or large sanitary napkins can serve as an excellent hoof bandage for abscesses along with epsom salts or animalintex poltice. Here’s a link to a fantastic video by my docs on how to wrap a foot.
One can never have too many hoof picks. When you need one, you can never find one and when you don’t need one you have five extra. Designate one to your first aid kit so you’re never without it in a time of need.
Cats have excellent eyesight, even at night. You humans, however, seem to stumble around in the dark. Since horses like to get injured at the most inconvenient times, it is likely it will be very dark when you find them. A flashlight or headlight will be an excellent addition to your first aid kit. That way you’ll be better able to assess the situation your horse has found himself in.
Latex gloves will protect you and your horse from further contamination of wounds and allow you to cleanly apply topical antibiotic ointment. Clean, sharp scissors are useful for cutting bandage material, but remember, I definitely do not recommend cutting any skin or foreign material that may be lodged or caught in your horse’s body or wounds. Leave that to the experts and call my docs! (See the section on Phone Numbers back at the beginning)
The last 2 pieces of equipment you should have in your first aid kit include a stethoscope and a thermometer. Now, you don’t have to buy one of those fancy-schmancy stethoscopes you see the docs use, a simple, inexpensive one can be purchased from Amazon. I know this because, I often place orders for catnip and cat toys on Amazon overnight when my staff forgets to turn the computers off and leaves the keyboard out for my ordering pleasure. While placing your order on Amazon, go ahead and add a quick 8 second thermometer to your cart.
The next time my docs are at your farm have them teach you to listen to your horse’s heart and take a heart rate as well as where to best listen for gastrointestinal sounds. They can also show you how to safely take your horse’s temperature. This way, if your horse is showing signs of distress or illness, you can give my docs even more information about what is going on with your horse when you call them.
Along with your silver sulfadiazine ointment, there are several other ointments you should consider placing in your first aid kit. I find Vaseline or petroleum jelly useful for the tip of the thermometer to safely take your horse’s temperature. You can also mix it with cayenne pepper and place it on bandages if your horse tries to use his teeth to take his bandages off.
Eyes are always considered an emergency. Triple antibiotic ophthalmic ointment without steroids is safe to have on hand and can be used on lacerations near the eyes as well as in the eye if my docs direct you to apply it prior to their arrival.
Diaper rash cream can be applied to minor abrasions and to areas you want to keep free from moisture. It can also be mixed with silver sulfadiazine ointment to make an excellent concoction for treating and keeping wounds dry.
Finally, a wound ointment such as SWAT will help to keep flies and gnats away from wounds and provide a barrier to keep debris from entering the wound.
If you want to learn more about first aid and the dos and don’ts of first aid, remember to come see me this Thursday at 6:30 for free “cat-scans” by yours truly, Tony loving, pizza, and of course, giveaways! If you have a really, really good excuse and can’t come, you can always watch it live on Facebook. If you forgot to take notes and need to go back and see it again, you can find it on my YouTube channel any time after the seminar.
Until next time,
Tuesdays with Tony is the official blog of Tony the Clinic Cat at Springhill Equine Veterinary Clinic in Newberry, Florida. If you liked this blog, please subscribe below, and share it with your friends on social media! For more information, please call us at (352) 472-1620, visit our website at SpringhillEquine.com, or follow us on Facebook!